A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

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Zeuhl definition

Zeuhl is an adjective in Kobaïan, the language written by Christian Vander, drummer and founder of the French band Magma.

Pronunciation: zEU(h)l, while the EU are like a French E with a slight U, and the (h) is a semi-silent letter which is an integrated part of the EU, totaling in a "syllable and a half".

The word means celestial, although many times it is misunderstood as meaning "celestial music", since the members of Magma describe the genre of their music as Zeuhl. Zeuhl Wortz, though, means Music of the universal might.

The genre is a mixture of musical genres like Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Modernism and Fusion. Common elements: oppressive or discipline-conveying feel, marching themes, throbbing bass, an ethereal piano or Rhodes piano, and brass instruments.

Current team members (27/8/2014):
Steve (HolyMoly) ... team leader
Luca (octopus-4)
Ori (frippism)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)

Zeuhl Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Zeuhl | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.27 | 630 ratings
4.29 | 449 ratings
4.24 | 350 ratings
4.27 | 140 ratings
4.21 | 233 ratings
4.34 | 94 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.17 | 379 ratings
4.23 | 130 ratings
4.13 | 295 ratings
4.51 | 37 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.09 | 334 ratings
4.07 | 263 ratings
4.04 | 310 ratings
4.11 | 94 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.33 | 34 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.09 | 93 ratings
4.11 | 73 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.18 | 47 ratings
4.04 | 78 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.79 | 10 ratings
Bringolf, Serge

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Zeuhl experts team

Happy Family
Thibault, Laurent
Bondage Fruit

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.13 | 37 ratings

The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There will always, I suppose, lie a grave danger in taking a different path from the one you started from. Especially this is true when the expedition grew from the most daring and revolutionary form of music known to man. Magma is certainly one of those bands that ripped all convention apart by creating a genre so daring and non-conformist as zeuhl.

So, after doing that and in the making of all this magnificent music of zeuhl one can't help but thinking that Vander and crew grew weary after a while and decided to do something a little more accessible. Thus Univeria Zekt came into being. At least that is what I imagine.

Unlike Magma Univeria Zekt plays a decicedly more accessible kind of music with an generous slice of jazz on top. Actually, I find this album to be more of a jazzy affair than anything I have heard from Magma and that says alot, bearing in mind the obvious inclusion of jazz into said band's sound. In parts this is an old school jazz affair laced with elements of zeuhl and rock music. The result is one of very jazzy rock with avant garde leanings. To me it is very enjoyable and lovely indeed. I like Magma alot but that does not mean I think that this album is anything like "selling out". I would not compare to Magma, rather I would like to compare it to other jazz rock albums of the era and as such it holds up extremely well.

From the opening organ of "You speak and you speak Colegram" to the ending ballad of "Ündia" it holds together very well. I love the energy of "Altcheringa", the beauty of "Clementine", the overly jazzy horns of "Something's cast a spell", the late night drums and piano of "Ourania" and the powerful epic of "Africa anteria".

I urge to you to not compare this album to Magma. Listen to it for the album it is. If you do you will find an amazingly tight and cohesive album of jazz-rock, every bit as highly charged and engaging, thrilling and daring as the greats of the genre.

 Ẁurdah Ïtah (Christian Vander) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.21 | 233 ratings

Ẁurdah Ïtah (Christian Vander)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars ẀURDAH ÏTAH is a strange little album in the MAGMA discography. It was originally released as a Christian Vander solo album as the soundtrack for Yvan Lagrange's avant-garde take on "Tristan et Iseult." The album has always been considered a MAGMA album by fans and is now released only as ẀURDAH ÏTAH (Kobaian for "dead Earth"). It's also strange (as are most MAGMA albums) in that despite being released in 1974 after "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh (MDK)" it is the second movement in the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy, while MDK is the third and final one. The first is "Theusz Hamtaahk" itself which was only released live (now on Retrospektiw Parts I & II) but you know what? This is just the technical sorting out after the fact as far as i'm concerned. Listening to and enjoying any MAGMA album is not dependent on listening to another, in any particular sequence or otherwise.

This brilliant little beast as well as the following "Köhntarkösz" are important in the MAGMA world because they prove without a doubt that it doesn't take thirteen performers and an army of producers to create a MAGMA-nificent MAGMA-sterpiece. This album was reduced to a mere quartet (Stella Vander / vocals, Klaus Blasquiz / vocals, percussion, Jannick Top / bass, Christian Vander / drums, piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals) but delivers an epic and beautiful total reinvention of the mesmerizing zeuhl fully developed on MDK. While the basic idea is the same of repetitive zeuhl rhythms, everything else is tweaked and contorted to become a totally new species of this fledgling subgenre of progressive music. The operatic vocal styles incorporate myriad creative forms as do the instrumental parts. While MDK has a huge epic style, ẀURDAH ÏTAH has more of an intimate feel to it like you could go to some coffee house and hear this. I'm totally curious as to what kind of film the version of "Tristan et Iseult" is because it's hard to believe that any film could incorporate music this quirky and bizarre into it's story line!

 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 42 ratings

Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by Lear'sFool

4 stars A rough hidden gem of zeuhl. Potemkine plied a fusion infused take on the genre that on paper looks particularly wonderful. I went into this album with high expectations, hoping for a smashing take on zeuhl-fusion ruminating on the revolutions in Russia over the course of 1917. What I and every listener got was a decent yet ever catchy zeuhl-fusion rather not in the spirit the title and track names implied. It was a smaller form of the disappointment I got from "Romantic Warrior". The reason it wasn't so much of a let down was that it did grow on me to a degree; the band does play some good music, and it can and does draw a listener in. The opener is especially wonderful, and is what grabs you and keeps you listening through all the album's ups and downs. This is rather unique and enjoyable stuff, it just doesn't live up to potential. A lesser favourite of mine, results may vary but this is worth a try.
 Rituale Alieno by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.11 | 73 ratings

Rituale Alieno
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The infectious musical style known as zeuhl knows no boundaries. Although originating on Kobaia and infecting unspecting French musicians, the style has now spread to Italy with no signs of letting up and may it be so since RITUALE ALIENO, the debut album by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA is a pure delight from beginning to end. This band is the next step for Uto Giorgio Golin (drums) and Giuseppe Buttiglione (bass) after they departed another zeuhl band Runaway Totem. Unfortunately I have not heard any of those albums yet so I can only comment on the brilliance of this magnificent example of how to reinvent the zeuhl sound that came to us from a galaxy far away but not so overly long ago.

The album opens most unexpectedly. It is basically a hypnotic operatic piece that introduces the vocals of the angelic Ana Torres Fraile. No zeuhl to be found but a great introduction to the band's gift of incorporating medieval vocal operatic vocals and Gregorian chants to a nicely laid out rock n' zeuhl frenzy. The distinct styles are paced as not to compete with one another and the contrast between the sounds of yestercentury with contemporary progressive rock techniques is quite a trip with symphonic touches and a whole host of various additional instruments including lead guitar, viola, cello, sax and tabla.

As with pretty much all zeuhl this particular brand can be traced to Kobaia and for sure there are several parts that remind you of Magma insofar as the main rhythmic developments and vocal trade-offs but the choice of instrumentation, vocal styles and odd effects completely distinguish the overall mood of the pieces. Some of the operatic trade-offs between female and male vocal parts do bring MDK-ish zeuhl to mind but always in a distant cousin kind of way instead of a Siamese twin one. The album really doesn't leave any room for being bored or drifting one's attention away. This is a really brilliant album that might end up getting its rating elevated if it continues to grow on me.

 Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 630 ratings

Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Although MAGMA had released two wonderful jazz-fusion albums and already invented the whole mythology revolving around the planet Kobaia for which drummer and band leader Christian Vander even created a fictitious language to articulate the vocal utterings that would augment the instrumental nature of the compositions, the sound suddenly changed from a frantic all-over-the-map approach that incorporated myriad influences to a more focused sound that simply utilizes the zeuhl sound as a basis which of course is of their own inventiveness that emerged on the very first album. MËKANÏK DËSTRUKTÏẁ KÖMMANDÖH came out in 1973 and to critical acclaim Nothing like this had emerged on the jazz rock scene not even from the Kobaians themselves.

MDK apparently tells the tale of a Kobaian prophet named Nebehr Gudahtt, who warms the human race that they are destroying their planet and have to change their naughty ways. When all is said and down the people rise against him and through throughout the album's ups and downs and twists and turns the people finally begin to adopt the ways of the Kobaians in order to redeem themselves. I'll have to accept that since i no speako Kobaian but it sounds like a logical story that is a mere segment of a much larger tale drawn out in the many album that MAGMA put out in the 70s.

The music is melodic and bombastic. To the max. This must have been some of the most ambitious music of the time even topping all the other progressive goodies that were coming out. Although the music is based on simple bass line cycles that incorporate two competing choirs that often sound like orgasmic ghosts, it is the sprinkling of jazzy parts, rock attitude and Carl Off a la "Carmina Burana" rhythmic phrasing that really puts a percussive punch in the whole thing. Musically this is akin to organic chemistry where long repetitive carbon chains create an extremely strong yet flexible backbone to support the smaller elements that cling onto it.

Upon first listen I thought this was too repetitious and I do like this a tad less than the first more chaotic albums with far more influences than this but this was a grower and has blossomed into an outstanding album in its own right. If you want one of the most over-the-top rock operas ever to grace not only planet Earth but apparently the entire Universe than you simply must experience MDK for there is nothing else even remotely like it not even within their own alien and eclectic discography.

 Ardeur by ESKATON album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.67 | 37 ratings

Eskaton Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Entering the new decade Eskaton would have the chance to record and move on to a proper release of an album.But no without any losses and changes.Alain Blesing and Eric Guillaume both left the band and the guitar was handed over to Gilles Rozenberg.Malicorne's Patrick Lemercier would join them on violin and Eskaton would record ''Ardeur'' at Studio Ramses in Paris during August 1980.The album was launched later in the year on the band's own Musique Post Atomique (named after the first single).

Very good and original Zeuhl/Fusion by Eskaton, actually with a very eclectic sound, not being afraid to face the period fashion, which wanted all remaining Prog bands adding even a touch of synths in their sound, but Eskaton never abandoned their love for intricate and adventurous arrangements, always propelled by their strong MAGMA influence.Elements of Jazz, Classical Music and Opera all ara combined in an excellent album, full of fascinating twists and turns, highlighted by the clever use of synthesizer in the process, placed next to the jazzy electric pianos, the Avant-Garde sounding acoustic ones and the mighty sound of organ.With Blesing out of the picture, Eskaton had moved to a more keyboard-centered sound, led by the changes on keyboards and piano and a superb rhythm section, as always with the Zeuhl groups the vocals are used at times like an additional instrument.''Ardeur'' is an album with tracks mostly delivered in fast-paced tunes and emphatic, jazzy-spiced orchestrations with the nervous synths and the great electric piano opening the way for challenging and complex music.Throbbing bass lines and powerful drumming are still in the menu, the electric guitars are not particularly apparent, but their addition makes up for an even more dense sound, while some of the keyboard solos and rhythms, executed at the same time, are simply fantastic.I think the French language couldn't be more suitable for such a musical background and the female choir offers a combination of wordless lines and operatic lyrics in another great contribution to the album.

Zeuhl/Fusion towards its best quality.With intelligent display of synths, with awesome electric and acoustic piano, with intense and passionate vocals and, above all, rich and convincing progressive music.Highly recommended.

 Eros by DÜN album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.24 | 350 ratings

Dün Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Dün came to life in Nantes, France around 1976 as Vegetaline Boufiol with Francois Teillard on guitar, Laurent Bertaud on drums, Jacques Bretonnierre on piano, Michel Blancart on bass and Pascal Vandenbulcke on flute.Two years later they were renamed to Kan-Daar, trying to escape from the Magma, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Frank Zappa covers, composing original material.Philippe Portejoie was added on sax and Thierry Tranchant, Bruno Sabathe and Jean Geeraerts replaced Blancart, Bretonnierre and Teillard respectively.The band gigged around the Nantes area, playing in small venues in front of a few people, and then changed its name to Dün.The song titles started to be influenced by Frank Herbert novels and, despite the departure of the saxophonist and the coming of Alain Termol on percussion, Dün would travel to Switzerland and visit the Studio Sun Rise in Kirchberg to self-finance what was going to be their only album ''Eros''.They never actually searched for a proper distributor and the album was pressed in around 1000 copies in 1981, sold at concerts.

