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Zeuhl definition

Zeuhl is an adjective in Koba´an, 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

4.30 | 882 ratings
4.28 | 618 ratings
4.25 | 433 ratings
4.27 | 197 ratings
4.19 | 468 ratings
4.19 | 308 ratings
4.23 | 180 ratings
4.29 | 111 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.14 | 428 ratings
4.14 | 349 ratings
4.38 | 64 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.13 | 378 ratings
4.14 | 119 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.05 | 413 ratings
4.31 | 48 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.08 | 124 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.07 | 115 ratings
4.62 | 18 ratings
Bringolf, Serge
4.09 | 86 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.07 | 96 ratings
Eider Stellaire

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Bondage Fruit
Seffer, Yochk'o

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Mathematical Mother by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.29 | 111 ratings

Mathematical Mother
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N║ 179

Universal Totem Orchestra is a very risky musical proposal, full of quality, details and technique, whose originality and concept are really impressive. But, which kind of music does Universal Totem Orchestra play? It's really very difficult to explain. What I can tell you is that their music is an explosive mixture of sounds with modern rock camera, krautrock elements, psychedelic space rock influences, the power and crudeness of hard rock, opera and folk touches, and influences from the most avant-garde Magma. The music presents also influences from jazz, rock and medieval music.

Probably, the most unique attribute of this band are the vocals performed by Ana Torres Fraile and various male performers. You will hear choirs, operatic, tenor and soprano, and traditional male vocals, all very well done. There is so much happening instrumentally that the listener really needs to pay attention. This wouldn't be good background music as it's one of those albums that demand your full attention. Odd time signatures and sudden stops and starts, allowing that for different movements to take place, are the norm, not the exception. It's clear these musicians know how to play and a tremendous amount of work has gone into this piece of music. After all, there aren't many albums just short of 80 minutes long. So, you know you are getting your money's back. Sometimes, with albums this long, the music gets tiresome and boredom starts to set in prematurely. But, that isn't the case on here. I never got the sense they made a long album just for the sake of it. All of the pieces here fit the musical puzzle and nothing seems excessive or irrelevant. What makes this more rewarding are some of nice melodies provided by piano, guitar and saxophone.

'Mathematical Mother' is an album influenced by several musical styles by a truly quixotic Italian band. We can hear soaring classical vocals, the perfect piano accompaniment, the amazing bass, or the move between jazz, fusion, funk, classical, Arabian and progressive styles. I can see why they're considered a zeuhl band due to some bombastic and hallucinating influences from Magma, such as the arrangements hover from bombastic Wagnerian explosions to jazzier climes, again a Kobaian characteristic. But, in reality only Magma sounds like Magma. I can also see occasional forays into Arabic, Gothic and Gregorian chants. It seems that 'Mathematical Mother' is Universal Totem Orchestra's most successful album and represents a union of zeuhl, symphonic, and other progressive rock styles, yet, creating a thoroughly original sound which any fan of avant-prog will find a joy to digest. It just blows me away to think of the time and talent that was put into this album. Finally, the instrumental arrangements are absolutely perfect. This is an album with a very Italian strong feeling. And as almost we know there is amount infinity of amazing Italian prog rock albums.

'Mathematical Mother' needs a careful and gradual metabolization before being grabbed and appreciated. Over fifty minutes of refined and articulated evolutions characterized by counter-tempos and overlaps, epic veins and oriental warps that contain echoes of some of the best Italian prog bands. Starting from the fourteen minutes of the 'Terra Cava' opener, the talents of Torres Fraile stand out, as a vocalist with a soprano extension and an emphatic theatrical verve, a true narrating soul of the entire staging. The technique of the execution and inspiration distinguish the entire line up all over the album. Stylistically, sought after 'Mathematical Mother', undoubtedly stands among the most valid albums of the recent wave made in Italy linked to the jazz-rock prog line, confirming all the excellent impressions that the Trentino orchestra has so far awakened. So, stick to this title and avoid letting it go unnoticed. This kind of prog albums doesn't happen every day. However, 'Mathematical Mother' needs a careful and gradual metabolization before being grabbed and appreciated. What are my favorite tracks? I don't can say that. The entire album is just amazing. It supplanted all my expectations. 'Mathematical Mother' mined blow my mind with a symphonic Italian flavored Zeuhl.

Conclusion: Since the first minute I listened to 'Mathematical Mother', I was deeply impressed by it. Despite it suffers so many and different musical influences, it remains for me a truly impressive work. And curiously, they continue the old and great Italian tradition of using Italian lyrics. The album is characterized as Zeuhl, a genre on which I'm not very well familiarized. But, I can also see on it, influences of Gothic music, Gentle Giant, Dead Can Dance, and of course of the classical music, especially from the bombastic sound of the classic Wagnerian operas. The music is amazing and with great complexity. We may say this is an example of how the modern prog rock music must sound. There aren't many new prog albums that can impress me most than this one. Universal Totem Orchestra must be commended for making an album of such magnitude and scope. While this will not appeal to everyone, those of you who like to take musical adventures outside of the norm, would do well do give this a shot. I found this to be a fascinating album and a truly enjoyable listen to. It's really an amazing album. It's highly recommended for all lovers of sophisticated prog rock.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Apsara / Altais by ALTA¤S album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.05 | 2 ratings

Apsara / Altais
Alta´s Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I'm not sure where to start with this one but thankfully Aymeric Leroy did the liner notes here in both French and English. APSARA were a young French band in the early eighties who struck up a friendship with a band called GORGONUS who weren't far from them geographically. Both were playing live gigs and both were huge MAGMA fans catching their heroes live as often as they could. APSARA was a six piece formed in 1981 with two key future members of SHUB NIGGURATH in Franck Fromy and Ann Stewart who would become a couple in APSARA and they connected well with the couple in GORGONUS namely Jean-Luc Herve and Veronique Verdier. So they decided to join forces along with a couple of other musicians and soon this partnership became known as SHUB NIGGURATH.

So we get 5 tracks from that early APSARA lineup with Fromy and Stewart. It opens with their only recorded studio track called "Enfer Mais" at 11 1/2 minutes while the other four tracks are live from 1983. When these members left to form SHUB NIGGURATH, APSARA originally kept going with the same band name until they realized there was a Japanese band called APSARA so they changed it to ALTAIS. We get three tracks from them and about 14 minutes worth of music. This was recorded on 8 track tape in EIDER STELLAIRE's basement. I love the connections at this time with members from these bands having these friendships and members going from one band to another. ALTAIS would open for EIDER STELLAIRE and ESKATON in December of 1985 just before this EP was recorded.

This is a great idea in my opinion adding APSARA's recordings to ALTAIS' making this a worthwhile compilation album. I also like that there's three members that appear on both of these recordings. Even the music of APSARA and ALTAIS is similar being very MAGMA and thus Zeuhl driven while SHUB NIGGURATH would push those Zeuhl influences to the side more. Both were six piece bands although APSARA has a guest violin and sax player and no keyboards while ALTAIS featured both electric piano and synths but no guitar. Both have great female singers by the way and ALTAIS uses a male singer to great results. Hopefully that wasn't too confusing.

"Enfer Mais" the only studio recording we have is a fantastic way to start. Dark and heavy as female vocals start to chant. Love the fuzzed out bass and APSARA had two bass players! It becomes pretty intense at times then the sax joins in. Check out the bass after 1 1/2 minutes. Nasty! The drumming is becoming more prominent as well. The rhythm stops around 3 minutes as sounds come and go with chants over top. It kicks in again before 4 minutes where the sax, bass, vocals and drums standout. A drum display before 6 minutes then it kicks in with a bass-led Zeuhl rhythm with dual female vocals. Guitar before 7 1/2 minutes and some screams after 8 minutes. The guitar is crying out after 9 minutes and I love that fuzzed out bass. Amazing vocals before 11 minutes along with the guitar.

Next are the live tracks from 1983 and the sound quality could be better at times but I'm happy with this overall. It was recorded on cassette tapes which were kept in someone's drawer for 30 years. "Apsaras" opens with female vocal melodies as fuzzed out bass, a beat and more arrive. Nasty fuzz here then some dissonant sax just to test how thin our skin is. Some chalkboard-like scraping noises with the violin that follows just to see if your awake or not around 2 minutes then it kicks into a mid-paced groove. Some angry guitar around 7 1/2 minutes from Fromy then the song slows right down 8 1/2 minutes in as it winds down to the end.

"En D'avtres Lieux" has this hellish rhythm with violin over top as the tempo picks up. Abrasive guitar comes and goes as they seem to jam here. Some very nasty bass before 6 minutes as it settles back some in tempo. An experimental section follows then the tempo picks up again around 9 minutes as they proceed to rip it up. The guitar is at it again then this experimental calm arrives after 12 minutes to end it.

"O Rages" opens with violin sounds as male spoken words arrive and they will stop just after a minute as the violin then changes styles to a slower more melodic sound. I'm actually reminded of David Cross and KING CRIMSON before 2 minutes. Some disturbing screams arrive as they come and go and the violin is matching those screams. A change 3 minutes in to a Zeuhl rhythm. Nice. The sound quality might be at it's worse late in this song.

"Ici Et Maintenant" is the final live tune from APSARA. It features violin early with a heavily distorted sound. It picks up before 2 minutes. This is good! Guitar before 3 minutes then back to the violin. Some male chanting this time around 4 minutes. Great sound after 4 1/2 minute but it's changing a lot here. Some screams follow as that nasty violin arrives. A disturbing and slow rhythm continues with creepy samples of children laughing and screaming. Man that SHUB NIGGURATH vibe is strong here. This insanity continues to the end.

Next are the three tracks from ALTAIS clocking in at around 14 minutes. I was already familiar with this very short EP as I own it and feel it's close to perfection but again way too short. Again I'm so glad they decided to combine these two related bands. "Altais" opens with the wind blowing as female vocal melodies join in. That Zeuhlish rhythm kicks in around a minute with deep male chants. So good! The tempo then picks up as the male vocals continue then the female returns around 2 1/2 minutes. Synths 3 minutes in as a calm with almost spoken deep male vocals arrives. Theatrical female vocals as well then it all kicks in again before 4 minutes with fuzzed out bass. Synths are back before 4 1/2 minutes with female chants, drums and bass. So good! A New Wave sound can be heard with those synths before 5 minutes. Twas that time I suppose. Theatrical vocals continue both male and female then the tempo picks up again before 7 minutes. Fun stuff!

"Promenade..." is my favourite song on here. It's the electric piano for me, I love Fender Rhodes. Love the energy too as we get this driving rhythm of electric piano, drums and bass. An absolute killer track that turns a little experimental late. "Gravitation Zero" is the 2 minute closer that sounds nothing like the rest of this recording. This is spacey with synths and vocal melodies creating a very surreal vibe here.

An absolute must for Zeuhl fans out there and one of my favourite releases from 2015. This is an archival release that is well worth tracking down but limited to 500 copies I believe. Don't miss out!

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

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

3 stars UNIVERIA ZEKT was a short-lived pseudonym used by the French band Magma. The side project which was basically the same line up as heard on "1001 Degrees Centigrades" (with a few more vocalists) was an attempt to create a training wheel version of their first two albums in order to help ease the music loving public into their strange alien sounding take on jazz-fusion and zeuhl. This idea as far as i know was unprecedented and a testament to the innovative approach that Christian Zander and his crew of Koabaians were taking during the day.

For the most part much about their sole album THE UNNAMABLES is basically a watered down style that was present on Magma's first two albums with a deemphasization of the hardcore jazz and hypnotic zeuhl rhythms and more of a focus on funkier bass lines, soulful vocals and less progressive compositions that were easier to digest. The entire sci-fi based Kobaian concept was jettisoned as well with English titles and lyrics replacing the unintelligible Kobaian folklore of the Magma universe. The first half of the vinyl album were intended to mimic the cliche generic jazz-rock outfits of the day with tracks like "Altcheringa" sounding like something Chicago would have released in their early years. The second half of the album explores more simplified variations of the style heard on "1001 Degrees Centigrade."

Being the innovator that he was, Christian Vander recognized this little misstep side project to be the failed venture that it was and wisely scrapped it in order to reinvent the Magma universe itself by scrapping the "every stylistic change except the kitchen sink" approach and refining their sound into the magnum opus stylistic approach heard on their first true zeuhl epic "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h" and beyond. A wise decision indeed as that was when Magma really began to become recognized as one of the greats of the French prog scene.

If taken simply as the anomaly it was, UNIVERIA ZEKT's one album THE UNNAMABLES is entertaining enough to throw on every so often but it will neither ever rank highly above any of Magma's albums proper with the possible exception of the stinker of a mess "Merci." While the album begins hardly recognizable as Magma related with funk and soul stealing the show, the longest track "Africa Anteria" is weird and creative enough to actually appear on a bona fide Magma release. While i wouldn't go out of my way to track this one down, it is certainly worth a listen or two especially if you are at all interested in the period that connects the more jazz-fusion oriented first and second albums and how they transmogrified into the classic zeuhl-centric sound that debuted on "MDK."

Overall THE UNNAMABLES isn't really that bad of an album if you like a good funk and soul type of album with a few jazz freak outs interspersed here and there. The rhythmic zeuhl tendencies are hidden in the bass line as well as some tracks like "Africa Anteria" exhibiting some of the vocal styles that would become Magma trademarks on their then future discography. The musicianship is excellent of course, but because of the fact that i'm completely familiar with the entire Magma universe upon hearing this one, i can't say that this one really gets me all hot and bothered musically speaking! Basically there is some good stuff on here but unlike most Magma albums, this one is awkwardly uneven.

 Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rŕver Tout Le Temps by THIBAULT, LAURENT album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.38 | 64 ratings

Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rŕver Tout Le Temps
Laurent Thibault Zeuhl

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

4 stars Despite experimenting with multiple types of instruments growing up, LAURENT THIBAULT picked up the bass as his primary instrument and played in a multitude of cover bands in the 60s as well as as a few originals such as the Zorgones. After that band imploded he met none other than Christian Vander in his native France and succeeded in becoming the very first bass player of Magma. Although he was one of the original members he soon parted ways at least as a band member and took the role of producer instead putting the studio magic touches on Magma's "Kobaia" debut, Vander's solo "Tristan et Yseult" as well as "Attack." While he managed to get involved in the production world with a huge impressive list of well known artists all throughout the 70s and 80s, THIBAULT left only this sole album in his wake of as his own original material under his own moniker where he not only engaged in production and mixing but handled the bass, guitar and some of the vocals as well.

MAIS ON PEUT PAS R╔VER TOUT LE TEMPS (But One Can't Dream All The Time) may be a short little blip on THIBAULT's lengthy and diverse resume consisting of only four tracks that barely clock over the thirty minute mark, but what he left behind as his sole album is somewhat of a testament to all his musical influences with none other than fellow countrymen Magma themselves providing some of the primary inspiration. Yes, MAIS ON PEUT... is chock full of zeuhl-istic rhythms enriched with fretless bass, tom fueled percussion and heavenly siren vocals from none other than Hatfield & The North's own Amanda Parsons ( as well as Lisa Bois and Le Muezzin MystÚrieux) but most of all this album is chock full of surprises with a roller coaster of changes that keep each track with a distinct flavor and occupying its own niche in the sonic jungle sprawled about in its short playing time.

The mainly instrumental music itself is a construct inspired by the paintings of Douanier Rousseau and as every bit as rich and diverse as Rosseau's cover art depicts. While vocals are heard by no less than seven individuals on the album, they are implemented as an extension of the melodies and therefore used as instruments and wordless (minus the short spoken narration towards the end). While paintings may have provided the inspiration behind MAIN ON PEUT... it is the percussive framework of Transit Express drummer Dominique Bouvier that provides the musical backbone around which the entire album was constructed. Bouvier in fact recorded the entire album's percussive parts completely alone and all the other instruments and vocalizations were added afterwards and were deftly woven around the percussive spine.

While the zeuhl tag can immediately bring the pomp and awe of hypnotic Teutonic marches to mind, THIBAULT delivers one of the most placidly serene examples in the entire progressive rock subgenere utilizing ample doses of folky violin, arpeggiated acoustic guitar and ethereal vocals styles with only a very few spoken word sections. The conscious decision to eschew the overweening assembly of keyboard parts ensures that MAIS ON PEUT PAS R╔VER TOUT LE TEMPS exudes an earthly organic and comfortably warm touch as it touches upon Canterbury infused jazzy touches, Arabic vocal phrasing and contemporary folk touches. A total of thirteen guests includes a few members from Magma who ensure the zeuhl rhythmic drive never gets buried too deep beneath the parade of instrumentation that only occasional goes fully electric with heavy distortion on the guitars all for the sake of the contrasting crescendoes.

MAIS ON PEUT PAS R╔VER TOUT LE TEMPS is both hypnotic and seductive as it provides the nice warm and atmospheric touches to reel the listener in fairly quickly and then ratchets up the tension ever so gradually with the mellower tracks incrementally ceding into the climactic final stages of the title track. In addition to the lush verdant sonic pastures upon which the musicians graze and regurgitate in glee, THIBAULT busts out his best production skills with a well balanced and mixed assortment of musical instruments and disparate accoutrements such as flame throwers, rockets, machine guns and mad cantarices. This is also an example of how horrible an album sounds on YouTube as opposed to the actual album as i have been listening to the actual album but comparing notes as i write this. By all means, get the real thing as the internet version is woefully compressed and monotonic in comparison. Unfortunately for the prog loving world, THIBAULT to date has never released another musical gem under his own moniker but has continued in the production world, but this is not one to be missed for those who can't get enough of those bubbly addictive zeuhl rhythmic fixes in a free form psychedelic jazz folk way.

 200 000 by ZWOYLD album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.80 | 12 ratings

200 000
Zwoyld Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars What an incredible album this is! I'm always intrigued when a new Zuehl band comes upon the scene, curious at how they are going to interpret what MAGMA started so many years ago. And I must say this is different. Not 100% Zeuhl by any means as we get Jazz, Avant and almost Metal at times with that guitar. Yes there are plenty of Zeuhl references mostly with the vocals but also instrumentally as well. This is a five piece band from France overseen by Gilbert Brown and they are players to say the least. I'm so impressed at what they have created here. Lots of Fender Rhodes and upfront bass in the Zeuhl tradition but surprisingly we get some mellotron, jews harp, synths, flute and organ. At just under 64 minutes they get plenty of time to stretch out with these six longish tracks.

"Sys" is the ten minute opener and it's unusual to hear a Spanish vibe on a Zeuhl album but we get that in the intro with the percussion, clapping and guitar. This sounds so good when it settles down after a minute with melodic guitar, drums and bass standing out. Some nice raw sounding guitar after 2 minutes. Love how relaxed this is then a change as it turns more serious with marching styled drums and more after 3 minutes. Synths and a heavy sound just before 5 minutes. Man the calm that arrives a minute later is so dreamy and beautiful. It kicks back in again before 7 minutes with angular guitar and a heavy sound. Some insane Zeuhlish vocal melodies before 8 minutes as they chant. A great way to end this great opening song.

"Aink" is such a great sounding instrumental and the shortest tune on here at just under 7 minutes. Love the depth of sound here. Lots of heaviness as the rhythm section really impresses with the guitar playing over top. It's heavier before 4 minutes then we get some fast paced guitar before 5 minutes playing over top. More aggressive guitar before 6 1/2 minutes.

"Chaa" might be my favourite track on here. Raw sounding guitar as we hear a scream followed by vocal expressions and heaviness. It speeds up including the crazy vocals bringing Japanese Zeuhl to mind. A strong MAGMA vibe then kicks in with deep vocals reminding me of Blasquiz. Suddenly a change as we get complex guitar lines ala KING CRIMSON. More insane vocals then it slows right down at 4 minutes before turning chaotic. It's heavy after 5 minutes with almost Metal-like riffs as vocal expressions cry out in the background. This is getting intense. A calm takes over after 8 minutes as the organ comes to the fore. Lots of atmosphere too. I like this! Angular guitar before 10 1/2 minutes then it's heavy again after 11 minutes. Check this out! The tempo picks up after 11 minutes and it's not as heavy either.

"Melku" opens with flute and atmosphere as what sounds like vibes kick in. So much going on as the tempo picks up. It changes as the guitar arrives with a different melody in tow. Catchy stuff with pulsating sounds and more. It turns heavier before 4 1/2 minutes then it settles back after 5 minutes. Strummed guitar 7 minutes in with lots of depth too. Great sound here.

"Trwa" has multi- vocals only to start then it turns dark with a heavy atmosphere. Spoken words arrive sounding sheep-like to be honest. Experimental is the word here, very avant until we seem to get a slow melody developing before 4 minutes. A calm with pulsating sounds as the drums join in after 5 minutes. A powerful sound with Blasquiz- like vocals follow then the tempo picks up. So good! Ripping guitar comes and goes. It settles back after 8 minutes. Man this sounds amazing too. Love the angular guitar before 9 1/2 minutes. A calm with acoustic guitar before 11 minutes then it builds as the vocals join in. They go completely insane late to end it.

"Pson" opens with experimental sounds and it's dark. A rhythm kicks in and builds but it's still dark. Deep bass kicks in after 3 minutes. A calm with flute 4 1/2 minutes in and then it kicks in again but it's not dark now, just complex and rhythmic. Guitar comes in over top before 5 1/2 minutes followed by angular guitar. Mellotron before 7 1/2 minutes.

I was planning on 4.5 stars and clicking on the four stars but after that final listen before the review, then reading Silly Puppy's review... well I felt that this is a five star album after all.

 Fiction by ESKATON album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.96 | 55 ratings

Eskaton Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Eskaton's triptych of albums from their original run closes out with Fiction, which largely follows the model of Ardeur in terms of keeping most of the tracks at a bite-sized length rather than getting into the more epic lengths of the pieces on 4 Visions. The strong Magma influence on the band's music remains intact, even when sonically we step away from Magma territory slightly - take La Mort de Tristan, a dark, slow synth and piano piece which doesn't sound much like typical Zeuhl, but which takes its name from the Tristan and Iseult legend, and of course the Magma classic Wurdah Itah was originally published as a soundtrack for a movie adaptation of that story.

Still, whilst it's still thematically and atmospherically well within the dark Zeuhl universe, Fiction adds its own spin to the style, with the thick grooves you expect from Zeuhl combined with some decidedly sinister synthesiser work to create a strange hybrid beast, the final product of Eskaton's Koba´an alchemy.

 Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie by MAGMA album cover Live, 2001
4.58 | 88 ratings

Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Kaelka

5 stars This superb album recorded live in Paris in 2000 states a fact that French followers of Vander's band have known for a long time : Despite the complexity of the music (and especially the vocal harmonies), Magma has always been at their very best when performing on stage. The studio albums, although ranging from the very good to the excellent, never display fully the sheer energy or the amazing grandeur the band shows when playing live. Whether you see them in a big theatre (like the Trianon where this recording was made) or in the smaller (or sometimes very small) venues they tend to stick to nowadays (for lack of a large enough following probably), it's always a daunting experience and an immense pleasure.

Here of course the Zeuhl Wortz is at its best, Bussonet on bass and Paganotti (yes, he's the son of the 70s' Magma bassist) on the piano, a great brass section, Mac Gaw on guitar. Stella and Isabelle (with the addition of Julie, Christian and Stella's daughter) are fantastic as usual, and Klaus is the king. Christian Vander is, in every possible meaning of the word, behind all of it, like a mad conductor who would lead the orchestra with drumsticks instead of baton. Needless to say, his performance on drums is beyond words.

The music is quintessential Magma, one of the mightiest pieces written by Vander in the 70s and never before played and recorded as a whole three-part suite (over two hours of music, longer than a classical symphony). Yet it is accessible to all ears, at least to all ears curious enough, and a rather good entry point into Zeuhl and Magma's universe.

And for those who are interested (and for die-hard fans), a booklet is included with the complete lyrics in Koba´an !

5 well-deserved stars for this masterpiece.

 Happy Family by HAPPY FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.76 | 52 ratings

Happy Family
Happy Family Zeuhl

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

4 stars While the classic prog world of the 70s has been an infinite well-spring of inspiration for generations to come, it is always interesting when the newer bands latch onto the greats of the past and take their sounds somewhere nobody ever expected. Far away in an island country called Japan, far from the initial English scene that spread to the continent, prog admirers were taking a more extreme approach to the 70s scene. HAPPY FAMILY was one of many Japanese bands to take different strains of European prog and sew them together in unthinkable ways. This band formed all the way back in 1987 with the consistent lineup of Kenichi Morimoto (keyboards), Tatsuya Miyano (bass), Shige Makino (guitar) and Keiichi Nagase on drums after they met at the University of Tokyo. The band released two albums in the 90s and then out of the blue reunited for a third in 2014.

Their self-titled debut album shows the common love of Magma's zeuhl rhythmic drive similar to other Japanese bands such as Ruins and Bondage Fruit, however while those bands tended to embellish the zeuhl with their own zany antics, HAPPY FAMILY wasn't happy with the zeuhl influences alone. On their eponymous debut they decorate the zeuhl rhythms with the avant-prog Rock In Opposition sophistication of Univers Zero with outlandish complex time signature frenzies, the harshness of "Red" era (well other eras too actually) King Crimson guitar and bass bombast along with the jazz-fusion and funk influences of early Area that even includes a touch of the Balkan gypsy folk that made them sound so unique. While some influences dominate such as the Area ones on "Rock & Young" and the Crimson-esque approach on "Kalten (Ningen Gyorai)," often all of these elements play side by side in interlocking units of sonic complexity.

Musically HAPPY FAMILY churn out seven tracks that all stand out. Some are dark, some are cheery and some such as "Rolling The Law Court" have a cartoonish feel sometimes conjuring up a Danny Elfman "Simpsons" theme song type of vibe. The tracks are all instrumental and basically extended jams bloated with extreme physical workouts. The most ambitious track is the nineteen minute "Naked King" which perfectly demonstrates the Japanese stylistic fusion in full force. It is laced with eerily dark atmospheres, Crimsonian stomps of guitar power with zeuhl rhythms, jazz-fusion sensibilities and avant-prog jittery counterpoints that add a unique sense of Area's "Arbeit Macht Frei" idiosyncrasies to the mix. The track is off the charts heavy and unnerving but proceeds in a logical manner that delivers some of the coolest instrumental prog there is to be heard. Perhaps it dwells on a wee bit too long in full Crimsonian glory but i actually dig the ballsy gusto on display. The album ends with a macabre piano piece that quickly adds another layer of weirdness to the mix. HAPPY FAMILY put out an adventurous debut of complex prog. If that's your thang, do check this out.

 Inne' Vital by STALINGRAD 119 album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.05 | 2 ratings

Inne' Vital
Stalingrad 119 Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars STALINGRAD 119 are a Jazz/ Rock band out of France with some very minor Zeuhl references, but they certainly aren't a Zeuhl band. They even call themselves a Jazz Rock Ensemble. This really was the highlight of my week as far as my listening pleasure goes. We get a five piece band playing sax, bass clarinet, bass, drums, guitar, oboe and keys. We do get both male and female vocals as well. Some guests add cello, percussion, trumpet and vocals. There's so much to like here with the electric piano and the many adventerous moments. All it took was a sample of that opening track and I was all in.

"Hope Wagon" must be a train as that's what we hear to start this song before sax and drums take over. It then settles down quickly as we get a groove of electric piano, bass and drums with the bass clarinet coming in over top. This is very trippy and jazzy as male ad female vocals arrive. So French sounding I love it! The sax is back around 2 minutes then back to that trippy sound with bass clarinet then vocals as themes are repeated. A change though around 4 1/2 minutes with spoken words, oboe and drums. Bass clarinet and a more powerful sound follows. An amazing track and my favourite.

"Mek Mehr" has a nice groove to it with electric piano over top. The vocals join in both male and female. A Zeuhl vibe here with the vocal style until the sax and smoother vocals arrive, like sunshine on a cloudy day. Hard not to bounce around to this section. Sax leads before 2 1/2 minutes then the vocals return as the sax continues. A change before 4 minutes with rough male vocals contrasted with female vocal expressions.

"Narod Naya Volya" starts out dark and sparse with atmosphere and intricate sounds. It stays this way until it comes to life after 1 1/2 minutes with the drums and bass clarinet standing out, electric piano too. Rough male vocals after 2 minutes. The sax is crying out before it ends. "Bois Que Roule" is led by the sax and drums early before a calm arrives before a minute as the bass and oboe take over with drums. Electric piano, a beat and bass follow before 1 1/2 minutes as we get a slower pace. Some cello before 2 minutes. It settles around 3 1/2 minutes with keys, drums and horns before building again to end it.

"Billy C." is a top three for me. Some opening guest trumpet as the bass and drums support. Some electric piano too as male vocals arrive just before a minute. Sax too. The intro is reprised as themes are repeated. Sax, bass, drums and vocals take over around 2 minutes. It settles back a minute later. I really like this. It turns fuller after 5 minute and the tempo picks up. Intense stuff. A calm 6 minutes in with vocal melodies but it's building again. Catchy is the word.

"Polar" is the one of two songs with fuzzed out bass so it's a winner already. Drums and sax are also featured with the fuzzed out bass then we get a calm before 2 1/2 minutes as the fuzz steps aside and we get atmosphere and electric piano before the bass clarinet arrives with cymbals. Some darkness and depth 4 1/2 minutes in. So good as the electric piano and atmosphere lead to the end.

"Triton Le Mechant" opens with what sounds like sampled spoken French male words. He stops before a minute as sax then drums and bass take over. It picks up before 2 minutes and we get some male vocals here. Spoken words before 3 minutes and this time they are theatrical to say the least. Random drum patterns and atmosphere take over as electric piano and bass clarinet also join in. Some female vocal melodies and fuzzed out bass follows. Nice. More theatrical vocals follow. What an interesting track and my final top three.

"Lude" is an uptempo horn driven song and check out the bass before 1 1/2 minutes. Some rare organ on this one as well as the sax plays over top. "Bomber In The Night" should also be a top three but no room. Bass clarinet and bass to start as cymbals then drums kick in. Love the depth of sound here. Oboe around a minute. This is really good! Check out the guitar crying out before 4 minutes. Rough spoken male words follow. So intense! Vocals and a determined sound end it.

"Why?No!!" ends the album and we get this relaxed sound with guitar, a beat, electric piano, bass and sax. Some rare synths before 2 minutes. Back to that earlier sound before 3 minutes. Electric piano then leads. A pleasant song to end the album with.

Highly recommended Jazz/ Rock that is quite adventerous with some minor Zeuhl references. A must!

 Dai Kaht by DAI KAHT album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.52 | 6 ratings

Dai Kaht
Dai Kaht Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars DAI KAHT are a young 4 piece band out of Finland who have blessed us with their take on Zeuhl. The bassist/singer discovered Zeuhl through RUINS and later MAGMA. I must say that any new Zeuhl or Krautrock band that comes along is an automatic purchase for me. I'm just really into these sub-genres and it's always interesting to see where new bands take those particular styles of music. These Finns have two guitarists, a drummer and a bassist/ vocalist. So it's disappointing not to see electric piano or not having the bass fuzzed out and in my face. They seemed to focus on the vocals as far as the Zeuhl style goes and for me they are hit and miss. In fact after the first 5 songs I'm not even thinking it's worth the three stars but then track 6 and 7 really impress before the closer which is more like the rest in my opinion.

"Karaouh" opens with some deep atmosphere before the guitar, bass and cymbals take over rather quickly. A zeuhlish rhythm kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes with drums but it's light. When the vocals arrive it's catchy but just too light and I'm not exactly sold here. It becomes more uptempo before the guitar leads the way before 4 minutes as the vocals step aside. "Waku" sounds good with that pleasant guitar with bass and drums. Vocals just before a minute. Kind of a relaxed and poppy tune at least for Zeuhl.

"Helvet Sttroi" opens with atmosphere as the bass and drums kick in and yes this sounds really good. The guitar starts to make some noise then it turns powerful after a minute. Suddenly vocals and a beat take over. It's okay. Guitar to the fore around 2 minutes as the vocals stop. This is better. "Gnyynlaggor" opens with the guitar and drums trading off before we get this steady sound with vocals. I just can't get into this. The vocals are brief but they return before 2 1/2 minutes. Please tell me you don't like this section? Some Vander-like vocal expressions follow that are right on. That uptempo section is back 3 1/2 minutes in, vocals too. Not my scene.

"Addurrenn" starts out with some atmospheric guitar along with bass. It picks up with vocal melodies and a beat around a minute. It's building still until that zeuhlish chanting kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes. It's instrumental again with guitar leading until it settles with vocals before 3 minutes.

"Kadett Mozami" is my favourite. The guitar growls away as we get some relaxed drumming but then it kicks in with vocals at a high speed just before a minute. The tempo keeps changing as themes are repeated. I like when it settles down 3 1/2 minutes in then the vocals return singing slowly. This is so good with those deeper vocals before 4 1/2 minutes. There's some dark atmosphere later that I really like.

"Advent" is another one I quite like. It has this catchy guitar led start with drums and bass. The vocals arrive after 3 minutes sounding distant but they are brief. He's speaking the lyrics before 5 minutes as the trippy sound continues. The guitar comes in awkwardly after 5 1/2 minutes.

"Doover Uouh" opens with light vocals and sound. It kicks in before a minute. Some interesting rough zeuhlish vocals before 2 1/2 minutes. Man this is all over the place, a nod to Japanese Zeuhl I presume. I like the guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. The band yells around 7 minutes as we get a dramatic ending.

I know this album is going to get a lot of rave reviews, this is more about my personal taste for sure. I knew from the first spin that this wasn't for me and many plays later it was confirmed. Check it out!

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ALTA¤S France
ANAID France
ARKHAM Belgium
CORIMA United States
DAI KAHT Finland
D▄N France
GA'AN United States
MAGMA France
NEOM France
NOA France
PSEU France
RH┘N France
SETNA France
VAK France
VAULTS OF ZIN United States
XING SA France
ZAO France

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