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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):
Raffaella (Raff)
Luca (octopus-4)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Ori (frippism)

Zeuhl Top Albums

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

4.30 | 894 ratings
4.27 | 624 ratings
4.24 | 438 ratings
4.27 | 198 ratings
4.19 | 470 ratings
4.19 | 311 ratings
4.22 | 187 ratings
4.14 | 435 ratings
4.27 | 116 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.14 | 351 ratings
4.37 | 66 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.12 | 385 ratings
4.14 | 121 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.04 | 420 ratings
4.29 | 50 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.62 | 20 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
4.07 | 126 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.07 | 117 ratings
4.08 | 89 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

Bondage Fruit
Happy Family
Thibault, Laurent

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Zgond by ZWOYLD album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.02 | 8 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 | 435 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
4.02 | 8 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.

 Mathematical Mother by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.27 | 116 ratings

Mathematical Mother
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 179

Universal Totem Orchestra is a very risky musical proposal, full of quality, details and technique, whose originality and concept are really impressive. But, which kind of music does Universal Totem Orchestra play? It's really very difficult to explain. What I can tell you is that their music is an explosive mixture of sounds with modern rock camera, krautrock elements, psychedelic space rock influences, the power and crudeness of hard rock, opera and folk touches, and influences from the most avant-garde Magma. The music presents also influences from jazz, rock and medieval music.

Probably, the most unique attribute of this band are the vocals performed by Ana Torres Fraile and various male performers. You will hear choirs, operatic, tenor and soprano, and traditional male vocals, all very well done. There is so much happening instrumentally that the listener really needs to pay attention. This wouldn't be good background music as it's one of those albums that demand your full attention. Odd time signatures and sudden stops and starts, allowing that for different movements to take place, are the norm, not the exception. It's clear these musicians know how to play and a tremendous amount of work has gone into this piece of music. After all, there aren't many albums just short of 80 minutes long. So, you know you are getting your money's back. Sometimes, with albums this long, the music gets tiresome and boredom starts to set in prematurely. But, that isn't the case on here. I never got the sense they made a long album just for the sake of it. All of the pieces here fit the musical puzzle and nothing seems excessive or irrelevant. What makes this more rewarding are some of nice melodies provided by piano, guitar and saxophone.

'Mathematical Mother' is an album influenced by several musical styles by a truly quixotic Italian band. We can hear soaring classical vocals, the perfect piano accompaniment, the amazing bass, or the move between jazz, fusion, funk, classical, Arabian and progressive styles. I can see why they're considered a zeuhl band due to some bombastic and hallucinating influences from Magma, such as the arrangements hover from bombastic Wagnerian explosions to jazzier climes, again a Kobaian characteristic. But, in reality only Magma sounds like Magma. I can also see occasional forays into Arabic, Gothic and Gregorian chants. It seems that 'Mathematical Mother' is Universal Totem Orchestra's most successful album and represents a union of zeuhl, symphonic, and other progressive rock styles, yet, creating a thoroughly original sound which any fan of avant-prog will find a joy to digest. It just blows me away to think of the time and talent that was put into this album. Finally, the instrumental arrangements are absolutely perfect. This is an album with a very Italian strong feeling. And as almost we know there is amount infinity of amazing Italian prog rock albums.

'Mathematical Mother' needs a careful and gradual metabolization before being grabbed and appreciated. Over fifty minutes of refined and articulated evolutions characterized by counter-tempos and overlaps, epic veins and oriental warps that contain echoes of some of the best Italian prog bands. Starting from the fourteen minutes of the 'Terra Cava' opener, the talents of Torres Fraile stand out, as a vocalist with a soprano extension and an emphatic theatrical verve, a true narrating soul of the entire staging. The technique of the execution and inspiration distinguish the entire line up all over the album. Stylistically, sought after 'Mathematical Mother', undoubtedly stands among the most valid albums of the recent wave made in Italy linked to the jazz-rock prog line, confirming all the excellent impressions that the Trentino orchestra has so far awakened. So, stick to this title and avoid letting it go unnoticed. This kind of prog albums doesn't happen every day. However, 'Mathematical Mother' needs a careful and gradual metabolization before being grabbed and appreciated. What are my favorite tracks? I don't can say that. The entire album is just amazing. It supplanted all my expectations. 'Mathematical Mother' mined blow my mind with a symphonic Italian flavored Zeuhl.

Conclusion: Since the first minute I listened to 'Mathematical Mother', I was deeply impressed by it. Despite it suffers so many and different musical influences, it remains for me a truly impressive work. And curiously, they continue the old and great Italian tradition of using Italian lyrics. The album is characterized as Zeuhl, a genre on which I'm not very well familiarized. But, I can also see on it, influences of Gothic music, Gentle Giant, Dead Can Dance, and of course of the classical music, especially from the bombastic sound of the classic Wagnerian operas. The music is amazing and with great complexity. We may say this is an example of how the modern prog rock music must sound. There aren't many new prog albums that can impress me most than this one. Universal Totem Orchestra must be commended for making an album of such magnitude and scope. While this will not appeal to everyone, those of you who like to take musical adventures outside of the norm, would do well do give this a shot. I found this to be a fascinating album and a truly enjoyable listen to. It's really an amazing album. It's highly recommended for all lovers of sophisticated prog rock.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Apsara / Altais by ALTAÏS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.05 | 2 ratings

Apsara / Altais
Altaïs Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I'm not sure where to start with this one but thankfully Aymeric Leroy did the liner notes here in both French and English. APSARA were a young French band in the early eighties who struck up a friendship with a band called GORGONUS who weren't far from them geographically. Both were playing live gigs and both were huge MAGMA fans catching their heroes live as often as they could. APSARA was a six piece formed in 1981 with two key future members of SHUB NIGGURATH in Franck Fromy and Ann Stewart who would become a couple in APSARA and they connected well with the couple in GORGONUS namely Jean-Luc Herve and Veronique Verdier. So they decided to join forces along with a couple of other musicians and soon this partnership became known as SHUB NIGGURATH.

So we get 5 tracks from that early APSARA lineup with Fromy and Stewart. It opens with their only recorded studio track called "Enfer Mais" at 11 1/2 minutes while the other four tracks are live from 1983. When these members left to form SHUB NIGGURATH, APSARA originally kept going with the same band name until they realized there was a Japanese band called APSARA so they changed it to ALTAIS. We get three tracks from them and about 14 minutes worth of music. This was recorded on 8 track tape in EIDER STELLAIRE's basement. I love the connections at this time with members from these bands having these friendships and members going from one band to another. ALTAIS would open for EIDER STELLAIRE and ESKATON in December of 1985 just before this EP was recorded.

This is a great idea in my opinion adding APSARA's recordings to ALTAIS' making this a worthwhile compilation album. I also like that there's three members that appear on both of these recordings. Even the music of APSARA and ALTAIS is similar being very MAGMA and thus Zeuhl driven while SHUB NIGGURATH would push those Zeuhl influences to the side more. Both were six piece bands although APSARA has a guest violin and sax player and no keyboards while ALTAIS featured both electric piano and synths but no guitar. Both have great female singers by the way and ALTAIS uses a male singer to great results. Hopefully that wasn't too confusing.

"Enfer Mais" the only studio recording we have is a fantastic way to start. Dark and heavy as female vocals start to chant. Love the fuzzed out bass and APSARA had two bass players! It becomes pretty intense at times then the sax joins in. Check out the bass after 1 1/2 minutes. Nasty! The drumming is becoming more prominent as well. The rhythm stops around 3 minutes as sounds come and go with chants over top. It kicks in again before 4 minutes where the sax, bass, vocals and drums standout. A drum display before 6 minutes then it kicks in with a bass-led Zeuhl rhythm with dual female vocals. Guitar before 7 1/2 minutes and some screams after 8 minutes. The guitar is crying out after 9 minutes and I love that fuzzed out bass. Amazing vocals before 11 minutes along with the guitar.

Next are the live tracks from 1983 and the sound quality could be better at times but I'm happy with this overall. It was recorded on cassette tapes which were kept in someone's drawer for 30 years. "Apsaras" opens with female vocal melodies as fuzzed out bass, a beat and more arrive. Nasty fuzz here then some dissonant sax just to test how thin our skin is. Some chalkboard-like scraping noises with the violin that follows just to see if your awake or not around 2 minutes then it kicks into a mid-paced groove. Some angry guitar around 7 1/2 minutes from Fromy then the song slows right down 8 1/2 minutes in as it winds down to the end.

"En D'avtres Lieux" has this hellish rhythm with violin over top as the tempo picks up. Abrasive guitar comes and goes as they seem to jam here. Some very nasty bass before 6 minutes as it settles back some in tempo. An experimental section follows then the tempo picks up again around 9 minutes as they proceed to rip it up. The guitar is at it again then this experimental calm arrives after 12 minutes to end it.

