Exposé Online banner

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

by Peter Thelen, 1994-05-01:

Z=7L Cover art 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!

by Henry Schneider, 1993-12-31:

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?

Filed under: Reissues , 1993 releases, 1973 releases

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

More info

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Museo Rosenbach - Zarathustra – Although this Korean release is the fourth reissue of this album, its tenuous distribution still means that this, possibly the greatest Italian symphonic rock album of all time will still remain hard...  (1995) » Read more

Roland Kovac New Set - The Master Said – This band of "unknowns" was actually made up of well-known studio musicians, guitarist Siegfried Schwab from Et Cetera and Embryo, Swiss jazz drummer Charly Antolini, and bassist Franz Loffler. Kovac...  (2003) » Read more

Halloween - Merlin – Halloween are a modern French outfit, who have often been compared to Pulsar. With their third album, Merlin, they live up to that comparison, but the approach here is more assertive and perhaps less...  (1994) » Read more

Darryl Way's Wolf - Canis Lupus, Saturation Point & Night Music – The 70s continue to be a repository of stimulating music that new and old labels don’t stop digging out. Well, this is not all gold that glitters, but several forgotten works resurface, coming...  (2009) » Read more

Jester's Crown - Above the Storm – Forget about the jester, it's not neo-prog or any other sort of music one would normally associate jesters with. JC is a very promising four-piece from the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, playing what...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues