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 | 667 ratings
4.28 | 477 ratings
4.24 | 360 ratings
4.33 | 103 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.27 | 146 ratings
4.17 | 398 ratings
4.20 | 245 ratings
4.24 | 133 ratings
4.13 | 303 ratings
4.50 | 40 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.09 | 347 ratings
4.06 | 279 ratings
4.04 | 318 ratings
4.10 | 101 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.32 | 37 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.08 | 95 ratings
4.09 | 77 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.05 | 80 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.06 | 55 ratings
4.70 | 11 ratings
Bringolf, Serge

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Thibault, Laurent
Happy Family

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Four Years by ANAID album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
2.52 | 6 ratings

Four Years
Anaid Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars 80's French band, which involved Canterbury legend Hugh Hopper and two guitarists linked with the Canterbury scene, Patrice Meyer and Rick Biddulph.They existed sometime between 1985 and 1990 with the leaders being female singer Emmanuelle Lionet and percussionist/keyboardist Jean-Max Delva.They released a cassette album in 1986, ''Vetue de noir'', recorded at Studio Adam in Roissy en Brie and three years later they self-released their overlooked debut ''Belladonna'' on vinyl with a vastly different line-up, now including saxophonist Pierre-Marie Bonafos, recorded at Studio RB in Montigny.This debut along with a few pieces from the first casette were released on the Aya label as ''Four years'', a couple of them were re-recorded versions of the old tracks with Jean-Luc Distch on drums and Rick Biddulph on bass and guitar.

They played an irritating Zeuhl akin to masters of the sound MAGMA to go along with some experimental vibes, Jazz improvisations and Gothic aesthetics, propelled by Delva's dominant synth experiments and percussion, the gradiose operatic atmospheres and Lionet's outlandish, wordless vocals.There is even a slight Canterbury touch, which is pretty reasonable, considering that musicians from the scene were involved in Anaid, especially during the more Fusion-like moments, but generally the mood goes into theatrical, operatic territories with certain Jazz flavors and some orchestral pomposity.There is some bit of incosistency in here with tracks like ''Nord-sud'' and ''Sea and saw'' sounding like failed attempts on 80's Fusion, Funk and tropical Jazz Rock with some commercial brances and not sitting comfortably next to the otherwise sinister sounds of the remaining pieces.Fortunately the rest of the album is pretty decent Zeuhl/Jazz with some great bass work, Delva managing to create obscure atmospheres with his percussions and vibrahone and Lionet appearing as a very strong vocalist.Odd rhythms, jazzy exercises, light Fusion interplays and the excellent ''Belladonna'' being a great example of soft Jazz mixed with intense Zeuhl and Minilamism.

Good 80's Zeuhl, that has escaped from the radars of many listeners.Both haunting and ethereal atmospheres with nice work on bass, sax, guitars and percussion and some superb female vocals.Recommended.

 Gurison by SETNA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.06 | 55 ratings

Setna Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It's been six years since their debut album "Cycle I" was released, an album I rate extremely high, in fact it's my number two album for 2007. There are a few changes on this one as Benoit Bugeia who was a guest on the debut is now a full-time member, and Nicolas Goulay a former member is now a guest. The female vocalist from the debut has been replaced by a male singer and Benoit Widemann guests on minimoog.

"Cycle II" is a three part suite beginning with light drums and fender rhodes in this laid back and jazzy intro. Some fuzzed out bass joins in then the vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. Love the distorted keys that bring Canterbury to mind. Some backing vocals as well later on in part I. The last two sections are gorgeous with those distorted keys with bass and drums standing out.

"Triptyque" is divided into three main themes and eight total parts. It begins with sounds coming and going and check out the minimoog as the synths sweep in the background. It settles back as the vocals arrive including some backing vocals. A calm with vocal melodies arrives in part III with drums and a wind instrument. I'm reminded of a mellower MAGMA when the vocals come to the fore. Fuzzed out bass late. The second main theme opens with liquid keys and atmosphere as haunting vocal melodies arrive. The guitar cries out ala Gilmour. It picks up some in part II of this suite and it sounds amazing. The vocals stop late in this part as we get organ-like sounds then flute. Beautiful. The third main theme is relaxed as vocal melodies arrive then it builds slowly.

The final main theme is called "Guerison" and is divided into four parts. Random drum patterns and atmosphere to start and it all settles down late in part I. Drums lead the way in part II as keys then vocals join in. Lots of minimoog and vocals before it settles back late in part II. Love the distorted keys in part III, very Canterbury-like. Vocals arrive during the final part but they stop halfway through as it settles.

I'm in the minority for sure in rating the debut higher than this one but I miss those female vocals and the atmosphere that was simply stunning. A very solid 4 stars.

 Andromeda by RUNAWAY TOTEM album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.53 | 27 ratings

Runaway Totem Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The completion of ''Zed'' marked the end of a phase and the beginning of a new era for Runaway Totem, named Kalpa.At the end of the 90's the band would quit from performing live and focus on the first part of a trilogy named ''Cosmic cycles''.For this album they recruited a full-time keyboardist in Roberto Veronese aka Virhur.Additionally they moved from Black Widow Records to the French Musea label.The album was released in 1999 under the name of ''Andromeda''.

While they retained the obvious qualities of the previous album, ''Andromeda'', as part of the ''Cosmic cycles'' trilogy, required a bit of spacious components, so Runaway Totem ran the album with plenty of synthesizer in the forefront and some heavy, orchestral arrangements shining through.The epic and operating singing parts and the powerful Zeuhl activities are still strong elements in their music, imagine DEVIL DOLL playing a dynamic Zeuhl style, while the angular riffs, the dominant rhythmic guitars and the Classical-inspired organs make up for a huge, sinister and theatrical atmosphere.A set of five tracks, slightly over or under the 10-min. mark, passes through bombastic sections, grandiose orchestrations, dark soundscapes and mysterious vocals, they even added some ambiental textures in the process to unveal the album's cosmic enviroment.It sounds a bit more focused of a release compared to the previous works, this one is well balanced between haunting, symphonic segments and Zeuhl-like operations with emphasis on the flaming guitars and heavy keyboard work.

Music, that could have been easily performed in a cathedral.Sinister, atmospheric Heavy Rock/Zeuhl with elements of Rock Opera, nice and energetic arrangements and very irritating vocal parts.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Mkank Dstruktẁ Kmmandh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 667 ratings

Mkank Dstruktẁ Kmmandh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Generally considered the best, or at least definitive, Magma you won't find any disagreement from me.

MDK is a departure from their first albums which were more like jazz rock and moves into the genre of "Zeuhl". What exactly that is...I'd say it's best to just listen for yourself and give it a try, but for the sake of this review I'll just say MDK is symphonic, jazzy, prog rock in a made up language.

This made up language is common to almost all Magma albums, and while this is a hold up to some, I feel it's no different than scat singing: The words are not what matters, but the sound. The vocals, over lyrics, how it fits the music, which it does superbly. The vocals are orchestral, intense, often crazy, but passionate and emotive. Which is what can be said of the album album. It is undeniably insane, ridiculous and over the top but it's equally passionate and emotive. This is an intense album without doubt. Oh, and sure I know there is a story to this album and Magma in general, of which we know some details, but frankly I don't bother and just enjoy the music.

The album has a great flow to it as the songs move seamlessly, it is more of an overall than individual song experience, but some standouts in my book are Hortz Fur Dhn Stekhn Ẁest, Da Zeuhl Ẁortz Mkank and Mkank Kmmandh.

So, there's not much else to say about this album and no better way to understand it than trying it yourself. Just take it for what it is and you will find this is an ambitious, innovative, fun, powerful album packed with feeling, (something I think often lacks in prog, much as I love prog) superb song writing, and Vander's epic drumming. Operatic classical mixed with jazz and built in a prog rock style, this is one wallop of an album!


 Minimal Gods by HAPPY FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.83 | 21 ratings

Minimal Gods
Happy Family Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I think the most surprising news for me in 2014 was hearing that HAPPY FAMILY was releasing a new album. They released two studio albums in the nineties and I just thought they were done. I listened to a short audio clip and I was sold. Like their earlier albums this is heavy and complex and all instrumental. In fact after my first listen i'm thinking this is more Math Rock than Zeuhl, I just don't hear that Zeuhl flavour at all on this one. The keyboards don't always do it for me so I would rate their first two albums higher than this one but they are all 4 star records in my opinion.

"Slide" is heavy-duty and quite growly and deep sounding. Angular guitar leads follow and they will come and go. Just an intense slab of instrumental music. "No Talent, No Smell" is another complex piece that is very mathy. I'm not a fan of some of the keyboard sounds but this is an excellent song overall. "Rodrigo" is heavy again with keys playing over top. It does settle some as the contrasts continue. Ripping guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. "Portal Site For Sightseeing" has some light shining in it for a change as we get an almost feel good vibe. Check out the guitar and drum work after 2 1/2 minutes. Amazing! Nice bass lines before 5 minutes as well. This is an uptempo track with lots going on. "Doggy-Human Contest" is uptempo with keys as the guitar plays over top. Check out the drum work as well. Some cool guitar/keyboard interplay around 3 1/2 minutes in then it turns dark and heavy 4 minutes in. Nice. Nasty and growly organ runs follow along with some deep bass grooves.

"Animal Spirit" has riffing and more in this fairly heavy and complex piece. The keyboards are all over it as well. "Cat Riding Roomba" is crazy fast with so much going on. There's a Zappa flavour to this one. It does settle back at times but not a lot. "Celestial Illegal Construction" opens with keys as some kick-ass drums join in. The guitar starts to make some noise over top. I like the guitar solo after 3 minutes here. Not a fan of the synths before 4 minutes though. It ends in a more calm manner. "Tibadabo" is very mathy with keys, guitar and drums standing out. It settles down before a minute but contrasts will continue. Great sound 2 1/2 minutes in with liquid keys then the guitar lights it up before it settles back again. "Feu De Joie" has this heavy and growly sound to start before a calm with keys takes over quickly. Back to the heaviness with organ. Synths play over top in a high pitched manner. Themes are repeated. What a killer closing track.

I was expecting more I must admit but this is still a very impressive album and comeback by HAPPY FAMILY.

 Zao Family by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 1 ratings

Zao Family
Zao Zeuhl

Review by Exa Gerardo

— First review of this album —
4 stars This is an album that came across the iTunes store, as I was actually looking for another missing in my Zeuhl collection, such as: "Typhareth" or "Akhenaton". And I must confess that at first, some doubts arose if this was really an album that kept some continuity with the sound developed by Zao since its reunification in 1994, as the title on the cover was a little confusing, crediting the album as "Seffer / Cahen Septet ", there was a chance of this being a conventional jazz album, as in some alternate projects by Zeuhl mastermind, Christian Vander.

But after all, there was not much to lose, the worst that could have happened was to add a nice jazz album to my collection, but the best was what actually happened, finding one of the missing pieces in the puzzle of Zeuhl dinasty: an album of excellent workmanship, in which several elements that have boosted Zao's music throughout its history, can be found: a strong dose of jazz-fusion unfolded from Miles Davis 70's school, and also a number of elements that definitely relate to Zeuhl and the work of this French group during its classical period, such as: the integration of contemporary classical music, the use of atonal compositions, open spaces for improvisation and a strong influence of traditional and ethnic music from Eastern Europe, a predominant feature mainly in Seffer's compositions, both in his work with Zao and throughout his solo career.

On the line, we know that there's not a single album, where we can find exactly the same line-up, true, there are certain constants from time to time in Zao's discography, but ultimately the very core of this group, consists only of saxophonist Yochk'o Seffer, and now gone keyboardist Franois Cahen, who are accompanied on this album, by drummer Franois Causse, same that subsequently participated in live albums "Zao in Tokyo" and "Ethnic 3 Live", alternating with guest percussionist Mino Cinelu, they provide a more organic rhythm base, with certain ethnic or world music taste, on compositions featured by Seffer's woodwinds, without vocalizations but instead enhanced by a string quartet that ultimately reminds us of some of the most important works from classical Zao period, such as "Shekinah" or "Kawana" where the strings contrast and complement the more jazzy sound of the base group.

So if you enjoy any of these mentioned albums, I have no hesitation in recommend this one for your collection or playlist, though it's not easy to find on CD, at least you'll find it in iTunes or Spotify.

 d Ẁd by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.74 | 292 ratings

d Ẁd
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Another development for MAGMA after the space opera in the form of the Theusz Hamtaahk Triology had run its course. While many of the previous styles and sounds can be heard sparingly on D ẀD, this is a much less busy affair with only a few of the many musicians on the album taking part in any particular track. The star of this album is Jannick Top who delivers the funkiest and most in-yer-face bass lines that occur on any MAGMA album. He also handles the brass arrangements and synths as well leaving his indelible stamp on this album that sounds like no other.

The title track begins the album and has the most musicians participating and to be honest is my least favorite track on the album. The repetitive piano roll with the call and response Kobaian vocals with a nice jazzy sax appearing sounds like MAGMA making a tribute to African ritual music or something with its unrelenting rhythms. The problem for me is that it just doesn't do much with all the sounds going on and seems like a four minute group drone of some kind. The same is also true of the second track "Weidorje" which has a weak groove and vocal phrasings that i find really boring. Not a good start.

Luckily everything changes for the better with the brilliant third track "Trller Tanz (Ghost Dance)" which starts with a cool synth run followed by an infectious bass groove with awesome interaction between the keyboards. The synth run has a haunting oscillating effect that actually sounds like haunting ghosts. This effect is heard from here on and adds a very effective spookiness to the mix including the other Ghost Dance of "Zombies" that also has a nice dissonant jazziness to it.

Most tracks are short and to the point but there is one progressive behemoth in the form of "De Futura." I wouldn't exactly call it more progressive than the other tracks, i would simply call it longer. It utilizes the exact same formula with beefy groovy double bass lines, oscillating ghost sounds and alternating themes and tempos, and basically it pretty much takes different songs and sows them together into an 18 minute monster that morphs into another track instead of being separate. It is the perfect way to end the album. Another successful MAGMA release in my book and although not as perfect as others, still quite a worthy addition.

I was surprised by the addition of"mhntht-R (extrait no. 2)" as a final track until i realized it's a bonus track on the CD, but since it sounds more like the operatic craziness from MDK it is a nice reminder just how different D ẀD is in comparison and how lucky we are to get a band that can not only invent a progressive rock sub genre out of the sonic boiling pots of jazz, classical and rock but that they can reinvent it with every move they make. Although MAGMA would not continue this sound beyond this sole album, keyboardist Patrick Gauthier and bassist Bernard Paganotti would leave MAGMA to carry it on with their own group Weidorje which not only took on the sound but the name from the track as well, and i personally think they did an excellent job at perfecting this style of zeuhl.

 Slaǧ Tanƶ by MAGMA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.08 | 20 ratings

Slaǧ Tanƶ
Magma Zeuhl

Review by floflo79

4 stars After the cool re recording of Rah Sahiltaak (I remember the name !), Magma came back with a studio recording of a live piece called Slag Tanz. The music is in the pure tradition of Magma. Dissonant, complex time signatures, vocals in kobaan... Logic, it's Magma. The musicians are very skilled as always, and the drum work of Vander is outstanding. For me, the highlights of the album are : the trilogy Dmb, Vers La Nuit, Dmbla - Le Silence Des Mondes, the song Slag and the furious Z Zan. In fact, all the album is very cool. But it's too short. 20 minutes for an album ! They should put an album with the re recording of Rah Sahiltaak on the side A, and Slag Tanz on the side B. But I don't have to tell Vander how to make his job. Great stuff, excellent addition to any prog rock collection. Four stars.
 Affreschi e meditazione by RUNAWAY TOTEM album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 4 ratings

Affreschi e meditazione
Runaway Totem Zeuhl

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian band RUNAWAY TOTEM was formed back in 1988, and has a dozen albums to their name as of 2015. They are generally considered to be amongst the relatively few bands exploring a brand of progressive rock known as Zeuhl, with a trilogy of albums released in the '90s generally considered to represent the band at their very best, and are otherwise known for having a fairly constantly revolving line-up. "Affreschi e Meditazione" is their 11th full-length production, and is also their most recent studio album, released by Lizard Records in 2012.

"Affreschi e Meditazione" comes across as a fairly innovative production. This is an album that combines elements from cosmic, psychedelic, ethnic and ambient music into a grand totality that is more challenging than what you'd expect from such a brew. Mainly by combining ambient and intense details, but also by using sounds and tones that are either challenging or unusual or both. An intriguing production on many levels, and one to inspect if ethnic-tinged, cosmic music created in a challenging manner sounds like something you might enjoy, especially if you also have a taste for jazz rock.

 Slaǧ Tanƶ by MAGMA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.08 | 20 ratings

Slaǧ Tanƶ
Magma Zeuhl

Review by jazz2896

5 stars Alright, here's the one all the Magma fans have been waiting for for quite some time now, and the question is, has the wait been justified? They've been playing this piece live since around 2009, and it has slowly morphed into the piece it is today. Bits have been chopped off, bits have been added, and does it work? Well for me, the answer to that is a resounding "yes". On my initial hearing, I didn't quite know what to make of it. It was certainly different than the live versions I had heard, it seemed to be lacking the sheer metal brutality of its live predecessor on Epok V, and I took this to be a weakness. Yet, there was still something in there that brought me back to it. After many listens, my ears have definitely warmed up to the sound of it, it is definitely less raw and metallic than the live version, but it is just as effective. This piece is very dense and episodic, alternating flawlessly between dark and heavy to angelic beauty. In other words, the piece is constantly moving itself forward, there is very little downtime; boring is the last word one could use to describe it. What it may lack in brutality, it makes up for with intensity and power. What I find most striking about this piece is its genius use of it's main, pulsating 5/4 bass riff (sort of like De Futura). The riff is present throughout nearly the entire piece, and yet it morphs to fit the mood of whichever section of the piece it's in. This riff lies under both heavy, dark passages as well as the light, melodic ones, and I believe this is where the genius of this piece lies; the ability to take this single riff, and flesh it out into a beautiful and powerful 20 minute piece. This is the very definition of fully fleshing out a single idea. Yes, I did say only 20 minutes, but the quality totally exceeds the quanitity. Vander's been working on this piece for years, he wouldn't release it as an unfinished work, he doesn't seem to be the one to take short cuts. Highly recommended.
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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
ZWO YLD France

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