A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

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Zeuhl definition

Zeuhl is an adjective in Kobaan, 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

4.26 | 601 ratings
4.27 | 437 ratings
4.22 | 352 ratings
4.15 | 378 ratings
4.23 | 145 ratings
4.15 | 226 ratings
4.23 | 101 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.19 | 130 ratings
4.49 | 38 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.09 | 284 ratings
4.08 | 329 ratings
4.01 | 304 ratings
4.01 | 287 ratings
4.05 | 98 ratings
4.18 | 42 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.04 | 80 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.01 | 108 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.03 | 80 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.79 | 10 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
3.94 | 113 ratings

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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Runaway Totem
Happy Family

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.27 | 437 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by admireArt

4 stars Not out of this earth!

Everybody kind of got the picture that there are some "prog sub-genres" which were actually fashioned to fit the "untaggable" or the "new" or the "yet to come", progressive bands. The ZEUHL's category obviously was designed for MAGMA. Kind of a privilege if you come to terms with the idea.

Music wise or composition wise, ZEUHL's rootings are Neoclassic, Romantic, , Modern and Fusion (which means modern Jazz). And I will add "Opera and Operetta" as in MAGMA's "K.A." , 2004.

The material was in large part, originally composed by drummer Christian Vander during 1973-1974. Aside from Christian Vander's made up spoken "language", K.A. is really not that extreme or obscure. Opposite to that, it is quiet friendly for anyone used to RiO or AV's plasticity in musical languages.

As far as "K.A.", which was released like 30 years later, continuing MAGMA''s undisputable legacy, the 3 musical movements or "acts" (they are not exactly songs) are composition wise "flawless" and yet stuck in time by its own date of composition and influences.

So it is not actually a 2004 MAGMA project. It sounds like an un-released 70's project, and some of its then "modern" Classical music "likings and influences", have inevitably aged, therefore some of K.A.'s musical passages do not sound that "modern" or novel, nowadays. I do prefer the newest 2012 release, in that regard, but this one is good enough to hold on to.

****4 "for any progger who appreciated the genres mentioned above" PA stars.

 Arkana Temporis by NEOM album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.98 | 14 ratings

Arkana Temporis
Neom Zeuhl

Review by FXM

4 stars Arkana Temporis is a interesting recording from French band Neom recorded in 2008 and released by Soleil Zeuhl in 2009. Although they display a strong Magma influence they are not a Magma clone with their own sound and display some Canterbury influences too.

The music on the disc is divided into two Acts, Act I composed of four parts and Act II with one part. The music opens with a quiet atmospheric piece dominated by cymbals, a low growling bass in the backgound, before the guitar, keyboards and drums join in. It has a bit of a Canterbury feel more than Zeuhl at this stage but as the track progresses the Zeuhl influences become more dominant.

Act I, Part 2 is the shortest track at 3:36 minutes (the others range from just under 12 to over 15 minutes). It begins with another gentle introduction, then alternates between intense bass/percussion sections and mellower passages. Vocals are used sparingly as sound effects rather than as lyric based songs, which is true of the vocals throughout the disc.

Act I, Part 3 is the longest track clocking in at 15:12 and displays more of a Magma influence gradually building to a Magma-like crescendo in the final three minutes. There is some fine drumming in this piece.

Act I, Part 4 starts with another mellow introduction followed by intense drumming and growling bass.

Act II, Part 1 also begins with some mellow piano and ethereal female vocals. As the track progresses it is interspersed by short bursts of guitar before thundering bass and drums join in along with some blistering guitar.

I don't know if Neom are still active but it would be a shame if this was their first and last recording.

I have debated about the rating, to give it a 3 star rating seems unfair although it might not be considered an essential part of a prog rock collection it is certainly a 4 star rating for Zeuhl fans. Oh what the hell I am feeling generous today I am going to give it 4 stars

 Bourges 1979 by MAGMA album cover Live, 2008
3.75 | 26 ratings

Bourges 1979
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of love for this 1979 live release or the Bobino concert from 1981 I just recently reviewed, but as a MAGMA fan both are essential in my opinion. I do prefer this recording overall to the 1981 release but to be honest they almost seem like companions given this particular era of MAGMA which is more mainstream and at times funky when compared to their classic period. By the way this is a double album and that second disk is killer.

Disc one starts off with the short intro track "Entree En Scene" which is an audio of the crowd clapping and cheering as they anticipate MAGMA live. "Retrovision" is really the only track I struggle with as far as my enjoyment goes. The drums and bass are fantastic to start and when the Fender Rhodes comes in i'm smiling. Female vocals come in and this is where my enjoyment of the song plummets, and i'm talking about the chorus which is repeated many times. Everything else about the song is excellent especially the guitar after 7 minutes as the bass throbs. When the male vocals come in before 10 minutes it signals a change to a more intense soundscape. So good. Depite being tired of the chorus on this one there are so many impressive moments over the 16 1/2 minutes.

"The Last Seven Minutes" is an incredible track with the uptempo drumming as the bass growls and the Fender Rhodes comes and goes. Male vocals join in with female backing vocals as well. Instrumentally this one really is an outstanding listen. Check out the synths around 4 minutes in, what a display of talent right there as it goes on and on. Passionate female vocals when the synths stop around 6 minutes. Love the female backing vocals that eventually join in. The guitar becomes the focus after 8 1/2 minutes. "Urgon Gorgo" has some atmosphere to it to start before the drums and keyboards start to lead. Male vocals follow but they are brief, and man this sounds so good. It's intense late. "Korusz XXVI" is the over 21 minute closer to disc one as we get some tasty dissonant sax and drumming for several minutes before Christian offers up a prolonged drum solo including some scat singing. It actually works.

Disc two begins with a brief intro track of the crowd cheering before "Hhai" kicks in. A classic MAGMA track right here as Fender Rhodes and that familiar melody comes in with vocals in tow. This is such a transcendent song. The guitar comes in before 4 minutes and proceeds to rip it up along with the synths. Cool stuff. Love this one. "Nono" is catchy and dark as it builds. How good is this!? Man I love the sound here, in fact this is my favourite song on this recording. The intensity builds then some fairly raw sounding guitar arrives. The synths half way through impress but not as much as the various vocals do. This is like a religious experience I swear. "MDK" is up next and yes I used the short form but this epic 28 1/2 minute track ends the recording. No need(I don't think) to describe MAGMA's most well known composition i'm sure. Interesting to hear the guitar crying out early on then the bass absolutely shakes the foundations briefly. You can feel the anticipation of the audience here. It's after 2 1/2 minutes before that familiar groove kicks in and we get over 25 minutes of music left to enjoy.

Easily 4 stars and another top notch live recording from MAGMA.

 Magma (Kobaa) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.01 | 304 ratings

Magma (Kobaa)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy

5 stars After King Crimson opened the floodgates and allowed the big bang of progressive rock to explode its pyroclastic flows into the world it was a signal to the Kobaians that the Earth they had fled so long ago was ready to hear the strange music they had evolved on their adopted planet. This MAGMA flow was originally an eponymous release but immediately was tagged with the name of the first track which is indeed a planet out there in a galaxy far, far away. And subsequent releases have carried the title KOBAIA ever since. The year was 1970 and the world was treated a Close Encounter of the Musical Kind as the Kobaians released their strange otherworldly music to an unsuspecting human race. This debut album tells the tale of their decision to leave a world so plagued by hatred and violence and the journey involved in getting to their new chosen planet and the colonizing and evolving in a different direction. The dramatics are in the music for all lyrics are in their own invented Kobaian language.

This double album has the honor of being both accessible and truly bizarre at the same time. Using jazz-fusion as a template, MAGMA, led by the overtly ambitious drum machine Christian Vander leaves no jazz and rock stone left unturned. Whether it is a more traditional fusion typical of the late 60s that introduces the album on the first title track or a slow and pastoral type that is filled with pleasant flute melodies, one thing you can count on is the urge to morph the music into something completely unrelated in nature. For example on the title track we get pleasant jazz-fusion followed by a frenetic sax solo followed by another phrasing of jazz-fusion followed by a very strange guitar solo. The second track "Aina" starts off slow and somber but speeds up to a more brass rock type of sound followed by a flute solo which finally gets accompanied by heavy rockin' guitars. In addition we get countless other things going on like the flute giving way to a military march in "Sohia" to the piano, bass and jazzy drumming with dissonant piano and a capella Kobaian lyrics on "Sckxyss."

Although this debut album is considered to be strictly jazz-fusion in nature, the fact is that the Kobaian creation known as zeuhl actually makes its debut here as well. How very clever of them to ratchet the music up from one track to another showing us how to change familiar 60s style jazz-fusion into their trademark zeuhl laid out on a musical journey. It finds its first Earthly contact on track number six "Aurae" where the familiar by today's standard zeuhl rhythms come bubbling through in the form of the flute and drum interactions. Soon the whole band is playing in the newly born style as well. After the zeuhl rhythms have sunk in they pretty much continue on the second half of the double album finding a more frenetic pacing on "Thaud Zaia" which continues the unexpected time signatures interlaced with pleasant pastoral lulls and interesting musical developments.

As the album reaches its final destinations we are treated to the most terrifying of screams at the beginning of "Stoah" which usher in dissonant guitar chords and a zeuhl piano run. Whether it's the bluesy rock influence in the album's closer "Muh" which also ends with jingling bells and avant-garde Kobaian chanting or the Earthly ethnic influences ranging from African drumming to Gypsy swing, one thing is clear, the Kobaians have what it takes to weave their musical vision into a cohesive whole that flows effortlessly from beginning to end despite the staggering array of influences on board. The most successful of these hurdles comes in the complete fusion of the classical, jazz and rock worlds with smatterings of a gazillion other sounds making their appearances here and there. I can understand why some may regard this double album as one that is too long because there are parts that wander on for times that may be deemed a little too long but on my part I find the first two MAGMA albums to be the most exciting of the lot. All the sounds that came after make their debut here and later albums are basically stripped down approaches of the ambitiousness that is found on the very first album. This is a treasure trove of infinite musical variations all stuffed into one single release. I am extremely impressed by this musical extravaganza and find this one of my favorite ambitious musical projects ever. Can you tell I like this? A lot!

 Quetzalcoatl by CORIMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 23 ratings

Corima Zeuhl

Review by MyDarling95

5 stars What a great, great album! Corima is a band that plays in the USA but actually started in Mexico. Quetzalcatl means "feathered snake" in Nahuatl and is a god in many ancient mexican cultures, he is the main character in this album. Although there are a lot of songs, there are only 4, three of them being long suites and one 7 minute intrumental. The first suite is "Corima Iss De Hndin!", goes from song 1 to song 8 and is 25 minutes long. The other is the "Quetzalcoatl" suite, goes from song 11 to 17 and lasts 19 and-a-half minutes. All of this album is a real monster of modern Zeuhl, combined with some avant-jazz fusion parts that make it incredible. I particularily love the title track suite and Tezcatlipoca (another ancient god), which are the songs that best take Zeuhl, but man this whole record is amazing. I will give 5 stars because this band shows the potential in progressive music that my country has, the theme is really uncommon and the music is beyond great. Zeuhl at its very peak and my second favorite Zeuhl album, being beaten by Eskaton's "4 Visions" by an inch.
 Pseu by PSEU album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.53 | 24 ratings

Pseu Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars French obscurity from Prog darkest years, only released in 2004 on Musea.Pseu came from Bordeaux and were active from late-70's until 1983.The original core was Christian Coutzac on bass/vocals, Philippe Dulong on guitar, Christophe Godet on drums and Francois Meunier, Pierre Delair on keyboards.Philippe Canellas joined them on bass in 1980 for a couple of years, the same period Meunier decided to leave the band.In 1981 Delair also quit and Erik Baron on bass, Thierry Jardiner on keyboards become member of Pseu until their demise in 1983.The material on this CD comes from sessions during the group's lifetime, recorded at two different studios, Studio Carat and Studio Le Chalet.

Pseu were heavily inspired by the French Zeuhl tradition and their style was an orgasmic Prog Fusion with wordless voices, deep bass lines with some complex playing and a flexible work on guitars and keyboards, often linked with Jazz Music.They sometimes appear to throw in some funky moves in the process to deliver a less dark and more pleasant atmosphere, but their sound was actually quite sinister with the KING CRIMSON guitar abnormalities dominating the album and a mood for technical plays, full of breaks and sudden changes, being the leading forces of the album, which contains extended instrumental themes.The influence of MAGMA is evident throughout the listening, the music has this outlandish, operatic atmosphere, which characterized the albums of the French pioneers, while there are also some light, jazzy grooves similar to Belgians COS to be found in the album.The later tracks, which are also the longest ones, saw the band escaping a bit from the Zeuhl borders, these pieces even contain some regular French singing and narrations with theatrical touches and plenty of melodic guitar moments with a laid-back keyboard background, which can be compared to JEAN PAUL PRAT's work of the same period.

Christophe Godet was the only member apparently continuing his career within the prog territory, joining Minimum vital in 1985, around the time the band was still named Concept.So no surprise that Minimum vital's Payssan brothers were among the participants in collecting Pseu's lost tapes.

Tight and very technical Fusion/Zeuhl with impressive guitar work, balanced keyboards and a dark enviroment.Recommended to all fans of the style.

 Paris Thtre Djazet 1987 by OFFERING album cover Live, 1998
3.62 | 6 ratings

Paris Thtre Djazet 1987
Offering Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I noticed as I was about to review this live double album from OFFERING that they have just released a new live album from a 2013 performance. It's probably about time really as this live album i'm reviewing was recorded way back in 1987 and at that point they had only released one studio album. Two studio albums would follow and in my opinion they got better as they went. If you don't know, OFFERING is a Christian Vander side project that is dedicated to his hero John Coltrane. The music is jazzy and led by piano and vocals for the most part, but this music is also fairly experimental at times so it's difficult to say that OFFERING is a more commercial sounding MAGMA in my opinion.

Because this is a live recording the music does seem more experimental than the studio albums with plenty of improvization. So for my tastes it's a little inconsistant with some passages over-staying their welcome. A few of these tracks would end up on the next two studio albums. Like many double albums I could edit this one down to one disc and be very impressed. Disc one starts off with "Lohengrin:Prelude" which is a disappointing start in my opinion with the classical sounding instrumental music going on for about 8 1/2 minutes, just not a fan. "Ole" sounds really good early on with some flute playing over top. Stella comes in and eventually her vocals will be the focus. There's a nice piano interlude. Good song. "Cosmos" is a short piece led by piano and female vocals. It's okay but I do tire of the vocals. "Afiieh" is much better and the audience seems to agree with their response when this one starts. Christian is outstanding on vocals here. It seems like everything is being held back and restrained throughout. I like it!

"Les Anges" is piano with Christian on vocals to start. Some female vocals are added later. Again like the previous tune this one is restrained although Stella breaks free of that late. "Les Cygnes" is one where Stella's vocals get a little theatrical at times. The song is okay but i'm not a big fan of it. "Solitude" as the title suggests is laid back early on until the vocals break out. Contrasts continue. An average track really. "La Nuit Du Chasseur" is less than 2 minutes of Stella on vocals with orchestral background sounds. It blends into another short song called "Les Vagues" where it continues in the same style but without vocals. "Lush Life" is one I just don't like with Guy on vocals with piano helping out. "Joia" certainly makes up for the last song as Christian simply kills with his vocals on this over 22 minute journey. Well done!

Disc two begins with the over 47 minute "Another Day" which is such a journey with the vocals and catchy sound dominating. "Anta" is filled with intricate sounds, especially percussion. "Chorus De Batterie Introduction A "You've Got To Have Freedom"" is a 14 1/2 minute drum solo basically as an intro to the next song "You've Got To Have Freedom" which clocks in at around 6 minutes. Not a fan of the drum solo for the most part but the following song is really good with the vocals and drumming standing out.

Well at over 2 1/2 hours it's not surprising that it's inconsistant to my ears and tastes, although even then it's hard not giving this 4 stars. Still I can't do it and I much prefer the three studio albums.

 Attahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.68 | 239 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Despite lacking the outright intensity and fully dark alien atmospheres that made `Kohntarkosz' and `Udu Wudu' such hypnotic and unsettling Zeuhl albums, `Attahk' from 1977 is still more or less an essential part of Magma's catalogue. It's not quite as immediate as those above mentioned works, but once you get past the initial disappointment of it lacking the more sinister elements (and don't worry, they're still there in subtle ways), you start to focus on everything it does right. Dark jazz still remains, the choral and vocal elements are given even more exquisite focus, the spiritual qualities are more heightened than ever, a heavy dose of ballistic funk has been implemented, and despite being comprised of seven shorter pieces, they are all tightly composed and some even rank among the greatest pieces from the band.

Magma leader Christian Vander mentions in the CD booklet how much he wanted to push his voice with this record, to especially focus on the best performance possible, and the results paid off superbly. Taking on the full lead role, the man has never sounded so gloriously inspired, passionate or complex, and he fills the pieces with a break-neck insane experimental scat vocalising that sounds like no-one else on the planet. Although he mentions as well that the drumming was not as much of a priority at the time, you wouldn't know it by listening to the album. The opening piece alone is full of so much furious and exhausting percussion fury, but throughout the disc Vander knows when to show restraint and not dominate the overall arrangements.

`The Last Seven Minutes' is one of the most frantic compositions ever from the band, full of quick- change tempo changes, devilish unpredictable drum fills and some supremely dirty grooves, with Vander's confident voice a lusty mix of squealing, yodelling and inhuman crooning. Right from the start the piece grabs your attention and it's the perfect punchy opener. `Spiritual' could not be more appropriately named, it's one of the most glorious and uplifting gospel-inspired works from the band. Hand claps, lovely shimmering Fender Rhodes, Vander and his female choir caught up in the most rapturous joy. The melancholic interlude `Rinde' has Vander's sweetly crying falsetto spiralling around dazzling classical piano. The relentless `Lirik Necronomicus Kant' has a maddening repetitive humming vocal melody over thick murky slab-like bass puttering away in the background with a chaotic finale.

The seriously weird `Maaht' brings back some of the unnerving sci-fi tension, a deranged blast with skittering drumming, sped-up voices, belching, ranting vocals and stomping call-to-arms trumpet/trombone fanfare and bluster. `Dondai' is one of the most romantic and sumptuous pieces ever to appear on a Magma album. Wistful and deeply passionate, filled with great spirit, some lovely call-and-response chorals from Stella and her choir a real highlight. Confident piano and some bass moments that creep to the foreground briefly add just a touch of tension, with nice Chamberlin bursts adding a touch of sophistication and majesty. The album closer `Nono' comes the closest to the apocalyptic menace of the darker previous albums. A sinister and brooding chanting female choirs builds in intensity to weigh down on the listener, with growled spitting vocals that turn proudly victorious in the final minutes. Oddly, the track also has a strangely powerful and triumphant symphonic prog finale that sounds quite unlike Magma, the bouncy and grand briefly even resembling E.L.P or Genesis!

Considering the level of upheaval and uncertainty in the structure of the band at this point (some of the Magma musicians taking off to form Weidourje), it's amazing to discover that the recording sessions still resulted in a cohesive and quality album. Admittedly the loss of Jannick Top's thick and prominent bass is instantly noticeable, but Guy Delacroix is not merely some poor substitute. Sadly, Vander reveals in the lavish CD booklet that the pieces `Dondai' and `Maahnt' were both originally over 25 minutes in length, so in some ways it's disappointing to know what we missed out on here (although parts of these ended up reworked on later Magma albums). However, `Attahk' is still an example of a band refusing to repeat itself, finding new facets to their sound and offering an energetic, fascinating and rewarding work.

Four stars.

 Concert Bobino 1981 by MAGMA album cover Live, 1995
3.31 | 26 ratings

Concert Bobino 1981
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is one of those albums that really surprised me. I guess the fact that this concert took place in 1981 should have been a heads-up that it probably won't be your typical MAGMA recording if there is such a thing. This is more of a commercial beast although listening to some of the crazed vocals featured on here reveals that this is very far away from the mainstream. Still I was left intrigued by what I was hearing. Usually an album with the focus on the vocals doesn't do a lot for me but perhaps it's my appreciation for Vander's other project called OFFERING that prepared me for this. By the way I haven't heard the 1984 MAGMA release called "Merci" that some people reference when talking about this double live album. I should also mention that Patrick Gauthier's "Bebe Godzilla" was released the same year as this concert was played and half of the MAGMA lineup here played on it including the Guillard brothers(horns) who were also part of WEIDORJE. Just a killer lineup anyway with Chevallier offering up some ripping guitar at times and Bertam who played with ZAO and solo Jochk'o Seffer adding some prominant bass. Plus we get dual keyboards from Widemann and Khalifa.

So yes a double album which starts with "Zain" and it begins innocently enough with piano before that weird and spacey atmosphere takes over with Vander speaking at times with passion. Female words too. The music kicks in before 4 minutes sounding really good. Check out the bass after Vander says "Magma!". So much going on as the horns blast. Feel-good female vocal melodies come in around 6 minutes. "Hhai" is classic MAGMA no doubt, and the crowd certainly agrees. Christian starts to sing. I really enjoy this as female vocals help out followed by a second male vocalist. There's a real urgency to this one. It's 4 minutes in when the instrumental work of the band comes to the fore. So good. Check out the guitar and drum work here, then the bass that follows. Nice. The vocals return before 8 minutes. Just a fantastic track. "Urgon Gorgo" opens with some killer drum work as Bertram jumps in with some great sounding bass lines. The tempo picks up before 3 1/2 minutes. The focus here is certainly on the bass and drums and it's a pleasure to listen to. "Retrovision" ends disc one and it's almost 20 minutes in length. The female vocals early on surprised me as she sings in a theatrical manner as we hear some intricate and complex instrumental work helping out. It all settles in around 3 minutes. Male vocals lead before 5 1/2 minutes but the female vocals do continue. A calm 2 minutes later then it builds before kicking back in. An instrumental section takes over before 9 minutes that is quite impressive. Vocals are back to the fore 12 1/2 minutes in. Intensity follows. The male and female vocals seem to compete with one another 18 minutes in.

Disc two begins with "Who's My Love" and as Phil mentions in his review this second disc really reveals the direction the band was heading and that direction would be summed up with the studio album "Merci" a few years from this concert. This is a commercial sounding tune, quite catchy although I love the intensity late to end it. And what's with the English vocals?! "Otis" takes a couple of minutes to get going after many spoken words. This is a song about Otis Redding and it's laid back for the most part. This is good. "Zess" is the over 30 minute epic and without question one of the highlights of this live recording. It's fairly dark and atmospheric to start then vocal melodies join in. The drums kick in just before 5 minutes as the tempo picks up and the vocal melodies stop. Vander comes in speaking words as the drums continue. The same melody continues and then Christian starts to sing the words, eventually getting very dramatic with his vocal style. Crazy but so good. I really like how repetitive this is. Check out the ripping guitar solo after 17 minutes. Man that rhythm section is so intense and urgent sounding. Horns continue to come and go then another fiery guitar solo sets the soundscape ablaze as he lets it rip for a very long period. Vocals kick back in including female vocal melodies. Just an amazing track that makes this worth the price of admission alone. "You" is the ten minute closer. Back to the more commercial sounds with this one. I like the vocal melodies from Christian early on. Catchy and passionate stuff. Everyone seems to be having a great time anyway. It picks up before 2 1/2 minutes.

This reminds me of when I first started doing reviews on here, I used to often struggle with my rating. Well, in my world this is a low 4 star album. The appeal is hearing MAGMA sounding different than the past but at the same time they combine the old and the new. This is a less serious MAGMA at this point but it's still the same band and i'm really glad I own this. By the way the DVD version of this is rated very high.

 Cycle I by SETNA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.82 | 45 ratings

Cycle I
Setna Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars The Zeuhl tradition of French groups continued in the recent years with bands like Setna, practically formed during a night of the year 2001 at the "Beteau Ivre" in Rouen, when the original members Nicolas Cande (drums), Christophe Blondel (bass), Florent Gac (electric piano) and Nicolas Goulay (keyboards) were jamming on stage.The official formation though dates in 2004, when Sylvain Gand'rio joined the band on vocals.After some live concerts, mainly in Jazz festivals, Setna reappeared as a sextet in 2006 with Natacha Jouet replacing Gand'rio and Guillaume Laurent joining the rest on soprano sax.The first album of the band ''Cycle I'' was recorded at the Gare Aux Musiques Studio, featuring Magma's guitarist James Mc Gaw and Benoit Bugeia on electric piano as guest musicians.It was released in early 2008 on Soleil Zeuhl.

Setna's style focuses on the softer side of Zeuhl with strong Jazz hints and minimalistic rock practices.They come close to the ethereal sound of AD VITAM, building their musical ideas on dreamy female voices, smooth sax lines and laid-back electric piano.The music is mellow, at moments melancholic and even obtains a nice, poetic underline due to the crystalline chords of Natacha Jouet, but what should be an advantage for the band becomes its own flaw during the process.This work rarely takes off the ground, insisting constantly on somber textures and relaxing jazzy soundscapes, which could have been easily described as Lounge Jazz, delivering a number of tracks with the same atmosphere and reasonably some strong similarities due to the soft instrumental executions.Some more dynamics were desperately needed, the beautiful electric piano, the lyrical tension and the efficient bass work are all welcome and nicely performed, but the album lacks in energy and noise.The later tracks fortunately contain a fair amount of them, offered either by James Mc Gaw's guitar plays or the more uptempo textures and the more evident presence of some nervous Moog synthesizers, which build a nice dual performance with the electric piano.This is exactly when the French band recalls COS' ethereal but still complex and intricate sound on albums like ''Viva boma'' or ''Babel''.

Second half of ''Cycle I'' appears to be much better than the soft, slightly depressive first one, as a whole though this is a rather uneven album and a band, which will propably satisfy the closed circle of Zeuhl and Jazz fans...2.5 stars.

Data cached

Zeuhl bands/artists list

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

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