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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 (20/05/2016):
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Zeuhl Top Albums

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

4.30 | 900 ratings
4.28 | 627 ratings
4.24 | 439 ratings
4.27 | 199 ratings
4.19 | 470 ratings
4.19 | 312 ratings
4.22 | 188 ratings
4.41 | 67 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.27 | 120 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.14 | 440 ratings
4.14 | 352 ratings
4.12 | 388 ratings
4.04 | 421 ratings
4.29 | 50 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.09 | 123 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.52 | 23 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
4.07 | 126 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.07 | 117 ratings
4.09 | 90 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.07 | 96 ratings
Eider Stellaire

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Seffer, Yochk'o
Bondage Fruit

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Dhorimviskha by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.11 | 35 ratings

Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Norbert

5 stars Dhorimvishka is the fifth studio album of Japanese Zeuhl/Avant band Koenjihyakkei. I usually trie to curb my enthusiasm when it comes to rating and reviewing new releases to allow for a cooling off period, but the new album of Koenjihyakkei deserves attention (well, all Koenjihyakkei albums do.). I was already very excited when I learned about the release of this album, their last studio effort was released in 2005, quite a long time ago. The albums artwork for the mini LP sleeve is probably their most beautiful to date, and I considered the track listing very encouraging. 7 tracks in 61 minutes, and as a general rule the 8-10 minute long compositons of Koenjihyakkei are often the best. Koenjihyakkey is a sextet here, the soaring lead vocals of the lady called Ah (aka Yamamoto Kyoko) are accompanied by the chants of the male band members, mastermind and world class drummer Yoshida Tatsuya, longtime bassist Sakamoto Kengo, and new guitar player Koganemaru Kei. The band is complete with the keyboards of Yabuki Teku and the woodwinds of the other lady Komori Keiko. As always the musicanship is of the highest calibre (not only the drumming.), and Ah has an impressive range. The music basically Zeuhl, but with more twist that French legend Magma. There are influences from symphonic music, jazzrock, metal, hardcore punk, and even from soul music (the second track Levhorm). The seven compositions are full of complexity, breaks, tempo changes, and dyamic contrasts, but the arrangements are very well structured, this music is controlled chaos from finest! This music comes very hyperactive and excessiv accross, especially at first listening, but there are more laid back jazz-like and even acoustic moments, and there is a healthy dose of catchyness, and fortunately they do not take themselfes too seriously. Certainly, 2-3 listenings are nothing to explore this album, but with more than a week experience I may conclude that all 7 tracks are very good, there are no kind of filler tracks, like on some of their earlier albums. Maybe this is even my favourite Koenjihyakkei album so far.

 Le Roi du Monde by RUNAWAY TOTEM album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.45 | 16 ratings

Le Roi du Monde
Runaway Totem Zeuhl

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars "Italy goes Zeuhl"

This unique Italian musical project is rooted in 1988, their goal was to use music as an universal language. In 1993 Runaway Totem released its first album entitled Trimegisto, during the years followed by a serie of albums. In 2007 the band released the CD Esameron on their own label Runaway Totem Records, as a part of a trilogy about the four elements. The second part is named Manu Menes from 2009 and the third effort Le Roi Du Monde (from 2011), this review is about that final part of the trilogy.

Listening to Runaway Totem is entering the realm of the Zeuhl, first the suite entitled Il Giardino Del Nocciolo E Del Melograno, more than 30 minutes. It is divided in many parts featuring a huge variety, but without a theme or other elements that blend the many different moods. First a bombastic atmosphere with choirs, moving guitar runs and a wonderful blend of Grand piano and synthesizers. Then spoken words in an Arab-like language, mixed with brass instruments and again choirs. Next a long and very atmospheric and experimental interlude, again that brass and the choirs, followed by an accellaration featuring powerful vocals, propulsive guitar and a dynamic rhythm-section. This culminates in a fiery and bombastic part, but suddenly the climate changes in dreamy with beautiful Grand piano and sound effects, finally biting guitar runs and tight drum beats, evoking avant-garde King Crimson. I needed a short break to breath, so many experimental ideas for an 'Old School 70-77 Genesis die-hard'!

The second composition is the mellow Le Marriage Du Soleil E La Lune, it sounds melodic with the focus on hobo and flute, along warm male and female vocals. The fiery electric guitar delivers the musical contrast, pretty unique music.

The final track La Citta Azurra Del Sole (around 30 minures) contains the most adventurous music, a kind of avant- garde version of Seventies FrankZappa, featuring a huge array of instruments, from brass, harder-edged guitar and vibraphone to violin, flute and synthesizers. The atmospheres change from dreamy and slow rhythms to fiery and sumptuous, to me it sounds very experimental, but if you like this kind of music (from Zeuhl to avant-garde King Crimson), this album is a real musical adventure!

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Neffesh Music: Ima by SEFFER, YOCHK'O album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.03 | 10 ratings

Neffesh Music: Ima
Yochk'o Seffer Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was great to finally spend some time with this recording. While I much prefer the followup "Ghilgoul" there's lots to enjoy here. Three long tracks make up this album released in 1977 and it's pretty cool to see some of the names involved here from Seffer's former band ZAO. Mauricia Platon adds vocal melodies but she's not nearly as upfront as she was on ZAO's debut. Still it's great to hear her. Dominique Bertram on bass played on some later ZAO releases. We also get that all female string quartet from ZAO's "Shekina" album. On drums is Manu Katche who played with Jan Garbarek. A solid 4 star album in my opinion but something is lacking personally for me to up this rating.

"Ima" is the almost 20 minute side long suite. Quite abstract sounding if you ask me. Humming sounds as female vocal melodies join in. Sax joins in after 2 1/2 minutes. Kind of an eerie vibe here as it plays out. Bass 15 minutes in as the vocals step aside changing the flavour somewhat. Some new experimental sounds start to come and go before 17 1/2 minutes. Quite avant sounding here to the end.

"Ofek" opens with sax, female vocal melodies and more. Kind of melancholic before the tempo picks up as drums, keys, bass and more jump in as the sax and vocals step aside. Love the drumming, so intricate. The sax is back before 3 1/2 minutes. The string quartet arrives a minute later. Nice. The sax is back before 6 minutes as the drums pound away.

"Noce Chimique" opens with drums and bass as keys and sax join in. Female vocal melodies follow as we get runs of sound here. The vocals become more of the focus before 1 1/2 minutes. Some discordant piano before 3 minutes as the vocals stop. Strings before 4 1/2 minutes along with some nice bass lines. Strings only at 6 minutes then a minute later sax, drums, bass and more take over. I like this section. Vocals back to the fore around 11 minutes.

 Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rêver Tout Le Temps by THIBAULT, LAURENT album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.41 | 67 ratings

Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rêver Tout Le Temps
Laurent Thibault Zeuhl

Review by WFV

5 stars This album is a flat out classic in any genre of any era. The best thing about it is the offering of proof zeuhl does not have to sound hostile and malicious. On the contrary, this is beauty personified that only progressive rock can deliver. Unlike well known zeuhl the reach does not exceed the grasp and the result is a sonic masterpiece that seems from all time but belonging to none. Arabic and world tones color the proceeding here and there adding flavor to the simmering stew. No one instrument stands out and this album is nearly all instrumental. Get it, no matter the cost
 Zgond by ZWOYLD album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 9 ratings

Zwoyld Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Jazz rock bordering on avant-garde from Le Massif Central de France but this is far more digestible than some of the other angular and obtuse stuff that comes out of ce beau pays. Many of the sounds and tones used in individual instruments have very 1970s familiarity as do some of the stylings, but all of the songs are completely original with quite diverse and changeable twists and turns.

1. "Zundia" (8:47) nice, engaging intro section is developed slowly and interestingly before flaming out with two lead guitars flashing over hypnotic steady rhythm section. (9/10)

2. "StarShoo" (9:26) interesting instrumental sounds blended together with sophisticated performances in a disappointingly uninteresting way. The uptempo middle section has some nice guitar play and interesting melodies in a FZ kind of way. I must comment on how solid and yet creative this drummer is: playing within the music, not above or below it, and always holding strong to the tempo; he's not super flashy but his occasional flourishes are subtle and yet remarkable. (8/10)

3. "Jolitude" (8:57) opens with cymbol play and bouncy organ before plucked and delay-echoed electric guitar takes on the lead. Vocals (fairly heavily treated) enter sealing the fact that this is a carnival-like piece. (I'm reminded of a mild version of a NEGRESSES VERTES-style song played in with an ATOMIC APE kind of theatricity). (8.5/10)

4. "Riravaler" (9:19) a slower, more subdued start with organ and slow-picked electric guitar gives way to a rolling sound which has the band's best blend of sound and instrumental cohesion yet. At 1:54 there is a shift into bit more of a staccato approach to all instruments except the rolling fretless bass, organ in the lead. The next shift in the fourth minute displays a more unusual time structure with the band rocking a little harder before it thins again in the fifth (just in time for the guitar lead). The second half is full of classic rock instrumental clichés, which can be fun. If you like that kind of stuff. (8.5/10)

5. "Tutti Quanti" (8:52) opens with an emotionally moving two chord guitar arpeggio before drums and bass and second guitar join in. A bit of a MARK KNOPFLER sound, feel, and dexterity to this guitarist's play. Quite nice! A spacey mid-section makes one think of the confusion one feels walking through a house of horrors or a house of mirrors, but the original foundation returns at 5:30 with the other guitarist taking a turn in the lead. He's got a thick, early SANTANA-like tone. It's awesome! At the seven minute mark a thick synth wash enters with two alternating chords as, eventually, the other instruments fade out, leaving a fun calliope-like carnival organ to end the album. (9/10)

Four stars; a very good, solid representation of creative, retro-inspired jazz fusion.

 Köhntarkösz by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.14 | 440 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finally got a copy of this LP, a used copy, so the review is going to be the old vinyl version. Kohntarkosz is the followup to the masterpiece that is Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Here Christian Vander is joined with Stella Vander, Jannick Top, and Klaus Blazquiz from the previous lineup, and they brought in Welsh guitarist Brian Godding from Blossom Toes, as well as others. The album starts off with the first part of the title track, and you know right away it's not going to be in your face as its predecessor. It tends to go on the slow, dirge, plodding pace, but the vocals are easier to take in. It's a more minimalist piece to say the least. Had I made this my first Magma purchase years ago I would have likely sworn them off. Things really pick up with "Ork Alarm". A truly ominous piece with Jannick Top using cello. Part two of the title track picks up more, with a more fusion feel to it, dominated by electric piano. In fact this points more towards the fusion-oriented direction of their 1975 live album (which includes a live rendition of Kohntarkosz, both parts). The piece really picks up steam towards the end. Then there's the brief John Coltrane tribute, "Coltrane Sundia", which is rather calm and relaxed.

To me, it's doesn't quite hold up to the greatness of MDK, because it lacks the intensity of that album, but I still find it enjoyable despite the flaws.

 DMK by RYORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.05 | 2 ratings

Ryorchestra Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

4 stars Such a crazy powerful sound shower should blow depressive mode out although it's raining heavily today. A mysterious musical commune RYORCHESTRA were founded around Nagoya, Japan by a saxophonist / flutist Ryoko ONO and her rockmates in 2006 "without any strong intention" and they've had serious development "slowly but step by step". The album "DMK" has been released in June, 2018 as their debut studio-based album, that is definitely filled with Ryoko's massive sentiment and attractive soundscape (anyway via this album we can hardly hear her saxophone play except in the first track "Evison" surprisingly ... suppose she's done her best as their "basis under the stage"). Honest to say, the six talented artists have got fantastically unified and fascinatingly harmonized upon the brilliant disc due to her "basis", just like a great marriage of unique cuisine and special alcoholic beverage. Melody lines sound quite improvisational and rhythmic basis incredibly complicated, but they play in perfect order and quite in natural. What an amazement.

Needless to say, we can hear not only Zeuhlic impression and expression via Sayaka's clear voices but also distorted deathcore testaments by Daijiro (a tad outside though). No suspicion they've got hugely inspired by Magma, the Cobaian Gods. Yes their voices always work as percussive monument along with the splendid, sincerely precise rhythmic basis by Nobukazu and Atsutomo. And it's our comfort there are lots of sound appearances all around. The second track "Zo Vie Terezzo" has impressive thrash metallic guitar explosion by Yasuhiro and Yuji. Through "Laura Palmer" classical keyboard drops are dancing with loud punksy anarchy instrumental infringement. Momentarily relaxed with beautiful, delightful flute experiment by Ryoko in "Glossolalia". On the contrary, the former part of "Night Song" has apparent fruitful, elegant but depressive, dangerous flavour overall ... just like a hunch of the latter, violent paragraph. Somewhat ethnic nuance can be touched here and there, that surely differs from the French Giant.

We can simply enjoy this album, as a delicious daily bottle of wine or lunch in the home garden. Let me say bravo for Ryoko (the sleeve etiquette by her is superb too!) and her friends. Cannot wait for their next creation (now under construction they say) that would be more and more exciting I'm sure.

 Vox Clamantis In Deserto by ZOIKHEM album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.00 | 3 ratings

Vox Clamantis In Deserto
Zoikhem Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars ZOIKHEM were a French band who released two studio albums in 1997 and this happens to be the second one. A trio of vocals, drums, percussion, piano and clarinet mostly with a strong Zeuhl flavour at times, especially MAGMA with those deep vocals bringing Blasquiz to mind. Interesting that there's no bass here and I should mention this is very much an Avant album in fact it's listed as such at RYM. There's lots of space and quiet moments contrasted with some very wild moments usually involving dissonant clarinet and discordant piano. This really has been a treat to spend some time with finally and it's a very strong 4 stars in my book.

The title track consumes pretty much the whole album other than the 5 minute closer consisting of piano melodies only which gives us time to reflect and catch our breath or more likely to figure out what the heck we just finished listening to. "Vox Clamantis In Deserto" is divided into 4 parts. "Mouvement I" opens with faint piano as cymbals help out then faint sounding drums but it's getting louder. Operatic male vocals after 1 1/2 minutes much like Blasquiz then some clarinet. A calm follows then it kicks in at 2 minutes with chanting, piano and drums. Another calm with clarinet then the drums and vocals kick back in. Piano is back 3 minutes in as the tempo continues to shift. A very Zeuhlish track. Dissonant clarinet 4 minutes in as well as discordant piano and random drum patterns before a peaceful calm with piano and faint clarinet follows. This goes on for some time then clashing cymbals and a piano line follows 7 minutes in and both are faint before it kicks back in with dissonant clarinet and drums to end it.

"Mouvement II" is dark with piano, clarinet and vocal expressions. Some percussion and drums too. It kicks in 1 1/2 minutes later but the tempo will shift dramatically. Faint piano, clarinet and drums will eventually follow and it stays sparse until it kicks in wildly with vocals, drums, piano and clarinet around 4 1/2 minutes. The clarinet becomes dissonant again before we get another calm around 6 1/2 minutes to the end.

"Mouvement III" opens with piano melodies with clarinet as drums join in. Vocals follow in this fairly uptempo start. A calm after 1 1/2 minutes with clarinet and piano then it's piano, drums and vocals as it builds to an uptempo groove. Dissonant clarinet and mournful vocal melodies follow. Soon it's chants, clarinet and drums almost 5 minutes in. A Zeuhl groove follows with clarinet over top. The clarinet turns dissonant once again before 8 minutes as the vocals stop but not for long. It winds down late.

"Mouvement IV" features sparse piano to start then clarinet and a distant sounding beat follow almost 1 1/2 minutes later. Vocals a minute after that will come and go along with outbursts of sound before it settles into a Zeuhl groove with piano and drums pulsating. An eerie calm and random drum patterns follow then it's pulsating again then more outbursts of sound until another calm 5 minutes in with outbursts of piano. Haunting is the word. Sparse too. Then clarinet, vocals, piano and drums return around 6 minutes dramatically at times. It's quite Zeuhlish after 8 minutes with vocals. Nice. The tempo picks up as we get some crazy stuff with dissonant clarinet.

So while I mentioned MAGMA in the intro this has but a flavour of them and is more experimental with far less vocals. Much less composed it would seem then MAGMA but man this is an album I highly recommend.

 Zgond by ZWOYLD album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 9 ratings

Zwoyld Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The oddball progressive rock band ZWOYLD from the Clare-Ferrand region of France quietly released their debut "200 000" back in 2014 which kind of went unnoticed but eventually attracted me simply by its bizarre band name, which i have no idea what it means if anything. Four years later they release their sophomore album titled ZGOND, a title which i also have no idea what it may signify if anything. As ZWOYLD's music is heavily steeped in Magma inspired zeuhl rhythms, i would assume that they have also created their own fictitious vocabulary regarding some breakaway society that exists on planet utopia. Since the cool and surreal album cover has two pyramids, i'll just pretend that what it means!

ZWOYLD is unusual in that its leader is not one of the musicians. Gilbert Brown created the band and is only the director of the project. The debut album consisted of five musicians and on this one that number has increased to six with a seventh adding the saxophone on "Jolitude." ZGOND contains five tracks all ranging from eight to ten minutes in length and continues the unique mix of zeuhl rhythms, psychedelic keyboard workouts and heavy rock guitar antics all strewn together in a semi-angular avant-prog sort of delivery. Overall ZGOND is a bit more straight forward than "200 000" with an incessant bass groove, guitar parts fluttering around it and drum and key interplay following suit but that's a mere generalization.

ZGOND carries on my like its predecessor with slow chilled sounds ratcheting up their intensity slowly until the music graduates into a full psychedelic rock frenzy with retro sounding keyboard parts and heavy guitar stealing the show. While "200 000" blew me away with its unbridled intensity and creative edge over many other modern takes on retro prog, ZGOND seems to have tamed the most progressive outbursts down a few notches in order to create a slightly more accessible sound, or maybe i'm just accustomed to ZWOYLD's sound enough for it to have lost its initial impact. Either way, ZGOND dishes out a veritable smorgasbord of retro prog in the form of psychedelic zeuhl laced with hard rock, funk and avant-prog.

One of the aspects i loved about the debut was the inclusion of various instruments including the flute, sanza and bottleneck which all seem to be missing. While mostly instrumental ZGOND has a few vocal surprises such as the whimsical organ heavy "Jolitude" which finds the band in a playful mood however it does evolve into an ominously sounding attack of guitar riffs, John Zorn-esque sax attacks and chaotic noisy outbursts of noise. The ending sounds a lot like some of the newer avant-prog bands such as PoiL with schizoid Zappa-esque vocal styles. "Riravaler" is the most frenetic track with over nine minutes of stylistic shifts drenched in classic prog organs and keyboards along with nice guitar bombast including some stellar surf guitar at the end. "Tutti Quanti" ends with another excellent prog workout with double guitars and detours into weird psychedelic freakiness.

While ZGOND doesn't blow me away like the debut, it is still an excellent slice of zeuhl driven progressive rock that incorporates King Crimson inspired guitar outbursts, ample doses of bizarre time signature deviations, stylistic and dynamic shifts and exquisitely tight musicianship as they meander through the various passages. While the bass does point to a Jannick Top styled bass groove (but not always), the music is much too playful to categorize as a mere Magma clone since the avant-prog and jazz-rock elements completely change the overall feel of the album and takes it in completely new directions. Perhaps not quite as adventurous as the debut but still quite satisfying and highly recommended to all the hardcore prog lovers who love a little slice of the underground.

 Bondage Fruit IV by BONDAGE FRUIT album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.47 | 46 ratings

Bondage Fruit IV
Bondage Fruit Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Of the six albums I own by this band(I don't have the compilation record) this comes dead last and is the only sub 4 star album in my opinion. The next one "Skin" is next lowest but I really give them a lot of credit for doing such a minimalistic album when they are know for being anything but that. And it did grow on me to a low 4 star recording. There's a couple of really good tracks on here in "Prayer" and Storm Bird Storm Dreamer" but just too much annoying experimental and repetitive stuff for my tastes overall.

"Minus One" is led by the guitar, drums and bass early on and this isn't exactly melodic as vibes join in. Different is the word I suppose. Violin after a minute. Lots of percussion too as this plays out. A calm as cymbals clash with drums as the guitar and bass return. This is better than the first part at least. Percussion and vibes return as well.

"Prayer" is sparse to begin with as sounds come and go with plenty of space. The guitar starts to lead playing slowly, bass too. It's moving now after 3 minutes. Violin 4 minutes in as it builds then the drums kick in as the tempo picks up. Some nice guitar here. It settles right back at 5 minutes with bass and drums but the guitar is back quickly. Vibes before 6 minutes.

"Screen Game(Acoustic)" has this extremely bluesy guitar with lots of bass and drums. Some crazy synths too along with organ. A bit of a mess to be honest. "Storm Bird Storm Dreamer" has this loud atmosphere to start that sounds pretty cool. The guitar comes in along with some drums, bass and synths. The wind starts to blow after 4 minutes followed by percussion and that relentless guitar melody. Soon other sounds join in. I like this one a lot. The violin starts to solo over top to the end.

"Sono-Bank" is the over 19 minute epic with fast paced guitar to start as bass and synths join in. Quite an experimental suite this one. Violin around 5 minutes but not for long as the guitar starts to make some noise over the powerful soundscape. Just plain annoying 11 minutes in. A calm 15 minutes in but plenty of atmosphere. The guitar comes in ripping it up before 16 minutes like the intro. "Old Blind Cat" ends it with spacey synths to start as violin and drums take over. Not a fan of this one either. Not a good way to close the album with those two tracks in my opinion.

This Japanese band has put out some incredible albums over the years but this isn't one of them.

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ANAID France
ARKHAM Belgium
CORIMA United States
DAI KAHT Finland
DÜN France
GA'AN United States
MAGMA France
NEOM France
NOA France
PSEU France
RHÙN France
SETNA France
VAK France
VAULTS OF ZIN United States
XING SA France
ZAO France

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