Exposé Online banner

Zao — Z=7L
(Musea FGBG 4081 AR, 1973/1993, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 1993-12-31:

Z=7L Cover art It appears that Musea is reissuing Zao’s albums at the rate of one per year. This year they present Z=7L, the debut album by this Magma offshoot. While strongly rooted in the zeuhl tradition of Magma, Yochk’o Seffer and Francois Cahen brought forth their unique musical vision in this 1973 release. They wanted to give the band’s music an original color by integrating the most particular of instruments, the human voice. Mauricia Platon’s wordless vocals go beyond Magma and are a perfect accompaniment to Zao’s singular form of jazz. Her voice, Jean-Yves Rigaud’s violin, and Seffer’s soprano sax intertwine through a complex matrix of rhythm and sound. At times the music and singing are dark and aggressive like Magma and later Shub Niggurath. At others it is light and airy. As with most Musea releases there are extensive liner notes in both French and English plus color photos of Zao in concert. And of course the original artwork is faithfully reproduced. All making for a value added package over the original vinyl release. This is an excellent album and the music is as fresh today as it was 20 years ago. At 36 minutes it is all too short. Couldn’t Musea have found some unreleased bonus material to flesh out the CD?

by Peter Thelen, 1994-05-01:

For those not familiar with Zao, they were the first true Magma spin-off band, formed by reedsman Yochk'o Seffer and pianist Francois "Faton" Cahen, at a time when their creative role within that band was diminishing and all the writing duties were being taken over by Christian Vander... another long story for another long day, but as a result, in late 1972, Zao was born. They were joined by drummer Jean-My Truong, ex-of Perception (Seffer's pre-Magma band) and bassist Joel Dugrenot, who had previously played with Alain Markusfeld and others. Jazz vocalist Mauricia Platon was added to that original lineup, and finally violinist Jean-Yves Rigaud rounded the band out as a six piece. This CD reissues Zao's maiden voyage, a trip back into the heyday of French progressive rock. Zao's sound could be described as a mixture of rock and jazz styling, mixed with touches of folk and classical, all with an overt influence from early Magma, naturally, because up until that time Seffer and Cahen were themselves a part of developing that unique style that later was to become "zeuhl." This first album is most unique among the five albums that Zao would produce, mainly due to Platon's crystal clear fluid voice, with incredible range and emotion delivered throughout. There are no lyrics as such, she scats her way (if you could call it that) through the album's six tracks. The sound behind her is a group effort, with saxes often acting as the vocal mimic and counterpoint, or alternately driving the band while electric piano and violin fill out the center strata and the bass and drums stay busy at the bottom. There is plenty of space in the music for improvisation at all levels, and Zao are the masters of that craft, as evidenced on spirited and energetic tracks like "Ronach" and "Atart." It doesn't get much better than this, folks!

Filed under: Reissues , Issue 3 , 1993 releases, 1973 releases

Related artist(s): Yochk'o Seffer, Zao

More info

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Apostolis Anthimos - Back to the North – The longtime guitarist of SBB hasn’t released a lot of solo material, unlike bandmate Jozef Skrzek. In fact, apart from a couple discs in the 90s, this one is only the third. Here he takes a fun and...  (2007) » Read more

Pendragon - The Masquerade Overture – Pendragon's new release, The Masquerade Overture, further proves that this band is one of the better proponents of neo-progressive rock. Not because of any great originality, but because of their...  (1996) » Read more

Pentacle - Le Clef des Songes – This reissue is a long time coming for Musea, as this nifty piece of French history has only seen one Japanese LP reissue since its Arcane release in 1975 (that is barring a French reissue). This is...  (1995) » Read more

Tim Morse - Transformation – Tim Morse is the author of Yesstories, a compilation of interviews from Yes band members past and present. One might therefore expect his debut CD to have Yes’s stamp on it, though this is...  (2007) » Read more

Necropolis - Blueprint for Bedlam – Necro- [<Gr. nekros, a dead body] a combining form meaning death, corpse. Get it? Well, before one writes these guys off as another worthless death metal band, the only thing here that's...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues