Audion #43

Autumn 2000 A4 44 pages

(new releases)
(label overview)
(review feature)
- Russian progressives
- from EMS to Andromeda
(new releases)
(new releases)
, etc.


photocopy reprint (last 6 copies)



UK £8.10




Europe £11.50




World £12.50


Example article extract

"part 3 - the French Zeuhl legacy"

Important - as Zeuhl is such an abstract concept, and not the easiest of "categories" to define, we strongly recommend that before reading this article you should check out the previous Zeuhl articles in Audion #41 and #42! Then, hopefully, it should all make sense!

We usually associate a musical stylism with a fashion, and often with the history, musical heritage and culture of a country, or more obviously just by its language. But, none of that has never been the case with Zeuhl. It is a genre that is devoid of any definable cultural reference. It pretty much happened by accident, experimentation, and the drawing-in of unlikely musics (all together) to make something new. It may seem bizarre (and unlikely), but it is possible to create something new that is identifiable with a Country, though this is all the more bizarre with Zeuhl, where the language and influences behind the musical genre are actually alien to the national culture itself. Zeuhl, taking its pointers from the pioneering work of Magma and its offshoots, became a new musical idiom, identifiable as, but not typically, French. Of course, as is always the case, no one in France realised this scene existed, until some journalist gave it a name!

The results of opening the doors to a new form of expression, saw an onslaught of new bands intent on exploring the genre further. Some just copied their mentors, others took the initiative to explore further, swelling the concept of Zeuhl, encompassing a wider range of musics. The edges of the genre have blurred ever since, with more conventional rock and jazz, and also melded seamlessly into the (also almost indescribable) field of "neo-chamber" RIO musics as explored by bands like Art Zoyd or Univers Zero. But, that's another story. In this article I'll try to give you all a run-down on 33 of the many different French bands and artists that swelled the ranks of Zeuhl and related musics...

Abus Dangereux
On the borderline of Zeuhl, this jazz-rock band (later known as just: Abus) fronted by guitarist Pierre Jean Gaucher took the funky Magma sound of the late-70's and mixed it with more typical French jazz-fusion. Abus Dangereux's music will appeal to those into jazz more than experimental/progressive sounds.

LE QUATRIÈME MOUVEMENT (LP: AJ Records 3021) 12/79 © 1980

BIS (LP: Eleanore EL 31482) 2/82 © 1982

HAPPY FRENCH BAND (LP: Metro JB 105) 9-10/83 © 1983

LIVE (LP: Metro JB 106) © 1985

JAZZ 'N' ROLL (LP/CD: Metro JB 107) © 1986

Pierre Jean Gaucher (guitars), Eric Bono (pianos, synthesizers), Laurent Kzrewina (saxes), Alain Mourey (drums), Pascal Gaillard (bass), Sylvie Voise (voice), Caitriona Walsia (voice), Dan Ken (vibes), Armaud Jarlan (percussion), Nigel Warren Green (cello)


Amongst the later wave of Zeuhl acts these were one that caught much international attention at the time. This was obviously because their EP was wholly derivative of Magma, right down to the non-specific language male/female vocals, clunky drums and bass. Their main originality came from the dual synthesizers, stepping beyond Eskaton, and a hint of post-punk aggression. An amusing point is that some of the vocals (penned in their own make-believe language) can sound really funny to English ears!

Altaïs/Promenade.../Gravitation Zero (12" EP: Altaïs 1021) © 1986

Sandrine Fougère (vocals), Philippe Goudier (vocals, percussion), Patrick Joliot (drums, percussion), Isabelle Nuffer (vocals, piano, synthesizer), Michelle Puttland (synthesizer), Jean-Marie Sadot (bass)


Michel Altmeyer & Troll
Existing since the early-70's Troll remained pretty much a "second circuit" band throughout their history, although they could arguably be claimed as influential and seminal. Their original album is pretty obscure, but at that time they featured the Genesis inspired guitarist Jean-Pascal Boffo, so it may not have been Zeuhl at all. The only actual Troll recordings I've heard are by later incarnations of the band. Over the years numerous versions of Troll existed, many including musicians from the Magma family. Eventually though, only Michel remained from the original band, and so the album issued by Musea was put out under his name.

TROLL (LP) © 19??

TROLL, VOL. 2 (LP: Musea FGBG 2010) 11/86+12/87 © 1988

Michel Altmayer (drums, keyboards, vocals, bass), + Bernard Paganotti, Francis Moze, Stella Vander, Guy Khalifa, Klaus Blasquiz (all from Magma), Yvon and Alain Guillard (ex-Weidorje), and others.


Although really avid fans of Magma, Archaïa were surprisingly not always Zeuhl per-se, as they had a lot of other influences, and a great deal in the way of their own originality. They had the chants and rhythmic elements down to a tee (similar to a British band of that era: Metabolist), but mixed in all sorts of weird ideas. Their use of electronics lent comparisons to Heldon, Zed, Arachnoid or Eskaton. Their self produced album amounted to "a must" for fans of the more outlandish end of the Zeuhl genre.

ARCHAÏA (LP: Archaïa 77.976) 8/77 © 1977 (CD: Soleil Zeuhl 01) «3 bonus tracks» © 1998

Pierrick Le Bras (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Michel Munier (bass), Philippe Bersan (vocals, keyboards, percussion)


Bedjabetch played a lively jazzy instrumental rock with unique style, notably with hints of ZAO, and more typical French space-prog elements (i.e. Gong, Clearlight, Neo, etc.) comparable to Joël Dugrenot's solo work.



Serge Bringolf & Strave
Reputedly at one time involved in Magma (though I have no firm evidence to support it) drummer Bringolf was as much musically inspired by classic (late-60's/early-70's) Miles Davis. The brassy jazz feel of the debut double was obviously a dedication to Magma, though its focus and funky late-70's Zeuhl edge made it different. Increasingly, with each album, the Strave sound developed. This was in part down to guitarist Alain Eckert (also of Art Zoyd) and a more robust rocky sound. All their releases are pretty obscure.

STRAVE (2LP: Omega Studio OM 67016) © 1980

VISION (LP: Omega Studio OM 67028) 7/81 © 1981

AGBOVILLE (LP: Omega Studio OM 67044) © 1983

LIVE (LP: RBO R 1.383 D) 26/3/82 © 1983

Serge Bringolf (drums), Philippe Geiss (sax), D. Petithory (trumpet), B. Eck (tuba), Alain Eckert (guitar), Claude Boussard (bass), Mano Kuhn (vocals), Alain Lecointe (bass), Emmanuel Séjourné (vibes), Francis Bourrec (sax), Thierry Eckert (bass), etc.