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    Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


    A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

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    Zeuhl definition

    Zeuhl is an adjective in Koba颽n, 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 (1/3/2020):
    Luca (octopus-4)
    Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
    Keishiro (DamoXt7942)

    Zeuhl Top Albums

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

    4.28 | 993 ratings
    4.27 | 674 ratings
    4.25 | 461 ratings
    4.28 | 221 ratings
    4.20 | 500 ratings
    4.23 | 200 ratings
    4.17 | 471 ratings
    4.18 | 327 ratings
    Vander, Christian
    4.38 | 75 ratings
    Thibault, Laurent
    4.23 | 172 ratings
    Universal Totem Orchestra
    4.13 | 414 ratings
    1001?CENTIGRADES [AKA: 2]
    4.12 | 381 ratings
    4.37 | 58 ratings
    Bondage Fruit
    4.16 | 125 ratings
    4.04 | 453 ratings
    4.46 | 29 ratings
    Bringolf, Serge
    4.68 | 19 ratings
    200 000
    4.08 | 136 ratings
    Universal Totem Orchestra
    4.07 | 132 ratings
    Top, Jannick
    4.07 | 105 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

    Koenji Hyakkei
    Thibault, Laurent
    Bondage Fruit

    Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

     Apsara / Altais by ALTA蟂 album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
    3.55 | 4 ratings

    Apsara / Altais
    Alta飐 Zeuhl

    Review by Sagichim
    Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

    3 stars I was really excited when I heard this is going to be released since we don't get many Zehul albums coming out, I always loved Altais's EP and was sorry it was only about 12 minutes of music, but not only the music is what drew me to this, it's the historic value of it. So apparently Apsara when formed in 1981 was the early incarnation of Altais and Shub Niggurath. Ann Stewart, Franck Fromy and Veronique Verdier went on to form Shub Niggurath in 1983 and the rest continued as Apsara but later changed their name to Altais. So this album contains 5 tracks under Apsara and the EP released under Altais in 1986 which I already had. The first track is the only studio recording of the band, the other 4 tracks are from a live show in 1983 so the sound quality is not that good.

    Apsara are a true Zehul band with all its characteristics, closer to bands like Eskaton, Archaia and naturally Shub Niggurath only a bit less noisier. Like Shub Niggurath and Univers Zero's concept Apsara's music is also very frightening and disturbing, creating heavy atmosphere with a lot of tension, containing freak outbursts of sheer madness. what you'll notice right away is the upfront fat and grainy deep throbbing bass sounds of Philippe Goudier and Jean-Marie Sadot, yes they had two bass players! the first is lower and deeper and the second is higher usually played with distortion, it's a real delight listening to those two interplay. Ann Stewart is resposible for the vocal chants and she is doing a great job, there's also a saxophone, keys and guitar involved. Enfer Mais is the only studio track and is the best composition here, I guess it's also the sound quality which makes it superior to the other tracks, guitar, keys and sax are more evident and as a result the music sounds richer. The song include a few parts, all with a repetitive kind of mantra and a natural flow, the music is dark and haunting with a propulsive rhythm, accompanied by sax and guitars, where the double bass attack is the main attraction. The arrangements are wonderful as the tension builds a few times, It gets more intense along the way with saxophones and guitar, fantastic piece. The next 4 live tracks are a bit inferior to the opener but are still definitely good, I think they would have been more effective if cut shorter a little bit. The second track Apsaras is more repetitive leaning on bass and vocals accompanied by quirky guitar playing. En D'Autres Lieux features an eerie violin, sounds like something out of Univers Zero's Hersie. Love those bass workouts half way through including some vocal grouling!! there's also some wild guitar playing later but it's a little bit hard to pick up on this because of the recording quality. The shorter 6 minutes O Rages is quite scary with a heavy atmosphere and frightening sounds by bass, guitar, violin and crazy screaming! it picks up later with a chaotic playing by everybody. Ici Et Maintenant is totally psychotic, bordering madness. As what appears to be another slow piece at first suddenly picks up aggressively with a pounding rhythm the closing part is really cool with children laughing and also screaming on top of a steady eerie beat, very nice.

    This is a little hard to digest at first and even harder because of the sound quality, you have to really focus and give it your special attention to really understand what is going on. The next three tracks are the Altais EP I won't go over this again (check out reviews on the EP's page) I'll just say it's really good and along with this Apsara material makes it a very worthwhile addition to your collection. I'm sure if the sound was better it would have revealed as a better album too, 3 stars because it is what it is.

     Budo by VAK album cover Studio Album, 2018
    4.14 | 62 ratings

    Vak Zeuhl

    Review by Rivertree
    Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

    5 stars VAK are a really fantastic Zeuhl entity!? I'm not a big fan of this genre in general, often enough coming in touch with a very strange, overly complex approach. I mean experimental in a sense of mentality-wise tilt or so ... nearly :-) Okay, trying to be fair, let's start again, occasionally I just had problems to dig such stuff, to make friends with. This band is awfully good, so good! Man! More of an accessible example quite simply. Hence, is this Zeuhl really in the end? Who knows. Anyhow, the album is consisting of three tracks solely, two of them crossing the 20 minute border. That alone is revelation enough, isn't it? One hell of a musical experience, I can confirm. Just like it is with the All Traps On Earth debut from the same year maybe. I would also name Alco Frisbass when looking for another proper reference.

    Of course they are from France, the birthplace of Zeuhl music. Tiny but important part of their DNA, one or two may argue. In the first instance, just to be on the safe side, you may check this on their bandcamp page. They are capable of transferring the listener into another dimension. Hey, running about 28 minutes or so, the title track is pure bliss! When you're in a good mood, take your headphones, and slowly, carefully dive into this sensation. Alternating groovy and highly melancholic parts. Fusion alike and spacey electric guitar contributions. Dramatic synths and sparkling Rhodes piano all over, contributed by Alexandre Michaan. And then Aur閘ie's vocal presence, not to believe! Who can make it better? What will follow after this? Time to let loose. 'Budo' is a masterpiece of progressive rock music, no doubt.

     Mosaismic by IKARUS album cover Studio Album, 2019
    4.04 | 4 ratings

    Ikarus Zeuhl

    Review by Rivertree
    Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

    4 stars IKARUS are a band from Switzerland, definitely unique and highly prolific. Their music is not easy to grasp, differing somehow, just because they are not a group of rock musicians in a common sense, in no way. Anna Hirsch and Andreas Lareida are delivering corresponding male and female vocals, which are very dominant, while having a strong zeuhl-ish expression here, just like exotic solo instruments one can say. Generally seen they are meandering through jazz and avantgarde meadows. Where there is no reason to miss the electric guitar really. Besides the extravagant vocals Lucca Fries' piano is the instrument which gives some other main points.

    A typical trademark in their music is a somewhat staccato style. Furthermore vocals and instruments are interacting in quite an alternating manner, partially purely parallel, partially falling apart. Ikenophobia makes my day, every time I'm listening to this album. The wonderful vocal presence, a celestial piano, minmalistic drums and contrabass, the atmosphere is simply awesome. Ram髇 Oliveras should be mentioned of course, as he is responsible for this fine compositions. Bravo! 'Mosaismic' is a very pleasant alternative if you are longing for some variation here and there.

     K鰄ntark鰏z by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
    4.17 | 471 ratings

    Magma Zeuhl

    Review by Kempokid
    Collaborator Prog Metal Team

    5 stars After the all out intensity present in Magma's previous album, MDK, Kohntarkosz definitely marked an interesting and somewhat unusual departure from what was expected. Rather than the bombastic, apocalyptic feel of MDK, bursting with blaring horns and operatic wails, this album goes for a very different approach, being far slower and more repetitive, focusing on a very long, drawn out buildup that sounds downright hellish by the end, which ends up working excteptionall well in the end, providing the listener with an atmosphere that is far more compelling than anything on MDK. With that said, I do find this to be an inferior album overall, as what MDK may lack in relative atmosphere, it makes up for it with the way it took all preconceived notions of what progressive music could sound like, and then absolutely smashed it in a burst of epic glory, creating one of the single most exhilirating albums out there. While in comparison, this may not quite measure up to the absolute greats, that's not really to diminish the quality of this album, more to just really highlight how great Magma is, as this album manages to evoke some amazing atmosphere and imagery.

    The extremely long title track is the obvious highlight and immediately starts off strong, with long, droning organ notes as the drummer goes mad already setting a very different sort of precedent to the heavily rhythmic opening passages of MDK, with the intensity coming much more from the latent energy that's building up. While some may find the fact that this takes so long to really get going to be a bad thing, as I did at first, the extremely drawn out rising notes that are continuously repeated really effectively create a lot of tension, especially once the incredibly heavily distorted guitar is introduced to kick things up another notch, complemented by a gradually steadying beat. The tempo gradually increases as it goes on quite subtly, taking about 10 minutes of constant repetition over a variety of solos from a range of instruments to hit its peak before settling into a minimalistic piano melody that then continues into the next section, this time played on an organ however. The second half of the track is considerably more fast paced, carrying on from the lengthy escalation from the previous part, making it all the more satisfying. Once again, there's a long period of time where very little new happens, instead really immersing the listener in the atmosphere, all before rising again and falling into a groove that manages to simultaneously be steady and chaotic, erupting into an incredible guitar solo that unleashes the true power that the entire previous 20 minutes had been leading up to, further accentuated by the repetitive vocalisations making it feel as if I've just become witness to an occult ritual.

