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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 (20/05/2016):
Raffaella (Raff)
Luca (octopus-4)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Ori (frippism)

Zeuhl Top Albums

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

4.28 | 986 ratings
4.26 | 668 ratings
4.25 | 459 ratings
4.28 | 221 ratings
4.20 | 498 ratings
4.23 | 201 ratings
4.18 | 328 ratings
Vander, Christian
4.25 | 168 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.15 | 469 ratings
4.38 | 75 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.13 | 382 ratings
4.12 | 412 ratings
4.38 | 57 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.17 | 125 ratings
4.04 | 453 ratings
4.46 | 29 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
4.09 | 135 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.70 | 19 ratings
200 000
4.07 | 132 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.08 | 103 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Happy Family
Koenji Hyakkei
Runaway Totem

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Glimpse by SHIMAKAWA, KENTA album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 3 ratings

Kenta Shimakawa Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars Another Zeuhlish soundgarden tinged with metallic guitar explosion. "Glimpse" veiled in grand sleeve with a delightful pic was released in 2019 as the debut full-length creation by a New York-based guitarist / composer Kenta SHIMAKAWA, who has been inspired by heavy, metal, jazz, or avantgarde, according to his words. Such a promising creation has been recorded in collaboration with lots of his artist mates from July 2017 until January 2019. Glad to know this album has got much appreciated upon many rock magazine, media, or so ... not only because he's a Japanese like me but also he has diversity for various music genres and visions, for his 'debut' stuff.

Firstly you should listen to the titled track and one of his masterpieces "Oiceau", both of which have his kaleidoscopic essence. Smooth, delicate melodic departure, sensitive, crystallized sound collective like bubbles of champagne, desultory, complex but mystically acceptable rhythm baselines, will drive you into psychic magic world. Through the whole album, you can hear impression Magma meet Indukti or Alevas in his melodic / rhythmic atmosphere. A good example is "Dunuyeah Part 1 & 2" let me say. Based upon deep, heavy but sensitive, glassy guitar guidelines, a bit quirky but solemn, comfortable female voices should ring your bell obviously. Flexible, phantasmagoric saxophone sounds are pretty enthusiastic, and in the latter part of "Part 2" Kenta's magnificent explosive guitar plays fascinate you eventually. The last infernal brilliance is 'Ambivalence", just as the title says. Saxophone grandeur cannot be beaten by distorted voices with hardcore basis. Above mentioned, his melody lines and rhythmic movements are quite complicated indeed, but there are plenty of gentle moments of texture with melodic nature here and there, as you know.

In conclusion, incredible impressive Fantasia can be heard via this 'debut' creation. Looking forward to his future access for progressive rock scene. Dreamy.

 Multiversal Matter by RUNAWAY TOTEM album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.23 | 7 ratings

Multiversal Matter
Runaway Totem Zeuhl

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is the 11th album by the ultimate Italian 'Zeuhl' group. I haven't listened to their other albums, the debut being already from 1993, but a few years back I was deeply charmed by the latest offering of Universal Totem Orchestra, which is said to be originally a spin-off act for Runaway Totem (although, after comparing the line-ups, the details of the bands' blood relations remain unclear to me). That said, I felt curious for this one, and I was prepared for a fascinating and very original listening experience. Well, original and unconventional it certainly is, but I'm not wholeheartedly impressed. My rating of three stars definitely doesn't imply a typical middle-of-the-road thing, an album which is "good, but non-essential". Instead it's a a compromise of giving four stars to the high degree of uniqueness and the music being bravely and sincerely what it is, and of giving only two and a half stars in a more subjective scale.

While many might call this one a grower, ie. an album too strange to be fully understood and enjoyed at the earliest listenings, I firmly believe that my own reception isn't going to be any better with time. Because first and foremost I find this 73-minute album way too extended and therefor rather boring, paradoxically. In my opinion, all its musical contents and ideas could be expressed -- much more effectively -- in half of the running length.

