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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Deus Ex Machina - Deus Ex Machina – Stylistically, Deus Ex Machina is very unique and not without their share of quirkiness and idiosyncracies. Some moments remind me of a heavier Gentle Giant, others make me think of both Camel and...  (1994) » Read more

Threshold - Clone – Given that this is a Karl Groom project, and that it's on the GEP label, and that the first tune is called "Freaks," you would be pretty safe to assume this is another tired and unwanted neo-prog...  (1999) » Read more

Frágil - Avenida Larco – Peru’s entry into the symphonic rock genre came in 1981, when Frágil (named for some obscure British prog album) made their recorded debut, now reissued by Rock Symphony. Stylistically,...  (2000) » Read more

Dream Theater - Awake – Judging by the various opinions that I had heard concerning this album, Awake was either the best album released so far this decade, or a worthless piece of tripe. I opted for believing the...  (1995) » Read more

IQ - Frequency – Frequency is an important IQ album, since it’s the first time two new band members were on board since the early 90s. But rather than propel their sound forward, as they did with 1993’s...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues