Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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 | 863 ratings
4.28 | 604 ratings
4.25 | 430 ratings
4.27 | 194 ratings
4.19 | 461 ratings
4.19 | 301 ratings
4.22 | 174 ratings
4.14 | 419 ratings
4.43 | 60 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.14 | 344 ratings
4.12 | 371 ratings
4.25 | 102 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.04 | 406 ratings
4.14 | 116 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.31 | 48 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.08 | 121 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.06 | 109 ratings
4.09 | 84 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.06 | 94 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.61 | 17 ratings
Bringolf, Serge

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Seffer, Yochk'o
Happy Family

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Happy Family by HAPPY FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.77 | 50 ratings

Happy Family
Happy Family Zeuhl

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

4 stars While the classic prog world of the 70s has been an infinite well-spring of inspiration for generations to come, it is always interesting when the newer bands latch onto the greats of the past and take their sounds somewhere nobody ever expected. Far away in an island country called Japan, far from the initial English scene that spread to the continent, prog admirers were taking a more extreme approach to the 70s scene. HAPPY FAMILY was one of many Japanese bands to take different strains of European prog and sew them together in unthinkable ways. This band formed all the way back in 1987 with the consistent lineup of Kenichi Morimoto (keyboards), Tatsuya Miyano (bass), Shige Makino (guitar) and Keiichi Nagase on drums after they met at the University of Tokyo. The band released two albums in the 90s and then out of the blue reunited for a third in 2014.

Their self-titled debut album shows the common love of Magma's zeuhl rhythmic drive similar to other Japanese bands such as Ruins and Bondage Fruit, however while those bands tended to embellish the zeuhl with their own zany antics, HAPPY FAMILY wasn't happy with the zeuhl influences alone. On their eponymous debut they decorate the zeuhl rhythms with the avant-prog Rock In Opposition sophistication of Univers Zero with outlandish complex time signature frenzies, the harshness of "Red" era (well other eras too actually) King Crimson guitar and bass bombast along with the jazz-fusion and funk influences of early Area that even includes a touch of the Balkan gypsy folk that made them sound so unique. While some influences dominate such as the Area ones on "Rock & Young" and the Crimson-esque approach on "Kalten (Ningen Gyorai)," often all of these elements play side by side in interlocking units of sonic complexity.

Musically HAPPY FAMILY churn out seven tracks that all stand out. Some are dark, some are cheery and some such as "Rolling The Law Court" have a cartoonish feel sometimes conjuring up a Danny Elfman "Simpsons" theme song type of vibe. The tracks are all instrumental and basically extended jams bloated with extreme physical workouts. The most ambitious track is the nineteen minute "Naked King" which perfectly demonstrates the Japanese stylistic fusion in full force. It is laced with eerily dark atmospheres, Crimsonian stomps of guitar power with zeuhl rhythms, jazz-fusion sensibilities and avant-prog jittery counterpoints that add a unique sense of Area's "Arbeit Macht Frei" idiosyncrasies to the mix. The track is off the charts heavy and unnerving but proceeds in a logical manner that delivers some of the coolest instrumental prog there is to be heard. Perhaps it dwells on a wee bit too long in full Crimsonian glory but i actually dig the ballsy gusto on display. The album ends with a macabre piano piece that quickly adds another layer of weirdness to the mix. HAPPY FAMILY put out an adventurous debut of complex prog. If that's your thang, do check this out.

 Inne' Vital by STALINGRAD 119 album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.05 | 2 ratings

Inne' Vital
Stalingrad 119 Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars STALINGRAD 119 are a Jazz/ Rock band out of France with some very minor Zeuhl references, but they certainly aren't a Zeuhl band. They even call themselves a Jazz Rock Ensemble. This really was the highlight of my week as far as my listening pleasure goes. We get a five piece band playing sax, bass clarinet, bass, drums, guitar, oboe and keys. We do get both male and female vocals as well. Some guests add cello, percussion, trumpet and vocals. There's so much to like here with the electric piano and the many adventerous moments. All it took was a sample of that opening track and I was all in.

"Hope Wagon" must be a train as that's what we hear to start this song before sax and drums take over. It then settles down quickly as we get a groove of electric piano, bass and drums with the bass clarinet coming in over top. This is very trippy and jazzy as male ad female vocals arrive. So French sounding I love it! The sax is back around 2 minutes then back to that trippy sound with bass clarinet then vocals as themes are repeated. A change though around 4 1/2 minutes with spoken words, oboe and drums. Bass clarinet and a more powerful sound follows. An amazing track and my favourite.

"Mek Mehr" has a nice groove to it with electric piano over top. The vocals join in both male and female. A Zeuhl vibe here with the vocal style until the sax and smoother vocals arrive, like sunshine on a cloudy day. Hard not to bounce around to this section. Sax leads before 2 1/2 minutes then the vocals return as the sax continues. A change before 4 minutes with rough male vocals contrasted with female vocal expressions.

"Narod Naya Volya" starts out dark and sparse with atmosphere and intricate sounds. It stays this way until it comes to life after 1 1/2 minutes with the drums and bass clarinet standing out, electric piano too. Rough male vocals after 2 minutes. The sax is crying out before it ends. "Bois Que Roule" is led by the sax and drums early before a calm arrives before a minute as the bass and oboe take over with drums. Electric piano, a beat and bass follow before 1 1/2 minutes as we get a slower pace. Some cello before 2 minutes. It settles around 3 1/2 minutes with keys, drums and horns before building again to end it.

"Billy C." is a top three for me. Some opening guest trumpet as the bass and drums support. Some electric piano too as male vocals arrive just before a minute. Sax too. The intro is reprised as themes are repeated. Sax, bass, drums and vocals take over around 2 minutes. It settles back a minute later. I really like this. It turns fuller after 5 minute and the tempo picks up. Intense stuff. A calm 6 minutes in with vocal melodies but it's building again. Catchy is the word.

"Polar" is the one of two songs with fuzzed out bass so it's a winner already. Drums and sax are also featured with the fuzzed out bass then we get a calm before 2 1/2 minutes as the fuzz steps aside and we get atmosphere and electric piano before the bass clarinet arrives with cymbals. Some darkness and depth 4 1/2 minutes in. So good as the electric piano and atmosphere lead to the end.

"Triton Le Mechant" opens with what sounds like sampled spoken French male words. He stops before a minute as sax then drums and bass take over. It picks up before 2 minutes and we get some male vocals here. Spoken words before 3 minutes and this time they are theatrical to say the least. Random drum patterns and atmosphere take over as electric piano and bass clarinet also join in. Some female vocal melodies and fuzzed out bass follows. Nice. More theatrical vocals follow. What an interesting track and my final top three.

"Lude" is an uptempo horn driven song and check out the bass before 1 1/2 minutes. Some rare organ on this one as well as the sax plays over top. "Bomber In The Night" should also be a top three but no room. Bass clarinet and bass to start as cymbals then drums kick in. Love the depth of sound here. Oboe around a minute. This is really good! Check out the guitar crying out before 4 minutes. Rough spoken male words follow. So intense! Vocals and a determined sound end it.

"Why?No!!" ends the album and we get this relaxed sound with guitar, a beat, electric piano, bass and sax. Some rare synths before 2 minutes. Back to that earlier sound before 3 minutes. Electric piano then leads. A pleasant song to end the album with.

Highly recommended Jazz/ Rock that is quite adventerous with some minor Zeuhl references. A must!

 Dai Kaht by DAI KAHT album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.55 | 4 ratings

Dai Kaht
Dai Kaht Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars DAI KAHT are a young 4 piece band out of Finland who have blessed us with their take on Zeuhl. The bassist/singer discovered Zeuhl through RUINS and later MAGMA. I must say that any new Zeuhl or Krautrock band that comes along is an automatic purchase for me. I'm just really into these sub-genres and it's always interesting to see where new bands take those particular styles of music. These Finns have two guitarists, a drummer and a bassist/ vocalist. So it's disappointing not to see electric piano or not having the bass fuzzed out and in my face. They seemed to focus on the vocals as far as the Zeuhl style goes and for me they are hit and miss. In fact after the first 5 songs I'm not even thinking it's worth the three stars but then track 6 and 7 really impress before the closer which is more like the rest in my opinion.

"Karaouh" opens with some deep atmosphere before the guitar, bass and cymbals take over rather quickly. A zeuhlish rhythm kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes with drums but it's light. When the vocals arrive it's catchy but just too light and I'm not exactly sold here. It becomes more uptempo before the guitar leads the way before 4 minutes as the vocals step aside. "Waku" sounds good with that pleasant guitar with bass and drums. Vocals just before a minute. Kind of a relaxed and poppy tune at least for Zeuhl.

"Helvet Sttroi" opens with atmosphere as the bass and drums kick in and yes this sounds really good. The guitar starts to make some noise then it turns powerful after a minute. Suddenly vocals and a beat take over. It's okay. Guitar to the fore around 2 minutes as the vocals stop. This is better. "Gnyynlaggor" opens with the guitar and drums trading off before we get this steady sound with vocals. I just can't get into this. The vocals are brief but they return before 2 1/2 minutes. Please tell me you don't like this section? Some Vander-like vocal expressions follow that are right on. That uptempo section is back 3 1/2 minutes in, vocals too. Not my scene.

"Addurrenn" starts out with some atmospheric guitar along with bass. It picks up with vocal melodies and a beat around a minute. It's building still until that zeuhlish chanting kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes. It's instrumental again with guitar leading until it settles with vocals before 3 minutes.

"Kadett Mozami" is my favourite. The guitar growls away as we get some relaxed drumming but then it kicks in with vocals at a high speed just before a minute. The tempo keeps changing as themes are repeated. I like when it settles down 3 1/2 minutes in then the vocals return singing slowly. This is so good with those deeper vocals before 4 1/2 minutes. There's some dark atmosphere later that I really like.

"Advent" is another one I quite like. It has this catchy guitar led start with drums and bass. The vocals arrive after 3 minutes sounding distant but they are brief. He's speaking the lyrics before 5 minutes as the trippy sound continues. The guitar comes in awkwardly after 5 1/2 minutes.

"Doover Uouh" opens with light vocals and sound. It kicks in before a minute. Some interesting rough zeuhlish vocals before 2 1/2 minutes. Man this is all over the place, a nod to Japanese Zeuhl I presume. I like the guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. The band yells around 7 minutes as we get a dramatic ending.

I know this album is going to get a lot of rave reviews, this is more about my personal taste for sure. I knew from the first spin that this wasn't for me and many plays later it was confirmed. Check it out!

 Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974 by MAGMA album cover Live, 2014
3.71 | 28 ratings

Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
Magma Zeuhl

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

3 stars Christian Vander and MAGMA were fairly busy during the early 70s when they pumped out an amazing number of complex and innovative progressive rock albums that cleverly mixed and mingled jazz and rock together and would ultimately fuse into their new style tagged as zeuhl. During this productive time the band not only put out five studio albums but created enough retro material to fuel a new series of releases well into the 21st century. Amongst these archival gems are a great number of live recordings and in 2014, Vander released a 40th anniversary collection of material titled ZÜHN WÖHL ÜNSAÏ - LIVE 1974 which was recorded at Radio Bremen Sendesaal in Germany on the 6th of February, 1974.

The two disc set contains the majority of the 'Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh' album (on CD 1) in a live setting with only the final 'Kreühn Köhrmahn Iss De Hündïn' missing from the set however a new intro 'Sowiloï (soï soï)' (12:24) is included which adds a bizarre slow moving rhythmic build up to the main show mostly focusing on Vander's percussive and vocal combo evoking a sense of Kobaian harmony with the universe. It is accompanied by the guitar and keys and ratchets up so slowly it could possibly qualify as the most extensive intro in music history. It also has a noticeably different feel from the rest of the set which while competently performed seems a little isolated in mood and feel.

Disc 2 contains only two long tracks each clocking in over twenty minutes. The first 'Korusz II' is basically nothing more than a twenty minute drum workout by Vander himself as he uses percussion as the sole means to narrate a cosmic tale as he paints the picture with one rhythmic drum roll at a time. The second track 'Theusz Hamtaahk' is the opening first movement in the 'Trianon Trilogy' which is was already released as a live album of the same title in 2001 along with the second movement 'Ẁurdah Ïtah' and 'Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh' thus making this one a little redundant in the live archival releases.

Most importantly rather than the material presented which has been released in better forms, this album seems to be about displaying a short timeframe in the band's short lived lineup which included Christian Vander on the usual drums and vocals, Jannick Top on bass, Michel Graillier and G'rard Bikialo on keyboards, Claude Olmos on guitars and Klaus Blasquiz on additional vocals and percussion.This lineup is the bridge between the heavily fortified personnel on 'Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh' and the majorly trimmed down simplification of Vander's 'Ẁurdah Ïtah' which originally emerged as the soundtrack for the avant-garde film 'Tristan et Iseult'

Personally i don't find ZÜHN WÖHL ÜNSAÏ - LIVE 1974 to be in the same league as other MAGMA live releases. Firstly, almost all the material has already been unleashed from the vaults and the small differences are of no significant interest or consequence. Secondly i really find the stripped down versions of 'Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh' to sound woefully incomplete and missing all the stuff that made it so powerful and dramatic. Without the horn section and woodwinds, the whole thing comes off a nothing more than stripped down Teutonic stomp into rock opera territory which is the same reason the 1989 release of 'Mëkanïk Kömmandöh' has never much appealed to me either. And thirdly, the twenty drum solo 'Korusz II' is well performed but frankly doesn't seem too exciting either as it simply churns on and on without the dynamics and bombast that make MAGMA live experiences so magical. A nice supplement to a MAGMA collection but this one just seems mediocre.

 Vazytouille by VAZYTOUILLE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.81 | 12 ratings

Vazytouille Zeuhl

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

4 stars VAZYTOUILLE was an adventurous musical collective that utilized fourteen musicians from the greater larger collective Zoone Libre in the city of Lille, France. Fourteen members of the greater ensemble got together to record this single eponymous release and then apparently moved on to other projects. This is one of those totally bizarre conceptions of everything plus the kitchen sink approaches however it revolves around simple zeuhl type rhythms that flow through the eleven tracks on the album but differ in style and presentation. The orchestra pretty much experiments with every type of time signature and timbre as well as playful dynamics including different vocal styles. There is heavy emphasis on avant-prog types of angular rhythms that provide a counterpoint to the smoothly flowing zeuhl.

While the band is large in and of itself, the musical sections are divided into a string quartet, rock trio and a cappella vocal ensemble that merge their subsets of the equation into one. The fourteen musicians cover the rock instruments with guitar, double bass and drums, a horn section with trumpet, alto and baritone saxophones and alto horn, woodwinds with two flautists and a string section with violin and cello. There is also a pianist. This album is incredibly diverse with each track sounding totally different from the next as the band or ensemble rather construct complex microcosms that slowly drift and merge into the next. There is a clear sense of composition but it also sounds like a lot of improvised playfulness is allowed to flourish. Since this album is impossible to classify as a whole, a track by track description seems to be warranted.

'Du Jour' starts out with some excellent a cappella vocal interplay and then is joined by a jazzy Canterbury sound that exists in a totally different world as supplemental instruments add little jolts of freakiness. This pretty much sets the tone for the wild adventure that constitutes this album.

'Orgiak Suite (Part II)' is completely different with a faster tempo and rock energy infused into a jazzy horn section. The bass line is unrelenting while the treble parts are little jittery. Still has somewhat of a Canterbury meets avant-prog type of groove with noisy parts dropping in randomly. Becomes sort of avant-garde big band jazz with prog keys and rock guitar riffs. What happened to Part I?

'Orgiak Suite (Part III)' changes it all up once again with a very abstract piano part leading the way while atonal atmospheric tones emerge. Sounds like one of the wind instruments doing weird antics. The piano becomes more aggressive like an angular Art Tatum piano riff that turns into a more Chopin-esque type of ambitiousness. It finally emerges from the darkened freak zone and becomes a nice lounge jazz type of sound with a Canterbury flavor. 
'La Chute' starts off with a plucked violin and some chimes. Almost sounds like a Christmas tune. The winds and horns chime in to give bring more of a Canterbury counterpoint as the rhythm churns along at a fairly fast pace and angular avant-prog type guitar riffs steer it into a complete crash that allows a period of quietude with cymbal action, bop style bass and random sounds erupting from different instruments. It continues with a distinct groove and random flavors added.

'Titicaca' is a nice mellow avant-prog type of track with Stereolab type vocals

'Babiole' is a jittery, oddly timed Canterbury type of jazz rock with Dimanda Galas type of vocal wackiness

'Masay Christ, Pt 1' sounds somewhat like one of those playful xylophone led Zappa tracks that turns into a weird free-form third stream jazz that battles to stay in the classical world but ends up sounding like a violent rape of a violin accompanied by a cheerful keyboard bit that leads into the next track 'Masay Christ, Pt 2' which picks up more of a brass rock type of beat with a catchy melodic development that eventually breaks down into a very sinister ambience with crazed avant-garde keyboard freak outs. It changes things up again after a while into a Canterbury happy sounding jazz-fusion type of track with a fuzzy filthy guitar solo along for the ride. This track is all about extreme contrast that displays polar opposite moods battling it out in a mostly melodic way.

'D'gel' sounds like a Hatfield and the North Canterbury type of tracks with Northettes style of vocals with happy loungy jazz music only with all those trumped up off-kilter time signatures. This one is extremely slow and nonchalant as it slowly parades along. A frenetic flute line weaves around and creates an unnerving dissonant effect at times although it often finds resolution.

'Si' si'' sounds more like an avant-garde 20th century classical piece in the vein of Stockhausen with pointillistic sounds painting an piece of sonic impressionism but a frantic Zorn type of sax run starts to get the natives restless and a jazz bop type of bass line enters as does random percussive beats and a plethora of noise. It continues to devolve into pure chaos however a complex system of percussive tradeoffs keeps a groove beneath the angry hornet's nest of buzzing instruments. A brash brass riff bursts into the mess and steers it all back into jazz territory.

'Bill' changes it up big time with a single piano leading the way displaying some sort of Thinking Plague type of rhythm followed by the same sort of female vocal style with fidgety time sigs and avant-prog urgency. In fact it sounds like an avant-prog vocal jazz standard with some extra weird sounds thrown in. Despite it all, possibly the most normal track on the album.

This is quite the album. Only recommended for those who like a nice helping of diversity and some of the most ambitious musical undertakings. While primarily underpinned by zeuhl type rhythms, it seems like the Canterbury jazz type of sound is the most common thread as the tracks jump around between styles, moods, timbres, tones and dynamics. There is some outstanding musicianship amongst these fourteen performers who have complete control over their instruments of choice. This is so complex in scope that it borders on classical music. A very satisfying array of compositions that satisfying the itch for the unpredictable and excessively bombastic covering every known area of progressiveness. A brilliant mix of accessible rhythms and angular counterpoints. Despite fourteen musicians involved it never feels too busy or that too many chefs are in the kitchen.

 Dai Kaht by DAI KAHT album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.55 | 4 ratings

Dai Kaht
Dai Kaht Zeuhl

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

4 stars Love their young, aggressive, and restless sound paranoia. DAI KAHT, hailing from Finland, can be called as one of impressive acts who see the light in 2017. Their debut eponymous album veiled in a colourful psychedelic dot-printed sleeve as if we would take various hallucinogenic agents together in a minute. This eccentric sleeve's reminded me of some stoner psychedelic combos actually, but the content completely betrayed me. Their sound / play style could be fit for such a phrase - Mr. Bungle, Sun City Girls, or especially Japanese Magma follower Korekyojin meets post-punk, slightly with a nuance of jerky Area-related jazz essence. And their remarkable attitude in an audible manner can be heard via sticky, repetitive, convoluted melodic or vocal phrases here and there. Punksy in a sense but we cannot avoid enjoying along complicated rhythms and melodies. Basically upon heavy but charming sound basis, melodic irregularity performs eccentrically and excitingly. One of my favourite tracks is the second one 'Wak'', featuring pleasant chorus even in a mischievous atmosphere. 'Advent' is characterized with loud, psychedelic guitar explosion and Demetrio's enthusiastic voices. This creation is filled with sound variation inspired by lots of heavy / psychedelic / avantgarde / jazz-fusion progressive rock vanguards. Bravo for such a quite promising outfit.
 Kakusenjo No Ongaku by KAKUSENJO NO ONGAKU (BASE OF FICTION) album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.98 | 4 ratings

Kakusenjo No Ongaku
Kakusenjo No Ongaku (Base Of Fiction) Zeuhl

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

4 stars Japanese bands have long been known for their uncanny ability to adopt European musical traditions and then fortify their edifices in order to take them to the next several levels of extremity. While bands like Boredoms, Acid Mothers Temple and Ruins have become fairly well known in the underground extreme music world, others remain relatively obscure even within those tiny recesses of the lumpenproletariat. JYOJI SAWADA ( 沢田穣治 ) bassist of Satoh Michihiro Tsugaru-Shamisen Gakudan released a scant few solo albums in the 90s and amongst them is this bizarre artifact titled BASE OF FICTION ("KAKUSENJO NO ONGAKU") which is more like a supergroup project with everyone involved in the Japanese underground world of noise rock, avant-prog, zeuhl and other experimental movements making an appearance. This one includes not only guest performances from Tasu Yoshida from Ruins and Seiichi Yamamoto from Boredoms but includes a whopping total of 17 musicians and vocalists parading through this near hour long experience.

BASE OF FICTION is a very strange album indeed that runs the gamut of chaotic noisy rock attacks and ultra-mondo bizarro avant- prog chamber music with episodes of zeuhl inspired rhythms that showcase the Magma-esque female operatic diva vocals that come and go as a labyrinthine train of weirdness interrupts the regularly scheduled program when a comfort zone even remotely begins to emerge. Overall there is a Bondage Fruit type of brutal prog element to JYOJI's work that is smoothed out by the Univers Zero type of chamber prog and string sections that seems to pacify the more abrasive elements from becoming too dominant. The passing of the baton from the mellow and reflective aspects to the off-the-leash freneticism of the noise rock parts allows this album to slink along at a comfortable pace. In addition to the main prog, chamber rock and zeuhl rhythms that keep some sort of uniformity to this work, there are also a plethora of sound effects, background vocals and electronic wizardry as well as some sort of homegrown folk feels that add a domestic flavor to the mix.

This is one of those dense musical experiences that is quite rich in its scope. While the string section of the violin, viola and cello seem to dominate the soundscape there are appearances by all kinds of strange instrumentation including a ponchi, berimbau, grampot, bandolin, marimba and gong. JYOJI proves to be the ultimate orchestrator of sound as the soundscape never sounds too cluttered with characters and every change in the wind seems to be well calculated with purpose rather coming across as a maelstrom of random sound swirling about like an haphazard tornado. This one is highly recommended to those who seek out the ultimately bizarre of the Japanese underground but unlike many such albums that seek out chaos and brutality for their own sake alone, BASE OF FICTION has a very sensual side as well that offers not only the craziest and noise induced avant-prog to be experienced but also dishes out ample doses of melodic high art beauty of the sort that is found in the Western classical masters' compositions of the past. However in the end, this whole affair comes off some sort of experimental opera gone really, really wrong but yet somehow feels so very, very good ;)

4.5 rounded down

 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.08 | 121 ratings

Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by raom

2 stars Simply, Jannick Top is not a good composer. He writes a few interesting lines, throws in a few rehashed patterns from the 70's magma albums, then he'll draw out the same theme for much longer than necessary. The introduction was very promising, but the rest of the album does not live up to the expectations. Not even Vander's drumming can save this one from a two-star rating from me.

This is a highly overrated album in this site, though Jannick is not overrated as a performer. The album does have some enjoyable moments, but not enough to offset the tediousness and call the album as a whole "Good".

 Eider Stellaire II by EIDER STELLAIRE album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.54 | 20 ratings

Eider Stellaire II
Eider Stellaire Zeuhl

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars I got Eider Stellaire's debut about 15 years ago and for a very long time I thought the band had only released one album, so when I found out they had two more I just had to have them, no matter what's the music like. The album was released in 1986, 5 years after their magnificent debut. About half of the original line up is not there anymore and so is the style of the music. I'm very curious to know where were they trying to go with this release, it sounds like a weird adaptation of zehul for the 80's, and although I do like the album, I think this attempt will not appeal to many people. Most of the material suffers from a lack of development, some of the songs are kind of empty, where not much is going on except for the main theme. Gone are those wild fierce instrumentals containing saxophones and guitars, keys are now very different and sounds much more updated to the 80's, the chanting like vocals have taken a turn and adjusted to the 80's. The songs are less ambitious now, the fusion kind of interplay is now replaced with a more song based tunes or some more atmospheric attempts. It's clear that the band is trying a different approach, a much calmer and easy sound, unlike the wild and sinister playing of before. There are 6 songs here, one of them I wouldn't really consider a song or anything, and the whole thing is only 27 minutes long.

Although my impressions looks negative, as I said I do like this album, the songs are not bad imo, they are just very different from what we already got to know by the band. The songs are lighter and maybe more accessible although still contain some amount of weirdness. I don't think I could classify this as zehul anymore, although it does conatin some zehul elements, first of all that grainy deep kind of bass tone is still present and that kind of continues drilling mantras are also there to some extent. The vocals are different now and are not zehulic but are much more inspired by Frank Zappa, I can't help but feel that the music is a bit more psychedelic too. Yes I know it's hard to imagine how this whole think is even possible, you gotta hear it to believe.

Ring the opener starts and you already feel something is different, there's a different vibe now, much lighter. Bass and vocals drives the rhythm as the keyboards feel out the song, this is maybe the closest as you'll get to improvisation or solos on this album, good stuff. Aretis continues the line of that 80's jazzy/zehulic rhythm again topped with Zappaesque vocals, although comes out as a little flat overall it is surprisingly enjoyable to my ears. The next Kiowa Riviere De Lune is a calm short piece, which contains pretty much nothing inside, not a very effective attempt. Fferyllt is better but could have been much better, I like the main theme here, nice overall but nothing more really. Delebration De L'eau is more sinister with a prominent bass line and some restraint keys on top, again nice but nothing more.

Not a bad album but could have been so much better, I would recommend it only for completionists who's curios to see the band's evolvement, like me. 3 stars barely.

 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.28 | 604 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

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

5 stars After a twenty year gap in which the musical weirdness of MAGMA fizzled out with the lackluster 'Merci,' it seemed that the Kobaians had packed up ship and headed back to their distant colonized world having found the state of affairs of our Earthly 1980s too much to handle. They had come to guide humanity into a higher state of consciousness but everything about the times was indicating an opposite effect. It goes without saying that the band is the brainchild of Christian Vander who not only developed the new musical genre that would come to be known as zeuhl (Kobaian for 'celestial'), but also the entire mythology and science fiction chronicles for the tales of planet Kobaia which they so inconveniently narrate in their own indecipherable language. Vander himself hadn't evacuated the planet, of course, and has explained the enervating circumstances which led to the band's initial demise however he continued working with various other projects including Fusion, the Christian Vander Trio, Welcome and Offering as well as releasing solo albums under his own moniker. It came as a surprise to everyone that a good thirty years after the peak of their creative output that MAGMA would release one of the best albums of their career.

K.A. which is an abbreviation for Köhntarkösz Anteria' is actually a prequel to the 1974 album 'Köhntarkösz' which together forms a trilogy finally realized with the 2009 closer 'Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré.' While the overall general mythology revolves around the spiritual quest of two men seeking secrets of the occult world in order control the forces of the universe and achieve immortality, K.A. provides the narrative of how these things came to be beginning with the main character (whose name is Köhntarkösz) finding out the roles he will play in the spiritual history of human evolution. This is, of course, intended for those interested in the underlying saga that is so craftily obscured beneath the impenetrable Kobaian language that are even taken to the point of being written out in the liner notes in Kobaian and are in effect complete gibberish lacking the addition of a dictionary at hand. Lyrical and mythological significance aside, MAGMA has never been the kind of band where the hidden sagas of far away worlds ultimately matter anyway. It's the music that draws us mere Earthlings in like moths to a porch light and K.A. delivers a bona fide greatest hits of musical styles honed and perfected throughout Vander's forty some years (at the time of release) on the world's progressive albeit underground experimental rock stage.

The album may consist of a mere three tracks with each outperforming the other, yet flow together as if the entire affair is a seamless intergalactic opera that expresses the narrative in ever changing tempos, bold and playful dynamics all artistically decorated with a wide-ranging palette of instrumental and vocal variations that will be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with early 70s MAGMA fans but would surely sound like an extra-terrestrial liturgical drama to anyone yet unfamiliar with these unorthodox musical developments. Like the early MAGMA albums, a lot of musical mingling of influences outside the rock paradigm means that the Carl Orff meets Sun Ra effect easily connects K.A. to the trilogy in which it belongs. The album was for the most part composed in the same period of 1973-74 with fragments appearing on their 1977 live album 'In'dits.' While stylistically similar, K.A. offers a much needed reboot for the MAGMA brand name with only Christian and Stella Vander finding their way into the new 21st century version of the Kobaian universe. No, you will not find Jannick Top, R'ne Garber or other past masters on board here. This is a whole new cast of Kobaians with a guitarist, bassist, two keyboardists and five vocalists including Vander's signature improvisational falsetto scatting techniques that add one more layer of mondo bizzaro to the heady MAGMA experience.

The good news is that all members on board are up to the task of reaching and exceeding the high bar set long ago. The lineup is actually quite similar to the 2001 live 'Theusz Hamtaakh La Trilogie au Trianon' which includes Emmanuel Borghi on piano and keys, Phillippe Bussonnet on bass, James Mac Graw on guitar and Antoine Paganotti and Isabelle Feuillebois on vocals. New to the MAGMA family are keyboardist Frédéric d'Oelsnitz and vocalist Himiko Paganotti. All members past and present exquisitely meld their respective talents into one gorgeously long piece that while segmented remain in sync with the story at hand and effortlessly cascade and segue from one unintelligible musical tale to the next. While the material may have found its creation in the early 70s world of the nascent progressive rock era of extreme experimentalism, Vander was restricted at the time due not only to the limitations in technology but also the tight budgets they were subjected to (it sucks being ahead of the pack) and thus never had the resources to grace the albums with the affluence of a decent production budget. On K.A. all the modern day techniques are utilized to make a crystal clear and powerful album that sounds like the perfect hybrid of the classic 70s musical style with 21st century advantages. While the performances are hardly incumbent on the technological advances, it certainly makes great music sound even better.

No one could have seen this gift beamed down from the Kobaian heavens above. Progressive rock bands from the 70s rarely live up to, much less outperform the performances of their heyday but for anyone who has seen Christian Vander play his drum like a pro well into his senior citizen years will understand that the man simply never loses his magical musical mojo on either his manic percussion prowess or his ability to utter those ear-piercing shrill falsetto scatting sessions that add that extra amount of weirdness to the already out-of-the-box outlandishness. And likewise nor does he seem to botch up the Kobaian mythological legacy in any way which could be helped by the fact that the alien lyrics give an air of total mystery surrounding the nebulous concepts. All in all, K.A. ranks at the very top of MAGMA albums in its sheer audacity not only in incorporating all the tastiest ingredients of their glory years but by also ratcheting up the musical concepts to new levels without sacrificing one little iota of their idiosyncratic zeuhl rhythms, seductive yet bewildering musical transitions or the vim and over-the-top vigor that graces every bombastic or sensual cadence. Not to mention revealing a hitherto unfinished piece of the ever-unfolding Kobaia mythology. This is one of the most brilliant comebacks in the prog universe and also displays the timeless erratic beauty of Vander's vision that emerged in the wild and crazy 60s. Another timeless masterpiece has emerged and well worth the thirty years that it took for its completion.

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

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives