Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Favorite Zeuhl Albums

Of the many studio albums I have heard and collected since first hearing about the progressive rock sub-genre Zeuhl eight years ago, these are my favorites:



1. MAGMA -- Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh (1973) The first Magma song I ever heard, last year, was the rather innocuous "Coltrane Sundia." But then "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanïk" came into my life. As with Song of Copper's April 2008 review, within two notes time I knew I was going to love this music. Steve Riech, Phillip Glass, Brian Eno, After Crying, are familiar musics that come to mind, but nothing, nothing can truly compare to MDK. Quoting the second paragraph of Song of Copper's review captures my feelings quite accurately:
For me there was no 'getting into it' or letting it play until some barrier dropped in order to let me appreciate it. The moment it started up, MDK grabbed hold of me and dragged me into its sonic labyrinth! You'll have to excuse my superlatives in this review, but I haven't fallen in love with an album in quite such a profound way for a very long time.

After my first complete run through the album I had to get on line to find out as much about Magma, Zeuhl, and Christian Vander as I could. I was not surprised to discover that the "crazed" or "orgiastic" "soprano" vocals/screams (such as on "Nebëhr Gudahtt") were performed by none other than Christian himself. (I had been suspicious of that "female" voice line from the first: especially knowing the sound of my own voice in the shower trying to sing Minnie Ripperton's "Lovin' You" or Frankie Valli & the Four Season's "Sherry"). Bravo Christian! Go crazy! Sing your heart out!

I LOVE the reckless abandon, the feel of near insanity of this music. And yet it is controlled, it's constructed, it's orchestrated, it flows, and it helps to tell a cool story. I find myself smiling in amusement and admiration, shaking my head in amazement at the sheer guts and emotion conveyed here. Every "song" (the whole album has the feel of being one integrated, linear "song") has distinct highlights for me, so I'll not try to name a fave or deconstruct each one. They're all amazing! Now I'm afraid to try other Magma albums because I'm afraid they'll never be able to live up to the standard of experience I've had with MDK. But, K.A., Retrospektïw I-II and Köhntarkösz will, I'm sure, find their way into my collection SOON.

100 on the Fishscales = 5 stars; A+; A true musical, psycho-spiritual masterpiece. Five full stars!



2. GA'AN -- Ga'an (2009)  I've been listening to this album for months now at first with utter amazement and now with total respect and admiration. That a group of young musicians from Chicago would latch on to the Zeuhl sound to such a degree as to create this amazing and refreshing album of upbeat, beautiful music is astounding but that they could actually add something quite significant to the Zeuhl lexicon is even more astounding. This is a collection of songs that, like the MAGMA discography, has a flow and continuity which makes it feel cohesive, comprehensive and conceptual. And, as I said, with their unique use of keyboards (including lots of mellotron!), excellent drumming, and wonderful operatic vocals from Lindsay Powell, Ga'an has added something new, fresh, upbeat and positive to the world of Kobaia. In fact, that may be what makes this album so listenable, so entrancing, and so addicting is its lighter, upbeat, 'optimistic' feel and sound. Though in reality I would have trouble telling one song from another--this is because I have never listened to them in isolation from one another; I always listen to the album start to finish--it just flows that way and once you start you just want to keep going till it's over! So, as I said, it's hard to distinguish one song from the next, I know that each song has its unique individuality. For example,
1. "Chasmaeon" (7:01) (10/10) has its awesome mellotron "Gregorian Chant" opening before TANGERINE DREAM keyboards join in. From 2:15 to 3:00 the full complement of instrumental structure is gradually put on display: keys, drums, guitar arpeggi, and Lindsay Powell's incredibly gorgeous voice. Then, beginning at 4:10 the pace is awesomely doubled, slowed down, doubled again, back and forth throughout the rest of the song in this amazing play on the listener's emotions. The bass, drums, mellotron Gregorian chant, and Linday Powell lead chant is rising and falling, twisting and turning, taking us on this rollercoaster of Zeuhl heaven. This must be Nebëhr Gudahtt's life after death place!

On 2. "Living Tribunal" (8:12) the mellotron voices are turned into the upper "female" octaves while the more vibrated, slow picked bass and militarized dance drumming take over three minutes to prep us for Lindsay's plaintive call--and mesmerizing is her summons! She is my siren! I will willingly do your bidding, Zeuhl Princess! Enter electric guitar to mirror and amplify Lindsay's hypnotic call all the while drums, bass, and keys maintain a constant thrum of insistent support. This is prog heaven, to be sure! Chicago! These are 'kids'--a new generation of prog devotees! Hallelujah! Towards the end the drums and especially the bass begin to embellish their play. Awesome! (10/10)

3. "I Of Infinite Forms Pt. 1" (5:00) opens, again, with keyboard chord hits most familiar to us from the 1970s work of TANGERINE DREAM before very quickly being joined by the bass and drumming so familiar to us from the Zuehl world. High octave keys and wildly motive bass play are the highlights to the first half of this song as Lindsay's gorgeous mid-octave chanting stays mostly in the background. (8/10)

4. "I Of Infinite Forms Pt. 2" (6:06) flowing continuously from the previous song, there is a noticeable shift in style and tempo, but it is really only a bridge before the song builds back into a more tightly woven version of the tapestry of the Part 1. Where the difference really begins to show is with the addition of tubular bells (!) and Lindsay's more frenetic insistent chanting. Mid song the rhythm section virtually drops out for a bridge in which Lindsay and the tubular bells take center stage. By 3:40 a new rhythm and sound has been established that is more keyboard centered and keyboard dominant while LIndsay and the rhythm section pretty much maintain their style and melodies if slightly slowed down. Amazing drumming in the last minute! (9/10)

5. "Servant Eye" (6:31) opens as if on a continuous thread from previous songs--kind of a melding of the opening song with the previous one. A brief bridge of "Gregorian Chant" mellotron chords at 0:45 allows for a complete transition into a new vocal chant pattern and a new keyboard arpeggio foundation. Then at 2:00 occurs another shift--establishing whole new pace and rhythm pattern from the rhythm section while also introducing a more "angelic" voice mellotron chord sequence pattern while Lindsay's vocal almost disappears for a while. In the final two minutes the bass and lead female chant step forward to take the lead while the pace behind quickens to a rhapsodic frenzy! Awesome! (9/10)

6. "Vultures Of The Horn" (7:16) is perhaps the most maturely structured, least frenzied and tempermental song on the album which makes it seem more sedate and less emotional yet the keyboard, drum and vocal work are incredible for their display of subtle mastery. (9/10)

I honestly cannot say that there is another Zeuhl album I've ever felt this kind of affinty and attachment to since I heard MDK. Eskaton, Xing Sa, and Universal Totem Orchestra are the only others that come to mind as having the kind of fresh beauty that I feel from Ga'an. As raw as it is for its being a debut record, this is without a doubt one of the premier Zeuhl albums I've ever heard. And from a group of young musicians from Chicago!! Bravo! I am so excited to see a new generation of artists latching onto and carrying forward the Zeuhl torch!

