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Zao - Akhenaton CD (album) cover

AKHENATON

Zao

 

Zeuhl

3.10 | 20 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars After Zao's reissue of their early album on CD format met a certain success in the early 90's (almost two decades after their initial releases), Cahen and Sheffer decided to give it another go with Zao and jumped on the phone with Truong, their usual drummer, whom was only to happy to say yes. The last two spots however did not fall onto the other historical members, but the people chosen (Bertram and Tilleman) had played a few concerts in replacement of Dugrenot and Lockwood back in the 70's, so they were already familiar with Zao's zeuhl-infected jazz-rock. This crazy idea to record a studio album was obviously a great gamble and much less safer than a live reunion. Under the Musea patronage and with a few subsidies, the recording of the album took place in summer of 94 over six days.

Musically Zao's propos hasn't changed much, outside the usual modernization techniques, be it instrumental or recording-wise. The 9 tracks range from just under 4 mins to just above 8 mins and most carry ancient Egyptian mythological names or strongly related. Each of the two masters of Zao wrote 4 four tracks and the ninth was shared by the two. Actually Seffer's tracks don't seem as Egyptian or mid-eastern related as Cahen's pieces; sonically it's hard to tell who wrote what track anyway. On the whole Zao's music on this album is staying faithful to its original spirit, but let's say that they lowered their Zeuhl amp to level 9 from level 11, and the drumming sound is not quite the same, although Truong's technique is as always infallible. It's always hard to describe Zeuhl-driven music, outside the fact that the all-important bass thumping, but in this case, while it's there, the bass is not all that prominent.

Coming with the usual Zao logo representation, this album can figure easily without shame alongside their earlier discography, even if it doesn't have the sacred fire of early Zao, but it matches the later 70's albums without Seffer. But it's not likely that it will overshadow its predecessors either, and in all likelihood nobody would recommend Akhenaton as the ideal introduction, leaving it to the first few albums for that.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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