A Guide to Zeuhl Music

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Defining zeuhl music can be tricky. “It’s sort of like what the Supreme Court said about pornography,” ventures Steve Feigenbaum, “I know it when I hear it.” As founder of Cuneiform Records, which has perhaps released more zeuhl albums than any other label in America, he ought to know, but how about the rest of us?

Like every volcanic eruption, it all started with Magma. The Parisian band began unleashing its ominous space operas half a century ago. Led by drummer/vocalist Christian Vander, Magma mixed jazz-rock fusion; choral vocals with a whiff of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; scary, Stravinsky-savvy melodic themes; and hammerhead prog riffs bolstered by monster bass lines. In case all of the above produced too conventional a cocktail, Vander provided a kicker by writing Magma’s lyrics entirely in his invented alien language of Kobaiian, which came with its own sci-fi mythology, as detailed on the band’s album covers along with gloriously creepy visuals.