Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Zeuhl • France

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Zao picture
Zao biography
ZAO was founded at the beginning of the seventies by Yochk'o "Jeff" Seffer (saxophone, clarinet) and Franšois "Faton" Cahen (pianos), both ex-members of MAGMA's first era, that includes "Koba´a" (1970), "1001 ░ centigrades" (1971) and "Uniweria Zekt-the Unnamables" (1972).
If one regard MAGMA as the central trunk of the Zeuhl tree, ZAO would be equivalent to an early side branch very close to the stock. ZAO's music, at least at the beginning of their career, is therefore an extension of MAGMA's first era, with a light music, at times weird, with hints of jazz, contemporaneous music, Hungarian folk (Yochk'o is a native of Hungary) and obviously of Zeuhl. Nothing in common with the absolute incantatory power of "MDK" and "Kohntarkhosz" to which Yochk'o Seffer and Franšois Cahen didn't want to contribute.

In the first album, "Z = 7L" (1973), the very complex melodic instrumental layers are enriched with the wonderful voice of Mauricia Platon (with its koba´an accents), but unfortunately she was missing on the follow-up "Osiris" released in 1975.

ZAO will break from its Zeuhl roots and the music will lean towards some jazz-rock fusion more and more debatable and debated.

"Shekina" (1975) augmented by the presence of a string quartet and "Kawana" (1976) remain respectable albums of the French jazz-rock fusion scene but "Typhareth" (1976) recorded just after Yochk'o Seffer left the band is of little interest. ZAO will then split but the members will gather anew in 1994 with the release of "Akhenaton" (once more jazz-fusion inflected), the album that saw the band reform but without any follow-up. It seems that the band planned to reform this year (2004) with the return of Yochk'o Seffer. To be continued ? Moreover, we can note that ZAO's bassist, JoŰl Dugrenot, will join for a short while the French symphonic progressive band CLEARLIGHT.

Among the solo albums, let's consider Yochk'o Seffer's "Ghilgoul" (1979), strange atmospheres, dissonant music and the presence of Zeuhl in some tracks.

::: Tauhd Za´a ::: (Many thanks to Lucas for the English translation)

Zao official website

ZAO MP3, Free Download (music stream)

Open extended player in a new pop-up window | Random Playlist (50) | How to submit new MP3s

ZAO forum topics / tours, shows & news

ZAO forum topics Create a topic now
ZAO tours, shows & news
No topics found for : "zao"
Post an entries now

ZAO Videos (YouTube and more)

Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to ZAO

Buy ZAO Music

The Well-Intentioned VirusThe Well-Intentioned Virus
Observed/Observer Recordings 2016
Audio CD$14.25
$10.00 (used)
When Blood and Fire Bring RestWhen Blood and Fire Bring Rest
Tooth & Nail Records/ Solid State Records 1998
Audio CD$44.99
$25.97 (used)
Parade of ChaosParade of Chaos
Solid State Records 2002
Audio CD$6.81
$2.00 (used)
Liberate Te Ex InferisLiberate Te Ex Inferis
Solid State Records 1999
Audio CD$86.36
$19.99 (used)
The Funeral of GodThe Funeral of God
Ferret Records 2004
Audio CD$3.99
$1.60 (used)
2nd Era2nd Era
Box set
Solid State Records 2011
Audio CD$14.04
$9.88 (used)
Solid State Records 2004
Audio CD$6.96
$1.37 (used)
Fear Is What Keeps Us HereFear Is What Keeps Us Here
Limited Edition
Ferret Records 2006
Audio CD$0.99
$0.01 (used)
Limited Edition
Ferret 2009
Audio CD$8.72
$5.98 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
UNDEROATH The Changing of Times LP 180G CLEAR VINYL august burns red.thrice.zao USD $21.50 [11 bids]
4h 55m
Legendary by Zao (CD, Jan-2004, Solid State) USD $13.45 Buy It Now 9h 3m
Zao : The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here CD (2006) USD $5.28 Buy It Now 18h 33m
ZAO / JAPAN Mini LP SHM-CD x 2 titles + PROMO BOX Set!! USD $135.00 Buy It Now 1 day
Zao : Outer Circle CD (1998) USD $7.48 Buy It Now 1 day
Zao : Legendary CD (2004) USD $7.99 Buy It Now 1 day
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret) NEW USD $5.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Akhenaton Zao Audio CD USD $33.61 Buy It Now 1 day
CREATION IS CRUCIFIXTION VINYL 7" zao coalesce cattle decapitation unruh lp USD $3.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Zao - Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest Grey Brown Vinyl 12" LP Color Record Metal USD $145.00 Buy It Now 1 day
CUT ZAO CD USD $48.71 Buy It Now 2 days
ZAO - LEGENDARY CD (2003, SOLID STATE RECORDS) USD $5.98 Buy It Now 2 days
Zao : Parade of Chaos CD (2002) USD $2.69 Buy It Now 2 days
This Is Solid State: Vol 1 CD Living Sacrifice / Zao / Extol & More NEW Hardcore USD $1.91 Buy It Now 2 days
Symphony In Peril Red/black Splatter Vinyl LP Zao Norma Jean Underoath USD $40.00 [0 bids]
USD $55.00 Buy It Now
2 days
Symphony In Peril Red Vinyl LP Zao Norma Jean Underoath Demon Hunter Bane USD $40.00 [0 bids]
USD $52.99 Buy It Now
3 days
Live Ouest De La Grosne Zao Audio CD USD $29.64 Buy It Now 3 days
Music On The Brain Vol 2 CD A Wilhelm Scream Zao Yesterdays Rising BRAND NEW USD $2.39 Buy It Now 3 days
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret Music... USD $0.99 [0 bids]
3 days
Live! - Zao (CD Used Very Good) USD $13.12 Buy It Now 3 days
Zao-Zaq-L?Aigulle CD NEW USD $20.64 Buy It Now 3 days
Culture band born of you 12" vinyl morning again poison the well disembodied zao USD $0.99 [1 bids]
4 days
Disembodied diablerie 12" vinyl martyr ad zao poison the well unbroken converge USD $11.50 [17 bids]
4 days
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here by Zao (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret Music (USA)) USD $3.99 Buy It Now 4 days
Zao : All Else Failed CD (2003) USD $10.00 Buy It Now 4 days
NEW - The Fear is What Keeps Us Here by ZAO USD $1.30 Buy It Now 4 days
Zao - The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret Music (USA)) USD $2.69 Buy It Now 4 days
Zao - The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret Music (USA)) NEW USD $4.04 Buy It Now 4 days
Z=7l - Zao (2006, CD New) USD $24.53 Buy It Now 5 days
Zao - Z=7l [CD New] USD $15.13 Buy It Now 5 days
Z=7l - Zao (CD Used Very Good) USD $13.13 Buy It Now 5 days
ZAO-LIVE CD NEW USD $21.89 Buy It Now 5 days
Zao - The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here (2006) CD NEW SPEEDYPOST USD $3.09 Buy It Now 5 days
Symphony In Peril - Lost Memoirs And Faded Pictures, Zao, Coalesce USD $1.00 [0 bids]
5 days
ZAO-Z=7L CD NEW USD $20.98 Buy It Now 5 days
ZAO - AKHENATON-JAPAN MINI LP CD Gi50 USD $29.99 Buy It Now 5 days
5 days
ZAO: Congo CONGOLESE guitar VINYL LP afro rhythms 1984 NM- USD $29.50 Buy It Now 5 days
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret Music (U USD $1.99 [0 bids]
USD $7.00 Buy It Now
5 days
ZAO-2 TITLE-JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD SET 221 USD $76.99 Buy It Now 6 days
ZAO-Z=7L-JAPAN MINI LP SHM-CD Hi25 USD $32.99 Buy It Now 6 days
