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

4.28 | 442 ratings
4.27 | 611 ratings
4.24 | 346 ratings
4.35 | 93 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.16 | 376 ratings
4.19 | 224 ratings
4.23 | 145 ratings
4.23 | 129 ratings
4.13 | 286 ratings
4.49 | 38 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.09 | 326 ratings
4.04 | 304 ratings
4.03 | 277 ratings
4.05 | 98 ratings
4.18 | 42 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.04 | 80 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.00 | 109 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.03 | 80 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.79 | 10 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
3.98 | 106 ratings

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Minimal Gods by HAPPY FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 9 ratings

Minimal Gods
Happy Family Zeuhl

Review by Nogbad_The_Bad
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

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

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

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

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

 Rah Sahltaahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 7 ratings

Rah Sahltaahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

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

1971 verison

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

2014 version

Stella VANDER : vocals Isabelle FEUILLEBOIS : vocals Herv AKNIN : vocals Benot ALZIARY : vibraphone James MAC GAW : guitar Jrmie TERNOY : piano Philippe BUSSONNET : bass Christian VANDER : drums, vocals, piano

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

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

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

 Rah Sahltaahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 7 ratings

Rah Sahltaahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by jazz2896

4 stars It pains me to give this album 4 stars, in my personal opinion this would easily be a 5 star release, but my opinion is not and should not be everyone's opinion, so hear me out. I am a die hard fan of Magma, there is not a single piece of recorded material from this band that has not reached my ears, and I find it all utterly fantastic, including this amazing new release by the band. Gone is the horn section and the fretless bass, and to replace them we get some heavy fuzz bass, gloriously pristine guitar, female vocals, and vibraphone. Of course this brings a completely different sound to the band, and it makes this version of the piece sound much more planned out and mature, as opposed to the original's more quirky, wild sound. This is what makes this album very worthwhile to the Magma fan, it shows Vander's maturity as a composer. His ability to take the original piece, change very few notes, and give the piece a completely different texture and atmosphere is where the magic lies on this album. Yet this is also why I am going to give this album 4 stars, it is completely essential for the Magma fan, for it's a great way to see how Vander's composing and arranging skills have grown throughout the years and his various projects, but to the general prog fan unfamiliar with this genius's work, this may be of less interest, and the original would probably be the best bet for the Magma newcomer.
 1001 Centigrades by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.13 | 286 ratings

1001 Centigrades
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The Kobaian zeuhl rhythms that came bursting forth on the debut album seem to have wrested control from the other jazz-fusion tendencies of Christian Vander and his strange new musical entity MAGMA. On their second album 1001 DEGREES CENTIGRADES, that zeuhl bursts onto the scene right away indicating that a transition was taking place from the all encompassing type of a fusion to a more focused one that was quickly establishing itself as an entirely separate subgenre within the progressive rock world. However despite the ongoing battle between the newly formed zeuhl sound and jazz, it is the jazz-fusion aspect of the music that ultimately dominates the soundscape as it still retains a horn dominated arrangement. The operatic Orff inspired female vocals haven't come to be yet and the band began the continued decline in band members due to disagreement in musical direction. On this album Claude Engel took off leaving one less guitarist two other band members left and were replaced.

I love this album a lot. It takes a lot of the zaniness of the debut but it is clearly more refined and focused. The zeuhl developments seem to add a stabilizing effect to the whole thing. The midway point between the full-on frenzy of anything goes jazz-fusion to the total loss of it is a successful formula that finds zeuhl rhythms accompanied by beautiful jazz tinged melodies that have beautiful horn passages, lovely flute and clarinet parts and of course, frantic and frenzied Kobaian language skills finding itself shouted, screeched, screamed and uttered in startling ways. This album like the debut is one of my favorite MAGMA albums and although I love their entire output it is these first two that I find the most exotic and adventurous and unpredictable. As Christian Vander kept pushing the band towards the fully fledged zeuhl that would come to be on "MDK" it caused a rift in the band and ultimately saxophonist Jeff Seffer and keyboardist Francois Cahen would leave to form Zao which would continue the musical style of the first two MAGMA releases.

 Four Years by ANAID album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
2.13 | 4 ratings

Four Years
Anaid Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

2 stars ANAID were a French band who released two studio albums in 1986 and 1989 respectively. This is a compilation album that was released in 1991 and features two tracks from the debut plus the complete second recording. The vocals are my biggest issue as they are operatic which could work except I personally don't like the tone of her voice at all. Hugh Hopper is on bass which is why I got this, I mean I couldn't resist getting an album that is classified as Zeuhl with the great Hugh Hopper on it.

The music is fairly subdued with the vocals being the focus which isn't a good thing in my opinion. Love Hugh's fuzzed out bass though and we also get alto and soprano sax. "Arabesque" is a good example of the vibes that people tend to bring up with this recording, they are played by the drummer. "Vetue De Noir" is probably my favourite track as it's quite dark and melancholic with vocal melodies to start. She does sing after the intro and this track does have some balls to it for a change. "Sea Saw" has some fairly good guitar in it but overall this is not a release I enjoy at all. 2 stars is all I can muster for this one although Hugh is awesome as usual.

 Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie by MAGMA album cover Live, 2001
4.55 | 54 ratings

Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
Magma Zeuhl

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Whatever your opinion, not one can say that Magma treads a path travelled by many. In progressive rock there are many a genre and direction but, however, few bands can honestly claim to be all that unique. (By "unique" I mean a sound that is only yours and where similarities to others are in abscense.) Ideas and inspirations are traded frequently and that is good. Magma are, on the other hand, a band which (nigh on) never took the path down the more walked upon soil in the land of Prog. They have maintained their sound and identity through out the ages and continue to do so. There is really no other band like them. That can be for better or worse but at least they are intriguing and genuinely groundbreaking.

My first venture into Magma was by way of their first, the self-titled one from 1970. Now there was something of a shock. I had never really heard anything like it but I loved it nevertheless. The rest is history, really. I cannot claim to have been able to squeeze myself into all of the music in the way I have done with some other bands. To enjoy Magma you need to give it time. This is not Music for the faint hearted. The chanting and terrifying (I cannot describe it in any other fashion) musical landscape can be frightening but all the more rewarding therefore.

This box is a collection of Three suites recorded in the year of 2000, though written way back in the early 70's. The first suite, Theusz Hamtaahk, is a really stripped down performance. The bass is in the foreground, as often with Magma, along with Vander's Amazing drumming. At times one do understand the power of chanting in what we like to call "primitive" cultures, being the gateway to connecting with the gods. It is really out of this World.

The second disc is a rendition of Wrdah tah. Again, so well played and conducted. Just like with Theusz Hamtaahk the songs blend into one Another making it a really long piece of Music, flowing seamlessly together.

The third disc is probably Magma's most famous work: Mkanik Dstruktiw Kmmandh. Again, this was recorded way back in 1973 but the live version on this box is really outstanding. I have Always loved MDK, hailing it as one of prog's greatest efforts. Though I am not normally partial to live renditions, I have to say that this is magnificent and a real treat. There are certainly othe live offerings of this suite but I think this just a tiny bit more interesting, It sounds different and why shouldn't it? Nigh on 30 years after the album was released, why wouldn't it sound slightly altered? Again, Magma is an entity of it's own and though basking in their own sun of Zeuhl they do transform within their own universe.

When all is said and done, how am I going to rate this box, then? I guess for newcomers this box could be a good place to start but I would recommend the original MDK from 1973. On the other hand this album shows off Magma's larger than life persona in the grandest of ways. I hold this box as something of a favorite in the canon of Magma and it showcases the band at it's best. (It's peak would be almost insane to write since they've almost been at the peak all through their career. I will not mention Merci in this Review, though I just did.) So, based on the sum of Everything I have to give this box four stars. It is brilliant, challenging and utterly rewarding. Great progressive music from the masters of Zeuhl.

 Pangaea Proxima by UNIT WAIL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.69 | 8 ratings

Pangaea Proxima
Unit Wail Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars New Avant Prog band from France, formed in 2009 through a collaboration of guitarist Franck William Fromy, coming from veteran noisy Avant Rockers Shub-Niggurath, and keyboardist Vincent Sicot Vantalon.Despite the presence of Fromy the main composer of music appears to be Vantalon and Unit Wail came to full circle with Emmanuel Pothier on synthesizer, Sebastian Acre on drums and Adrian Luna on bass.However, during the long recording sessions of their debut, Acre left for Chile and he was replaced by Philippe Haxaire.With James Hugget providing bass lines in one track, the first album ''Pangaea proxima'' was eventually released in 2012 on Soleil Zeuhl.

Energetic and twisting, dark Avant Prog is Unit Wail's proposal on this release, fairly complex, extremely adventurous and very intricate stuff all the way.You should ask how such a group with two keyboardists on paper would sound, but the answer is easier than you should expect, as things appear to be pretty balanced in here, no apparent dual keyboard/synth deliveries, Vantalon and Pothier rarely get in each other's way.What's really unique is the constant presence of a Mellotron around, combine this with the haunting and robotic guitar plays of Fromy and you will often think that the ghost of old KING CRIMSON was present at the time of the recordings.Now, the album contains three quarters of an hour music divided in 12 short cuts and the material is trully compressed and dense in ''Pangaea proxima''.Complex rhythmic patterns, switching tempos and schizophenic bass work and drumming meet Vantalon's powerful Mellotron and the synth exercises of Pothier, stuff is usually fast-paced with rich and dynamic executions and a little atmosphere in some of Fromy's background, almost spacey solos.There is a certain French Zeuhl taste in the throbbing grooves, but this is more of an Avant Prog offering, comparable sometimes to YUGEN's most complex ideas.

Cool Heavy/Avant Prog with a certain direction and well-constructed pieces.Non-mystified should stay away, this one should be a great entry for all lovers of frenetic, complicated musical adventurues.Recommended.

 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.28 | 442 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
4.02 | 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
4.09 | 21 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.

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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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