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.

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Zeuhl Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Zeuhl | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.28 | 425 ratings
4.26 | 594 ratings
4.22 | 350 ratings
4.16 | 365 ratings
4.24 | 141 ratings
4.16 | 222 ratings
4.26 | 97 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.19 | 130 ratings
4.50 | 36 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.10 | 278 ratings
4.08 | 325 ratings
4.06 | 270 ratings
4.00 | 295 ratings
4.24 | 40 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.07 | 96 ratings
4.06 | 77 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.02 | 104 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.02 | 78 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.79 | 9 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
3.95 | 110 ratings

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Bondage Fruit
Thibault, Laurent
Seffer, Yochk'o

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Quetzalcoatl by CORIMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.21 | 19 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. Quetzalcatl 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 Hndin!", 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 Thtre Djazet 1987 by OFFERING album cover Live, 1998
3.62 | 6 ratings

Paris Thtre Djazet 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.

 Attahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.69 | 233 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Despite lacking the outright intensity and fully dark alien atmospheres that made `Kohntarkosz' and `Udu Wudu' such hypnotic and unsettling Zeuhl albums, `Attahk' from 1977 is still more or less an essential part of Magma's catalogue. It's not quite as immediate as those above mentioned works, but once you get past the initial disappointment of it lacking the more sinister elements (and don't worry, they're still there in subtle ways), you start to focus on everything it does right. Dark jazz still remains, the choral and vocal elements are given even more exquisite focus, the spiritual qualities are more heightened than ever, a heavy dose of ballistic funk has been implemented, and despite being comprised of seven shorter pieces, they are all tightly composed and some even rank among the greatest pieces from the band.

Magma leader Christian Vander mentions in the CD booklet how much he wanted to push his voice with this record, to especially focus on the best performance possible, and the results paid off superbly. Taking on the full lead role, the man has never sounded so gloriously inspired, passionate or complex, and he fills the pieces with a break-neck insane experimental scat vocalising that sounds like no-one else on the planet. Although he mentions as well that the drumming was not as much of a priority at the time, you wouldn't know it by listening to the album. The opening piece alone is full of so much furious and exhausting percussion fury, but throughout the disc Vander knows when to show restraint and not dominate the overall arrangements.

`The Last Seven Minutes' is one of the most frantic compositions ever from the band, full of quick- change tempo changes, devilish unpredictable drum fills and some supremely dirty grooves, with Vander's confident voice a lusty mix of squealing, yodelling and inhuman crooning. Right from the start the piece grabs your attention and it's the perfect punchy opener. `Spiritual' could not be more appropriately named, it's one of the most glorious and uplifting gospel-inspired works from the band. Hand claps, lovely shimmering Fender Rhodes, Vander and his female choir caught up in the most rapturous joy. The melancholic interlude `Rinde' has Vander's sweetly crying falsetto spiralling around dazzling classical piano. The relentless `Lirik Necronomicus Kant' has a maddening repetitive humming vocal melody over thick murky slab-like bass puttering away in the background with a chaotic finale.

The seriously weird `Maaht' brings back some of the unnerving sci-fi tension, a deranged blast with skittering drumming, sped-up voices, belching, ranting vocals and stomping call-to-arms trumpet/trombone fanfare and bluster. `Dondai' is one of the most romantic and sumptuous pieces ever to appear on a Magma album. Wistful and deeply passionate, filled with great spirit, some lovely call-and-response chorals from Stella and her choir a real highlight. Confident piano and some bass moments that creep to the foreground briefly add just a touch of tension, with nice Chamberlin bursts adding a touch of sophistication and majesty. The album closer `Nono' comes the closest to the apocalyptic menace of the darker previous albums. A sinister and brooding chanting female choirs builds in intensity to weigh down on the listener, with growled spitting vocals that turn proudly victorious in the final minutes. Oddly, the track also has a strangely powerful and triumphant symphonic prog finale that sounds quite unlike Magma, the bouncy and grand briefly even resembling E.L.P or Genesis!

Considering the level of upheaval and uncertainty in the structure of the band at this point (some of the Magma musicians taking off to form Weidourje), it's amazing to discover that the recording sessions still resulted in a cohesive and quality album. Admittedly the loss of Jannick Top's thick and prominent bass is instantly noticeable, but Guy Delacroix is not merely some poor substitute. Sadly, Vander reveals in the lavish CD booklet that the pieces `Dondai' and `Maahnt' were both originally over 25 minutes in length, so in some ways it's disappointing to know what we missed out on here (although parts of these ended up reworked on later Magma albums). However, `Attahk' is still an example of a band refusing to repeat itself, finding new facets to their sound and offering an energetic, fascinating and rewarding work.

Four stars.

 Concert Bobino 1981 by MAGMA album cover Live, 1995
3.31 | 25 ratings

Concert Bobino 1981
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is one of those albums that really surprised me. I guess the fact that this concert took place in 1981 should have been a heads-up that it probably won't be your typical MAGMA recording if there is such a thing. This is more of a commercial beast although listening to some of the crazed vocals featured on here reveals that this is very far away from the mainstream. Still I was left intrigued by what I was hearing. Usually an album with the focus on the vocals doesn't do a lot for me but perhaps it's my appreciation for Vander's other project called OFFERING that prepared me for this. By the way I haven't heard the 1984 MAGMA release called "Merci" that some people reference when talking about this double live album. I should also mention that Patrick Gauthier's "Bebe Godzilla" was released the same year as this concert was played and half of the MAGMA lineup here played on it including the Guillard brothers(horns) who were also part of WEIDORJE. Just a killer lineup anyway with Chevallier offering up some ripping guitar at times and Bertam who played with ZAO and Jochk'o Seffer adding some prominant bass. Plus we get dual keyboards from Widemann and Khalifa.

So yes a double album which starts with "Zain" and it begins innocently enough with piano before that weird and spacey atmosphere takes over with Vander speaking at times with passion. Female words too. The music kicks in before 4 minutes sounding really good. Check out the bass after Vander says "Magma!". So much going on as the horns blast. Feel-good female vocal melodies come in around 6 minutes. "Hhai" is classic MAGMA no doubt, and the crowd certainly agrees. Christian starts to sing. I really enjoy this as female vocals help out followed by a second male vocalist. There's a real urgency to this one. It's 4 minutes in when the instrumental work of the band comes to the fore. So good. Check out the guitar and drum work here, then the bass that follows. Nice. The vocals return before 8 minutes. Just a fantastic track. "Urgon Gorgo" opens with some killer drum work as Bertram jumps in with some great sounding bass lines. The tempo picks up before 3 1/2 minutes. The focus here is certainly on the bass and drums and it's a pleasure to listen to. "Retrovision" ends disc one and it's almost 20 minutes in length. The female vocals early on surprised me as she sings in a theatrical manner as we hear some intricate and complex instrumental work helping out. It all settles in around 3 minutes. Male vocals lead before 5 1/2 minutes but the female vocals do continue. A calm 2 minutes later then it builds before kicking back in. An instrumental section takes over before 9 minutes that is quite impressive. Vocals are back to the fore 12 1/2 minutes in. Intensity follows. The male and female vocals seem to compete with one another 18 minutes in.

Disc two begins with "Who's My Love" and as Phil mentions in his review this second disc really reveals the direction the band was heading and that direction would be summed up with the studio album "Merci" a few years from this concert. This is a commercial sounding tune, quite catchy although I love the intensity late to end it. And what's with the English vocals?! "Otis" takes a couple of minutes to get going after many spoken words. This is a song about Otis Redding and it's laid back for the most part. This is good. "Zess" is the over 30 minute epic and without question one of the highlights of this live recording. It's fairly dark and atmospheric to start then vocal melodies join in. The drums kick in just before 5 minutes as the tempo picks up and the vocal melodies stop. Vander comes in speaking words as the drums continue. The same melody continues and then Christian starts to sing the words, eventually getting very dramatic with his vocal style. Crazy but so good. I really like how repetitive this is. Check out the ripping guitar solo after 17 minutes. Man that rhythm section is so intense and urgent sounding. Horns continue to come and go then another fiery guitar solo sets the soundscape ablaze as he lets it rip for a very long period. Vocals kick back in including female vocal melodies. Just an amazing track that makes this worth the price of admission alone. "You" is the ten minute closer. Back to the more commercial sounds with this one. I like the vocal melodies from Christian early on. Catchy and passionate stuff. Everyone seems to be having a great time anyway. It picks up before 2 1/2 minutes.

This reminds me of when I first started doing reviews on here, I used to often struggle with my rating. Well, in my world this is a low 4 star album. The appeal is hearing MAGMA sounding different than the past but at the same time they combine the old and the new. This is a less serious MAGMA at this point but it's still the same band and i'm really glad I own this.

 Cycle I by SETNA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.84 | 43 ratings

Cycle I
Setna Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars The Zeuhl tradition of French groups continued in the recent years with bands like Setna, practically formed during a night of the year 2001 at the "Beteau Ivre" in Rouen, when the original members Nicolas Cande (drums), Christophe Blondel (bass), Florent Gac (electric piano) and Nicolas Goulay (keyboards) were jamming on stage.The official formation though dates in 2004, when Sylvain Gand'rio joined the band on vocals.After some live concerts, mainly in Jazz festivals, Setna reappeared as a sextet in 2006 with Natacha Jouet replacing Gand'rio and Guillaume Laurent joining the rest on soprano sax.The first album of the band ''Cycle I'' was recorded at the Gare Aux Musiques Studio, featuring Magma's guitarist James Mc Gaw and Benoit Bugeia on electric piano as guest musicians.It was released in early 2008 on Soleil Zeuhl.

Setna's style focuses on the softer side of Zeuhl with strong Jazz hints and minimalistic rock practices.They come close to the ethereal sound of AD VITAM, building their musical ideas on dreamy female voices, smooth sax lines and laid-back electric piano.The music is mellow, at moments melancholic and even obtains a nice, poetic underline due to the crystalline chords of Natacha Jouet, but what should be an advantage for the band becomes its own flaw during the process.This work rarely takes off the ground, insisting constantly on somber textures and relaxing jazzy soundscapes, which could have been easily described as Lounge Jazz, delivering a number of tracks with the same atmosphere and reasonably some strong similarities due to the soft instrumental executions.Some more dynamics were desperately needed, the beautiful electric piano, the lyrical tension and the efficient bass work are all welcome and nicely performed, but the album lacks in energy and noise.The later tracks fortunately contain a fair amount of them, offered either by James Mc Gaw's guitar plays or the more uptempo textures and the more evident presence of some nervous Moog synthesizers, which build a nice dual performance with the electric piano.This is exactly when the French band recalls COS' ethereal but still complex and intricate sound on albums like ''Viva boma'' or ''Babel''.

Second half of ''Cycle I'' appears to be much better than the soft, slightly depressive first one, as a whole though this is a rather uneven album and a band, which will propably satisfy the closed circle of Zeuhl and Jazz fans...2.5 stars.

 Eros by DN album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.22 | 350 ratings

Dn Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy

5 stars The band that became known as DUN actually started in 1976 by the name of Vegetaline Boufiol in Nantes, France and in1978 changed their name to Kan-Daar playing covers of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. They eventually changed their name to Dune but ultimately settled for DUN, which was inspired by the novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert but you would never be able to figure that out solely by listening to this music. It does, however, have an other-worldliness sound to it.

DUN released this one album with only 1000 copies made but gained a loyal following by touring with Magma, Art Zoyd and Etron Fou Leloublan. They almost became part of the Rock In Opposition lineup of bands in Europe but due to technicalities and self professed laziness failed to do so. This album really should be totally unknown considering all the obstacles stacked against it, but because of the superb outcome of musicianship and dedication to re-releasing it, it has taken on many new lives of its own. I know for sure that I never would have known of this album if not for the dedication of reviving it throughout the decades.

This is one of those touched-by-God albums where the lofty ambitions actually resulted in a desired outcome. They seamlessly combine the influences of Magma, Zappa, Henry Cow, Mahavishnu Orchestra and add their own fluffy touch of prog interpretation and create a bona fide masterpiece. This is one of the few albums in all existence that I find lives up to its title which in this case is EROS. For me this interesting and unique album truly creates musical ecstasy which despite my admiration for many a genre rarely guarantees such results. In the case of DUN I find myself feeling like a touch of heaven has finally projected itself into this realm of constant devolution and this coming from one of the least progressive years of 1981, it is a sign from somewhere that spectacular music can occur in the most unlikely of places and times.

I have the 2012 remastered edition by Soleil Zeuhl and although I NEVER rate albums with the bonus tracks in the mix, I have to say that I would give the bonus tracks on this release a 5 star rating alone if they were to find themselves on an independent release. Although four of them are alternative versions and only one is an unreleased track, they are truly excellent and worth the price of admission alone.

 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.26 | 97 ratings

Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by MyDarling95

5 stars We all have to agree in one thing: Magma started Zeuhl without a doubt. But we also have to agree that there are a lot of bands and artists that have taken Zeuhl to a higher level than Magma did (or should I say does?) and Jannick Top is a great example, who additionaly was part of Magma and contributed in a lot of songs. Jannick Top by himself is synonim of great Zeuhl, and this album is not the exception. Every element that makes Zeuhl great is present: female vocals, dark music, shiftings and jumps and great bass BTW. I really consider this album a masterpiece, it is a suite that represents the glory of Zeuhl but taken to 2008, something really hard IMO, but still I enjoy a lot modern Zeuhl, like Magma's K.A. or Shub Niggurath's Introduction. An absolute gem, a treasure, prehaps the greatest Zeuhl work to date (really!) and my third favorite Zeuhl album, a little short of Eskaton's 4 Visions and Corima's Quetzalcatl. A must.
 Mkank Dstruktẁ Kmmandh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.26 | 594 ratings

Mkank Dstruktẁ Kmmandh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by ebil0505

5 stars Delivering a genre of music completely unfamiliar to me, I was fascinated by the prowess of M.D.K. and the musical talent therein. A sinister record with equally fierce vocals, this album is a dark journey through transcendence and dissonance itself. Each instrument harmoniously working together are at the same time alone in their melodic voices. The vocals range from chants to choir soundscapes and deliver something of an insanity to the music. The piano serves to prove that this insanity has a purpose and should not be disregarded or frowned upon, but cherished as the other instruments. There are memorable themes side-by-side with challenging passages that, in the end, seem to work out together in a grand masterpiece of progressive music. For anyone keen on expanding their range of musical tastes or curious to see how far some prog musicians can go with their creative impulses, this album is a must.
 mhnthtt-R by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.17 | 364 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by BatBacon

4 stars I think "apocalyptic musical" would be a fair way of describing this album (and most of the Magma albums). Talk about drama, this album opens with a bang! After a short second of silence a dead serious voice speaks to you in a languish you don't understand. Then comes another bang! Typical for a Magma creation, very serious and very very exciting. I can't say that I have any idea at all about whats going on, I never have any idea at all when it comes to Magma, but thats not a bad thing.

The music is melodic and, in some weird way, very beautiful. At the same time its dramatic and very haunting, and even though all the lyrics are written in Kobaan, the strange languish created by Christian Vander, you get the feeling of something terrible going on. I don't know, but I like to think the story got something to do with the destruction of some civilization somewhere in universe, as it is known to be a common theme for the conceptual music of Magma. Drummer and bandleader Christian Vanders playing is as driving as it is mindblowing! Who ever thought jazz drums could create a feeling this ominous, its like hes playing theater with his drums. He also provides the album with his scary, almost preaching voice, which in combination with the choir of destruction (thats the sound of it, anyway) should be able to lay ground for some really nasty nightmares for those listening to mhnthtt-r just before bedtime.

Just like a great movie, this album has a great dramaturgy. There is ups and there is downs, often the songs builds up really slow to keep the excitement on top and the listener very alert. It goes from slower and more atmospheric phases to fast and action packed phases. Also the end pursues this dramatic way of storytelling; with some very serious words the album comes to an dramatic but quick conclusion. Those last words will keep on echoing in your head (even though you still don't have a clue what they meant), thats exactly how powerful this piece of music is. The silence after the music is over is almost as important as the music itself.

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ALTAS France
ANAID France
ARKHAM Belgium
CORIMA United States
DN France
GA'AN United States
MAGMA France
NEOM France
NOA France
PSEU France
RHN France
SETNA France
XING SA France
ZAO France

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