    I find the thing most impressive about this track to be the fact that it doesn't even end there, but manages to become even more insane, bringing back the operatic screams so high pitched and dramatic that they cross over into the realms of absurdity, yet the overall chaos of literally every element of the song making it just add to the disorienting madness being put on display, all before settling down, low pitched throat singing making it all still maintain this very occult feel to it. Ork Alarm once again focuses on long periods of repetition, except within the length of a 5 and a half minute song instead of a 32 minute epic, but the effect ends up being favourable due to how great the motifs used within it are while still throwing in enough Zeuhl weirdness to keep it from being even close to generic, and ends up being one of my favourite short Magma songs. Coltrane sundia meanwhile fully embraces the jazzier aspects of the band's sound, taking a lot of clear influence from John Coltrane's work, particularly A Love Supreme. While this is not up the the same incredible standard as the previous tracks here, it's nonetheless a very nice jazz piece that ends the album off in a nice way.

    On the whole, despite the fact that I personally don't think this is quite as good as MDK, the complete transformation of approach taken here is something that I find extremely cool, especially given how well it was done. I love the sound of this album revolving around repetitive buildups into occult sounding chaos, especially given how downright sinister it manages to sound. It's also definitely one of those albums that took a while to really grow on me, but ended up being quite a rewarding experience as a result once I really immersed myself in the weird, intense world that the album conjures. While MDK is still the Magma album I'd start with, the anazing atmosphere of this really makes it another absolute gem in my book.

    Best tracks: Kohntarkohz, Ork Alarm

    Weakest tracks: None

    Verdict: This album focuses heavily around buildup and atmosphere, and definitely requires a lot of patience to really get into. With that said, I highly recommend it to those who do like very drawn out, weird and intense music like this, as this is what I consider some of the best music of this sort of description. While it takes a couple of listens for sure, I highly recommend it to those who are into the slightly slower side of Zeuhl, as I think that this will appeal greatly.

     Kadath by VAULTS OF ZIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
    3.83 | 4 ratings

    Vaults Of Zin Zeuhl

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

    4 stars The Denton, TX band VAULTS OF ZIN got its start in 2011 with its self-titled release where this quartet of Rob Buttrum (drums), Greg Dixon (guitar / electric violin), Shane Hutchinson (bass / vocals) and Stephen Lucas (synthesizer) were inspired by the zeuhl rhythms of 1970s Magma along with other retro prog characteristics that once married with some modern day metal guitar distortion created a rather interesting new direction for France's most significant contribution to the prog world. It took five whole years but the band finally released its sophomore album KADATH in 2016. Both the band's name and title were inspired by H.P. Lovecraft as is the dark scary music that erupts from the five tracks.

    While the Magma influences are still in play with the bubbling repetitive zeuhl rhythms providing the underpinning of the musical flow, KADATH has a more varied overall sound than the debut. Although the first album had a lot of early Univers Zero avant-prog characteristics, KADATH takes those even further with knotted angular workouts that are augmented with bizarre keyboards freakiness that would sound at home on many 70s prog extravaganzas along with very heavy guitar sounds that often crank out doom metal but more often exhibit a jittery counterpoint to the jazzy drumming and building of tension that leads to noisy crescendoes. In those ways there have been comparisons to both Toby Driver's Maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot as well as with the more atmospheric realms of France's Nebelnest.

    If you ask me though i think VAULTS OF ZIN adopt many of the characteristics of neighboring Yeti from Fort Worth where they create long sprawling psychedelic compositions that ooze on through time but are given the touches of complexity by the off-kilter drum rolls, guitar sustain and jittery chops, eerie synthesizer presence and most of all a lugubrious sounding violin that emerges from time to time. While the debut was entirely instrumental, KADATH does add some vocals here and there but for the most part KADATH eschews the vocal performances. When they do occur however, VAULTS OF ZIN sounds more like a sludge metal band with growly screams and extreme metal bravado however for the most part this one could pass as a psychedelic cosmic bypass into a strange new world. The music is more often tagged as avant-garde metal since the metal is omnipresent but just not done in a traditional metal manner.

    The album is bookmarked by the longest tracks with "Amduat" rampaging onto the scene with some of the heaviest sounds on the album as doom metal riffs usher in the zeuhl rhythms and surreal atmospheres whereas the 22 minute finale "Moongate / Heart Girt With a Serpent" that pretty much summarizes the whole album with lengthy heady walks through the psychedelic pastures while implemented the bass grooves lollygag slowly with guitar feedback screeching from the background. While predominantly instrumental Shane Hutchinson screams through many segments and sounds a lot like Mastodon's Brent Hinds on vocals. This is an album that is good to get lost in as it's all about the turbulent atmospheres that take a more psychedelic version of avant-prog, adds some zeuhl rhythms and then turns it more aggressive with gnarled dissonant metal guitar sounds and vocals. Perhaps not to everyone's tastes but works for me.

     Vaults Of Zin by VAULTS OF ZIN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
    3.90 | 2 ratings

    Vaults Of Zin
    Vaults Of Zin Zeuhl

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

    4 stars The Dallas-Ft Worth metropolitan area of Texas has been known for many different artists covering the musical spectrum emerging from its gravitational force with metal having been some of the most successful in recent years (think Pantera, Absu, Devourment etc) but hardly limited to the more aggressive side of music. Zeuhl however is definitely not one of the strong points of this area and although the style was born on French soil and continues to be dominated by that region of the world, every once in a while a band from somewhere totally un-French emerges that takes the Magma trademark off into new directions only this one is all instrumental.

    Coming from Denton, TX where the music culture mostly revolves around the University of North Texas College of Music, this distant now-suburb city of the greater DFW metroplex has become more famous for its jazz studies program rather than proggy experimental metal gone zeuhl anomalies but strange things occur in the world and in this case a band that calls itself VAULTS OF ZIN which took the zeuhl rhythms of Magma and adopted some of the psychedelic sludge metal aspects of the Fort Worth, TX band Yeti which took the space rock sounds into a more distorted and energetic avant-garde metal direction.

    So exactly what does VAULTS OF ZIN mean? For video gamers it's obviously the second level of The Netherworld which is the 3rd episode of Quake which has seven levels total including another secret level, however the word ZIN also refers to a legend who can literally do everything and adapt to any situation and get along with any person. And such is this band VAULTS OF ZIN that has its cake and eats it too. Somehow this band skirts the tightrope walk of treading the world of zeuhl rhythmic reality while dishing out what sounds more like a Univers Zero style of avant-prog while adding elements of metal but it gets even weirder with the addition of an aggressive violin.

    This debut EP only consists of four tracks but they still almost reach 27 minutes but so wickedly cool it is. The zeuhl rhythms dominate the soundscape but the album / EP whatever you wanna call it is very interesting in its diversity. It does come across a lot like neighboring Yeti but this debut at least is grounded in the world of zeuhl where the bass line crafts a receptive carbon-chain-like infinity groove that keeps the whole thing anchored. Guitars are delivered in both heavy chunky sludge metal sloppiness as well as freaked out psychedelic avant-prog Univers Zero styled bleakness. And then there are taped sound effects and the extra touches of the violin and tripped out synthesizers. The four songs presented here manage to be progressive, heavy and psychedelic simultaneously as well as independently. This is a great album just to get lost in and ends with some sort of Eastern chant.

     Glimpse by SHIMAKAWA, KENTA album cover Studio Album, 2019
    3.96 | 4 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 - Th殁tre Du Taur by MAGMA album cover Live, 1996
    4.46 | 36 ratings

    Concert 1975, Toulouse - Th殁tre 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.

     Pi鑓es Manquantes 1976 by ZIG ZAG album cover Studio Album, 2014
    4.92 | 5 ratings

    Pi鑓es Manquantes 1976
    Zig Zag Zeuhl

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

    5 stars ARCHIVAL PROG FROM 1976

    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 PI蒀ES 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 P閞on (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 PI菴ES 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.

    PI菴ES 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!

    Data cached

    Zeuhl bands/artists list

    Bands/Artists Country
    ALTA蟂 France
    AMYGDALA Japan
    ANAID France
    ARCHAIA France
    ARKHAM Belgium
    CAILLOU France
    CORIMA United States
    DAI KAHT Finland
    DAIMONJI Japan
    D躈 France
    ESKATON France
    蒝OH?/a> France
    FOEHN France
    FRACTALE France
    GA'AN United States
    HIATUS France
    HONEYELK France
    IKARUS Switzerland
    LAKTATING YAK United States
    MAGMA France
    NEOM France
    NOA France
    OFFERING France
    RYOKO ONO Japan
    ORVALIANS France
    POTEMKINE France
    PSEU France
    RH貼 France
    RIALZU France
    RUINS Japan
    SCHERZOO France
    SETNA France
    KENTA SHIMAKAWA United States
    STALINGRAD 119 France
    JANNICK TOP France
    UNIT WAIL France
    UPPSALA France
    VAK France
    VAULTS OF ZIN United States
    WEIDORJE France
    XALPH France
    XING SA France
    ZAO France
    ZIG ZAG France
    ZOIKHEM France
    ZWOYLD France

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