Listening to this album I have a feeling that Dün could actually become the next hottest name in the French Avant Prog scene, if they weren't so lazy and took their music more seriously, even if the time was not the proper one for playing intense, progressive music.What the guys proposed in ''Eros'' was four long, instrumental tracks, somewhere in the middle between MAGMA and SUPERSISTER, delivering dense and frenetic interplays with dissonant plays and charming instrumental interactions.The music contains elements from R.I.O., Chamber Music, Jazz and Zeuhl, but the basis is a schizophenic Progressive Rock with instrumental changes and different protagonists in each segment.Excellent use of dominant and haunting piano lines next to sharp synth moves, beautiful and virtuosic flute parts by Pascal Vandenbulcke, a fiery, jazzy rhythm section and an excellent rhythm guitarist, which accompanies the chaos of powerful interplays.But then again there are some more ''symphonic'' and laid-back tunes with flute and synthesizer leading the way along with MAGMA's throbbing, operatic musicianship.Vandenbulcke and pianist Bruno Sabathe are also the reasons why this album should be strongly linked to R.I.O. with the rhythm section and the guitar playing the supporting roles and the two instrumentalists covering the sound with their impressive technical skills.You should listen to these parts, when all members torture their instruments at the same time and the very next moment the music becomes calm and smooth with light jazzy and Classical colors.And this material seems actually to go somewhere despite the overall very complex sound, the tracks are great full of spot-on battles and rhythm changes.

In 1982 Dün had to face the departures of Thierry Tranchant and Alain Termol.They were replaced by bassist Christian Mellier and sax player Christian Dupont with the sound switching to a more improvised/jazzy enviroment.After a year or so Dün disbanded.Several members would appear in 1982 on Alain Tristan's ''Marechal coeur de reve'' album, while Alain Termol also appeared on Roland Becker's ''Fallaën''.Pascal Vandenbulcke played also next to renowed Magma guitarist Jean-Luc Chevalier.

Devastating, intricate and captivating Zeuhl/Fusion with extremely fascinating work on all instruments.One of the best of the style and among the highlights of the year.Highly recommended.

 Electronic Elements by ONO, RYOKO album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.05 | 2 ratings

Electronic Elements
Ryoko Ono Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych Team

4 stars Let me say my impression at first; a fantastic jazzy-improvised-electronic creation seasoned with musical / atmospheric tranquilizing agents.

Ryoko ONO's solo album "Electronic Elements", featuring her electronic experiments produced with Music Instrument Digital Interface, released worldwide in 2014 via Janus Sounds. Such an album title like "Electronic" or "Elements" had let me curious indeed, and according to my expectation, her avantgarde electronic launcher could make me crazy. I've got, in her kindness, the second edition of this album, with a new track "Slut Or Slattem" and a longer "Sunset" added. Not pure nor fresh but sticky, slimy electronic vatting, that is felt simply awesome.

Here and there we would got flooded with unstable percussive digital bullets and mellotronic sound waves kicking us into an "uneasy trance" upon the second track "Tetragon". On the other hand, in "Slut Or Slattem" we can touch life and death mixed with pain, madness, depression, and at last quietness through her programmed synthesizer gales. What swims beneath "Depths Of The Sea" characterized with dry, swift, and inorganic digital percussion attacks? Difficult to make a definition but that reminds us of something obscure moving quickly along with randomized patterns, at least Ryoko's inner depths of the sea.

Upon "Sunset" are tribal texture, beautiful scape, and remarkable anxiety in the dark ... all of which be expressed with unsteady, rough, tough electronic percussion like a merry-go- round in an old amusement park. The last "Extra" is the compilation of her electronic elements blended with nobility, gorgeousness, scatter, manie, calmness, kaleidoscope, safe and sound. We can make sure that Ryoko should create such a electronic gem quite intensively through this epilogue.

At the same time I feel her saxophone play should be important also in this creation. "Ubiquitous" is a good example, where her enthusiastic saxophone play could drown electronic percussion perfectly out. By the way in the first one "Polygon" her play and the digital percussion killer can get superbly harmonized, crystallized. Another atmospheric departure between a surrealistic quiet electronic and a repetitive saxophone phrase can be experienced in "Ensemble". "Dual" is one of my favourite tracks in this album. Very enjoyable to imagine that Ryoko might play plenty of improvised saxophone phrases to beat electronic percussion completely. Her saxophone play is beautiful, flavourful as well, even if avantgarde or experimental. Wondering how she would record "Sunrise" based upon her crazy saxophone launcher merged perfectly with digital percussion. Very mysterious, and amazing really.

In conclusion, the woodwinds and their luxurious sounds cannot be avoided for Ryoko and us (her freaks) indeed but I'm sure she's left such an excellent solo creation for us. Enjoy such a kaleidoscopic agent.

 Minimal Gods by HAPPY FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 14 ratings

Minimal Gods
Happy Family Zeuhl

Review by Nogbad_The_Bad
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars The very welcome return of the excellent Japanese band Happy Family. The band released two heavy complex noisy Zeuhl albums in 95 (s/t) & 97 (Tossco) then disappeared. They have now returned 15 years later. All three albums are on the wonderful Cuneiform label.

The instrumental quartet is made up of keyboards, guitar, bass & drums feature three of the members who were on the last album, Kenichi Morimoto - keyboards, Takahiro Izutani - guitar Keiichi Nagasse - drums, and with new bassist Hidemi Ichikaw.

They bring a King Crimson & Magma flavor to distinctly Japanese Metal in a similar vein to Bondage Fruit.

If you like it heavy, complex & noisy look no further, it's a winner.

 Rïah Sahïltaahk by MAGMA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.93 | 17 ratings

Rïah Sahïltaahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars RÏAH SAHÏLTAAHK is listed by most sources as a new studio album by MAGMA but it is in fact simply a re-recording of the first track of the same name from their second album "1001 Degrees Centigrades" which came out all the way back in 1971. This album clocks in at a mere 24:24 so no matter what it "officially" is, this is a freakin' EP in my book. This is one of those projects that makes you scratch your head and wonder why such a thing was necessary. To the casual listener there seems to be few differences between the two but a more careful inspection and repeated listens does yield some substantial changes. Just check out the lineup between the 1971 version and the newest of 2014.

1971 verison

- Christian VANDER : vocals, drums, percussion - Klaus BLASQUIZ : vocals, percussion - François CAHEN : acoustic & electric pianos - Francis MOZE : bass - Teddy LASRY : clarinet, sax, flute, voice - Jeff SEFFER : sax, bass clarinet - Louis TOESCA : trumpet

2014 version

Stella VANDER : vocals Isabelle FEUILLEBOIS : vocals Hervé AKNIN : vocals Benoît ALZIARY : vibraphone James MAC GAW : guitar Jérémie TERNOY : piano Philippe BUSSONNET : bass Christian VANDER : drums, vocals, piano

On the newer version basically we get no horns, more female vocals and a vibraphone. Also the production is quite different as well. The music is one continuous track on the original but only clocks in at 21:45 so a few minutes shorter. On the newer version we we get eight separate tracks that constitute the movements. The artwork is remnant of the original album as well only instead of duct tape grey it is a glimmering silver with the MAGMA emblem wrapped around the front and back instead of boldly displayed in full on the front.

This is story on the Seventh Records website: RÏAH SAHÏLTAAHK is the name of the Kobaïan who left after all the others, despite their disapproval. He thought he was better than anyone else and he was sure he could convert Kobaïa's enemies to the Kobaïan spirit. But he failed and left alone for Kobaïa. On the symbolic stop-over planet, Malaria, he has to face the raging elements he thinks he can dominate. With his ship almost sunk, he ends up begging them - to no avail. He will disappear. Drowned, swept away by the frenzied elements. After the noise? silence. At dawn, only a finally calmed remains, enlightened by the soft beams of the sun in this new day.

Honestly, I can't say I really like one thing better than the original. The first thing you notice on the new version is that the tempo is just a bit slower and the production is amped up which seems too beefy for some reason. The original version seemed to have more spontaneity and improvisation in the zaniness department. Absent are the blood-curdling screams and high pitched freakouts during frenzied time-outs from the main scheme of things. I actually really love the horn sections of the first two MAGMA albums and find that here Vander sounds like he is trying to MDK his earlier works. This just seems unnecessary to me as a fan, but as a man Christian Vander who has obviously been pining over re-releasing this for sometime just had to bring it to fruition. Now that he has I am dumbfounded by his decision to carry through when, to me at least, the original is the superior. I categorize this as indulgently unnecessary so I cannot give this the same five star rating that I gave the "1001 Degrees Centigrades" album, however this music even if inferior to the original is still completely enchanting and simply MAGMA-nanimous so to give it less than four stars would simply be a crime against humanity. I just hope this isn't the beginning of a trend to repackage the entire back catalog when MAGMA proves time and time again that as a musical outfit it is quite capable of releasing fresh and relevant music in the 21st century.

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ANAID France
ARKHAM Belgium
CORIMA United States
DÜN France
GA'AN United States
MAGMA France
NEOM France
NOA France
PSEU France
RHÙN France
SETNA France
XING SA France
ZAO France

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