"O Rages" opens with violin sounds as male spoken words arrive and they will stop just after a minute as the violin then changes styles to a slower more melodic sound. I'm actually reminded of David Cross and KING CRIMSON before 2 minutes. Some disturbing screams arrive as they come and go and the violin is matching those screams. A change 3 minutes in to a Zeuhl rhythm. Nice. The sound quality might be at it's worse late in this song.

"Ici Et Maintenant" is the final live tune from APSARA. It features violin early with a heavily distorted sound. It picks up before 2 minutes. This is good! Guitar before 3 minutes then back to the violin. Some male chanting this time around 4 minutes. Great sound after 4 1/2 minute but it's changing a lot here. Some screams follow as that nasty violin arrives. A disturbing and slow rhythm continues with creepy samples of children laughing and screaming. Man that SHUB NIGGURATH vibe is strong here. This insanity continues to the end.

Next are the three tracks from ALTAIS clocking in at around 14 minutes. I was already familiar with this very short EP as I own it and feel it's close to perfection but again way too short. Again I'm so glad they decided to combine these two related bands. "Altais" opens with the wind blowing as female vocal melodies join in. That Zeuhlish rhythm kicks in around a minute with deep male chants. So good! The tempo then picks up as the male vocals continue then the female returns around 2 1/2 minutes. Synths 3 minutes in as a calm with almost spoken deep male vocals arrives. Theatrical female vocals as well then it all kicks in again before 4 minutes with fuzzed out bass. Synths are back before 4 1/2 minutes with female chants, drums and bass. So good! A New Wave sound can be heard with those synths before 5 minutes. Twas that time I suppose. Theatrical vocals continue both male and female then the tempo picks up again before 7 minutes. Fun stuff!

"Promenade..." is my favourite song on here. It's the electric piano for me, I love Fender Rhodes. Love the energy too as we get this driving rhythm of electric piano, drums and bass. An absolute killer track that turns a little experimental late. "Gravitation Zero" is the 2 minute closer that sounds nothing like the rest of this recording. This is spacey with synths and vocal melodies creating a very surreal vibe here.

An absolute must for Zeuhl fans out there and one of my favourite releases from 2015. This is an archival release that is well worth tracking down but limited to 500 copies I believe. Don't miss out!

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.13 | 55 ratings

The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

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

3 stars UNIVERIA ZEKT was a short-lived pseudonym used by the French band Magma. The side project which was basically the same line up as heard on "1001 Degrees Centigrades" (with a few more vocalists) was an attempt to create a training wheel version of their first two albums in order to help ease the music loving public into their strange alien sounding take on jazz-fusion and zeuhl. This idea as far as i know was unprecedented and a testament to the innovative approach that Christian Zander and his crew of Koabaians were taking during the day.

For the most part much about their sole album THE UNNAMABLES is basically a watered down style that was present on Magma's first two albums with a deemphasization of the hardcore jazz and hypnotic zeuhl rhythms and more of a focus on funkier bass lines, soulful vocals and less progressive compositions that were easier to digest. The entire sci-fi based Kobaian concept was jettisoned as well with English titles and lyrics replacing the unintelligible Kobaian folklore of the Magma universe. The first half of the vinyl album were intended to mimic the cliche generic jazz-rock outfits of the day with tracks like "Altcheringa" sounding like something Chicago would have released in their early years. The second half of the album explores more simplified variations of the style heard on "1001 Degrees Centigrade."

Being the innovator that he was, Christian Vander recognized this little misstep side project to be the failed venture that it was and wisely scrapped it in order to reinvent the Magma universe itself by scrapping the "every stylistic change except the kitchen sink" approach and refining their sound into the magnum opus stylistic approach heard on their first true zeuhl epic "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh" and beyond. A wise decision indeed as that was when Magma really began to become recognized as one of the greats of the French prog scene.

If taken simply as the anomaly it was, UNIVERIA ZEKT's one album THE UNNAMABLES is entertaining enough to throw on every so often but it will neither ever rank highly above any of Magma's albums proper with the possible exception of the stinker of a mess "Merci." While the album begins hardly recognizable as Magma related with funk and soul stealing the show, the longest track "Africa Anteria" is weird and creative enough to actually appear on a bona fide Magma release. While i wouldn't go out of my way to track this one down, it is certainly worth a listen or two especially if you are at all interested in the period that connects the more jazz-fusion oriented first and second albums and how they transmogrified into the classic zeuhl-centric sound that debuted on "MDK."

Overall THE UNNAMABLES isn't really that bad of an album if you like a good funk and soul type of album with a few jazz freak outs interspersed here and there. The rhythmic zeuhl tendencies are hidden in the bass line as well as some tracks like "Africa Anteria" exhibiting some of the vocal styles that would become Magma trademarks on their then future discography. The musicianship is excellent of course, but because of the fact that i'm completely familiar with the entire Magma universe upon hearing this one, i can't say that this one really gets me all hot and bothered musically speaking! Basically there is some good stuff on here but unlike most Magma albums, this one is awkwardly uneven.

 Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rêver Tout Le Temps by THIBAULT, LAURENT album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.37 | 66 ratings

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

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

4 stars Despite experimenting with multiple types of instruments growing up, LAURENT THIBAULT picked up the bass as his primary instrument and played in a multitude of cover bands in the 60s as well as as a few originals such as the Zorgones. After that band imploded he met none other than Christian Vander in his native France and succeeded in becoming the very first bass player of Magma. Although he was one of the original members he soon parted ways at least as a band member and took the role of producer instead putting the studio magic touches on Magma's "Kobaia" debut, Vander's solo "Tristan et Yseult" as well as "Attack." While he managed to get involved in the production world with a huge impressive list of well known artists all throughout the 70s and 80s, THIBAULT left only this sole album in his wake of as his own original material under his own moniker where he not only engaged in production and mixing but handled the bass, guitar and some of the vocals as well.

MAIS ON PEUT PAS RÉVER TOUT LE TEMPS (But One Can't Dream All The Time) may be a short little blip on THIBAULT's lengthy and diverse resume consisting of only four tracks that barely clock over the thirty minute mark, but what he left behind as his sole album is somewhat of a testament to all his musical influences with none other than fellow countrymen Magma themselves providing some of the primary inspiration. Yes, MAIS ON PEUT... is chock full of zeuhl-istic rhythms enriched with fretless bass, tom fueled percussion and heavenly siren vocals from none other than Hatfield & The North's own Amanda Parsons ( as well as Lisa Bois and Le Muezzin Mystérieux) but most of all this album is chock full of surprises with a roller coaster of changes that keep each track with a distinct flavor and occupying its own niche in the sonic jungle sprawled about in its short playing time.

The mainly instrumental music itself is a construct inspired by the paintings of Douanier Rousseau and as every bit as rich and diverse as Rosseau's cover art depicts. While vocals are heard by no less than seven individuals on the album, they are implemented as an extension of the melodies and therefore used as instruments and wordless (minus the short spoken narration towards the end). While paintings may have provided the inspiration behind MAIN ON PEUT... it is the percussive framework of Transit Express drummer Dominique Bouvier that provides the musical backbone around which the entire album was constructed. Bouvier in fact recorded the entire album's percussive parts completely alone and all the other instruments and vocalizations were added afterwards and were deftly woven around the percussive spine.

While the zeuhl tag can immediately bring the pomp and awe of hypnotic Teutonic marches to mind, THIBAULT delivers one of the most placidly serene examples in the entire progressive rock subgenere utilizing ample doses of folky violin, arpeggiated acoustic guitar and ethereal vocals styles with only a very few spoken word sections. The conscious decision to eschew the overweening assembly of keyboard parts ensures that MAIS ON PEUT PAS RÉVER TOUT LE TEMPS exudes an earthly organic and comfortably warm touch as it touches upon Canterbury infused jazzy touches, Arabic vocal phrasing and contemporary folk touches. A total of thirteen guests includes a few members from Magma who ensure the zeuhl rhythmic drive never gets buried too deep beneath the parade of instrumentation that only occasional goes fully electric with heavy distortion on the guitars all for the sake of the contrasting crescendoes.

MAIS ON PEUT PAS RÉVER TOUT LE TEMPS is both hypnotic and seductive as it provides the nice warm and atmospheric touches to reel the listener in fairly quickly and then ratchets up the tension ever so gradually with the mellower tracks incrementally ceding into the climactic final stages of the title track. In addition to the lush verdant sonic pastures upon which the musicians graze and regurgitate in glee, THIBAULT busts out his best production skills with a well balanced and mixed assortment of musical instruments and disparate accoutrements such as flame throwers, rockets, machine guns and mad cantarices. This is also an example of how horrible an album sounds on YouTube as opposed to the actual album as i have been listening to the actual album but comparing notes as i write this. By all means, get the real thing as the internet version is woefully compressed and monotonic in comparison. Unfortunately for the prog loving world, THIBAULT to date has never released another musical gem under his own moniker but has continued in the production world, but this is not one to be missed for those who can't get enough of those bubbly addictive zeuhl rhythmic fixes in a free form psychedelic jazz folk way.

Data cached

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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