91.67 on the Fishscales = 5 stars, A-: Essential as a masterpiece of progressive rock music.



3. SETNA -- Guérison (2013)  Imagine the most hypnotic Zeuhl grooves that Magma has ever given us, blend it with the accumulated best Canterbury instrumentation that any of Dave Stewart's bands ever gave us, arrange it all with the most positive, uplifting chord progressions and gorgeous male and female vocal melodies imaginable, then use the best technological advantages that 2013 gives us and you get a glimpse into what Setna's second album, Guérison, has to offer. It is beautiful, sublime, hypnotic, and so spiritually uplifting! Each of the five songs is sub-divided, but, in effect, the album has a straight-through flow not unlike many Magma albums. Every song and, in fact, each sub-song has idiosyncrasies worthy of high praise and long discussions (as well as repeated listens), but "Cycle II (c)," "Tryptique I (c)," "Tryptique II (a)," and "Tryptique III (b)" and "(c)" stand out particularly strong for me--should you want to listen to a few pieces in order to get a feel for the album, these might be just the ones cuz they display quite a broad spectrum of the sounds, feels and styles offered here. The "Guérison" suite feels separate, a bit more atmospheric, more displaying of rhythms and percussion, and, until the interesting Part "(c)," a slight step down from the previous two suites (four songs, eleven sub-songs). Still, this is one of the best releases I've heard from 2013, one of the best Zeuhl or Canterbury albums I've ever heard, and an album that will likely grow in my esteem as it occupies my turntable for the upcoming months.
5 Stars; an unquestioned masterpiece of progressive rock music.



4. LAURENT THIBAULT -- Mais on ne peut pas rêver tout le temps (1979) A recent discovery that has quickly climbed into my Top 5 All-time favorite Zeuhl albums. There are such great riffs, melodies and oddities throughout the brief album's four songs. Plus, there is a milder, subtler, more delicate side to this music than is common to most Zeuhl music--at times almost dreamy or bucolic--and yet the tapestries of each song are quite full, mature and fascinating. And with its excellent recording and production this one stands up incredibly well with the passage of time--better than most other albums from its era. Learning that Laurent was MAGMA's original bass player and later member and songwriter for MOVING GELATINE PLATES makes complete sense. The bass playing is so sublime! And the bold use of recording samples and world voices/vocals to accompany the music is breathtaking if not revolutionary. And I can't help but mention the always wonderful presence of "Northette" Amanda Parsons!
Five star songs: All four: the RENAISSANCE/ANNIE HASLEM-guests-JACO PASTORIUS-era- WEATHER REPORT-like "Orée" (11:28) (10/10); the Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young meets early PAT METHENY GROUP "Aquadingen" (4:30) (10/10); "La caravane de l'oubli" (7:08) (10/10) has an awesome kind of STEVE HACKETT and STEVE HILLAGE feel to it--even moreso with the Arabic influences, and; the experimental marriage of driving jazz funk and pastoral folk sounds on "Mais on ne peut pas rêver tout le temps" (8:21) (10/10).

100 on the Fishscales = 5 stars, A+; Undoubtedly a masterpiece of cross-multiple-subgenres music. ESSENTIAL!



5. ESKATON -- 4 Visions (1981) I was only introduced to Zeuhl a few years ago (Thanks, ProgArchives!) through the mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, uplifiting, and mesmerizing experience of hearing Magma's Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh. Such is my reverence and awe of MDK (which I consider one of the three greatest albums ever made) that I was almost afraid to try any other Zeuhl albums, much less try any other groups, listed under the Zeuhl sub-genre. After KöhntarköszËmëhntëhtt-Ré, and K.A. I have finally 'risked it.' And I am SO glad I did! ESKATON, XING SA, JANNICK TOP, BONDAGE FRUIT, DÜN, UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA, GUAPO and  KOENJI HYAKKEI are all wonderful. While I have yet to hear an album with the energy and impact of MDK, I am so glad to discover that there is diversity within the sub-genre. 
     This album, 4 Visions, from way back in 1981, is probably my second favorite of the Zeuhl albums I've heard. (Clue: I keep choosing to play it over everything else in my collection right now.) I love the bass, French vocals, drums, and more extensive use of electronics than I've heard elsewhere within the sub-genre (yet). Plus, the album's finale, "Le cri" (9:02) (10/10) is amazing--among my  favorite Zeuhl 'songs;' perhaps second only to "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mëkanïk." Great listen start to finish. And I love that I can make out and understand the lyrics. Plus it has an awesome album cover!

Best songs:  1. "Eskaton" (10:24) (9.5/10); the space-funky 2. "Attente" (10:12) with its lyrics being sung by an awesome female choir (9.5/10); 3. "Ecoute" (12:54) (9.5/10); 4. "Pitié" (8:46) with its nearly liturgical feel (10/10), and, of course; 5. "le cri." 

97.0 on the Fishscales = 5 stars, A; Without a doubt a 5 star masterpiece of progressive music.



6. JANNICK TOP -- Infernal Machina (2008) Consistently one heck of a powerful journey. IMHO, MDK is the only Zeuhl album to do it better.
1. Part I (10/10) is majestic, mysterious, melodic, beautiful. Cave raindrops! Bowed bass!

2. Part II (9/10) introduces the vocal which reminds me of the diotonic stylings of the female folk singers of Les Voix Mystères de Bulgarie

3. Part III (10/10) starts with distorted electric guitar rhythm chords, bowed bass, and intense 'Bulgarian' chanting (and screaming--is that you, Stella?). Shifts at 2:20 to deep metal-like electric power chords from the rhythm section accompanied by female voices. A brief but oh-so effective pause at the 3:00 minute mark opens the door for the full-band unified pulse of ecstatic marching. Amazing!

4. Part IV (7/10) introduces (with an electronic crash) a slower, more methodic, plodding pace with a now-male chorus (among whom is the unmistakable voice of MAGMA's KLAUS BLASQUIS)

5. Part V (8.5/10) with piano most prominent here compared to anywhere else on the album, the insistent frenzy is built upon with lots of piano treble arpeggi, bass chords, frenetic drum and cymbal play while bass, guitar and low register vocal 'grunt' chants drive us forward.

6. Part VI (10/10) is amazing for its pulsing bass, slow and steady drums, and electric guitar chords. The low male breath-chants, a few 'Bulgarian' voice chants, and a Math Rock section of guitar chords usher in a change in tempo--and with it a real sense of immediacy, even urgency. Like, "Oh my God! It's happening!"

7. Part VII (10/10) sees an insidious increase in tempo--and urgency--as Persian horns carry a religious melody into the sacred ritual. WOW!! This is AMAZING! 2:50: Piano. 3:20 searing guitar solo with amazing bass & rhythm chord progression in background. Cycling back to 'Persian' horns, male breath chants, female 'Bulgarian' chant, all weaving together with frenetic drumming and electric guitar soloing like Sir ROBERT of FRIPP at his stool-offing best.

8. Part VIII (8/10) is like a cooling waterfall flowing down over the hot coals--piano and cymbol play doing most of the cleansing. 1:45 shift in rhythm section to syncopated pulses of bass and low male voice grunts. The piano and cymbols continue their flood of erosive notes. 3:20 and 3:50 see first true nods to CHRISTIAN VANDER/MAGMA sound & style.

9. Part IX (9/10) returns to the very same piano single note pounding of Part VII with the now VANDER-crazed drumming going crazy behind and some MAGMA-like choral work dispersed here and there. This is really the drummer's song. Awesome ascent of scale by TOP's bass chords.

10. Part X (8/10) sees an inversion and minoring of the musical/piano chords while the same frenzy of drums and other rhythms go on all around it and the repetition of a monotonic pattern of staccato choral notes. Continues the frenzy party of Part IX with little or no difference (more cymbol crashes, increased vocal volume, variation in vowel sound used for staccato vocal notes, guitar chords become patternized, circular).

11. Part XI (9/10) sees a transition to rhythm guitar rock chords, deep throbbing bass line, more 'controlled' drumming, a return and interweaving of previous vocal lines, along with the introduction and intertwining of a new vocal line--which ascends to take us to the culmination point.

12. Resolution (8/10) seems to be a kind of driving disco-version of Part VI and VII with the Persian horns and male vocal grunt pattern. At 1:50 the electric rhythm guitar chords and female 'Bulgarian' voices take a turn before giving way to the 'Persian' horns and male grunt section for fifteen seconds. Back and forth the female and male chanting trade again and again into the final minute of the song when we are reunited with the 'cave raindrop' music of the opening song to close.

88.75 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars, B+; but this is definitely a masterpiece of amazing music--Zeuhl or not--and one of the two or three best albums from 2008.



7. CHRISTIAN VANDER -- Wurdah Ïtah (1974) As many reviewers have stated before me, this is, for all intents and purposes, a MAGMA album, not really a Crhistian Vander solo album. But then, aren’t all MAGMA albums Christian VANDER albums? 
     Released after the ominous, deliberately-paced, more spacious Köhntarkösz and just one year after the ground-breaking, band-, and sub genre-defining Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh, Wurdah Ïtah is a powerful, more fast-paced submission into the saga of the relationship between planets Earth and Kobaia. 
    What makes Wurdah Ïtah such a great album is the wonderful clarity and definition each voice and instrument receives in the recording and engineering. The voices and every piece of percussion are so clean and clear and distinctive. And yet the mix transposes the music masterfully into one well-woven web of power and effect. I love this!
    What sets this piece apart from the ‘big’ and ‘bombastic’ feel and effect of MDK-like Magma albums is that there is less ecstatic frenzy, more control and respect or even reverence in the feel of the music, as well as the feel of a much smaller, more intimate ensemble. MDK feels like it’s being performed in a large cathedral (as if it needs to have that kind of space) while Wurdah Ïtah feels like it’s in a small studio. For some reason I like this. (Not that I like it ‘better’ but rather, I like its difference.)
     Wurdah Ïtah is much more piano-based than other Magma recordings I’ve heard. Like the scaled-down accompaniment one might find during a rehearsal for a Broadway musical. This undoubtedly has a great deal to do with why I find the performances of the vocalists, bass and drummer to be so much more vibrant and in-your-face. It is a nice effect—different from so many other Magma recordings.
     I have lots of favorite little moments, but the one that stands above all others is the opening to the final song, “De Zeuhl Üdazïr” (3:41) (10/10) in which Vander transports the listener back to MDK and in which every instrument, every sound is augmented and defined to be sure to register this fact deep within the subconscious. I also love the numerous excesses, embellishments and flourishes contributed by the vocalists throughout. They always seem so random, spontaneous, and expressive. Wonderful!
     To my ear and heart, this is yet another amazingly masterful contribution to the lexicon of progressive rock music. I feel no hesitation in dishing out another five star rating for yet another Magma recording. They're worth it!



8. MAGMA -- K.A. (2004) A very polished, mature MAGMA, with some new sounds (vocally), some great sound recording, some missing sounds (horns), and one of the best Zeuhl 'songs' I've yet heard (I'm still very new to this sub-genre, but I LOVE ZEUHL!! I think this is the music I've been missing--that I've been waiting for--since 1989 [when I gave up on rock/pop/prog music].): part "III"--and part "II" is right up there, too.
While I am rating this 5 stars--for it is a masterpiece of progressive rock music--I do not hold it as dear as MDK or even Wurdah Ïtah; there is something magical about the energy and spirit of those 1970s records--perhaps it is youthful idealism (Did Christian Vander believe he could create a personally- and even socially-transformative mythology back then? Does he still?) Still, I admire he and his crew of Kobaians who have stood steadfastly within this music and its message over the past 40 years.



9. MAGMA -- Félicité Thösz (2012) Beginning like an ANDREW LLOYD-WEBER musical doesn't hurt this piece by Zeuhlmeisters, MAGMA. As 'dark' or heavy at it tries to be, the whole thing comes across more as a Dickensian Christmas play written by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ and/or BURT BACHARACH. Awesome bass play, as usual, very melodic piano and perfect drumming from founder CHRISTIAN VANDER help carry this operetta, but it is the wonderful, delicately woven vocal performances that the listener has a chance to really tune into. The lack of hard driving, mega-pulsing music and power vocals is, as a matter of fact, quite unexpected. Yes, the album is brief (by modern standards), but 37 minutes is right in line with a typical vinyl album (unless you are Todd Rundgren). Though the album is really meant to be played straight through--and I love all of the songs here--I must admit to really enjoying putting "Teha" (5:15) (10/10) on repeat ad infinitum. As a matter of fact, the first five songs all flow together seamlessly, flawlessly, beautifully. The most Broadway of all, however, is "Ohst" (4:53) (10/10) with the bouncy piano and the voice of the Maestro, himself; CHRISTIAN VANDER is brilliant, astounding! I mean, how old is this guy? Playing off of HERVÉ AKNIN, it is quite a song. Even the end is very Broadway-like--like the ending to a song from Fiddler on the Roof or something.
I have to admit that hearing an upbeat, positive sounding album from such masters of melodrama is quite an unexpected experience, but it is an entirely enjoyable one.

Another masterpiece? I can't see this little beauty as anything less. 5 stars.



10. UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA -- The Magus (2008) Is the future of 'progressive music' in Zeuhl??
This album is filled with some of the most masterful compositions and performances I have heard in this 21st Century. Absolutley stunning in scope and breadth. The spirits of AREA, KOTEBEL, MAGMA, JANNICK TOP, ALAN HOLDSWORTH, LISA GERRARD, EUMIR DEODATO, and GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA have all been absorbed to bring you this production.

1. "De Astrologia" (8.5/10) starts awesomely before establishing a fairly straightforward, rather dull and repetitious A part. At 4:25 things shift to piano and NINA HAGEN-like silly vocals to become more interesting, more RPI-like. The 6:05 mark ushers in a very Zeuhl-like part with heavy throbbing bass-line and guitar, piano, drums and vocal very MAGMA-esque. This lasts until the 11:20 mark when a synthesizer ushers in a faster, more synth-jazz part. This lasts until 14:13 when piano introduces what appears to be another pulsating Zeuhl section--but, no! At 15:00 the piano starts to jazz it up, at 15:20 is joined by the gorgeous operatic voice of Ana Tores Fraile and later, the wonderful soprano sax of Antonio Fedeli. This is the groovingest section of Zeuhl ever! Awesome piano. Guitarist Daniele Valle had already amply demonstrated his virtuosity earlier in the song but here switches gears to render a more bluesy rock solo. If the whole song were like these last three or four minutes it would be one of the greatest songs ever! Strange ending.

2. "Corenza della percentuali" (9/10) begins with pizzicato strings like lighter moment from a movie soundtrack but then it evolves into what sounds and feels like a song straight from AREA's "Arbeit Macht Frei." An amazingly tight avante jazz composition until 4:55 with the first appearance of Daniele Valle's 'one-up-on-Alan Holdsworth' guitar playing over the top of string synths and Zeuhl rhythms. At 6:55 things really slow down as a synth oscillates around the speakers, giving way to an awesome and hauntingly beautiful bass solo (which sounds more like a classical guitar). Ana's operatic voice and some spacey synths join the bass at the 8:54 mark creating a very hallowed, sacred space. 9:40 hears the appearance of an Arabic-sounding drum voice (Francesco Festi?) sounding like the donkey at the end of KATE BUSH's The Dreaming's "Get Out of My House." 12:25 sees a complete return to the hard-driving opening themes--only Ana and Francesco's pairing continues--an awesome effect over the synths and hard-drivng bass line. The last 30 second s of the song see a comical return to the opening pizzicato strings theme. Odd but appropriate. A truly masterful composition.

3. "Les plantes magiques" (10/10) has a more classical chamber or church music feel to it. Piano arpeggios entwined with Ana's wordless mid-range tonings and almost-background alto sax notes. At the 3:20 mark we get a surprise: solo piano accompanying chanteuse Ana with an accompaniment of background female singers all singing French lyrics. At 4:45 a more Zeuhlish operatic section begins: orchestral percussives, synths, operatic male and female voices. Le nouveau opera! Awesome!

4. "Ato piradime" (9.5/10) begins with a very familiar LOREENA MCKENNITT or DEAD CAN DANCE feel and sound until at the 1:35 mark an intricate weave of bass and electric guitar usher in a kind of movie soundtrack sax theme. Shift at 3:07 to a kind of RPI rap. Really! Very engaging and poppy. 5:17: abrupt stop and pause. Solo electric piano chord progression repeats itself until 6:15 when it is joined by a very reedy sax, then by the operatic Italian lyrics of Ana. Quite majestic is her singing to "La Luna"--as is the interplay of the sax. Vocals climax around 9:40 whereupon a heavier jazz groove takes over with Fabrizio Mattuzzi's distorted electric piano bouncing around a little before being joined by bass, drums and soloing lead guitar. Around the 13 minute mark the imitation Alan Holdsworth shows up once more to give a stellar show of what AH could be. The song's final minute allows Ana and Antonio's "La Luna" theme to return to fade.

5. "Mors, ultima linea rerum" (9/10) begins with a few seconds of a kind of circus-like sound and feel before unleashing an awesomely powerful heavy prog section, only to segue into a kind of GINO VANELLI/BILLY JOEL pop jazz at the 1:30 mark. Enter an awesome 'Alan Holdsworth' guitar solo, then at 3:05 shift back to the heavy prog theme. 4:20 sees the combination of the jazzy Holdsworthian theme with a truly jazz-Zeuhl repetitiousness. End with another strange kind of fade out.

6. "Vento madre" (10/10) reminds me so much of one of my favorite 21st Century albums, KOTEBEL's "Omphalos"--particularly the "Pentacle" suite. I love the combination of heavy electric guitars, hard-rocking rhythm section with operatic vocals. 3:55 begins a DEODATO-ish electric piano bridge to a very pulsating, deeply engaging, mesmerizing section of Zeuhlish magic. Ana and guest male vocalist Antonio Vianilli. "Salvol!" Saxes and electric piano. Enter Sr. Daniele Valle, electric guitarist extraordinaire! Quiet sectioni yields to the return at 10:15 to the opening theme. Let the wild rumpus continue! Dance ye sacrificial lambs! Faster! Faster! Lose yourself in the mélée; come under the spell of The Magus!

This album is filled with some of the most masterful compositions and performances I have heard in this 21st Century. I cannot imagine anyone not seeing the utterly astounding quality of these songs and these performances. They are so fresh, unusual, creative and mature. Plus, I love it that Zeuhl has an Italian participant! Without question or reservation a solid, strong 5 star contribution to Western music. Perhaps the second greatest Zeuhl album I have had the privilege hearing (thus far).

93.33 on the Fishscales = 5 stars, A; a masterpiece of progressive rock music! I love Zeuhl!



11. MAGMA -- Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré (2009) It has only been one year since my initiation into the world of Kobaia and Zeuhl. Christian Vander's world astounds me. His attention to detail and heart-felt all-out effort is nothing short of amazing. Some of the words that come to mind when trying to convey the spell of MAGMA's music include "otherworldly," "operatic," "ecstatic," and "ritualistic." While many reviewers write praise of Magma's disciplined and virtuosic instrumentalists, I am ever blown away by the vocal performances and choir arrangements. This is especially the case throughout "Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré II"--one of the best--if not the best--example of Vander's genius I've had the good fortune of hearing. I'm having trouble assigning this album an overall rating because, as some other reviewers have said, it doesn't seem to have enough "new" music or show enough of the group's "progress." It does, however, amply display the steadfastness, sharpness, and enthusiasm of Vander and crew in their commitment to this musical vision. In terms of "Best Album of the Year" and boldly going where no music has gone before, Vander and Toby Driver will have to duke it out for a while to see who really comes out on top.
10/15/2010 edit: The MAGMA album I keep turning to when I want to hear them (their best) is MDK. It seems still so fresh, raw, and seemless. Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, while so polished and amazing because it's a 21st century composition with revitalized and revamped cast, has faded some with time. Even the awesome and amazing "Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré II" has lost some of its initial luster. When I want to dance and scream, its MDK for me, thank you very much.



12. POTEMKINE -- Foetus Another 21st Century discovery for me (I am so late to this amazing Zeuhl scene!) Yet another French band with influences of the early MAGMA/Zeuhl scene but, unlike so many others, none of the artists here had played with Christian Vander. Thus, the influences of other contemporary musics might be more prominent in this music than your typical Zeuhl.

Line-up / Musicians
- Dominique Dubuisson / bass, vocals
- Charles Goubin / guitar, vocals
- Michel Goubin / keyboards, vocals
- Philippe Goubin / drums, percussion
- Xavier Vidal / violin 

1. "Foetus" (6:26) (9/10)

2. "Zed" (5:22) (8.75/10)

3. "Nuit sur le Golan" (2:24) May have been relevant in the mid-1970s; not so much now. (6.5/10)

4. "Ballade" (6:24) opens like a Japanese lullaby with vocalese and violin and tuned percussives before the whole band joins in at the 2:15 turning it into some veritable jazz-funk-tastics. (9/10)

5. "Hymne" (2:05) sounds and feels a bit Canterbury-ish. (9/10)

6. "Loolitt" (3:11) has Zeuhl written all within it. Electric piano, straight time drums with lots of flourishes, chunky (though rather sparsely included) bass--and then electric violin and guitar. (9/10)

7. "Cedille" (6:00) a gorgeous little collection of notes opens this sad yet beautiful piano-based excursion. There is almost a spiritual insistency in the melody--not unlike Bill Evans, John Coltrane, John McLaughlin or David & Steve Gordon might use. (9.5/10)

8. "Laure" (4:39) opens with a melody played on electric guitar and supported by flurries of whole-band crescendos sounding like it came from one of Santana's jazzy albums. By the time the song finally establishes itself in its fullness around the 1:20 mark, we're still not quite sure where the Goubin brothers are taking us. This is jazz fusion, not Zeuhl. Until 2:25. Jean-Luc Ponty-like violin and melodies and interesting guitar & keyboard chords work their way in and out of this odd but, ultimately, beautiful song. (9.5/10)

9. "Cycles" (2:21) sounds like something between early Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Allman Brothers--only gone horribly wrong. (6/10)

85.83 on the Fishscales = 4 stars, B; a very good and certainly interesting and enjoyable ride through the fringes of 1970s Zuehl. 



13. UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA -- Rituale alieno (1998)




14. ZAO -- Kawana (1976)

With a line-up of musicians such as this you really shouldn't go wrong:


- François Cahen / Yamaha acoustic piano, Fender electric piano, Korg synthesizer
- Didier Lockwood / acoustic & electric violin, artianal bass violin
- Gérard Prévost / Fender bass, hors phase bass, acoustic bass
- Yochk'o Seffer / Soprano & Sopranino saxes, vocals, piano on F.F.F.
- Jean-My Truong / orange double drums

1. "Natura" (7:03) sounds so much like a modern Pat Metheny Group epic--but it pre-dates all that! Piano, chunky and jazzy bass, and nasal soprano (sopranino?) sax all sound good together. Jean-MY is a little quiet. (9/10)

2. "Tserouf" (8:59) a very tight funky jazz fusion song that could have come off of any of the American masters of the era--Miles, Chick, Stanley, Zawinal, even JLPonty, Area or Bob James! Great song. Very melodic. (9.5/10)

3. "F.F.F. (Fleurs for Faton)" (2:34) very nice little musical étude performed by piano, acoustic violin and bowed double bass--like a gift from Débussy or Fauré. (9.5/10)

4. "Kabal" (4:14) very tightly performed, fast-paced opening before stepping down to a slower tempo at 0:50 for some synth work--but then things ramp up again with EVERYBODY getting into the act MAHAVISHNU style. The bass and drum work remain super tight and focused at the bottom throughout this display of virtuosity. (8.5/10)

5. "Sadie" (3:43) opens rather loosely, as if walking by a Jean-Luc Ponty-like street musician. The sopranino sax, bass, and electric violin melodies and harmonic support throughout this oft-shifting tempoed song are gorgeous. At 2:40 we are even treated to an overdubbed solo track for the violin. Nice. Creative, inventive song. (10/10)

6. "Free Folk" (10:44) there's a very relaxed vibe throughout this song--like a WEATHER REPORT song. As a matter of fact, there's very little here--or on this album--that harkens to Zeuhl music. Feels and sounds like the Zao crew has shaken loose from the Vander clutches and moved fully into the jazz fusion fold. Nicely done. Probably the weakest song on the album--almost anti-climactic fill--but still good. (8.5/10) The question is: why is Jean-My Truong so sedate and/or mixed so low in the soundscape?

91.67 on the Fishscales = Five stars; A-; a masterpiece of progressive rock (jazz fusion).




15. ZAO -- Shekina (1975)

Line-up / Musicians: 
- Yochok'o Seffer / saxes, clarinets, vocals
- François "Faton" Cahen / keyboards
- Gérard Prévost Electric / bass
- Jean-My Truong / drums
- Pierre "TV Boum" Guignon / percussion
- Michèle Margand / violin
- Marie-Françoise Viaud / violin
- Françoise Douchet / viola
- Claudine Lassere / cello

Opening with one of my all-time favorite 'happy songs', "Joy!" (3:54) (10/10) a song that just grooves and gets into your bones so that you can't help but get up and dance, be happy, the rest of the album is interesting for the range of emotions it takes the listener through.

2. "Yen-Lang" (8:10) retains more of the band's Zeuhl foundations with its quiet start and slow build using a pulsing, bass-infused almost single chord (single key) melody line. Flute and strings are awesome on this one. (9/10)

3. "Zohar" (10:53) opens at breakneck speed with all band members laying it all on the line--though none more than drummer, Jean-My Truong. By the third minute the music transitions radically to an all-strings format. At 5:00 bass, drums, keys and percussion sneak back in while strings disappear. Cahen's experimentation with keyboard sound takes over for a bit. Though the band is tight in their occasional ensembleness, the song lacks cohesion and overall feels a bit more like a experiment in experimentalism. (8/10)

4. "Metatron" (8:17) opens with Zeuhlish voices and sax and bass before taking off on a run through a series of challenging sections of disciplined precision-timed chord sequences. At two minutes, driving bass and drum race us along while keys, horns and voices move at a deliberately contrasting snail's pace. Things finally shift around the frenetically paced drums as bass and keys open the way for some sax and keyboard solos. Very reminiscent of both Weather Report and even Brand X. Impressive song. Impressive drummer! (9/10)

5. "Zita" (4:38) opens quietly with strings and electric piano weaving into a little soundtrack chamber music exercise with a kind of sound similar to Eberhard Weber or Vangelis. The presence of the lone soprano voice slightly in the background is a cool effect. Beautiful and peaceful. (9.5/10)

6. "Bakus" (5:13) is just weirdness--though keys, bass and drums really put their Zeuhl chops on full display here. Really it's just Seffert's vocals--sounding more like the fore-runner of those from 21st Century Japanese bands Koenji Hyakkei or OOIOO. Solid song. (8/10)

Though Seffers, Cahen, Prévost and the rest of the band continue to move farther away from their Magma roots, and more into that of the Jazz-Rock/Fusion sub-genre, this is still an album I'd classify as 'Zeuhl'--unlike their next one, Kawana, which is pure jazz fusion (despite the addition of violinist Didier Lockwood). There's something I like so much about this album. Kind of like the way I feel about AREA's Arbeit Macht Frei versus the more polished and virtuosic follow up, Crac!

89.167 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars; B+; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.



16. CAMEMBERT -- Schnörgl Attahk (2010) Wow! AltrOck Productions just can't miss! Yugen, Ciccada, SKE, Kurai, and now Camembert! Music is alive and well, people! And with great production all around! Refreshing, mesmerizing and, in the case of Schnörgl Attahk, humorous and upbeat. Horns, harps and tuned percussion all jamming with and off of one another! This is one group I want to see live! Haven't been back to Strasbourg since 1979 but, who knows? Maybe in the next couple of years?!

The transitional songs ("Clacos Zéro," Clacos 1" et "Clacos 2") are excellent (and often quite funny!) but the big monsters [e.g. "Untung Untungen" (11:14) (10/10), "El ruotuav edsraM" (8:17) (10/10), et "Le meurtrier volant" (9/10)] are incroyable! I listen to "Untung" and "ruotuav" (Vulture from Mars) over and over and find my body and spirit reacting quite the same way I did upon first hearing MAGMA's MDK a few years ago: avec une danse joyeuse, sauvage et frénétique! It is wonderful! The pause at the halfway mark in "Untung" is so startling and such a letdown, yet it's so exciting when the music returns and builds and builds, jelling and spiraling its way in perfect collaboration up and then down to a stop--it's just like a rollercoaster ride! And one can just feel the morose, Poe-like tension of "Le meurtrier."

Unfortunately, the 5-part suite which ends the album, entitled "La danse du Chameau" (7/10) doesn't succeed in conveying or evoking this same response. (Plodding like the camel for which it is named, the perfect harmony of "The Vulture of Mars" and  "Le meurtrier volant" seems long past.) 

In the vein of its inspirateur, GONG, the band puts forth some jazzy jams, but, also like GONG, IMHO, the jamming seems a bit pointless--or ecstatic and masturbatory--depending on one's psycho-neuro-chemical state. For some reason, the band seems to have mostly abandoned the wonderful collective weaves of the amazing first 30 minutes of the album. Too bad. That was quite a ride!

4.5 stars rated up for its sheer freshness, enjoyability, and perfect sound production of its compositions.



17. PATRICK GAUTHIER -- Sur les flots verticaux (1993)

Very good keyboard-based Zeuhl prog from the former HELDON, MAGMA, and WIEDORJE keyboard artist. It is obvious that Patrick is an accomplished pianist and loves the Broadway vocal medium.

1. "Des pygmées dans la ville" (6:34) I kind of happy Calypso Zuehl. (9/10)

2. "Sur les flots verticaux" (10:01) One of the greatest prog/Zeuhl 'classical' études ever written. The Coltrane, Orff and Débussy influences are strong here. Gorgeous vocal arrangements and renderings. (10/10)

3. "Le train fantôme" (7:18) odd and unusual but hypnotic in the Zeuhl fashion, so I guess it's a success. Just . . . weird. (9/10)

4. "Odessa" (4:11) is pure classical/jazz piano soloing. Very Gershwinian. (8.5/10)

5. "Eleutheren" (8:17) is founded, unfortunately, on almost the exact same rhythm as song #3. The vocal expedition is different--more Magma and Broadway music styled (Manhattan Transfer)--though I hear monastic chant as well. Amazing "piccolo" bass play. Well performed, interestingly and creatively composed. (9/10)

6. "Zawinal" (8:26) another Broadway-esque/Manhattan Transfer-like song. Too repetitive, over-dramatic and drawn out. (7/10)

87.5 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars, B+; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.



18. GA'AN -- Black Equus (2011)



19. TEDY LASRY -- E=MC2



20. CORIMA Amaterasu (2016)



21. SETNA -- Cycles (2007)


22. BONDAGE FRUIT -- II (1999)

23. GUAPO -- Five Suns (2005) To my mind (and ears) this is a Zeuhl album if I've ever heard one--and an awesome one, at that! The album starts off with the very cool, rather spacey "Five Suns, Part I" (8/10) which then slides into the amazing (Very ANEKDOTEN-like) "Five Suns, Part II" (10/10) The background synth and wave samples are so cool over the marching drums and driving bass lines. Unfortunately, the bass and drum act grows a little weary on the ears as the album goes on. Parts "III" and "IV" (7/10) maintain a high standard of musicianship and driving force but creativity and inspiration seem to wane a bit--there is little freshness to keep the listener glued, the repeated riffs seem, at times, almost infantile, though the drum and bass playing remains rather emotional. There is a little more jazzy side of GUAPO exposed in the softer parts of these songs. "Part V" is rather anticlimactic (and maybe intentionally so). By the time you move past the five movements of the Five Suns you are ready for something new--and boy do they deliver: a solid minute of virtual silence Ithe sounds I hear may be mechanical) titled "Untitled"!! This is followed by a song that is, IMO, the least interesting and least inspired song of the album, "Mictlan." Luckily, the last song, "Topan," (9/10) is another great one--a more sedate but highly skilled and melodic piece. Something here sounds like the pop jazz and jazz fusion I listened to in the 70s. The keys, I think. Or maybe the whole vibe they have going. Reminds me somehow of NIL's "Dérive." Anyway, this is a very, very good album. Part II is definitely one of my top ten favorite Zeuhl songs.

24. WEIDORJE -- Weidorje (1978)

Line-up / Musicians:


- Michel Ettori / guitar
- Patrick Gauthier / keyboards
- Jean-Phillipe Goude / keyboards
- Alain Guillard / saxophone
- Yvon Guillard / trumpet, vocals
- Bernard Paganotti / bass, vocals
- Kirt Rust / drums

A much acclaimed album that has never in the five years I've owned it realized the potential power and greatness for which I've been waiting. Regardless, it's time to get this one reviewed and in the can.

1. "Elohim's Voyage" (16:33) seems to plod along at one fairly straightforward speed with one fairly simple and, eventually, obnoxious bass sound and riff. A solid but grossly under-developed Zeuhl song. (8.5/10)

2. "Vilna" (12:20) Every time I hear this song's opening I have to check to make sure I didn't push repeat 'cuz it sounds so much like the album's first song to me. By the end of the first minute I'm relieved as I recognize a new direction the band is exploring. But, unfortunately, the same plodding tempo is used. In the third minute we finally get some of the dark, heaviness that one comes to expect from the Zeuhl sub-genre, but it is short-lived. Then the bass player gets stuck in the fifth minute and can't seem to get out of his rut for the longest time. If the soli over the top were more exciting or even interesting then this might not be a problem but when you're bored with the melodies and treble artists, the bass and rhythm sections get picked apart. Finally, at the eight minute mark, the band gets something going that's exciting! Horns and fast-paced minimalist Steve-Reichian foundation that starts speeding up, carrying us into the frenzied state that we come to know and expect from Magma and its imitators. Even a decent ending! Yay! (9/10)

3. "Booldemug" (7:10) opening with a 'big' sound--everybody engaged and firing up their instruments to the max--I find myself enjoying and appreciating the collective weave and individual instrumentalists for the first time on the album. Love the frenzy all-out attahk of the sixth minute! This is what I'm talking about! Great music. (9.5/10)

Maybe Side One was just their practice/warm up.

88.75 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars, B+; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.



25. MAGMA - Köhntarkösz
26. UNIT WAIL -- Pangaea Proxima (2013)
27. EIDER STELLAIRE -- I (1984)
28. SHUB_NIGGURATH -- Les morts vont vite (1989)
29. BONDAGE FRUIT -- III
30. HELDON -- IV: Agneta Nilsson
31. XING SA -- Création de l'Univers (2011)




RHÙN's Fanfare du chaos (2013) This album has provided me with the nearest thing to classic MAGMA that I've ever experienced. There are also quite a few moments in which I am reminded of PRESENT and the other French and Belgian RIO artists. Heck, there are also a few moments that I swear I'm hearing the jazzy orchestral sounds of BURT BACHARACH and Hollywood movie
soundtracks!

1. 'Toz' (9:24) opens with the power and sound just like MAGMA (except for the piccolo).
The crazed saxophone and electric guitar soli and the movie soundtrack interlude at 3:45-
4:15 are a little beyond anything I've heard from Magma, but otherwise this is an awesome
song right out of Neb'hr Gudahtt's iPod playlist! (9/10)

2. 'Intermud' (2:59) is an interlude instrumental purely from the realm of classical chamber
music. Here brass and woodwinds exchange and intermingle minor and dissonant chord
structures. It is quite interesting and not as distant or depressing as the usual modern
chromatic chamber stuff. (8/10)

3. 'Dunb' (8:54) opens with a bang as multi-level and multi-layered vocals chant over the
throb of a full band of bass, military drumming, horns and woodwinds. The delicate flute-led
interlude at the 1:40 mark provide quite a contrast to the power and insistence of the
opening 100 seconds. Kind of like yang and yin, masculine and feminine. A return to power
and drive is introduced by electric guitar before a male baritone voice takes off running--
everybody else trying to keep up, fuzzy, chunky bass and soprano chorale the most
persistent. The 4:45 mark is where I'm hearing the distinct orchestral sounds of Burt
Bacharach--followed by a kind of Michel Legrand/Debussey theme. The warrior chorus
takes up their march again at 6:10 but find themselves intermittently distracted or slowed by
the soprano sirens, woodwinds, and piccolos. Interesting song! (8/10)

4. 'Bumlo' (5:32) sets into motion with a rolling bass line supported by a much more jazz-
oriented ensemble, sounding like until at the 1:30 mark the music falls away and a more
chaotic, cacophonic free-form jazz--complete with Ornette Coleman-like sax solo--takes
over. By the fourth minute the song has evolved into a more structured Zeuhl song, but this
finds itself intruded upon by an interloper from the California surfin' music of the Fifties and
Sixties! Dude can sing like Bill Haley or Buddy Holly! (8/10)

