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ZEUHL

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 (1/3/2020):
Luca (octopus-4)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)

Zeuhl Top Albums


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

4.28 | 1133 ratings
MEKANK DESTRUKTW KOMMANDH
Magma
4.26 | 753 ratings
K.A (KHNTARKSZ ANTERIA)
Magma
4.34 | 279 ratings
4 VISIONS
Eskaton
4.24 | 559 ratings
MHNTHTT-R
Magma
4.24 | 509 ratings
EROS
Dn
4.25 | 194 ratings
MATHEMATICAL MOTHER
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.17 | 376 ratings
CHRISTIAN VANDER: TRISTAN ET ISEULT [AKA: ẀURDAH TAH] (OST)
Magma
4.14 | 543 ratings
KHNTARKSZ
Magma
4.17 | 237 ratings
WEIDORJE
Weidorje
4.11 | 487 ratings
1001 CENTIGRADES [AKA: 2]
Magma
4.30 | 91 ratings
MAIS ON NE PEUT PAS RVER TOUT LE TEMPS
Thibault, Laurent
4.08 | 419 ratings
FLICIT THSZ
Magma
4.13 | 156 ratings
THE MAGUS
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.31 | 66 ratings
BONDAGE FRUIT II
Bondage Fruit
4.02 | 536 ratings
MAGMA [AKA: KOBAA]
Magma
4.08 | 159 ratings
LES MORTS VONT VITE
Shub-Niggurath
4.09 | 145 ratings
INFERNAL MACHINA
Top, Jannick
4.10 | 126 ratings
RITUALE ALIENO
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.57 | 29 ratings
200 000
Zwoyld
4.16 | 75 ratings
BUDO
Vak

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

MAIS ON NE PEUT PAS RVER TOUT LE TEMPS
Thibault, Laurent
TRIMEGISTO
Runaway Totem
BONDAGE FRUIT I
Bondage Fruit
AMYGDALA
Amygdala

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews


 Plasma by IKARUS album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.28 | 18 ratings

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Plasma
Ikarus Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

4 stars My first review of this Swiss minimalist jazz rock group. The album contains elements of Zeuhl tropes - mainly an eerie ambience and the lyricless scatty vocal style, in five atmospheric tracks that do quite a lot with very little instrumentation, almost linking to ambient / post rock styles as well as jazz. Much of the atmosphere is built by subtle changes in the vocal style, going from floaty harmonies to harsher more primal sounds (Sessapinae being a clear example), and irregular time signatures (particularly the last few minutes of the album!). Very accessible way of getting into some of the less accessible (if you catch my drift) areas of prog related genres.
 Kakusenjo No Ongaku by KAKUSENJO NO ONGAKU (BASE OF FICTION) album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.61 | 7 ratings

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

Review by bartymj

2 stars A diverse soundscape which bounces between atmospheric nature noises, tribal chanting and outright chaos, the ensemble-style Base of Fiction is one of those obscure albums that I only managed to get to via a YouTube video (filed under Jyoji Sawada) with just 812 views. Two of which were me.

Its somewhat disjointed - I found it very difficult to work out where a track ended and another started as the instrumental styles change suddenly mid-track - given there are almost 20 musicians (mostly strings and percussion) there's a lot of people to give their time to shine. As well as some jarring passages there are moments of real beauty though, and it is worth listening to twice. Such is the variety, I don't feel like I can pick out anything specifically as everyone's listen would be different. That does mean I'd never be willing to listen to the album in its entirety. It's certainly not poor, but definitely only one for collectors.

 Arkham by ARKHAM album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.12 | 33 ratings

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Arkham
Arkham Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

2 stars Although released in 1994, this is a cobbled together album of live/rehearsal tracks from a relatively obscure organ-prog band which, although containing names associated with Magma or Univers Zero, is probably tenuously filed under Zeuhl and is more Canterbury style. The sound quality on the album (as you might expect from tracks taken from small venue live recordings in the 1970s) isn't all that really, with a lot of fuzzy noise. Upstairs in the Granery, and Monolithic Progression with Anticipated Rupture, are two jazzy tracks I found quite enjoyable, helped by the fact they are perhaps the two with the best quality of sound. Sadly the majority of the rest of the album is just random noise that sounds like its been recorded underwater.
 Hundred Sights Of Koenji by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.82 | 97 ratings

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Hundred Sights Of Koenji
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

3 stars Sitting somewhere between Bondage Fruit and Ruins on the chaos-o-meter, Koenjihyakkei were another piece of the jigsaw in the 90s explosion of Japanese Zeuhl. Their debut album is a pretty clear tribute to Magma, particularly in the vocal style, but it is mostly a lot faster paced, certainly not the dirge (and I mean that in a positive way) of MDK. There's a variety of Avant Garde style, but it doesn't divert from the drum-driven, bass heavy, vocal word-salad stylings of Zeuhl. Very generally, the first half of the album is the most structured (but with manic and complex moments), with the chaos peaking in the middle with Ozone Fall and Zhess. This drops away with the church organ/chamber choir style track Zoltan, but is a one off as the fast-paced take on Zeuhl otherwise runs throughout. I haven't dug into individual tracks because they are fairly similar in style otherwise - but that's not necessarily a bad thing here.
 Bondage Fruit I by BONDAGE FRUIT album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.00 | 72 ratings

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Bondage Fruit I
Bondage Fruit Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

4 stars 1994 was the real advent of Zeuhl in Japan (yes Ruins got there before then, but was that TRULY Zeuhl?).

Bondage Fruit's debut album is certainly Zeuhl, at the very least the vocals give it away. While not as dark and totalitarian as peak Magma, it has its brooding moments while being relatively accessible.

Holy Roller is a great opener, very tribal sounding thanks to the percussion. Operatic vocals on Arabia No Zou mix with some scatting and a simple but great guitar riff in what's a bit like a post-punk take on Zeuhl.

Kodomo No Torokko is a masterpiece. A variety of instruments across the track mean it seems to go on a global tour of styles without settling on one for too long. The fast percussion, the violin work, vocal harmonies.

Rigo is a bit of cartoonish filler of scatty vocals and percussion before the guitars explode back into the scene in Octopus- Command alongside fantastic bass and drums. The start of this track is a couple of minutes of fantastic head bopping material! Everything then drops away for a slow, deep toned bass solo before things are turned up to eleven again, all the instruments return, the vocals get extremely manic and the guitars are distorted. A brief xylophone interlude just about gets the heart rate down before a final rock head banger to the end.

Hiko Suru Ko is a return to the tribal sounds of Holy Roller, with the vocals also helping to create the atmosphere of an African tribal song. Kaku No Sakana is a surprisingly lilting acoustic guitar track with incidental noise and violin added. Its a slow burner, perhaps a bit too long, but a nice change of pace. If its caused you to drift of to sleep, prepare for a big jolt though as Kinzoku No Taiji starts with a big bang, perhaps the most manic and Ruins-like track on the album with some parts losing melody entirely and becoming a wall of noise. TRex is then mostly a showcase of drumming, with a lot of electronic distorted noise and a build up to a crescendo and a final, sudden stop.

A very strong debut!

 Tozh by RHN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.94 | 8 ratings

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Tozh
Rhn Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Magma casts a very long shadow over the zeuhl scene, especially for bands hailing from their native France. And it'd be weird if they didn't; they invented the damn micro-genre, after all. But that means a lot of bands seem to be almost pigeonholed into being Magma clones (or near-clones, at least). It can be a difficult balancing act to prominently display the influence of such a singular, idiosyncratic band as Magma without just sounding like you're recording Attahk, Pt. 2.

Rhn manages to thread that needle pretty well. Their 2013 debut, Fanfare du chaos, is a decent zeuhl record. It is very Magmatic, sometimes too much so. The band shows a lot of creativity on it, even if they do occasionally wander into some overly-well-trod zeuhl tropes. Tozh, their ten-years-in-the-making sophomore release, shows some clear improvement over its predecessor. The astral, jazzy weirdness of Magma is still front-and-center, but they've managed to make this record sound more their own.

The album opens with "Ehmt Um Rht Sam", a 21-minute suite that occupies the entirety of side A. It starts with a long, slow fade-in of chimes, guitar noodling, and light percussion. This eventually coalesces into a slow-moving, jazz-flavored line featuring prominent saxophone and some squealing bowed string instrument.

When the vocals finally come in, the verse has an unhurried feel, but there's also a sense of drama. I really like the bass playing in this section: whole chords are strummed, giving an immense weight. It's followed by a passage that's perhaps a bit too evocative of moments in "Theusz Hamtaahk", but it interpolates with other, more original musical ideas. That "weightier" theme serves as something of an anchor point, which the band returns to repeatedly, lending a lot of cohesion to this epic.

"Sdalg Rhv (incl.Ygahpoporhtna Lrig)" opens much more immediately, with a weirdly peppy chant. This track's first half is consistently energetic, with glimmering electric piano and warm, reedy saxophone taking the lead for much of its 11-minute runtime. There's a strange, extended section of what at points can sound like aimless noodling, but the musicians are skilled enough to keep even this oddball passage interesting. Near the midpoint, things slow down, and there's a more ritualistic feel to everything. While distinct from passages in the opening track, there are certain echoes.

Tozh closes on "Eripme Cirtcele". It's got a jagged main riff where bass, keys, and sax all get equal prominence, and it feels like a more muscular, darker version of a riff I might have heard on mhnthtt-R. There's a sense of lurking, foreboding doom on this track, and it's a fantastic way to end the album.

Rhn's sophomore album, though a long time coming, was worth the wait. It's a strong piece of zeuhl that nods toward the genre's past while remaining firmly rooted in more modern sounds and production.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2023/07/31/album-review-rhun-tozih/

 Eros by DN album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.24 | 509 ratings

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Eros
Dn Zeuhl

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Dun were a pretty unique band. Armed with great talent and creativity, they set out to release a stunning work in 1981, when most other prog bands had at least one leg crossing over to other genres. Their music is dense, detail-oriented and yet sounds chaotic at times although I'm convinced they deliberately decided to play every second of their music they did and it wasn't a jam. The first track is breathtaking, moog, flute, drums, bass and guitar presenting a tough mix of prog, avantgarde and fusion motives. The second track "Arrakis" is a relief in intensity featuring flute and a beautiful melancholic motive where a Scandinavian band wouldn't be ashamed before borrowing a point or two from Zappa's fusion times. "Eros" is arguably the most experimental and non-accessible track that drums bring together despite incoherent themes and soloing. It's not the best track to me but showing another characteristics of the album. Highly recommended to very demanding fans who can attentively listen to the album to find nuances upon repeated listens.
 Tozh by RHN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.94 | 8 ratings

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Tozh
Rhn Zeuhl

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

4 stars One of the newer zeuhl kids on the block, RHN is yet another emerging from France but this band led by the charismatically named Captain Flapattak (drummer, vocalist and head honcho in the vein of Christian Vander) has been around since at least 2008 but took a few years to release its 2012 demo EP " H " and then finally released its debut full-length "Fanfare Du Chaos" the following year. It may have appeared that this band was one and done but here we are an entire decade after and RHN is back with its jazzified take on the zeuhl sound with TOZH.

Ten years is a long time and it's no surprise that TOZH features a completely different cast of members with not one returning except the good Captain himself that is. If you're looking for the real zeuhl deal in the vein of the more experimental section of the zeuhl supermarket then you can't go wrong with this fine 21st century release. TOZH only three tracks that slink over the 38-minute mark. The opening "Ehmt Um Rht Sam" wastes no time going for the prog jugular with its 21 1/2 playing time. The second track "Sdalg Rhv (incl. Ygahpoporhtna Lrig)" follows with an 11 1/2 minute playing time leaving only the shorter 5 minute "Eripme Cirtcele" to close the album as a sort of outro piece.

This Captain really knows how to steer his vessel into the tumultuous zeuhl seas and directs his crew to crank out some seriously tasty chops that are based off the classic Magma sound (think "Mekank Destruktw Kommandh" era) and then add heavy doses of psychedelia, jazz and proggier than usual for zeuhl time signature outbursts. The result is a very satisfying album that offers enough of the traditional touches to keep it firmly planted in zeuhl territory while taking bold measures to add unexpected twists and turns that break the hypnotic spell that this style of music excels at. The term playful has been applied to this band and that's actually a fitting description as the Captain loves to throw a wild zeuhl party, one where all the attendees are having the time fo their life.

The band pays homage to the great Magma with Kobaan script and greater than average drumming prowess in the zeuhl context however RHN takes liberties Magma would never even consider making this band sound like a Magma cover band gone rogue by joining a jazz-fusion band and then taking many psychedelic detours. The variations in rhythmic drive and stylistic approaches too often deviate from the Magma playbook. While vocals are a vital aspect of RHN's style, there are not lush choirs to be heard here but harmonic counterpoints do grace the album's flow and the eccentric singing style of Ludal Le Chacal more than makes up for any of that. Overall this is a very satisfying zeuhl release and one of the best i've heard in a while but of course this is a style of music that only seems to attract the seasoned pros who are capable of breathing new life into it.

 Esameron by RUNAWAY TOTEM album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.79 | 12 ratings

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Esameron
Runaway Totem Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars RUNAWAY TOTEM are a Zeuhl band out of Italy and they have released eleven studio albums between 1993 and 2019. Three times they have been reduced to a duo including this 2007 release called "Esameron". I have their four album run between 1999 and this record from 2007. A couple of three star records and two four star albums between those.

This has been a band who have intrigued me more than anything I suppose hearing them first back in 2007 with "Andromeda" and liking how they blended that gothic vibe with Zeuhl and Italian vocals. Abrasive guitar and keyboards, a metallic element for sure made them sound quite unique.

I have always had this question mark about them though just feeling something was "off" about the music but of the four records I own by them this is the one that stands out as my favourite. There's a psychedelic component to this one with the soundscape music and repetitive grooves and sounds. This has a lot of sampled mellotron on it and man this music is dense at times. A long one too at almost 70 minutes with only four tracks.

There's a fair amount of sampled instruments on here as well and I like the space that we get on this one instead of feeling like it's a chore to get through that dense sound for over an hour. A lot less Zeuhl on this record as well as those Blasquiz-like vocals from "Andromeda" are gone and while we don't get a lot of lyrics we do get plenty of vocal melodies and the vocals we do get they change them up enough to again make this an interesting listen. I like this one!

 Testament by SHUB-NIGGURATH album cover Studio Album, 1994
1.52 | 28 ratings

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Testament
Shub-Niggurath Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

1 stars While I've never managed to get into the sludgy style of Shub-Niggurath, I can at least appreciate the niche they carved for themselves and why they are considered a cult classic.

This album though.... what's the point. I'm sure everyone who's reviewed it has had to pad out what they right in order to meet the minimum word count (as I've just done here) because there's absolutely nothing going on. It's as if each instrument is being played in a different room without being able to hear the other. It's like someone has thrown a drum kit down a huge flight of stairs, and then let any child who has done Grade 1 in music have free reign on their instrument of choice.

At best its a 70 minute tune-up. At worst its a pointless collection of noise. It's not Zeuhl, its not ambient, its not industrial. The tracks have even been made more boring by just numbering them, and the album cover is just blank.

Testament to what exactly?

Perhaps its just one big joke, seeing how much money they could make out of absolutely nothing.

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ALTAS France
AMYGDALA Japan
ANAID France
ARCHAIA France
ARKHAM Belgium
BONDAGE FRUIT Japan
SERGE BRINGOLF France
CAILLOU France
CORIMA United States
DAI KAHT Finland
DAIMONJI Japan
DN France
EIDER STELLAIRE France
ELEPHANT TOK France
ESKATON France
VOH France
FOEHN France
FRACTALE France
FREE HUMAN ZOO France
GA'AN United States
HAPPY FAMILY Japan
HIATUS France
HONEYELK France
IKARUS Switzerland
KAKUSENJO NO ONGAKU (BASE OF FICTION) Japan
KOENJI HYAKKEI Japan
LAGGER BLUES MACHINE Belgium
LAKTATING YAK United States
JAMES MAC GAW France
MAGISTER DIXIT France
MAGMA France
MUSIQUE NOISE France
NEOM France
NEW PLEASURE Canada
NOA France
OFFERING France
RYOKO ONO Japan
ORVALIANS France
PAGA (PAGA GROUP) France
PERCEPTION France
POTEMKINE France
PROTOPLASMA Hungary
PSEU France
RHN France
RIALZU France
RUINS Japan
RUNAWAY TOTEM Italy
RYORCHESTRA Japan
SC'F Switzerland
SCHERZOO France
YOCHK'O SEFFER France
SEKKUTSU JEAN Japan
SETNA France
KENTA SHIMAKAWA United States
SHUB-NIGGURATH France
STALINGRAD 119 France
SUPER FREEGO France
SYNCOPATED SILENCE Russia
LAURENT THIBAULT France
FRANOIS THOLLOT France
JANNICK TOP France
UNIT WAIL France
UNIVERIA ZEKT France
UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA Italy
UPPSALA France
UTOPIC SPORADIC ORCHESTRA France
VAK France
CHRISTIAN VANDER France
VAULTS OF ZIN United States
VAZYTOUILLE France
WEIDORJE France
XALPH France
XING SA France
ZAO France
ZIG ZAG France
ZOIKHEM France
ZWOYLD France

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