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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

4.32 | 772 ratings
4.27 | 545 ratings
4.25 | 405 ratings
4.28 | 177 ratings
4.19 | 426 ratings
4.19 | 281 ratings
4.24 | 149 ratings
4.16 | 307 ratings
4.50 | 52 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.13 | 340 ratings
4.10 | 388 ratings
4.18 | 112 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.05 | 365 ratings
4.14 | 99 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.34 | 41 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.09 | 100 ratings
4.06 | 91 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.11 | 65 ratings
4.08 | 74 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.20 | 39 ratings

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Thibault, Laurent
Bondage Fruit
Happy Family

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 122 ratings

Angherr Shisspa
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by marcobrusa

4 stars Like 7 years ago i discovered Koenji through this site. So many thanks. This is their only album i could listen many times since then, because it's their most accesible one. It is unstoppable, original, and challenging. No more guitars in the instrumentation; sounds softer (but it is still crazy anyways). Try to find something as crazy as this, i dare you! In fact, it's so eccentric that it tired me after repeated listens. However, i keep coming back every now and then, because it's quality is undeniable. The arrangements have many sharp edges that may hurt some people, be careful with the volume and your state of mind if you are going to play this album. Almost 4 stars, rounded up. It may surprise you at first, but then it's too much for repeated listens. Remarkable anyways.
 Caillou by CAILLOU album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.61 | 13 ratings

Caillou Zeuhl

Review by buddyblueyes

5 stars Ten seconds into this album you'll find yourself rummaging through the attic and digging out your worn, crimson, mid-length Montgomery Ward leather jacket, growing a mustache and hoping you still have that small packet of quaaludes from that trip to France back in your senior year. Did I just step into 1970? Wait ... (double take), this came out in 2013? Can't be! Sounds too authentic. Caillou have really captured the zeitgeist of the late 60s and early 70s both in songwriting, but moreover in record production. I would love to know more about the band and how this album was produced -- but as it stands, little can be found online.

This is probably my favorite current Zeuhl album next to Chicago's Ga'an. Though Ga' an is steeped in the traditional Zeuhl with those cosmic, trippy vocalizations and repetitious themes, Caillou is instrumental with leanings towards Mahavishnu Orchestra. The instrumental mastery is epic. The synth sounds are exciting and spacey, the drums are a wash of vintage cymbals and seething with that Glyn-John's method of drum recording, and the bass sounds like my stomach after a 24-hour fast for the doctor -- hangry! There's so much dirt, grime and fuzz about this album, you'll need to take 3 showers just to get everything out of the cracks. A very exciting, instrumental record!

Wishful concert pairing: Caillou and Universal Totem Orchestra opening for Ga' an. Three modern day Zeuhl giants.

 Tok 1 by ELEPHANT TOK album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 4 ratings

Tok 1
Elephant Tok Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Their activity and explosion level is as high as ONE SHOT indeed. A new Zeuhlers ÉLÉPHANT TÔK have been founded as a offshoot of ONE SHOT and simultaneously as a followers of MAGMA. Their skillful play and instrumental technique have been verified and confirmed through their first creation "Tôk 1" ... such an impact just upon listening to the first track "Mammouth", with weird multi-rhythmic drumming, sharp-edged and precisely proceeded saxophone shipping, and percussive mysterious voices. Purely enjoyable and eccentric are their musical roots.

Their rhythm essence can be felt complicated but pretty fine to get into basically. The stream of vibes is not only delightful but also addictive, and reminds me just of some hints of a Japanese jazz rock pride DJAMRA ... there is not depression but only manic mode or maniac code. No tough nor difficult interpretation is needed via their creation but simply pleasure for Zeuhl scene. And yes, let me say they play sensitively and sometimes sensually just like many other French progressive rock combos. Not exaggerated like Perez Prado's Cerezo Rosa but well understood they've hailed from France.

For me the fourth track "I Don't Look In My Back" is very impressive, quite flooded with eclectic (heavy, jazzy, avanty, and a tad krauty) texture like King Crimson Discipline era ... bombastically distorted keyboard bullets, active saxophone athletic figure, perfectly precise drumming (kinda killa) ... such a kind of melody line or rhythmic formation could not produce any innovation nor novel soundscape actually I guess, but please let me say it be fine their play is perfect and pleasant. Try without any irregular thought, and you will enjoy this album in a simple manner.

 Electronic Elements by ONO, RYOKO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.54 | 3 ratings

Electronic Elements
Ryoko Ono Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ryoko Ono is a sax/ flute player out of Japan who is also very much into electronics. She is one half of the SAX RUINS duo and has played with other experimental Japanese bands. I feel that I should have done more homework on this one as I saw it listed under Zeuhl here which moved me to pick this up and it has nothing to do with that sub-genre. This is Avant all the way and most of the songs are repetitive and experimental to say the least. I do like three of the tracks but struggle to enjoy the rest. You should really read Damo's review if your into Avant music because he describes the music here better than I will.

"Polygon" has these heavy beats and random sax expressions throughout while "Tetragon" features organ runs and percussion throughout. I prefer the latter but I'm not big on either. "Depths Of The Sea" has lots of beats throughout that I find it somewhat annoying and repetitive. "Dual" has more drums and beats with dissonant sax coming and going. "Unknown" is a top three. I like the atmosphere to start as sax expressions join in. This one's darker but then it changes before 3 minutes with electronics but they don't last long as the beats take over without sax this time. The electronics start to come and go then the sax returns after 6 minutes. Good song. "Ensemble" is another top three with those vocals that sound they have been processed through something as the sax, beats and electronics help out. Interesting and repetitive. "Sunrise" has these random screeching sax sounds and drums that are just as random as they both stop and go throughout.

"Slut Or Slattern" has what sounds like organ and strings that pulse and slice. Some electronics before 4 1/2 minutes. I do like the spacey calm late which is my favourite part of the album. "Sunset" has percussion and electronics throughout and it's laid back and ambient. Very repetitive as well. The tempo does pick up some around 5 1/2 minutes. "Ubiquitous" is my final top three track. We get sax, piano, bass and a beat as this sounds almost normal but it's not as the sax and piano are avant sounding. I do like it. "Extra" is the closer and it opens with strange electronics as the synths sweep in almost sounding PT-like. Not a fan when it changes before a minute with stuttering beats and electronics. Another change after 3 minutes as a beat and vibes-like sounds take over. Electronics to the fore before 4 minutes then keys as the drums continue. A calm before 5 1/2 minutes as guitar-like sounds and a beat take over. Beats blast again before 6 minutes, electronics too. More of those PT-like synths after 7 minutes. I like those sections.

A tough one for me to enjoy although I certainly appreciate what's going on here. 3.5 stars.

 Black Equus by GA'AN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.33 | 8 ratings

Black Equus
Ga'an Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. GA'AN are a Zeuhl band based in Chicago and this is their second album released in 2011. We get female vocals with plenty of electric piano, bass and drums. There's lots of synths too and mellotron giving us some welcomed atmosphere.

"Arms They Speak" opens with that atmosphere and man this sounds good. Drums arrive after a minute along with some vocal melodies as it builds. Nice bass lines after 3 1/2 minutes and then it brightens after 4 minutes which is such a cool contrast to what has gone before. Great sound 6 minutes in with that mellotron. Oh my! A calm after 7 1/2 minutes with bass and atmosphere as vocal melodies and drums join in. So good! Powerful stuff 8 1/2 minutes in right to the end which is quite intense. "Servant Eye" has a powerful and dark sound to start and this continues until just before 2 minutes when it stops and the mellotron storms in as the drums pound. Nice! Keys eventually join in and check out the drumming after 4 minutes. Vocals follow as it settles back some.

"Call Of The Black Equus" is the almost 19 minute closer. A dark atmosphere envelopes the soundscape to start then sounds beat and spacey ones come and go before 2 minutes. The organ floats in around 4 1/2 minutes and you gotta like that Zeuhl rhythm before 7 minutes. Some in your face bass 9 minutes in as the drums pound and the vocals help out. These pulsating keys then join in and they are kicking ass right here. A calm arrives before 12 minutes but then it starts to build quickly. Great sound before 14 1/2 minutes as it changes with some killer bass lines, keys and drums. A calm with outbursts of vocals and keys before 16 minutes but then it kicks back in quickly.

I really thought about 5 stars but the vocals are keeping me from doing that. I like them but they could be better at times, still if your into Zeuhl you really need to hear this one.

 Quetzalcoatl by CORIMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.73 | 27 ratings

Corima Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars CORIMA are a Zeuhl band based out of Texas and they are greatly influenced by the Japanese style of Zeuhl as I thought of both RUINS and KOENJIHYAKKEI while playing this record. Even the cover art is in the Japanese style plus we get a couple of Americans playing on here who have Japanese last names. So the music is often frantic and played at a fast pace and we get both male and female vocals. Add violin and sax to the sound as well which adds a different flavour to the Zeuhl sound. To be honest I'm not into crazy, fast paced music and while KOENJIHYKKEI are a favourite of many on this site I just can't get into them or unfortunately this album by CORIMA, just my tastes of course.

This is a long one at just under 70 minutes and while the first eight songs and the final seven songs are both supposed to be long suites I find that neither of them come across as being suites as these short songs don't seem to flow or be connected to each other in my opinion. I love the title of the first song though "Corima Iss De Hundin!", that's just too funny. Vocals dominate this song and they are male and female reminding me of MAGMA. On "Gurdhait Nefertatt" we still get vocals but the violin comes in over top. It picks up speed before a minute and fast paced vocals follow. "Vhlakoshpetzz" is piano and drum led to start as the violin joins in. Again this is fast paced and frantic, and this continues on the next song "Sunna Domitiwhando".

Up next is "Wlakezz Fhunder" which opens with electric piano and drums as the violin joins in. It picks up quickly with multi-vocals. Not a fan at all. Female vocals to the fore around 2 minutes. "Krishkalidortz" is better as we get sax and drums to start with the violin over top. Male vocals and a deeper sounding soundscape follow and these soundscapes will be contrasted. "Divindondiwua" has relaxed piano melodies as the violin and vocals join in. Not a fan. "Khozmikh Kahiledrios" ends the first suite. It opens with this swinging sound as bass, drums and violin standout. Vocal melodies follow. A much better sound arrives before 1 1/2 minutes as we get some much needed upfront bass. Yeah we need more of that. Check out the fuzzed out keys(again thankyou) before 3 minutes. Vocals are the focus 5 1/2 minutes in and dissonant sax ends it. They hit on a few things in this song that I wish were prominent throughout.

"Zhuntra" has laid back electric piano to start as violin and bass join in. It turns lighter with intricate sounds including flute. Violin and drums lead before 3 minutes as it becomes intense. "Tezcatlipoca" is the longest song at over 17 minutes. It has a zeuhlish start with the focus on the male and female vocals. The tempo picks up with the vocals still being the focus, not a fan. I like the flute though. A change before 4 minutes as the vocals stop but the fast paced instrumental work continues. Guitar follows then these crazy vocal expressions arrive. Violin and flute lead around 7 minutes then distorted keys before 8 minutes as it calms down. Vocals are back at 10 1/2 minutes and I like the guitar before 16 minutes.

"Quetzalcoatl" starts the final suite and it hits the ground running with male and female vocals leading the way. "Kualtiliocayotl" is also dominated by vocals, drums and violin although sax arrives before 2 minutes. "Iknoakayotl" is uptempo with violin joining in before 1 1/2 minutes followed by vocals. I like the drumming before 3 minutes. "Necnomatlicayotl" is uptempo and all instrumental while "Teiknottalistli" is heavier but slower with piano before the vocals and violin join in. "Neltococayotl" sounds great early on with the bass and drums. It seems to speed up as it goes. "Teomatilistli" ends it with drums and piano leading in this uptempo closer. Vocals and violin join in as well.

Clearly I'm in the minority here with my rating and opinions as this album is rated very highly everywhere I looked. This just isn't the style of Zeuhl that I enjoy.

 Noa by NOA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.84 | 11 ratings

Noa Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Why could they keep such a high potential entirely in this album (or in a studio)? This eponymous album was released as only one creation by NOA, a short-lived Zeuhl combo in France, and this gem flooded with energetic vibes and tension always notifies me they should have stroke all of their motivation onto this obscurity or should have focused a session recording filled with their massive pleasure. The phenomena mentioned above can be heard in the last "La Mer" suite ... powerful saxophone battles, flexible wind- instrumental passages, and explosive exotic female voices ... all of them have been strictly harmonized and fantastically crystallized in spite of such a free-jazzy improvised session. This perfect sound combination drives the audience into an incredible comfort.

"L'Oiseau Fou", followed by "La Mer", is overflown with danceable tribal rhythms and surrealistic sensation. Mysteriously, even complicated melody lines through their innovative outrageous play can be absorbed into our brain like cool, smooth water stream. Splendid atmosphere is guaranteed for the audience. "Tape Tape" or "Pellerin", on the contrary, has no connection to delightful texture but weird quietness for unconscious depth psychology. Like a mind operation they would have done plenty of tonic works riding updraft. The first two short track full of improvisational bizarre are impressive too, as the curtain call in this album theater. Like the title itself, catastrophic stickiness hits us definitely. Wondering what is the basis of sound credibility for such a temporary project. They have created an excellent Zeuhlie shot no matter how obscure it is, let me say.

 Alternate Flash Heads by ONO, RYOKO album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.10 | 2 ratings

Alternate Flash Heads
Ryoko Ono Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

3 stars So sorry to hear you're pressed by hard saxophone business Ryoko. ;)

This bizarre album "Alternate Flash Heads" is filled with 99 short improvised sound shots created with saxophone plays by Ryoko in collaboration with a stormy drummer Talow. 99 tracks is the maximum for entry to one CD disc (but sadly less than AxCx's 5643 songs EP lol) and quite swift saxophone play by Ryoko is awesome indeed (and amazingly precisely harmonized with Talow's drumming woohoo) but, by the way, less violent than AxCx naturally (just kidding).

Anyway such a musical strategy like launching another musical atmosphere by every shuffle play upon this CD. In an album titled "No World Order" (1993) by Todd RUNDGREN the same method as above has been adopted over twenty years before. I've got surprised at such a novelty in musical digital world, and Ryoko's creation formed with 99 explosive tracks has reminded me of the amazement in those days, and notified me of another fresh impression for her creation.

Each of her terrific "saxplosion" can be called as a variation of symmetry (including a strange song title), and her "variations" should be basically different from other ones e.g. in the classic music scene. And her saxophone appearances in the whole album are pretty colourful ... in some tracks she snarls against the audience, in other she sounds a tad sensitive, and sometimes launches addictive tonic winks on a regular basis. To shuffle 99 tracks randomly is not bad really but at least for me listening to them just in order should be better.

Dunno if you know but this album sleeve might be drawn with homage to YES' "Time And A Word" released in Japan, that's another interest.

 Üdü Ẁüdü by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.74 | 333 ratings

Üdü Ẁüdü
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Welcome to a strange, grotesque, and musical alien world. It's a place where bouncing melodies, fat bass fuzz, and weird keyboard textures interplay to create songs that will make you smirk, tap your foot, and scratch your head all at once. Welcome to Üdü Ẁüdü.

This is my first Magma record; in fact, it's my first listen to the "zeuhl" genre here on Prog Archives, and it was an entertaining experience. Üdü Ẁüdü is weird while retaining melody, and moves at a fine pace through mostly upbeat songs that are packed with music and musical sounds. You'll boomerang from dancing rhythms to open-ended a breezy passages that feel improvised. The sound, instrumentation, and vibe fits right in with the '70's prog scene, though Magma's voice is literally a unique one, because all of the lyrics are nonsense words created by the band's founder. They're quirky, but they work, and really do make it feel like you're walking among aliens listening to their off- kilter pop music.

From a song writing perspective there's not much here to grab you, in part because of the overall feeling of mystery or ooky spooky vibes the band creates. This is accomplished by the instrumental work, which is great. There's moments of Zappa-like orchestration and flippancy, but for the most part this Magma album is all about keys, drums, and bass... bass especially, with a near-constant stream of off-kilter lines and experimentation to enjoy. For me, this album isn't about the songs, it's the effect. A lot sounds ad-libbed, giving Üdü Ẁüdü a jam session-like quality. The downside of this is that there isn't much variety, as the equal parts prog/jazz/funk/Tralfamadorian folk sort of blend together throughout the experience.

Creative and entertaining, Üdü Ẁüdü outdoes a handful of shortcomings to become a lot of fun. Recommended for those seeking a good dose of weirdness in their classic prog collection, especially bass lovers like me.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Merci by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.52 | 169 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars Wow! Is this MAGMA or Earth, Wind & Fire? Christian Vander, are you there somewhere?!! Did the Kobaians beam you all back up to your planet? Or did they implant those dreaded disco soul chips in you again. What can we think of the most hated album in the MAGMA discography. After the excellent run of originality and channeling of otherworldly forces that lasted from their debut in 1970 to "Üdü Wüdü' in 1976, it seems even advanced technology could not help the Kobaians hold back the backlash that dethroned progressive leaning music of the early 70s. While some bands like King Crimson were wise enough to call it a day before the great shift, others who stuck around found themselves watering down their output album by album, whittling away their loyal fan bases and becoming shallow caricatures of their innovative glory years.

Even the Kobains succumbed to these pressures as heard on the watered down "Attahk" in 1978, add to that the financial pressures of operating such a huge number of musicians on board with an ever chaining cast of members and it's really not hard to imagine the temptation to dummy down the innovations and go for the gold in the highly profitable pop music world of the 80s. Perhaps a good idea at the time but considering this is a whole different band of musicians on board (at least 25!), Vander could have had the decency to at least release this under a different moniker that wouldn't tarnish the image of one of the 70s' most unique forces in the prog world. After six years of inactivity the album was a hodgepodge of tracks recorded throughout the early 80s and at this point Vander was bored with the whole MAGMA thing anyway and after the release of MERCI would suspend activities with the band and focus on his jazz-fusion oriented Offering albums.

"Call From The Dark" begins the album and after a few tinkles of some strings and immediately begins what sounds like something you would hear on a disco soul album around 1979 leaving a first time listener accustomed to all the zeuhlisciousness of previous MAGMA offerings totally bewildered and just a few notes away from pumping out "Boogie Wonderland." While the music itself is perfectly decent for that type of sound, complete with beautiful vocals, a horn section to die for and a nice booty shakin' rhythmic section, it's like whoa!!! Is this MAGMA? WTF?

The second track "Otis" is less danceable and at least has a faint trace of the vocal trade offs of Vander and female vocalists from the past, but this song is particularly weak although perhaps acceptable for aging Kobaians in nursing homes or doctor's offices. Vander's screams in the middle sound like a mating cat and totally out of step with this mellow repetitive soul music. "Do The Music" is a rather strange little track as it sounds like zeuhl is battling it out with disco leaving the listener with no clear winner but admittedly a unique experiment that does make me think of going to the disco on Kobaia! I mean, they need to get a little light now and again too! "Otis (ending)" is a gospel sounding organ track with Vander screeching. Hmmm. No comment.

The one long track on here "Eliphas Levi" is the anomaly. It actually feels more like the zeuhl music we were expecting albeit more serene, pacified and stripped down in both instrumentation and feel. It does however have those ratcheting vocal deliveries that build in repetition accompanied by piano and percussion. This one is actually pretty enjoyable although very much on simmer as opposed to the full intense pyroclastic flow MAGMA usually delivers as the track drags on for over eleven minutes and feels like it never gets up to expected speed. The vocals are quite pleasant though and this is probably the best track on board and has a pleasant complex interchange at the end.

The album ends with the appropriately titled "The Night We Died" suggesting a now neutered MAGMA calling it a day and throwing in the towel. This is basically a sombre piano ballad with the Kobain females singing in unison. Overall i end with the same impression as i began. WTF? This would be perfectly good music for the most part for a Motown act trying to revive their career although a little unfocused but this MAGMA! Those who are held to a higher standard of complexity and innovative incremental progression as well as a higher energy level. This album is too mellow for its own good with the most energetic track sounding like a Michael Jackson B-side with Earth, Wind & Fire backing it up. Nothing on here is bad per se but for a band that carved its own niche in music and continued to ratchet it up album by album, this is surely a let down. After hearing this, it's very hard to believe they would come back stronger than ever 20 years down the road. 2.5 rounded down

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

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

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