5. 'Mlues' (6:15) opens with a sustained chord straight from some Miles Davis song from
the Sixties. The evolution from there is definitely shaped by 1970s jazz fusion. I'm especially
reminded of the music of the film music for the Balck 'sexplotation' films of the 70s as well as
some of Freddy Hubbard's experimental stuff (until the male vocals enter).  The high speed
frenzy after the 5:30 mark to end is more reminiscent of some of the early hard rockers--those who later earned the title of Heavy Metal artists. (7/10)

6. 'Ih' (8:15) opens with a psych-jazz sound, a very cool, very sophisticated sound and feel
as if from a very intense scene of a 1970s murder crime film. At 2:30, as the female vocalist
and new bass, guitar, and woodwind riffs take over, the soundtrack feel continues--as if the
stealthy chase of the protagonist intensifies, gets closer to the criminal danger. The tension
only thickens with dynamic shifts from 4:45 to 5:15. Then a chaotic loud period ensues--as if
confrontation is at hand--followed by another bizarre chase scene (capture,
unconsciousness, drugged, delusional awakening, and death??) Awesome song. Awesome
mood setter. (9/10)

Definitely an awesome album of top notch Zeuhl. Papa Vander must be proud! Solid four
star effort--highly recommended for the adventurous prog lover and a real prize for the
Zeuhl lover. 

81.67 on the Fishscales = 3.5 stars, B-; a good Zeuhl album showing potential for future greatness.



HELDON II


DUN - Eros (1980) This is a jazzier, more up-beat expression of Zeuhl (if in fact, it is Zeuhl. I mean: how does one become 'Zeuhl'? Call up Christian Vander and ask approval? I've heard some groups assigned the 'Zeuhl' sub-genre moniker are disappointed [XING SA] and others who so obviously should fall in this category based upon their musical style aren't [GUAPO]. But then again, bands change and, unfortunately, this site hasn't seemed to figure out how to let individual albums receive their own individual assignations, instead of a band once and forever being labeled 'Symphonic' [GENESIS] or 'Crossover' [BIG BIG TRAIN] or 'Black Metal' [ULVER]  [really, 'Post Rock/Math Rock'] or 'Experimental/Post Metal' [THE GATHERING] when the whole of their catalogues hardly express the sub-genre of music to which they were originally assigned. Somehow they've managed it on the new JMA (JAZZMUSICARCHIVES.COM) that Max et al. have created.)

"Eros" (8/10) takes one on quite a diverse journey. Because of the wonderful flute work in the rather pretty first section, I am reminded of several of the songs on EUMIR DEODATO's 1973 classic, Prelude. The second more avant garde section reminds me of KOTEBEL as well as Andean pipe musics. I like the ingenius effect as the weave of the guitar, bass and drums tightens and comes forward to overcome and then take over for the flute before settling in to support a funky synth solo. This is followed around the eight minute mark by a return to more avante jazz sounds and structures. An unusual crash and lull-to-fade completes the song.

"Bitonio" (6/10) begins like a staccato all-band percussion jam from the PAT METHENY GROUP song. Then piano arpeggios take the song into a different  direction?one of flow and linearity. The next switch into the distorted/treated bass and decaying synth notes is interesting, but then it just as suddenly ends, to be replaced by a very spacious and suspenseful movie soundtrack scene:

            (The murderer is lurking just around the corner!)

(Now he's there, in front of you! He's chasing you!)

(Run!)

(A hiding place! Stop! Don't breath! Be invisible! )

(Is he coming? Should I check and see? No. Yes.)

       (There he is! Run!) 

(Hide!)
(Run!)

(Hide!) 

(He's caught you! It's over!) 

 "L'épice" (6/10) is, to my mind, a mix of some of the more dissonant musics of CHICK COREA/RETURN TO FOREVER and the Avant Garde stylings of YUGEN or UNIVERS ZÉRO (with, of course, the variation on HENRY MANCINI's "Peter Gunn" bass line). Kudos to the searing jazz rock guitar and warbled bass sound in the first section. More KOTEBEL-like flute in the second section. (I know I'm terribly guilty of assigning similarities between two different group's sounds even when one far predates the one I'm comparing it to. Je m'excuse.)

"Arrakis" (9/10) is, to my mind, the most nearly true Zeuhl song on the album, yet still more jazz-sounding and uplifting than most MAGMA work. It's very similar to the sound EUMIR DEODATO created on his two studio albums from the early 70s, Prelude and Deodato 2. The first 4 minutes and 15 seconds are quite enjoyable. The up-tempo middle section (4:15-6:50) is a bit tedious (mostly for the straightforward time signature held by the metronomic drumming), but the last sections are again quite fun (even the drum solo?at times flanged; a very cool effect, IMO).

Overall this album provides the listener with an experience more similar to that of UNIVERS ZERO than MAGMA, IMO.

72.50 on the Fishscales = Three stars; C-; a fair album. Great composition and performance but lacking in accessibility and pleasure. Recommended for the experience--and for "Arrakis."


BONDAGE FRUIT - IV (2001) I'm not really sure why this is categorized as Zeuhl (especially as GUAPO is not). To me this is Avante garde, at times free form jazz and even psychedic jazz rock. Two of the first three songs (bookending a quite Interesting version of The BEATLES' "Norwegian Wood" [7/10]) (6/10 each) are quite free flowing and incorporate a lot of seemingly random and improvised soloing from a plethora of instruments and effects. Unfortunately, this is just too much cacophony and screaming noise for my tastes, thank you very much. This isn't even cognitive dissonance, it's acid trip or Krautrock dissonance! 

My favorite song is the one with the most structure, "Storm Bird, Storm Dreamer" (9/10). It's like hearing a jam war between 70s SANTANA and DJAM  KARET. Many interesting sounds (Frippertronics, 'humpback bass,' TRAFFIC-like lyricon?or is it J-LP electric violin?, TANGERINE DREAM synth waves and arpeggios, and more). Great jam.

The wild and unmelodious "Sono-bank" (6/10) reminds me so much of TODD RUNDGREN's 36-minute "Treatise on Cosmic Fire" from 1975's Initiation. I'll take Todd. Sorry. 

A good album, not necessarily recommended for all. If you like jam bands and/or free form jazz (not quite Ornette Coleman), then, by all means, try it, you might like it.


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