The Funeral of God by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jul-2004, Ferret Music (USA)) USD $1.99 [0 bids]
USD $7.00 Buy It Now
6 days
Zao - Aiguille CD L'Aiguille Congo USD $4.36 Buy It Now 6 days
Gods - Metal - Zao - I SEE YOU THROUGH GLASS CD - NM USD $3.99 Buy It Now 7 days
Zao CD Z=7L 1973 French Prog Fusion USD $18.00 Buy It Now 7 days
The Funeral of God by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jul-2004, Ferret Music (USA)) NOS JWD USD $5.99 Buy It Now 7 days
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jun-2006, Ferret NOS JWD USD $5.99 Buy It Now 7 days
Fear Is What Keeps Us Here - ZAO (CD) thrash metal USD $6.00 Buy It Now 7 days
ZAO Z=7L FRANCE CD JAPAN EDIT OBI 2575yen 1ST PRESS USD $59.99 Buy It Now 8 days
ZAO -áSELF-TITLED - CD Solid State USD $5.99 Buy It Now 8 days
ZAO-The Funeral of God CD-Metalcore-Ferret Music-The Lesser Lights of Heaven-CD USD $6.99 Buy It Now 8 days
ZAO - Metalcore - THE FEAR IS WHAT KEEPS US HERE CD [2006] USD $3.99 Buy It Now 9 days
THE BLAMED Isolated Incedent - Christian Hardcore Extol Zao Eso-Charis Everdown USD $2.50 Buy It Now 9 days
Megamind - ZAO - Media - 2000 #52341 USD $8.73 Buy It Now 10 days
The Well-Intentioned Virus * by Zao. USD $34.16 Buy It Now 10 days
Live! - Zao (2006, CD New) USD $15.94 Buy It Now 10 days
The Well-Intentioned Virus by Zao (Observed) [Audio CD] BRAND NEW USD $16.70 Buy It Now 10 days
The Well-Intentioned Virus Import by Zao ( Dance Pop, Ambient) [Vinyl] NEW USD $21.79 Buy It Now 10 days
Zao - Live! [CD New] USD $15.12 Buy It Now 11 days
ZAO France CD, SHEKINA still sealed USD $35.99 Buy It Now 11 days
ZAO The 2nd Era RARE OOP 3 CDs 1998-2000 SEALED Digipak METALCORE Tooth USD $86.99 Buy It Now 11 days
Noise Maker Vol 9 - Zao/Just A Moment/Wax - Nukleuz - 2001 #60833 USD $4.98 Buy It Now 12 days
The Well-Intentioned Virus Zao (Format: Audio CD) USD $17.16 Buy It Now 12 days
Symphony In Peril - Lost Memoirs And Faded Pictures CD zao narcissus maranatha USD $2.99 Buy It Now 12 days
ZAO: Patron LP (France, 4 tags on cover, small tag residue on cover) African USD $12.00 Buy It Now 12 days
Poison The Well. Tear From The Red / Distance. CD Bundle. Zao Sleeve Cutouts USD $10.00 Buy It Now 13 days
ZAO Ethnic Trio Live CD USD $9.82 Buy It Now 13 days
The Funeral of God by Zao (Metalcore) (CD, Jul-2004, Ferret Music (USA)) USD $3.00 Buy It Now 13 days
The Funeral of God by Zao CD Metalcore Rock Album 2004 Ferret Music (VG+) #F27 USD $7.95 Buy It Now 13 days
TRAINING FOR UTOPIA & ZAO The Split EP CD 1998 Solid State Tooth & Nail Records USD $6.99 Buy It Now 14 days
ZAO The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here CD 2006 Ferret Music Records Steve Albini USD $6.99 Buy It Now 14 days
Zao Training for Utopia Zao (The Split EP) CD USD $6.98 Buy It Now 14 days
ZAO - ALL ELSE FAILED (*NEW-CD, 2000, Steadfast/MGP) Original Masters-Super Rare USD $34.99 Buy It Now 14 days
New Music Record Zao "The Well-Intentioned Virus" LP USD $24.37 Buy It Now 15 days
New Music Record Zao "The Well-Intentioned Virus" CD USD $19.80 Buy It Now 15 days
15 used and new Christian metal and Hardcore CDs. Zao, Norma, Advent, Beloved USD $29.91 Buy It Now 15 days
Living Sacrifice - Reborn Vinyl LP 1997 Solid State Original, zao, strongarm USD $139.99 Buy It Now 15 days
Project 86 Knives To The Future Cd Signed P.O.D Blindside Underoath Zao USD $7.99 Buy It Now 16 days
Neurosis A Sun That Never Sets 2xLP vinyl record reissue sepultura zao sleep USD $29.95 Buy It Now 16 days
Zao - Awake? (CD 2009) USD $6.18 Buy It Now 16 days
GAZDE nije meni zao 2001 CROATIAN tradicional/tamburitza CD USD $17.00 Buy It Now 16 days
PERO PANJKOVIC zao mi je 1994 CROATIAN pop/tradicional/dalmatian CD USD $20.00 Buy It Now 16 days
Zao - The Well-Intentioned Virus vinyl lp living sacrifice norma jean hopesfall USD $35.00 Buy It Now 16 days
Zao: The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here CD 2006 Ferret Music F068-2 USD $6.95 Buy It Now 16 days
Zao:Yochko Seffer: Neffesh Japan CD Mini-LP BELLE-071343 M (magma jannick top Q USD $31.50 Buy It Now 17 days
Speed Limit: Japan CD Mini-LP BELLE-071350(magma jannick top yochko seffer zao Q USD $35.00 Buy It Now 17 days
In Tokyo Zao Audio CD USD $56.98 Buy It Now 17 days
L' Aiguille Zao Audio CD USD $53.55 Buy It Now 17 days
Legendary by Zao (CD, Jan-2004, Solid State) USD $9.95 Buy It Now 17 days
Well-Intentioned Virus [VINYL] Zao Vinyl USD $37.95 Buy It Now 17 days

More places to buy ZAO music online Buy ZAO & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
ZAO has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

ZAO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ZAO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.46 | 48 ratings
3.87 | 44 ratings
3.89 | 43 ratings
3.95 | 39 ratings
3.72 | 25 ratings
3.07 | 15 ratings
4.00 | 3 ratings
Zao Family

ZAO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 10 ratings
Zao - Live!
3.49 | 7 ratings
Zao In Tokyo
4.00 | 2 ratings
Ethnic 3 Live

ZAO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ZAO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ZAO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings

ZAO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Z=7L by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.46 | 48 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars From the bubbling pools of Kobaian energy emerged France's first and foremost original early progressive rock / jazz-fusion act extraordinaire that proved to progophiles all the world over that not all progressive rock needed to be derived from the English stockpile. Magma emerged in 1969 Paris and released their first two albums and another under the Univeria Zekt moniker before the band ended the first phase of their lineup and began spinning off many splinter groups over their decades long run. The first of these was ZAO which was immediately formed by Hungarian born Yochk'o Seffer (sax, clarinet) who left the band due to a power shift leaving Christian Vander in control of the band's musical direction that spawned the birth of their classic "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h" and beyond. Soon Franšois Cahen (piano) would join him and they would form ZAO with the original intent to create music in the vein of the first two Magma albums "Kobaia" and "1001 Degrees Fahrenheit." Wasting no time the duo rounded up several musicians including the phenomenal drum maestro Jean-My Truong from Seffer's jazz-fusion project Perception and they released their debut album Z=7L alongside Magma's "MDK" in 1973.