The opening track 'Dark Matter' goes on and on for 30 minutes. It has an interesting soundscape which is hard to describe. It has a meditative and other-wordly atmosphere, created mostly by electronics. If you're familiar with Todd Rundgren's instrumental epic 'Treatise on Cosmic Fire' (on the album Initiation, 1975), think of the more unstructured, prelude/interlude-like moments in it, add some Krautrock la Popol Vuh, and you get a faint idea of how 'Dark Matter' sounds in the beginning. The Italian-language male vocals enter around 3-4 minutes (as well as the hypnotic percussive pattern) and from that on, for the most of the time, the mammoth piece feels like an improvisational, experimental back-up jamming for the shamanistic moaning of lyrics, despite containing some vocal-free moments along the way. In the last quarter there luckily are less vocals and both the drumming and electric noises become more intense. The manic half-laughing-half-crying moment is also interesting. Surely this piece has lots of awesome uniqueness, but half an hour is simply too much.

'La Scale Oscure' is another kind of beast: fast-paced, short (2:55) and manic in both percussion-heavy playing and freaky vocals. 'Deoram Matter' has at first pretty nice guitar strumming, and it would have functioned very well as a brief instrumental. But it's a 9-minute song mostly repeating the lines "Terra, fuoco, acqua e aria" and later "voi per noi noi siete solo dei dei dei". The vocals are this time more normal singing, but musically there ins't enough ideas for the length. 'Korath Matter' centers around sinister Gothic soundscape with chorals and over-the-top main vocals reminiscent at times of Screaming Jay Hawkins. But it's 15 minutes, gosh. 'Paesazione Sonora' (5:44) is not necessarily too long at all, but it offers more of the same vocal-centred experimental jamming I'm getting rather tired of at this point. The female voice is a nice additonal feature.

The final piece 'Universo di Sfere' is my favourite. It's a near 11-minute instrumental refreshingly combining ambient soundscape and melody/rhythm -based approach. This one has lots to offer for the listener's inner visions. A pity that the whole album takes too much of your time without giving back in equal measures. Have a listen if you're fond of experimental soundscapes and meditative /freaky eclectism -- and if you have nothing against heavily extended track lengths.

 Concert 1975, Toulouse - Thtre Du Taur by MAGMA album cover Live, 1996
4.46 | 36 ratings

Concert 1975, Toulouse - Thtre Du Taur
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Recorded a few months after the material captured on Live/Hhai, Theatre du Taur is, like that album, a double disc release offering a deep dive into the live world of Magma during the height of their powers. The first disc covers material much the same as that on the first disc or so of Live/Hhai, though it's interestingly different in some respects thanks in part to some improvisations differing, in part due to the lineup here being different (with Patrick Gauthier offering a somewhat different keyboard approach).

The second disc is an exciting live runthrough of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Yes, if you get into Magma live albums you'll probably end up with multiple live performances of their masterwork - but this is a pretty good one. I'd actually say the sound quality here has a slight edge on the somewhat murky sound of Live/Hhai, so if you like that one, you'll probably love this, if you haven't delved into live Magma before this is as good a starting point as any.

 Pices Manquantes 1976 by ZIG ZAG album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.92 | 5 ratings

Pices Manquantes 1976
Zig Zag Zeuhl

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


One of the many French progressive rock bands that existed in the 70s but never found a bona fide release until the 21st century, ZIG-ZAG was formed in Nantes all the way back in 1971 and stuck around up to 1977 and then the only reason the band folded was because of the death of founding drummer Antoine Chagnon due to an untimely car accident. Nevertheless, after four decades ZIG-ZAG finally found a home for its archival material on the Vapeur Mauve label which released PICES MANQUANTE (Missing Pieces) in 2014 with ten outstanding tracks that display not only the genealogical connection of guitarist Jean-Luc Chevalier's love affair with 1970s Magma but also of a band that was much more than a mere clone and exhibited some amazing creative displays of the newly formed zeuhl genre by taking it places where bands like Magma, Zao and Weidorje never dreamed.

Unreleased in its heyday but not because a clear lack of talent for sure, ZIG-ZAG started off on a rather different trajectory. While the album was delayed four decades, the band actually did release two singles like the 1972 titled "My Lady Sun" with a B-side titled "Zigger Zagger." The former was a far cry from the complex Canterbury jazz-rock flavored martial rhythms that grace this archival release but rather was a psychedelic pop song that could've easily been slipped onto the debut album from Aphrodite's Child which was released in 1968. The B-side while sharing the slide guitar characteristics was a completely different beast altogether. While the A-side was a vocal driven pop track with English lyrics, "Zigger Zagger" was an instrumental gypsy swing track with Balkan flavors and together have lingered in the vaults of obscurity until ZIG-ZAG finally got to show the majority of the prog world who weren't in Western France during the 70s what they contributed to the prog scene of the day.

ZIG-ZAG went through a few lineup changes in its seven year run with the core of the band consisting of Claude Le Pron (bass), Jean-Luc Chevalier (aka Gorgo on guitar) and Antoine Chagnon (drums). The band wrote much of the material over the years of its existence but didn't record the material that appears on PICES MANQUANTES until the year that appears in the title which is 1976. Arriving late to the band was vocalist Michelle Sarna who released a few EPs in the 60s as a solo artist but in ZIG-ZAG perfectly lends her divine goddess energies to the martial teutonic origins of the zeuhl rhythms. Her vocals are utilized as another instrument and while ZIG-ZAG didn't exactly invent a new language based around an epic mythology, the enigmatic wordless nature evokes such timelessness nonetheless.

PICES MANQUANTES 1976 displays an interesting slice of the zeuhl universe that has pretty much escaped the world's attention for four decades but shows a band that was clearly creating its own distinct style although undoubtedly influenced by the playbook that Christian Vander unleashed with Magma. Less bombastic and more sensual, ZIG-ZAG was more akin to the softer sounds of Zao although there is more emphasis on other influences creeping in such as a very definitive Canterbury Scene jazz-rock vibe exercised on the dexterous jazz sweeps of the piano and wind sections from the sax and flute. Likewise Sarna's vocals often evoke the Northettes on the Hatfield & The North albums with a slice of heavenly diva sensuality conversing with the divine (especially on "Ballade" and "Complainte.")

While the album starts off more in the traditional zeuhl flavors, by the time it reaches the third track "Variations," the musicians engage in many different approaches such as the symphonic and avant-prog antics that pop in and out of the jazz corridors. The fusion is inventive and sounds like nothing else, zeuhl or otherwise."Hypnose" is a personal favorite as an intricately designed hyperactive bass line provides an avant-garde groove for a trance inducing series of textures and tones to swarm around including jazz guitar and frenetic percussion which demonstrates the band's inclination to create sounds acoustically rather than implement the bombast of the harshness of electronics. This track is a total trip which finds the unique polyrhythms and counterpoints growing in intensity until it almost sounds as if the instrumental roles exist in their own world.

By the time the album reaches "Heitor," it has perfectly married the marital zeuhl rhythms that find slapping bass lines perfectly grooving with Canterbury jazz-rock melodies and the angelic vocals of Sarna along with Chavalier's unique avant-prog guitar playing style. The mastery of the counterpoints of the sepulchral male vocals as well as the juggling of tones, timbres and tempo changes display the band in firm command of its art form clearly in a league that matches up to its influences. The track ends with a rather ethnic flair as a Middle Eastern wind run and rhythmic flows evoke a touch of the band's past where the Balkan gypsy swing was in play. Likewise the two-part "Hommage JH" finds the perfect marriage between the martial zeuhl rhythms and avant-prog piano angularities. We've reached prog paradise! The closing "Tibet" is just the icing on the cake which in addition to the aforementioned Canterbury elements also delivers an interesting consecution of diverse percussive styles and an exaggerated time signature frenzy before erupting into one of the more energetic tracks.

It's hard to believe that nobody wanted to release this magnificent music back in the day but then again even Magma was starting to feel the shift in the music industry with the focus quickly steering towards punk, pop and disco. Thankfully this musical ecstasy has finally been released as an archival album that includes both a vinyl LP and an accompanying CD. While ZIG-ZAG called it a day the following year after failing to find a host for its recordings, guitarist Jean-Luc Chevalier would actually joined Magma the following year and stick with them until 1985 however everything he did with Magma paled in comparison to the creative mojo on display with ZIG-ZAG. Personally i find this band much more interesting than many other zeuhl bands that actually released albums. ZIG-ZAG is far more diverse and original than either Zao, Eskaton or Eider Stellaire ever sounded. This is a long lost treasure trove of jazz fueled zeuhl with avant-prog overtones. The Vapeur Mauve labor deserves some seriously big clappy hand icons ad infinitum for reviving this all but forgotten chapter of French prog history.

4.5 but rounded up as a reward for the looooooooong wait!

 My Lady Sun / Zigger Zagger by ZIG ZAG album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.00 | 1 ratings

My Lady Sun / Zigger Zagger
Zig Zag Zeuhl

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

— First review of this album —
3 stars The French band ZIG-ZAG was one of the many French bands of the 70s that performed progressive rock shows and recorded a smattering of original material but never found a label to release the album that they work so hard to create. The band was from Nantes and was amongst the progressive rock bands that was inspired by the zeuhl jazz-rock of Magma. The band existed from 1972 until March 1977 when drummer Antoine Chagnon died in a car accident. While the band never saw an album released until the archival release 'Pi'ces Manquantes 1976' found a much needed home on the Vapeur Mauve label, the band did manage to release one obscure single early on in 1972.

While the Magma inspired zeuhl fusion sounds would emerge shortly thereafter, in the beginning ZIG-ZAG was much more inspired by Aphrodite's Child and the single 'My Lady Sun' sounds like a dead ringer for Vangelis and company with a dreamy 60s inspired psychedelic flavor with thick atmospheres and an instant catchy pop hook complete with contemplative vocals and spaced out backing vocals. The track truly could've been slipped onto the first Aphrodite's Child album, 'End Of The World' and nobody would be able to distinguish this band from Vangelis' early creation. While released in 1972, the track is clearly a throwback to the psychedelic peak years of the late 60s. As the title insinuates, the lyrics for this one are in English and written by Boris Bergman who would later with for Alain Bushung.

The B-side is a completely different beast. While it engages in the same slide guitars as 'My Lady Sun,' this one is more upbeat and is based on gypsy folk with a busy violin and is completely instrumental as opposed to the mopey A-side. It oddly reminds me of the future song 'Sultans Of Swing' that would be recorded by Dire Straits several years down the road but i very much doubt that Mark Knopfler and his friends ever would've come across this so i assume the connection is in the Balkan swing grooves that have inspired many Western bands over the decades.

While this would be the only recording to emerge in the 70s, ZIG-ZAG would completely reinvent itself sounding absolutely nothing like these two songs and in the process create some of the most interesting zeuhl sounds of the entire French scene and although the music wouldn't find a proper release until 2014, the band was successful as a live act in not only Nantes but in much of Western France throughout the 70s with much more interesting progressive material to come. Although neither of these tracks are particularly original, they certainly are well performed and nicely produced. These early years was the time when the Anglophobic red flags were being raised and the push for more French language music was underway and while most bands complied, others like ZIG-ZAG went to the more surreal avenues where the vocals were language free and were simply another instrument.

3.5 but rounded down

 Bondage Fruit II by BONDAGE FRUIT album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.38 | 57 ratings

Bondage Fruit II
Bondage Fruit Zeuhl

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

5 stars Tokyo based BONDAGE FRUIT joined the ranks with Tatsuya Yoshida's Ruins project by adopting the Magma inspired zeuhl rhythms of Christian Vander's creation and used them as a canvas to paint upon with rich vivid colors. The self-titled debut album emerged in 1994 only after a stable lineup formed the year before. The roots of the band actually dated back to 1980 when Yuji Katsui formed the precursor band Deforme. With the debut album BONDAGE FRUIT displayed a more energetic and substantially varied mix of styles that drifted in and out over the rhythmic zeuhl underpinnings that included not only jazz and folk elements but also dished out episodes of serious avant-prog angularity. The style of zeuhl is characterized primarily by two key factors. One is a martial rhythmic drive mostly driven by the backbone of a virtuosic skilled drummer and by ethereal vocals that more often than not convey shades of color rather than meaning, mostly performed by female divas.

BONDAGE FRUIT exhibited all the required elements for a classic zeuhl band with virtuoso drummer Okabe Youichi and the vocal combo of Aki Kubota and Saga Yuki. On the debut Yuki was only a secondary vocalist with Kubota performing the lion's share of vocal duties but before the second album simply titled BONDAGE FRUIT II, Aki departed and left Saga Yuki as the primary vocal goddess to deliver all those divaliscious utterances. She was joined by the addition of Yen Chang and together they are pure magic. The rest of the noisemaking cast which included Kido Natsuki (guitar, organ), Katsui Yuji (violin), Ohtsubo Hirohiko (bass) and Takara Kuimiko (vibraphone, marimba, percussion, piano) remained and thus this second offering from one of Japan's premier punk infused jazzy-zeuhl fusion bands and BONDAGE FRUIT II takes all the excessive eccentricities of the debut and ramps them up several notches. The results of which offer one of the most creative and energetic displays of the entire zeuhl genre.

Japanese bands have always excelled at incorporating noisy punk infused guitar riffing and nowhere is this so perfectly executed than on the second installment of the BONDAGE FRUIT show. As with all great masterpieces of avant-rock, BONDAGE FRUIT II manages to create enough variety to keep your interest but also doesn't delve so far out into the experimental soundscapes as to create an unfocused album. While the tracks display a diverse run of differing tones, timbres and dynamics, a few factors offer a cohesiveness that keeps this second album humming along without skipping a beat. The martial rhythmic drive is impeccable. Youichi displays a wide range of drumming skills as he can nail the simplest primitive beats but likewise can explode into a fury of bombastic jazzed out complexities that could be heard in the most hardcore tech death metal bands. The tracks all have instantly addictive melodies that often remind me of the Canterbury Scene particularly from the Northettes on the Hatfield & The North albums.

BONDAGE FRUIT II exploits the contrasts more effectively than the debut. Beautiful melodies are in harmony with heavy dissonant guitar feedback, echoey funky chords and jazz-fusion keyboard styles from the Herbie Hancock playbook. The playful nature of the music finds many time signature gymnastics such as the wild displays on 'Kodomo No Guntai' which finds lengthy examples of instruments falling in and out of sync while avant-prog angularities decorate the steady beat that decays into sophisticated chaos yet somehow an underpinning of rhythm successfully keeps everything connected. This really is an amazing display of Japanese noise rock at its absolute best. Everything about this album works on every level and exudes an energy and excitement throughout its entirety. You know you got a winner if you want to hear the album again after you've just heard it. BONDAGE FRUIT would go through even more drastic changes as both Yuki and Chang would leave after this album. The band would become more experimental and weird but for this brief moment managed to perfectly maintain the balance between that magical emotional connection and the unhinged avant-garde.

 Arkham by ARKHAM album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.19 | 29 ratings

Arkham Zeuhl

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

3 stars It's hard to believe that if you dig deep enough in the more esoteric arenas of the world of progressive rock that at some early distant point some of the most unlikely musicians crossed paths. Such is the case of Daniel Denis who founded Univers Zero. Denis actually started out in one of the best kept secrets of the early 70s. The band ARKHAM not only developed the seedlings of what would become the avant-prog chamber rock of Univers Zero but would also produce a future member of Magma. ARKHAM was formed in Brussels, Belgium in 1970 when drummer Daniel Denis and Jean-Luc Manderlier met and expressed a mutual admiration for the English progressive rock style known as the Canterbury Scene after hearing the phenomenal warped jazz-rock sounds that were emerging from bands like Soft Machine, Egg and Caravan.

After acquiring bassist Claude Berkovitch, the trio enrolled in a musical competition called "Guitare d'Or" in Ciney, Belgium and won the contest which propelled them into the live circuit and become one of Belgium's most interesting early progressive rock bands of the early 70s. The lineup changed quite a bit with bassist Patrick Cogneaux replacing Berkovitch and then joining Pazop and being replaced by Paolo Radoni and Christian Ramon before the band finally splintered off into different bands. In 1972, the final year of the band's existence, Franois Arnadeau joined to play guitar and Claude Deron was added for trumpet and flugelhorn, however the band's evolving sound pretty much revolved around the esoteric avant-garde musical visions of drummer Daniel Denis and keyboardist Manderlier.

Despite playing for three years, the band never was able to record any studio recordings however many live recordings were collected over the years and finally in the year 2002 the music of ARKHAM was finally released in the form of this self-titled live album. While not exactly an essential release mostly because of the poor production qualities as these concerts were recorded haphazardly on the road, this story of ARKHAM is essential for those trying to connect the dots of the evolution of how the Rock In Opposition world splintered off its angular avant-prog sounds from the early world of jazz-fusion, zeuhl and the nascent Canterbury Scene. This live collection of recordings displays a band that should've been one of the hottest items in the world of progressive rock during the day but was left behind while the more famous English and Italian bands captured the world's attention.

There are two versions of this album. The original 2002 version that contains 9 tracks and a remastered 2013 album from the Japanese Arcangelo label that includes three bonus tracks. The album runs the gamut of the band's early inception in 1970 to the final days of 1972. The music captured a unique crossroads where the early Canterbury sounds of Egg and Soft Machine collided with the bubbling zeuhl rhythms of early Magma along with bouts of complex jazz-fusion sensibilities from the likes of Nucleus. While Belgium wasn't known on the prog scene until bands like Univers Zero came onto the scene in the late 70s, it's quite fascinating to hear how that band emerged from the ashes of this fertile crossroads of early prog rock sensibilities. Denis' fascination with the world of H.P. Lovecraft is apparent even at this early stage with the name ARKHAM coming from the fictional town from the Lovecraft mythos.

The first track displays a unique truce between zeuhl rhythmic drives and Canterbury jazz flavors but tracks like "Eve's Eventful Day (part 5 & 6)" and "With Assays Of Bias" display the clear connections between ARKHAM's angular juggling of polyrhythms and the experimental avant-garde which evolved into the complex chamber rock prog styles that were fully developed on the earliest Univers Zero albums. The album is primarily based on improvised jamming sessions but clearly with some structural analysis before preceding with reckless abandon. The music is already quite developed at this stage but lacked the cohesiveness that masterpieces like "1313" and "Heresie" evoked. This collection is an interesting mix of styles where some tracks focus on the Canterbury sounds, some on more traditional jazz-fusion and some on the completely detached world of avant-prog.

This is actually a really excellent set of musical bliss however the sound quality is crap. This is one for the hardcore musical sleuths who love to know the roots of their demented musical tastes. Well worth the experience checking out even if this won't go down as the world's most essential release any time soon. Denis would of course go on to found Univers Zero while Manderlier was invited to join Magma after crossing paths with Christian Vander. The band in its short duration also featured Vincent Kenis, later of Ask Maboul and Claude Deron who formed Necronomicon in 1974 which evolved into the world of Univers Zero. This band was more like a progressive rock hatchery than a bona fide classic act itself but judging from the musical performances on this set of nine live tracks, this band was more than ready for primetime and had these guys resided in the English countryside may very well have been considered some of the top talents of the era next to the likes of their influences.

3.5 but rounded down. The sound quality is just too poor to round up.

 Zss - Le Jour Du Nant by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.80 | 106 ratings

Zss - Le Jour Du Nant
Magma Zeuhl

Review by thebig_E

4 stars This album was quite the stylistic detour for Magma. On many Magma albums, such as K.A, Christian Vander's voice is used sparingly. His voice appears a few times, but he is mostly the drummer. On Zss (Le Jour Du Nant), he is the lead singer and doesn't play drums. Instead, a Swedish drummer named Morgen gren, provides the percussion. I don't know much about him or his band, but I've read that he's a very technical drummer. Unfortunately, Zss doesn't require him to be much more than a metronome.

Zss is another composition that has existed in the Magma catalog for decades before this studio recording. While this may not be the definitive version, it is good to contrast with other live performances of this song. The addition of an orchestra (provided by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) is a good touch that separates this album from others in their discography. This, along with the fact that the album flows like one 38 minute song, makes it sound much more like a symphony. This is a very minimal and streamlined album, and it rewards patience. For that reason, I couldn't throw it on anytime and always be enjoying it like other albums they have produced.

The album starts with an ominous string and vocal arrangement. This section is the opening fanfare, and lasts for 5 minutes. From there, we go into a minimal 2 chord piano and percussion theme. Christian narrates in French over the music. This does not change for 6 minutes, and this is kind of where the album loses me a bit. It's the least musically interesting part of the record. Thankfully, a switch to the Kobaan language brings the string section back, and we get the first instance of a motif that will exist throughout the rest of the album.

The language seemingly changes from Kobaan to something that is unrecognizable. The main takeaway from the vocals is the repeated "hmhmh nhmhsn". This culminates in a final 15 minutes of chaos, beauty, and resolution. The segment at the end, titled "Dmghl Bla (Glas ultime), is a different ending that is unique to this version of Zss. A quiet piano leads into call and response vocals between Christian and the rest of the singers. The word "om" brings the album to a close, suggesting that there is peace after everything that has come before.

In the Kobaan lore, Zss represents the end of the universe and everything that has ever existed. This makes the album seem like a final farewell. If this is the last Magma album, I wouldn't mind. They have had an excellent run, lasting for 50 years. Zss was never going to be my favourite Magma song or album, but I'm glad this exists.

 mhnthtt-R by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.20 | 498 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by thebig_E

4 stars 4.5 stars. mhnthtt-R, the third part of the Kohntarkosz trilogy, was released in 2009. This completed a series that was started in the mid 1970's and didn't see completion until decades later. This album features songs that appeared on d Wd, Attahk, and Live/Hhai. I don't have a problem with this. If an artist thinks they can improve an old song with new recording technology, they are free to do as they please. It helps that the songs that were recycled are good.

Track 1 is mhnthtt-R I. This, along with the next 3 songs, make up the bulk of the album. Christian gives narration in a vaguely Egyptian sounding language, then the vocal choir sings an ominous melody. Voices are panned left, right, and centre, while drums and piano make the instrumental. Stella gives an emotional solo, and this leads into "Rinde" from Attahk.

Part II starts with Christian singing, and this is where the album picks up the pace. A bonus track from d Wd is reused, and a great vocal harmony brings us to the next song. "Hhai" was always a live staple since it was first used in 1975. Over time, it has grown to be one of Magma's best songs. This studio version is a worthy addition to the song's legacy. Christian's voice is as good as ever. An impactful ending segues into "Zombies", a track from d Wd. This time, the song is much faster and more intense.

Part III has a dramatic intro and falls into a more reserved instrumental. Stella and Herv Aknin sing a duet, with other vocalists fading in and out of the mix. This song keeps building until it is very dense with vocals and instruments. It keeps ramping up intensity, and a well deserved crescendo is reached.

Part IV is a more calm and jazzy piece. Stella sings alone once again. This allows the listener to relax and reflect on the trip this album has taken them on. That is, until a moody ending suddenly happens.

Parts I to IV of the mhnthtt-R suite are the main portion of the album. I can't say what comes after is essential though. "Funhrarum Kanht" sounds more like vocal practice for the band, than a real song. This drones on for 4 minutes with sustained voices and repetitive percussion. Not bad, but not great. "Sh" is not much to write about. It's just 30 seconds worth of ambience with Christian repeating the opening narration.

Despite an underwhelming ending, this record is still fantastic. As a whole, mhnthtt-R is a more dark and brooding album than K.A. Sometimes, I love this album as much as K.A. You can't go wrong with either one. If you like progressive music, I encourage you to listen to mhnthtt-R.

 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.26 | 668 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by thebig_E

5 stars When you think of comeback albums, you generally think of bad ones. A band is not as good as they used to be, when they return after a 10 year or longer absence. There are a few comeback albums that are excellent. Those are less common, but they exist. K.A (Kohntarkosz Anteria), is one of those albums. Released in 2004 after a 20 year long hiatus, K.A ranks as one of Magma's very best records.

This album had it's musical concepts created as early as the mid 1970's. It is also the first album Magma released in the 21st century. As a result, it has the benefit of being "classic" era Magma, but it sounds more modern. The first track wastes no time by going right into a chorus. The vocals are a big part of this record, and a big part of the Magma sound. The lyrics are in Kobaan, as are the majority of Magma albums. Kobaan is the constructed language made by Christian Vander, extracted from Germanic and Slavic languages. The words however, are inconsequential, because they have no meaning. What matters are the complex vocal arrangements, and how they are layered.

K.A has only three tracks, but there are plenty of musical ideas in each one. K.A 1 has the lyrics "ts Khntarksz", which hints at the album's placement in the Kohntarkosz trilogy. This is introduced 5 minutes into the song, and is repeated again with more intensity towards the song's end. We have a climax at 7 minutes with someone rolling their tongue, followed by loud hissing. This part is certainly a weird moment, but it fits the eccentric music. K.A 2 starts with tambourine and vocals. This is one of the few parts on the album that includes Christian's vocals. He is mostly assigned to the drum kit here. This track features a main theme with the lyrics "Ww wowo Shnd", which is continually sung throughout the song. This gives way to a guitar solo by James Mac Gaw, and new verses. Suddenly, it goes back to the main theme until the 8:45 minute mark. At this point, "Les musiciens du bord du monde" is introduced. The melody here can be traced back to 1974's Wurdah tah, and its last track "Da Zeuhl Undazir". In my opinion, this is the first callback to one of their older compositions. A softer section is introduced before the song ends quite dramatically. The background singers are doing their own thing, while Antoine Paganotti can be heard singing "Allhlia". There will be more of that later.

K.A 3 starts with a cymbal crash and a slow build. What follows is a long instrumental jam. This is dominated by drums, keyboards, and voices floating in and out. This may go on for too long, but most of the time I find it entrancing. The earliest appearance of this piece is in the Indits live album as "Om Zanka". After 9 minutes, the segment abruptly ends. A new song is introduced. This was originally called "Gamma Anteria" on the aforementioned live album. Antoine takes the lead vocal here. There are at least two separate verses going on at the same time. You don't truly realize the complexity of the vocal arrangements until you have looked up the lyrics, and played the song while reading them. The "Allhlia" part returns and is stronger than ever, with all vocalists participating. It's at this point that the music becomes a religious experience. Maybe it is here to remind us that Kobaa is indeed a planet inhabited by humans. They brought their religion with them. This is repeated many times, then the tempo slows down for the final celebratory "Allhlia". K.A closes with some words from their debut album. "Ho Hamta Sm rm Hamta" is spoken, and it ends the record in a quiet way.

Throughout its 49 minutes, K.A is always intriguing and never boring. The music has many parts that sound like a rock opera, with an emphasis on the opera. It's a beautiful and enigmatic journey of an album. All the good things that have been said about this album are true. It really is up there with M.D.K as one of Magma's greatest albums. However, just like M.D.K, don't expect easy listening. This will most likely take time to grow in your mind, if you are willing to let it. This is mandatory listening for a Progressive Rock fan in my opinion.

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ALTAS France
ANAID France
ARKHAM Belgium
CORIMA United States
DAI KAHT Finland
DN France
VOH France
FOEHN France
GA'AN United States
IKARUS Switzerland
MAGMA France
NEOM France
NOA France
PSEU France
RHN France
SETNA France
VAK France
VAULTS OF ZIN United States
XING SA France
ZAO France
ZIG ZAG France

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