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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 (27/8/2014):
Steve (HolyMoly) ... team leader
Luca (octopus-4)
Ori (frippism)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)

Zeuhl Top Albums

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4.29 | 437 ratings
4.27 | 603 ratings
4.24 | 346 ratings
4.35 | 93 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.17 | 370 ratings
4.19 | 221 ratings
4.23 | 145 ratings
4.13 | 282 ratings
4.19 | 130 ratings
4.49 | 38 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.08 | 330 ratings
4.04 | 302 ratings
4.03 | 273 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
4.09 | 51 ratings
4.79 | 10 ratings
Bringolf, Serge

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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Thibault, Laurent

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 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 Würdah Ïtah. 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: Mëkanik Dëstruktiw Kömmandöh. 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
4.29 | 435 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.

 Magma (Kobaïa) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.01 | 307 ratings

Magma (Kobaïa)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

 Quetzalcoatl by CORIMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 24 ratings

Corima Zeuhl

Review by MyDarling95

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

Pseu Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

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

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

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

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

 Paris Théâtre Déjazet 1987 by OFFERING album cover Live, 1998
3.62 | 6 ratings

Paris Théâtre Déjazet 1987
Offering Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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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
XING SA France
ZAO France

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