If you are familiar with any Magma album, then you will instantly recognize that this was spawned from the greater Magma universe for there is nothing quite like the zeuhl style of avant-prog that only Kobaians from that far away world could create. The similarities are quite striking with the stunning operatic diva duties of Mauricia Platon in the spotlight and the jazz-fusion meets avant-prog virtuosity of the accompanying musicians, but what is even more striking are the differences from any given Magma album. While the intent was to create more of what came before from the first two Magma albums, the truth is more that ZAO engaged in a convergent evolution with Magma advancing similar ideas but with radically different approaches. While Z=7L may sound like the sister release of "MDK" simply because of the dominance of a dramatic diva with the spaced out musical fury of the frenetic zeuhl instrumentation, the fact is that this variety of zeuhl sounds more Earth-bound than the otherworldly visions of Christian Vander's Kobaian odyssey.

Love her voice or not, one can only admit that Mauricia Platon has an absolutely phenomenal vocal ability. She sounds kinda like a space age Ella Fitzgerald meets Cecilia Bartoli for her ability to perform operatic scat vocals with a sense of Řber-control that is only comparable to the prodigious vocal command of Yma Sumac which is nothing short of amazing. Her ability to wail up and down the scales weaving her magic around the exceptional instrumental section is the magic of this release. While Magma leads the listener more into the realms of rock opera, ZAO delivers more of a jazzy fusionist's paradise that revels in bombarding one with unexpected time signatures and tempo changes and more of a feel like a Kobaian Flora Purim gone wild with an air of early Return To Forever Chick Corea type keyboards alongside with Mahavishnu Orchestra electric violin runs. And of course i can't forget to mention the beautifully woven in sax and clarinet parts all punctuated by the intensely precise percussive talents of Jean-My Truong who quite possibly matches if not exceeds Vander's abilities.

While Magma themselves are hardly a household name around the world finding itself in the more esoteric parts of the prog universe, ZAO is even less known. In fact very little info can be found about this band at all and it remains obscure even within the niche market in which it resides. I have to admit that i came to my first taste of ZAO long after my familiarity with virtually the entire Magma canon and found this to be a little jarring upon first listen simply because it takes many of the Magma-isms and incorporates them into its musical structures but after a few spins the original aspects started jumping out at me and successfully differentiated themselves from that other better known zeuhl creation. I find Z=7L to be an excellent example of a splinter group taking the parts they contributed to their previous band and recontextualizing them within a new paradigm and ZAO pulls it off with flying colors. True it is most likely a grower for most because for the entire run of this album it sounds something like a classic 40s vocal jazz diva crossed with the neo-noir alien diva heard in the movie Dark City, so basically i find this to sound like nothing else even within the tiny niche of zeuhl. The musicianship is nothing short of outstanding and once the listener calibrates his or her ears to the vocal shrillness and eclectic musical developments, it actually becomes quite intoxicating.

 Zao Family by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 3 ratings

Zao Family
Zao Zeuhl

Review by Exa Gerardo

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

 Zao - Live! by ZAO album cover Live, 1976
3.71 | 10 ratings

Zao - Live!
Zao Zeuhl

Review by Padraic
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is an outstanding live performance done shortly after Yochk'o Seffer left the band. Didier Lockwood provides his usual excellence on violin, and Jean My-Truong is absolutely outstanding on drums. The whole band breathes a high level of energy into tracks from the first four Zao albums - in particular you can hear this in the performance of "Isis", where this author found the studio recording a bit lackluster and flat. The one downside of this album (and certainly why it can't get 5 stars) is that the audio quality is barely tolerable - particularly on "Improcol" where it threatens to almost drop off completely - pretty much bootleg quality throughout. Still, highly recommended for jazz-rock and zeuhl fans.
 Z=7L by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.46 | 48 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars I am really getting into zeuhl at the moment and is hoovering up zeuhl albums at online auctions and other places. So it was only a matter of time before I bumped into this band and this, their debut album.

Zao has been described as a Magma copy. For me, Z=7L sounds like a mix of Magma and Return To Forever with some Hatfield & The North injected through Nordettes, their female singers. Vocally, Zao is dominated by their female vocalist Mauricia Platon.

This is a more than acceptable debut album. It does comes across as a light-weight album though. What I am missing is the rich textures from the zeuhl genre and the debt of the jazz/fusion genre. Z=7L is somewhere inbetween these genres and is lacking the best of both.

When that is said, this is a good album which makes me wanting to pursue collecting Zao albums.

3 stars

 Typhareth by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.72 | 25 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Typhareth is the logical conclusion to Zao's experiments in continuing the more fusion-influenced strands of Magma's music, in that by this point in the band's development their previous Zeuhl sound has been replaced with slick fusion chops - and then they go further than that, and for most of the album play in a classic jazz style. This is not actually a bad thing - the years spent working on Zeuhl and fusion playing honed the band's skills markedly, and leaves them more than capable of performing traditional jazz to a high standard - but at the same time it feels rather overpolished and safe. Yes, it's a regression to their musical routes rather than a progression forwards into new territory, but sometimes it's a good thing to revisit your routes and try out the new tricks you've learned in your explorations in a traditional framework, but at the same time Typhareth falls into an awkward gap where neither jazz fans nor zeuhl maniacs will go crazy about it.
 Kawana by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.95 | 39 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On Kawana, Zao recapture the dark Zeuhl spirit which eluded them on Osiris (the only earlier album of theirs I have heard). Opening with the mesmerising Natura, on which Fran'ois Cahen essentially uses his piano as a rhythm instrument to lend extra weight and urgency to the already powerful rhythm section of bassist G'rard Pr'vost and drummer Jean-My Truong, the album proceeds to offer a brooding, volcanic form of fusion-leaning Zeuhl, reminiscent of parent band Magma's earlier (pre-Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh) works. Particular praise has to be given to Didier Lockwood, whose violin contributions help to set Zao's sound apart from Magma's work. Zao's exploration of the fusion-Zeuhl route Magma opted against taking is an important contribution to the genre, and Kawana is one of the band's greatest achievements.
 Osiris by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.87 | 44 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Zao may have been one of the first Zeuhl bands to spring up in the wake of Magma's inauguration of the style - founded, as it was, with Magma refugees - but you'd be forgiven for considering Osiris it a retreat from the Zeuhl style rather than a willing embrace of it. Veering back towards jazz fusion, the group aim not for the murky, fast-paced, volcanic fusion of Magma's early days but a more sedate and laid back variety of jazz-rock, of the sort propagated by Weather Report at around the same time. To my ears, the main Zeuhl influence is in the percussion, which at points locks itself into a hypnotic groove of the sort Magma would make use of - but it's never quite so heavy or martial as Magma gets, nor does it sustain itself for as long. A pleasant enough album, but not exactly a cornerstone of the genre.
 Ethnic 3 Live by ZAO album cover Live, 2008
4.00 | 2 ratings

Ethnic 3 Live
Zao Zeuhl

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I don't know much about the technicalities that make a certain album or artist zeuhl, but I'm fairly certain that this is a jazz album. Zao's earlier albums sound more like what I expect zeuhl to sound like, but this album definitely sounds like jazz of some unknown ethnic origin, given the title of this album. Zeuhl or not, Ethnic-3 Live is one of the most interesting jazz albums I've heard in a long time, mostly sounding like a perfect crossover of Hiromi and Sun Ra, with beautiful acoustic piano, energetic ethnic percussion, and sincerely saxophone.

The tracks on this album, being recorded live, sound like improvisational jams rather than actual songs. That being said, if these are improvisations, they are great. Maybe Zao aren't jazz masters of any sort, but the melodies in the improvisations really stand out and hold onto the listener. One thing that I've really liked about this album is the sound quality - it's fantastic. Everything is sharp and pointy in the mix, and each of the three musicians really stick out on their own. The only track on this album that doesn't really fit would be "Trebla", which includes electric hip-hop sounding beats, new-age choir sounds, and annoying vocals that pierce through the mix. It really ruins the laid back jam feel of the album, but luckily the track ends with some beautiful jazz lines. On a better note, one of my personal favorites on this album is "Felix" which has a very strong funky jungle jazz groove that is super infectious.

This album is definitely on my top 10 obscure live jazz albums, and I'd highly recommend this to anyone looking for a groovier and more acoustic Sun Ra type of album. Some of this album is even great for chill lounge music, which is always a good atmosphere to have music like this prepared for.

Highly recommended.

 Z=7L by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.46 | 48 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Zao was formed after keyboardist Francois Cahen and saxophonist Yock'o Seffer left Magma. They did not like Christian Vander's growing control over the group, making Magma's music less jazzy. In fact, after the second album Zao becomes less Zeuhl and more fusion oriented. The drummer here is from Vietnam and the female vocalist I believe is from the USA. I have no idea what the album title means. The music is similar to Magma's first two albums, but with more emphasis on piano. There is a violinist as well whose contributions are important. The vocals are either in the 'drunk opera singer Zeuhl' category or in the 'drunk scat-singer Zeuhl' category.

You can listen to the first song "Marochsek" here on PA. Opens with some electric piano and bass with some subdued almost inaudible drumming. Then you hear "Zao!" and some violin and sax blaring away. Proceeds to go into a great groove with "doy-yu, da-doy-yu" type vocals. Changes slightly to a more melodic part before the music and singing gets louder and more intense. Some scat-singing with the sax and violin mimicing the vocals. I love the part that starts just before 4 minutes; a screeching violin leads to a more mellow part with some great vocals and a good drumbeat. Next part sounds very much like Magma with singer Mauricia Platon really belting it out at times. Briefly reprises an earlier section before ending on a dramatic note. Love the feedback at the very end.

"Ataturc" begins very '70s sounding. A nice light jazzy funk groove. First half sounds like a mix of symph prog and fusion. Nice vocal melodies. Music slows down in the middle and changes to a more laid-back jazzy section with great Rhodes soloing. Drumming gets really good before some horns play repetative lines. "Ronach" starts off sounding like a hiphop DJ is manipulating a disco record...and then it gets weird. Some start/stop playing with drum rolls and crazy scat vocals. After gets more melodic and operatic. Double-tracked vocals at one point. Changes to a part that sounds like the much later Koenjihyakkei. More start/stop jazzy playing and scat-singing. "Atart" is very jazzy until the singing starts where it gets more symphonic and operatic. Some dissonant sax and clarinet in the middle. Unlike the other songs, this one doesn't change much.

"La Soupe" begins dramatic and operatic. Then gets almost folky and jazzy with scat- singing and instruments playing in unison. Later gets more operatic fusion. Violin almost sounds like a theremin at one point. Later on goes into a great long mellow groove with electric piano and bass; vocals and other instruments play over top. Music changes and gets more upbeat sounding. Reprises beginning section. "Satanyia" has some bass harmonics and mumbling voices being faded in at the beginning. Full band joins in shortly and it gets both jazzy and folky. The vocals arrive. Later goes into a great symphonic jazz- rock part.Goes back to the jazzy/folky part as the music fades out. Overdubbed sax and violin work their way in. The rhythm section is still going. The music then increases in volume and intensity. Reprises the symphonic part afterwards.

Zao would be a good place to start in Zeuhl if you are coming from the jazz end of things. This is their most Zeuhl sounding album and I also think it is their best. The vocals are very Zeuhl sounding but the actual music only sometimes can be described as such. Nonetheless, whatever this is, it's great. Deserves 4 stars.

 Akhenaton by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.07 | 15 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by Andy Webb
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Pleasantly surprised.

I searched for Zao when I was on my quest to discover Zuehl that wasn't Magma (which I never thought existed). Zao was the first one I encountered, and I found Akhenaton soon after, and here I am now. I haven't heard any other Zao or very much any other Zeuhl either, but this album presented a fantastic Jazz Fusion effort, and I can barely really see this as Zeuhl (which I thought was really just jazz fusion with Kobaian lyrics). The whole album is fantastic when the fusion is there and great when it's just straight jazz, which at many points it is. The songs are energetic and quick, keeping a nice steady beat going for the whole album.

Elioth starts off as a slow and steady jazz track with some nice piano and horn. As a jazz track, this intro is spectacular and really jazzy. To add to the affect, it breaks out into a funky fusion riff soon after this. The whole song keeps a funky jazzy beat and feel to it the whole way through, making it a really fantastic opener. One thing I was surprised to see is the lack of any guitar (except a bass). I'm used to at least some guitar, even with the guitarless Emerson Lake and Palmer, so this gave a nice breathe of fresh instruments!

Thebes starts off with a steady polyrhythmic fusion beat, something that I can see influencing future metalers Planet X. The song has a really cool drum beat with a steady melody line and a great bass line going. Some nice free jazz keys solos are heard, which add to the overall polyrythmic feel to the song as the drums back it. Another great song on this album.

Baityare is a more Bossa feeling track with a more steady "jazz" beat. The strings on this song are a little more prevalent, giving more of a dynamic to the music. It has a slower more steady feel and a "lower to the ground" feel with some variation. This dynamic changes becomes for the most part the norm for this album, just some creative jazz fusion with varying drum beats.

Cobra has a more funky feel to it with a fretless bass backing the horn, keys and strings. The melody is a little more avant sounding, following that precedent set by the extremely avant Magma that I was looking for variations on. The more obvious jazz influence is nice, but the obvious Magma influence is also very prevalent.

Yzzo is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song has a quicker beat to it and again brings in that polyrhythmic feel to it, almost sounding Arabic in its sound. The solos, as always are very funky and noodle around the polyrhythmic beats very well. All the different instruments, just like in jazz, get their turn to make the song special and at the same time very similar to the other songs.

Sable also features a quicker beat and more polyrythmic feels. This is really the one "bad" thing about this very funky album, that most of the songs have essentially the same bones, and just different skin covering it. The only separating this from Yzzo or Thebes is the somewhat different keyboard melody and the differences in solos from keys to horn to strings or strings to keys to horn or whatever. The song is still good, but often they sound a little too similar to the other tracks.

Ozz has again a quicker beat, but is more recognizable in its structure by its more traditional funk instrumentation rather than proto- jazz metal polyrhythmic structure. The fretless bass solo is a real treat with that real funky underlying instrument coming out into the forefront to wow us all.

Sakkarah is another polyrhythmic song, but has a slower beat! Well, it speeds up soon enough into the quickly boring structure of melody, solo, solo, solo, solo, solo, end. By now, I've gotten rather bored with the album and am rather glad it's over soon. Can you see by my decreasing amount of interest in my writing?

Des Fleurs Pour Nefertit is a really nice soft jazz ballad to end the album, rather than the long stretch of continuity we were getting for the past few songs. Similar to the first track, the album ends with a beautiful duet between piano and horn, showing an emotional show of compassion in their music and spicing up the music which was quickly going bland. The song ends the album spectacularly, although I would have liked it so much more if the horn was replaced with either a trumpet or a more compassionate genuine alto saxophone rather than the horn they used.

ALBUM OVERALL: As a Zeuhl album, not so much at all. As a jazz fusion album, spectacular, with an extremely boring patch in the middle. All together, the album is good, but non-essential. Some very great and compassionate moments of music can be found within this album, but a lot of the music sounds practically the same. The production was slacking a little as the music could almost sound watered down or fuzzy at times. It certainly is a good album and I recommended it if you're looking for some fun jazz fusion, but overall the album really isn't a necessity. 3+ stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives