A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

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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

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

4.27 | 649 ratings
4.28 | 460 ratings
4.23 | 357 ratings
4.18 | 392 ratings
4.26 | 145 ratings
4.20 | 242 ratings
4.32 | 99 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.23 | 132 ratings
4.13 | 299 ratings
4.51 | 38 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.09 | 343 ratings
4.07 | 270 ratings
4.04 | 314 ratings
4.11 | 98 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.33 | 34 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.08 | 95 ratings
4.09 | 77 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.12 | 51 ratings
4.05 | 79 ratings
Eider Stellaire
3.98 | 114 ratings

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Runaway Totem
Seffer, Yochk'o
Thibault, Laurent

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 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 François Cahen, who are accompanied on this album, by drummer François 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.

 Üdü Ẁüdü by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.74 | 288 ratings

Üdü Ẁüdü
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 ÜDÜ ẀÜDÜ, 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 "Tröller 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"Ëmëhntëht-Rê (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 ÜDÜ ẀÜDÜ 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.

 Slag Tanz by MAGMA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.89 | 10 ratings

Slag Tanz
Magma Zeuhl

Review by floflo79

4 stars After the cool re recording of Rïah 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 kobaïan... 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 Dümb, Vers La Nuit, Dümblaë - Le Silence Des Mondes, the song Slag and the furious Zü Zaïn. 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 Rîah 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.

 Cycle I by SETNA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.92 | 41 ratings

Cycle I
Setna Zeuhl

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars Never before have I come across a French progressive album I feel comfortable listening to in the morning, right after I roll out of bed and begin the day's activities. Cycle I is the first.

I love music all times of dayl, but morning can be my favorite time to listen. The album I pick can set the tone for the rest of the day - usually I try to pick something less heavy, like background music. Thus far, Celeste's 1976 eponymous debut and Gong's much-maligned "Rubber Riff" are the only progressive albums in my morning list of favorites. If you consider John Renbourn progressive, his "The Guitar of John Renbourn" is at the top of this list.

If you're looking for a dynamic, heavy workout, this probably isn't the album for you, as noted by the reviews for the record. Small segments have quick tempo with furious exchange - the translation "From Darkness to Consciousness" reveals the purpose of the album, and the soundscapes are dark but not ominous, serious but not sinister. Light female voice adds colors to the songs as well as sax.

A classic in my collection, but I can see how other prog fans don't care for the sound.

 Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974 by MAGMA album cover Live, 2014
3.97 | 17 ratings

Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This really makes for an excellent companion record with their live "BBC 1974-Londres" album. The London sessions were recorded about a month after this Radio Brememn recording from Germany and feature the exact same lineup. Nice thing too is that only one track is featured on both albums, that being "Theusz Hamtaahk". This one is a double cd release with both discs clocking in at around 45 minutes which is just right in my opinion. The lineup here features Vander on drums, Top on bass, Blasquiz on vocals, Olmos on guitar and Graillier and Bikialo on keyboards. Sort of a stripped down lineup I suppose with Stella not being part of it as well.

"Sowiloi(Soi Soi)" is like a slow burn as it never really breaks out like you would anticipate. Sparse piano, cymbals and more are added but it's still very laid back early on. Vocals before 2 1/2 minutes then it all picks up about a minute later. It then settles back before 6 minutes. I like this section a lot, it's building. So good! The fuzzed out bass especially. The guitar is killer later on. Great track! "MDK" is a 35 minute version but it is divided into six parts. The first section builds like a slow moving train. High pitched vocals join in then it seems to settle in around 2 1/2 minutes with normal sounding vocals. It's kind of odd hearing the CAMEL-like guitar after 6 minutes, nice bass though. The second part puts the focus on the drumming and vocals. Guitar to the fore after 2 1/2 minutes. Piano is good too. I love the third section with the electric piano and fuzzed out bass. Some passionate vocal expressions late. Part four builds as the vocals dominate along with drums and piano. Great sound on part five early on. Such a cool atmosphere as piano and cymbals lead. A change after 4 minutes as it turns more intense but not for long. The final section continues where the last section left off with the focus on the vocals and it's an uptempo piece.

The second disc starts off with "Korusz" and it's pretty much a Vander drum solo throughout. It's interesting though and quite laid back at times. Some strange vocal expressions too. A big applause when it ends."Theusz Hamaahk" is the almost 26 minute closer. A frantic intro but it settles down quickly. It stays laid back with vocals to match with several outbursts. A change around 13 minutes as we get some intricate guitar along with electric piano and cymbals. A beautiful section. It kicks back in after 16 minutes and the vocals are more passionate as well. An intense instrumental section starts 17 1/2 minutes in. So good! Vocals are back after 19 minutes. The guitar comes to the forefront before 23 minutes but the vocals still dominate until the final 2 minutes(all-instrumental) arrive which is such a great way to end the album.

Easily 4 stars and the German audience seems to be in wonder with what they are seeing and hearing on this 6th day of February 1974. It was a free concert too by the way. Killer sound as usual from the Radio Bremen people.

 Köhntarkösz by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.09 | 343 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars I may bemoan, as may others, the fact that MAGMA didn't repeat a certain formula because we really loved an album, but one thing is for sure: this band really knows how to keep things innovative and interesting by adding just enough of what came before but still really throwing your expectations out the window. This is the case for KÖHNTARKÖSZ, the fifth studio album by zeuhl innovators and Kobaians fronted by none other than the star of the show Christian Vander.

Basically MAGMA takes the approach of "Ẁurdah Ïtah" and presents a more fluffy and friendly sound. While that album was a stripped down to a quartet, this one actually has seven musicians on board, yet it sounds more reserved. The album basically consists of two sprawling title tracks (Part 1 &2) plus two shorter tracks. This album is also technically the first of another trilogy which includes "K.A. (Köhntarkösz Anteria)" (2004), and "Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê "(2009). Whatever the theme may be is beyond me and like all MAGMA albums doesn't really matter.

This album has a slow repetitive feel to most of it. Once the teapot starts boiling it is quite exciting, but there is a lot of building up to get to these points and although Vander has had a long love affair with John Coltrane and cited him as one of his major influences, I had never really heard it in MAGMA music until the tribute called "Coltrane Sundia" on this album. Overall, another great album but I do like this one less than the previous ones.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.15 | 38 ratings

The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There will always, I suppose, lie a grave danger in taking a different path from the one you started from. Especially this is true when the expedition grew from the most daring and revolutionary form of music known to man. Magma is certainly one of those bands that ripped all convention apart by creating a genre so daring and non-conformist as zeuhl.

So, after doing that and in the making of all this magnificent music of zeuhl one can't help but thinking that Vander and crew grew weary after a while and decided to do something a little more accessible. Thus Univeria Zekt came into being. At least that is what I imagine.

Unlike Magma Univeria Zekt plays a decicedly more accessible kind of music with an generous slice of jazz on top. Actually, I find this album to be more of a jazzy affair than anything I have heard from Magma and that says alot, bearing in mind the obvious inclusion of jazz into said band's sound. In parts this is an old school jazz affair laced with elements of zeuhl and rock music. The result is one of very jazzy rock with avant garde leanings. To me it is very enjoyable and lovely indeed. I like Magma alot but that does not mean I think that this album is anything like "selling out". I would not compare to Magma, rather I would like to compare it to other jazz rock albums of the era and as such it holds up extremely well.

From the opening organ of "You speak and you speak Colegram" to the ending ballad of "Ündia" it holds together very well. I love the energy of "Altcheringa", the beauty of "Clementine", the overly jazzy horns of "Something's cast a spell", the late night drums and piano of "Ourania" and the powerful epic of "Africa anteria".

I urge to you to not compare this album to Magma. Listen to it for the album it is. If you do you will find an amazingly tight and cohesive album of jazz-rock, every bit as highly charged and engaging, thrilling and daring as the greats of the genre.

 Ẁurdah Ïtah (Christian Vander) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.20 | 242 ratings

Ẁurdah Ïtah (Christian Vander)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars ẀURDAH ÏTAH is a strange little album in the MAGMA discography. It was originally released as a Christian Vander solo album as the soundtrack for Yvan Lagrange's avant-garde take on "Tristan et Iseult." The album has always been considered a MAGMA album by fans and is now released only as ẀURDAH ÏTAH (Kobaian for "dead Earth"). It's also strange (as are most MAGMA albums) in that despite being released in 1974 after "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh (MDK)" it is the second movement in the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy, while MDK is the third and final one. The first is "Theusz Hamtaahk" itself which was only released live (now on Retrospektiw Parts I & II) but you know what? This is just the technical sorting out after the fact as far as i'm concerned. Listening to and enjoying any MAGMA album is not dependent on listening to another, in any particular sequence or otherwise.

This brilliant little beast as well as the following "Köhntarkösz" are important in the MAGMA world because they prove without a doubt that it doesn't take thirteen performers and an army of producers to create a MAGMA-nificent MAGMA-sterpiece. This album was reduced to a mere quartet (Stella Vander / vocals, Klaus Blasquiz / vocals, percussion, Jannick Top / bass, Christian Vander / drums, piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals) but delivers an epic and beautiful total reinvention of the mesmerizing zeuhl fully developed on MDK. While the basic idea is the same of repetitive zeuhl rhythms, everything else is tweaked and contorted to become a totally new species of this fledgling subgenre of progressive music. The operatic vocal styles incorporate myriad creative forms as do the instrumental parts. While MDK has a huge epic style, ẀURDAH ÏTAH has more of an intimate feel to it like you could go to some coffee house and hear this. I'm totally curious as to what kind of film the version of "Tristan et Iseult" is because it's hard to believe that any film could incorporate music this quirky and bizarre into it's story line!

 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.96 | 43 ratings

Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by Lear'sFool

4 stars A rough hidden gem of zeuhl. Potemkine plied a fusion infused take on the genre that on paper looks particularly wonderful. I went into this album with high expectations, hoping for a smashing take on zeuhl-fusion ruminating on the revolutions in Russia over the course of 1917. What I and every listener got was a decent yet ever catchy zeuhl-fusion rather not in the spirit the title and track names implied. It was a smaller form of the disappointment I got from "Romantic Warrior". The reason it wasn't so much of a let down was that it did grow on me to a degree; the band does play some good music, and it can and does draw a listener in. The opener is especially wonderful, and is what grabs you and keeps you listening through all the album's ups and downs. This is rather unique and enjoyable stuff, it just doesn't live up to potential. A lesser favourite of mine, results may vary but this is worth a try.
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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
ZWO YLD France

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