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Zeuhl definition

Zeuhl is an adjective in Kobaan, the language written by Christian Vander, drummer and founder of the French band Magma.

Pronunciation: zEU(h)l, while the EU are like a French E with a slight U, and the (h) is a semi-silent letter which is an integrated part of the EU, totaling in a "syllable and a half".

The word means celestial, although many times it is misunderstood as meaning "celestial music", since the members of Magma describe the genre of their music as Zeuhl. Zeuhl Wortz, though, means Music of the universal might.

The genre is a mixture of musical genres like Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Modernism and Fusion. Common elements: oppressive or discipline-conveying feel, marching themes, throbbing bass, an ethereal piano or Rhodes piano, and brass instruments.

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

Zeuhl Top Albums

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

4.30 | 733 ratings
4.27 | 519 ratings
4.25 | 390 ratings
4.29 | 168 ratings
4.19 | 414 ratings
4.20 | 270 ratings
4.17 | 290 ratings
4.23 | 142 ratings
4.49 | 49 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.13 | 326 ratings
4.10 | 370 ratings
4.19 | 108 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.05 | 348 ratings
4.15 | 99 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.31 | 40 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.08 | 98 ratings
4.08 | 72 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.05 | 85 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.10 | 58 ratings
4.62 | 15 ratings
Bringolf, Serge

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Thibault, Laurent
Happy Family

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Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Aedividea by VAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.92 | 5 ratings

Vak Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I was pretty much stunned after my first listen of this album leaving me wondering why this album and band aren't being talked about a lot more than they are. Then I found out it was the fourth highest rated 2015 release on the Gnosis site, and then I discovered that one of my favourite reviewers Tom Hayes had given it 4.5 out of 5 stars and yes I felt vindicated I suppose. VAK are a young band out of France who bring to mind ESKATON, EIDER STELLAIRE and MAGMA. The guitar is a nice touch and it can be aggressive at times. Also the flute is quite prominent bringing to mind DUN at various moments. This album was mastered by Udi Koomran so it sounds fantastic. The keyboardist created the album cover. By the way this album was initially going to be released as two Eps but instead they combined the recordings. I am such a sucker for Fender Rhodes driven Zeuhl but then add some guitar and flute and well I'm in heaven.

"IJKL" has this bass intro as it starts to build. How freaking good is the Fender Rhodes here. The guitar starts to make some noise then the tempo picks up before 2 minutes with the guitar playing over top. Vocals follow and man this reminds me of EIDER STELLAIRE with the guitar and Fender rhodes especially. Fuzzed out guitar after 3 minutes then it settles back but the guitar continues. So good! It turns more powerful then the Fender Rhodes comes to the fore.

"Aedividea" is spacey to start and the flute joins in at 1 1/2 minutes, then drums as it builds. Female vocals 3 minutes in. I love this stuff! It kicks into gear at 4 minutes with heavy guitar expressions eventually joining in. Check out the fast paced vocals too. It does settle back some as the flute plays over top but it's still uptempo with busy drums. A calm before 8 1/2 minutes but then it turns powerful again rather quickly. It settles back 9 1/2 minutes in female vocals and guitar standing out. The vocal melodies and drums sound incredible before 11 minutes then we get another calm a minute later as it turns trippy. Great track!

"Alzh" opens with Fender Rhodes, vocal melodies and drums as guitar melodies come and go. It's a slow burn at this point. The pace picks up with guitar, Fender Rhodes and drums leading the way. The vocals are back before 2 minutes then the flute comes in playing over top. A calm before 5 minutes then it becomes heavier but still a slow burn with vocal melodies and more. A spacey calm of almost silence before 8 minutes to the end. "Zeom" sounds amazing when it kicks into a higher gear 1 1/2 minutes in with the vocals, guitar and drums standing out. The vocals stop a minute later as the heaviness continues but with flute this time. The vocals are back before 4 minutes as it settles down some. A MAGMA vibe after 5 minutes as the flute seems to go in circles with random drum patterns. It picks up some before winding down 8 1/2 minutes in.

"Ellien" is led early by the drums, vocals and guitar as it builds. It lightens before 1 1/2 minutes as the Fender Rhodes comes in. It picks up again then it's the guitar/ piano show after 4 minutes. The vocals are back late to end it. "Periscopy" features some complex instrumental work early on. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes and these soprano vocals bring a eerie vibe to the proceedings not to mention that it's darker here after 3 minutes. It picks up a minute later as the vocals are replaced by the flute. Check out the drumming before 7 minutes. A calm follows and we get some nice guitar a minute later.

I am so stoked about this record. The first track is like Zeuhl 101 and I love it but the second half of this album especially is quite dense at times and a bit of a challenge which I appreciate. A top three album for me for 2015.

 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 121 ratings

Angherr Shisspa
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If this is your first exposure to the controlled mayhem of Koenjihyakkei, brace yourself. Progressive rock doesn't often cut this close to the jugular vein, or do so with such dispassionate madness. Imagine a serial rampage by an Asian Jack the Ripper, with a surgical degree to match his mental instability. Now put that image to music, and turn up the volume.

Christian Vander's MAGMA is the obvious inspiration, right down to the arcane invented vocabulary. But the Japanese translation was made with a near-lethal jolt of added voltage: lightning-fast RIO phrases, repeated and swapped for the next one on a never ending musical treadmill, all with crazed operatic vocalizing (not singing) and pinpoint instrumental virtuosity. The entire assembly was then set to the cadence and rhythm of a Dr. Seuss story as imagined under the influence of acid, amphetamines, and a red-hot cattle prod up the stern.

The effect is equally amazing and irritating, usually at the same time. The collective rigor, stamina, and mathematical precision of the quintet can be awe-inspiring, but the effort also leaches much of the life out of the music. There's something cold, almost mechanical, in the band's affectionate embezzlement of the classic Magma style, at times reducing it to an academic exercise in dot-to-dot Zeuhl tracery: the Prog Rock equivalent of Andy Warhol's soup can reproductions. A couple of flubs might have warmed the music up, and made it a little more human.

On the other side of the coin: secondhand weirdness can sometimes be even more attractively weird than the original. That's a good thing for those of us who enjoy a musical challenge, and here's an album that certainly qualifies: a musical double-dare to meet at your own peril.

 Pangaea Proxima by UNIT WAIL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.76 | 12 ratings

Pangaea Proxima
Unit Wail Zeuhl

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Unit Wail's "PANGAEA PROXIMA", 2012, is an exciting release under the Zeuhl's tagging which is a subtle way of forewarning possible listeners that "everything goes" music wise.

A 12 tracks release which in themselves contain mini-structures which can turn loose to recover themselves in different creative ways. So let me mention that this ways can turn from syncopated guitar Rock to Electronic Jazz tainted with Prog Electronic details and slapping or deep bottom basses marching along a frantic but masterfully unobtrusive drumming.

As told the use of minor chords and irreverent musical solutions impeccably performed exalt its obscure songwriting directions which of course are, if taggings permitted, a perfect trip between the Rock in Opposition, Avant Garde and Zeuhl sub-genres, all surprisingly tied and wrapped, most of the times, with the raunchiest and mostly undercovered inventive electric guitar I've have heard for a while. At close distance this effort's real deal is how well each member brings their best not only performance wise but amazingly by contributing in its music structures composition.

Expect a dark colored thrill, expect chaotic but controlled fun and mostly let yourself go!

****4 "too irreverent to praise for too good to ignore" PA stars

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 42 ratings

The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The band wasn't really unnamable; this was simply Christian Vander and Magma recording outside their Kobaan mythology, under an assumed name. In retrospect the pseudonym wasn't very secure: the album and song titles may have been (mostly) English, but the band alias was undisguised, grade-school Zeuhl.

The project itself has its own unique legend, recounted in detail elsewhere in these Archives. Briefly, it was intended as a beginner's guide to a sometimes willfully difficult group: a more listener-friendly alternate to the alternate universe of Magma, twice removed from reality and thus closer to terra firma. In an odd way the effort might be said to validate the geometric curvature of space-time, taking the music so far beyond planet Kobaa that it almost returns to Earth.

The results couldn't hope to match the impact of its parent band, but even lo-fat Magma-Lite has its moments, more so the longer it plays. The album closer "Undia" is probably the most conventional song within the classic Magma cosmology of the early-to-mid 1970s: the closest Magma ever got in their Golden Age to popular music (the song was actually released, a little optimistically, as the B-Side to a 45-rpm single). This is music to inspire an intergalactic gospel revival, with a beautiful vocal melody and simple-yet-strange instrumental chorus, all very catchy but unmistakably Zeuhl.

But as a watered-down primer it didn't work at all...thankfully. To its credit, the album wasn't mainstream enough, and the lack of any commercial impact left Vander free to pursue his less compromised instincts, with a vengeance in the upcoming Magma album "M.D.K." A further benefit to the album's relative failure is that it improved with age, revealing some of the uncomplicated joy tucked deep beneath the band's otherwise dense conceptual and thematic masterpieces.

The album in total is a worthwhile companion piece to the earlier, jazzier Zeuhl of Magma's first two albums, in particular the horn-dominated "1001 Centigrades", recorded the same year. Consider it a pleasant dip in the kiddie pool for cautious listeners afraid to dive headlong into the deeper, darker waters of classic Magma.

 1001 Centigrades by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.13 | 326 ratings

1001 Centigrades
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The second chapter in the Gospel according to Christian Vander expands the mythology of planet Kobaa even farther into the uncharted musical cosmos of Vander's imagination. The interplanetary narrative remains totally inscrutable, sung in an alien language to equally obscure (but exhilarating) music, more refined and sophisticated in the band's second outing but no less outrageous in its pinpoint, polyrhythmic weirdness.

The immediate surprise in this Magma album is how upbeat the music is, more so than anything else in their still expanding catalogue. Despite a few suitably bizarre digressions (look no deeper than the guttural Munchkin voices interrupting "Iss Lanse Doa"), this could almost be Zeuhl party music: a far cry from the hypnotic, sepulchral mantras of "M.D.K." or "Khntarksz".

Ditching their electric guitarist after the debut album only emphasized the jazzy horn work. But it still wasn't Jazz Rock, no matter what anyone might still be saying. The sequel stressed the more operatic elements in the music, strained as always through a unique sieve of jazz-like spontaneity and precise mathematic notation, all performed with eldritch Avant-Rock intensity.

The album's three long tracks might be too fractured at times, each one organized in an episodic medley of seemingly unrelated fragments and repetitive phrases (when it was revisited in 2014, the 22-minute "Rah Sahltaahk" was indexed into eight separate tracks). And the whole thing ends on a surprisingly anti-climactic note, with an unresolved fade-out in the middle of another groovy Zeuhl jam, this one shouldering the unwieldy title "Ki ahl Lahk"...grammatically normal in the universe of Magma, but still a tongue-twister worthy of Mr. Fox (in Socks, of Dr. Seuss fame, of course).

The element of surprise is missing too, after the outer-limit innovations of the first Magma LP. But the second album is illuminated by its own mysterious light, strong enough in retrospect to withstand the long shadow cast two years later by the band's magnum opus, "Mkank Dstruktw Kmmandh".

 Magma (Kobaa) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 348 ratings

Magma (Kobaa)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm not entirely sure why Magma's debut LP is sometimes called a Jazz Rock album. It's true the horn section gives the music a looser, jazzier vibe, but make no mistake: this is unadulterated Zeuhl from the first note to the final coda...repetitive, structured, and totally unnerving.

The music lacks the macabre Teutonic intensity of later Magma classics. But even with the outspoken Coltrane influence it's a poor fit in the Fusion cubbyhole, and weird enough to need an imaginary word in a fabricated language to describe it. The album might pass for traditional Jazz on planet Kobaa, but here on Earth this is alien stuff, even more so when suddenly grounded by pastoral flutes and the unexpected acoustic guitar at the top of Disc Two.

Never mind the tongued-tied, extraterrestrial song titles (and how are we supposed to pronounce a word like "Sckxyss", anyway?). What's actually being fused here is an operatic blend of classical references, jazzy accents, and an Avant-Rock eccentricity any fan of early Zappa or The residents should immediately recognize.

Pick a track at random, and prepare to be (happily) confounded. The neo-classical beauty of "Na Ektila", interrupted at intervals along its 13-minute length by thrilling passages of syncopated piano-and-sax mayhem. The shrieking introduction to "Stah', sung (not the right word) like an inmate in Bedlam shredding his fingernails on the infirmary chalkboard. And after 82-uneasy minutes the album ends (in "Mh", a song title sounding like a heavy object hitting the back of your head) with cliff-hanger abruptness, chanted as always in that coarse but compelling and otherworldly tongue.

In a single word: bizarre...and promising further madness to come. This was an album not only ahead of its time in1970, but totally outside of it.

 Beyond Space Edges by UNIT WAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.55 | 11 ratings

Beyond Space Edges
Unit Wail Zeuhl

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

4 stars Arriving two years after their superb second album `Retort', 2015's `Beyond Space Edges' sees French Zeuhl/Avant- Garde/R.I.O band Unit Wail delivering another reliable set of noisy instrumental outbursts and dirty dark sinister grooves. While they don't really change the approach of the previous discs, the group does add some sparse vocals, violin and cello to bring it closer to sounds associated with other Zeuhl groups such as Univers Zero in a few spots, even though Unit Wail don't simply fit neatly into that sub-genre. But Shub-Niggurath guitarist Franck Fromy and his younger musical team-mates here work in more King Crimson sounds than ever before (the metallic noise of `Red', the New Wave sleekness of the `Discipline' era and the Mellotron majesty of the earlier period to be precise), perhaps even a pinch of Anglagard, along with plenty of gothic moodiness and psychedelic weirdness for another superb collection of ferocious little f**k-snap spasms of delicious noise and aggressive brooding moods.

The lavish CD booklet reveals, by way of Martin Peronard's surreal and bent illustrations, a baffling story of space travel that the music presents, and with that burst of colour on the front cover, it shouldn't be surprising to find Unit Wail's most colourful release to date. The opening few seconds of `Imminent Take-Off', with its tease of Fromy's droning guitars and ambient synth trickles soon gives way to eerie and Mellotron moodiness, electric piano tip-toes and thick murky upfront bass throughout the mysterious and edgy `Niggurat on the Moon'. `Through the Wormhole' is an up-tempo thrash of Adrian Luna's chunky bass constantly leaping forwards and retreating back to the shadows, Phillipe Haxaire's skittering drums, rippling electronics and grungy guitar tantrums, the 'Tron taking on a maddening infernal evilness. Equally lightly psychedelic, jazzy and even gothic, `Psycho-Active Atmosphere' is a ghoulish delight that shimmers with pulsing and playful devilish bass and guitars that jangle with an 80's Crimson sheen, and `Deep Inside Megalopolis' towers with a gothic symphonic imposing grandness, mud-thick guitars and mucky bass delivering filthy grooves amongst phasing synth skies.

The album takes an interesting detour with the more genuinely Zeuhl-styled `Polymorphus the Wise', a creeping gothic nightmare with a twisted, mock-operatic guttural male wordless vocal from guest Sam Benzo slithering through murmuring stuttering bass convulsions and strangled guitars. `Crash on Planet X' plods with menacing danger, and the spacey `Terelithic Spaceship' bristles with ballistic bass eruptions alongside Emmanuel Sicot-Vantalon's shimmering synths and even some welcome (if fleeting) lighter themes. One of the longer pieces at over six minutes means `D.N.A.A.T.M' offers more of a sustained mood, moving back and forth between careful unearthly ruminations and wild manic outbursts, and it's mix of building and crashing drums, buzzing electronics, and guitar and bass distortion is very disorientating and satisfying, nice creeping organ too! `Engage Mutation' is simply a killer rock-out that proves quite accessible, and the disc closes on a further lengthier exploration, `I See Earth' with guest Ana Carla Maza's groaning cello and scratchy demented violin, a vacuum of distortion, electronic trickles and unnerving harpsichord. It's another interesting diversion that oddly doesn't really build to a suitably exciting climax, but hopefully the band continues to explore sounds like this on future albums.

This is a very solid and frequently thrilling new work from Unit Wail, with endless energy and constant manic tearing instrumental displays, and Adrian Luna's bass playing is easily some of the absolute best to appear on a progressive-related release in 2015. Comparing it to their previous albums reveals a bit of repetition and a feeling of `same-old' in just a few stretches, even if it still all sounds satisfyingly wicked and shows great variety overall. Perhaps the band could soon explore longer, drawn-out pieces more often and opposed to so many blasting little fragments that come and go in an instant (the majority of the tracks here run just over the three minute mark)? But `Beyond Space Edges' is a successful crossover of everything from Zeuhl, avant-garde, goth and psych, Mellotron freaks will love the orgasm of 'Tron dripping over every inch of the disc, and it proves a very addictive and hypnotic album that crawls under your skin and begs to be played over and over!

Four stars.

 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.27 | 519 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by justaguy

1 stars This is Magma and everything is said by that. Extensive porridge of improvised sounds, heavy bas lines, proud drumming and operatic chorusses, all that is here. Not enjoyable for anybody who looks for a harmony in music one listens. Magma is more for people who actually seek somthing really very original, other worldly, and who looks for joy in loud and heavy sound, but not metall, please. not much is changed in the sound comparing to other albums, it is still the same concept, thematically and musically. Me, I can not stand more then three minites of this cacaphony . Sorry, but this is only for completioners.
 Beyond Space Edges by UNIT WAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.55 | 11 ratings

Beyond Space Edges
Unit Wail Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I feel the same way about this album as I did towards THE TANGENT's latest. Both are good albums but in my opinion they are both my least favourite studio albums by both bands. Once again UNIT WAIL thrills us with that dark and complex style of music with two guests helping out this time adding vocals and cello.

"Imminent Take-Off" has plenty of atmosphere to start then it kicks into gear just before a minute. "Ziggurat On The Moon" has a haunting mellotron intro as other sounds start to come and go. Things start to pick up but there's still lots of mellotron as the drums, bass and guitar impress. Some angular guitar lines 3 1/2 minutes in then the bass, drums and mellotron lead to the end. "Through The Wormhole" features lots of complexity as they start and stop on a dime. A change before 2 minutes as the mellotron rolls in. The tempo picks up a minute later as that complexity returns. "Psycho-Active Atmosphere" has lots of intricate sounds coming and going as the mellotron sweeps in and out. Sounds echo at times and check out the bass before 2 1/2 minutes. "Deep Inside Megalopolis" has some nice drum and guitar expressions. Some crazy electronics too at times. It's intense after 3 minutes.

"Polymorphus The Wise" has more of that high pitched guitar sounds as the bass and drums support. This is dark and ominous. Some strange vocal expressions before 2 1/2 minutes. When the vocals stop the mellotron and guitar offer a spacey soundscape. "Crash On Planet X" features more treated guitar, random drum patterns, mellotron and more. "Teralithic Spaceship" is my favourite. I really like the mellotron along with the keys and that dark sound. Some killer guitar work follows then back to that earlier sound. "D.N.A.A.T.M." has a cool sounding soundscape before it kicks into gear before 2 minutes. The guitar is so technical later on. "Engage Mutation" has some killer drumming and guitar work as the mellotron comes and goes. "I See Earth" has cello early on and it's quite experimental. It picks up before 2 minutes. Some nice bass before 4 1/2 minutes with spacey sounds and more cello later.

I still feel that "Retort" is their best followed by the debut then "Beyond Space Edges" which for my tastes just doesn't measure up to their other two recordings.

 03 by SCHERZOO album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.07 | 8 ratings

Scherzoo Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is album number three for SCHERZOO and it does feel a little different from the previous two. The Wayside site mentions that this one is jazzier and more melodic than the first two which might explain it somewhat. I also feel like it's less dynamic with less of those avant moments. Francois Thollot is the leader here, a multi-instrumentalist who I first found out about through his earlier project called THOLLOT.

"Experimentation Speciale" opens with keys as the bass and drums join in, then it slows right down as the guitar, drums and bass lead. Some atmosphere after a minute then the sax comes to the fore as it stays slow paced. Angular guitar 3 minutes in followed by some prominent sax and bass. Dissonant sax before 4 1/2 minutes then some intensity as the guitar rips it up. Back to the piano and drums leading at 5 minutes. "Bossa Yakusa" has sounds that rise and fall early on as the bass, drums and keys stand out. Sax comes and goes as themes are repeated. "La Menace" has keys, bass and drums that standout early. Check out the bass before 2 minutes as the guitar follows. Dissonant sax before 4 1/2 minutes.

"Open Cluster" has plenty of angular guitar and I like the dissonant sax after 2 1/2 minutes. It's fairly powerful 4 1/2 minutes in but it settles back quickly. "Orient Express" is my favourite. An urgent sound here with guitar over top. It does settle back 1 1/2 minutes in then builds. Lots of guitar, drums and keys here. It turns more powerful again as these contrasts continue. Deep bass lines before 5 minutes as the drums pound and the sax turns dissonant. A great section but way too brief. A calm after 6 minutes then it builds. "Contagion" is somewhat slow paced with sax over top and this is contrasted with another passage with sax. I like the angular guitar before 6 1/2 minutes then the pace picks up big time just before 7 minutes. It then settles right down again with intricate sounds that come and go.

A good album sure, but for my tastes it doesn't reach the heights of the first two.

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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
VAK France
XING SA France
ZAO France

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