Zaar [France]
Updated 12/13/07

Zaar (06)
Zaar - Pairbon (bass), Michael Hazera (drums), Cosia (hurdy gurdy) and Yan Hazera (guitar)

Picking up where The Zeroes left off, Zaar make a very angular, almost exploratory kind of chamber rock. Carefully composed but full of spirited improvisation, this group also evokes the great experimentalists like the Kronos Quartet or Rova as well as avant maestros Daniel Denis and Roger Trigaux. First album on Cuneiform (2006) is quite good. -- David Marshall

Zaar broke up in late 2006, but two of the members, brothers Michael and Yan Hazera, decided to embark upon a studio project to be titled Akhan Projekt. However, Yan passed away on Nov. 10, 2006 after an "accidental downfall" in Spain. Michael vowed to complete the project in Yan's memory, but the Zaar web site hasn't been updated in about a year (as of this writing on Dec. 13, 2007). A MySpace page to talk about the project was started, but hasn't been updated since February of 2007. So I don't know what the current status of Akhan Projekt is. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Zaar's web site (doesn't work in Firefox but does in Internet Explorer)
Click here for Zaar's page on the Cuneiform Records site
Click here for Michael Hazera's MySpace page including some information about Akhan Projekt

Z-Axis [USA]
Updated 10/13/06

Reality Check (99)
Concatenations (06)
Z-Axis (not in photo order) - Allen Welty-Green (Keyboards, Programming & Percussion), Philip Hart (Acoustic & Electronic Percussion), Jeff Tyson (Bass, Percussion & Devices), Mark Baker (Guitars, E-Bow & Devices)

Z-Axis is an Atlanta band formed in 1997 to perform the music for the multi-media performance event, "Reality Check". This event premiered in 1999, and their debut CD contains music composed for it. Z-Axis has begun recording their second CD, due to be released later in 2003. Z-Axis' live performances frequently incorporate multi-media elements, visual imagery and performance art with free-form improvs in their set alongside the more "composed" pieces. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Z-Axis' web site

Zaboitzeff, Thierry [France]
Updated 8/14/07

Prométhée (84)
Dr Zab and his Robotic Strings Orchestra (92)
Heartbeat (97)
India (98)
Les Chants d' Alice et du Vieux Monde (98)
Miniaturen (99, as Zaboitzeff and Crew)
Nebensonnen (00)
Dr. Zab Vol. 2 The Fantomatick Bands (01)
Missa Furiosa (04, as Zaboitzeff and Crew)
Prométhée (06, re-issued on CD)
Voyage au Centre de la Terre (Scheduled Release Sept. 2007, as Zaboitzeff and Crew)
Irva Lirma (Scheduled Release Sept. 2007)
Backup (Scheduled Release Dec. 2007?, Compilation)
Thierry Zaboitzeff - Photo: E. Braun

Thierry Zaboitzeff is the bassist for Art Zoyd. Dr. Zab ... is mostly done using synths and sequencing, 22 tracks of varying length and styles, but firmly in the neo-classical style. This album is very nice, with a balance between melodics and dark-textures, it's one that tends to grow on you with repeated listenings, but not one that will alienate you on first listen.

Thierry Zaboitzeff was the bassist for Art Zoyd. He quit in 1997 and has since been putting out his own albums, writing scores for dance and theatrical performances and even created a movie soundtrack. CD releases are under his own name, and also as Zaboitzeff and Crew and Dr. Zab. He currently resides in Austria and does most of his work with dance and theater groups there, but would still like to be known as French.

Although I haven't heard any of Zaboitzeff's full CD's, he has several snippets to audition on his web site and MySpace page (see below), and these all sound incredible. I'll need to track down some CD's as soon as possible ... this is my kind of music. I also haven't heard any Art Zoyd, but judging from the descriptions in their entry, I would guess that Art Zoyd's style is very similar to Zaboitzeff's solo recordings. Any of the descriptions under Art Zoyd would fit Zaboitzeff's music about as well. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise, since Zaboitzeff was one of the prime movers behind Art Zoyd.

The last few CD's listed haven't been physically released yet as of this writing (August 2007), but many are available on iTunes and other download sites. Check Zaboitzeff's web site (see link below) for further information. -- Fred Trafton

[See Art Zoyd | Mergenthaler, Andrè]

Click here for Thierry Zaboitzeff's web site
Click here for Thierry Zaboitzeff's MySpace page
Click here to order Prométhée through India or Miniaturen from Orkhestra International
Click here to order Missa Furiosa from Intoxygene
Click here to order Iva Lirma from Margen Records

Zabu [France]

My Coffin's Ready (72), Zabu and Co. (76)

[See Magma]

Zafra [Argentina?]

Zafra (??)

Zak and Boebbel [Belgium]
Updated 12/30/08

Zak & Boebbel Live at Home (70, Cassette)
Rick Boebbel of Zak & Boebbel

[Please note that the following article violates one of the usual GEPR rules ... it was written by the artist himself. But Boebbel provided some nice, concise write-ups for his three interlinked bands, and it's unlikely that I would get info on these in any other way. If you know of him and have an opinion, please send it in and I'll publish that as well. In the meantime, be aware that there will be some built-in bias in the following article. You have been warned. -- Fred Trafton]

Zak & Boebbel were a unique Belgian duo of the early seventies, consisting of Guy Zak (bazak & percussion) and Rick Boebbel (percussion). They could easily be called the progressive yet acoustic predecessors of techno. They played exclusively on selfmade acoustic instruments such as the "bazak" (a kind of contrabas with stretched springs) and the "zebkhak" (a drumset of cardboard soap boxes), of which the sounds were distorted while recording. Their music was an explosion of original rhythms and bizarre bass lines, and full of funny vocal interjections and percussive innovations. They only released one cassette in a very limited edition, with four long tracks: "Dzemlaporc", "Pivoplatat" and "La Bamba 1" and "2".

After unsatisfactory experiments with various guest musicians and a psychedelic rock band called Vetbult, both musicians joined a jazzblues band called Oezem around 1972, respectively on bass and guitar, but about one year later Rick Boebbel decided to start a solo career, while Zak directed Oezem into RIO music and avantgarde chamber rock. After his solo career, Rick Boebbel was a founding member of the jazzrock band Psychotone, and much later he also became famous as an assemblage sculptor under the pseudonym of Ribley! -- Rick Boebbel

Click here for Boebbel's incomprehensible web site under the name of Ribley!

[See Boebbel, Rick | Psychotone ]

Zakkarias [????]

Zakkarias (71)

Twisted psych-prog

Zamla Mammaz Manna [Sweden]

[See Samla Mammas Manna]

Zao [France]
Updated 3/31/07

Z=7L (73)
Osiris (75)
Shekina (75)
Kawana (77)
Typareth (77)
Akhenaton (94)
Zao - Live! (04, Recorded in 1976)
Zao in Tokyo (07, Recorded in 2004)
Zao was started by Yochk'o "Jeff" Seffer (saxes) and Francois "Faton" Cahen (keyboards), both ex-members of an early lineup of Magma. The first lineup also featured Jean-My Truong (drums) and Joël Dugrenot (bass), both who would remain long term members of the band, and Mauricia Platon on vocals. The first album is very much in the Magma vein, altough only utilizing the jazzier aspects of the Magma sound (as might be expected with only Seffer and Cahen). Subsequent albums became increasingly fusion oriented, while not losing the strong zeuhl influence, and the hungarian folk influence from Seffer. Later lineups feature Didier Lockwood (violin), Gerard Prevost (bass). Shekina is interesting as it features a full string quartet on some of the tracks. After Kawana (which may well be the strongest album), Seffer quit to go solo, Truong and Lockwood left to form Surya, leaving Cahen to carry on with new recruits, thus the last album Typareth is generally considered their only stinker.

Zao is a Magma offshoot, thus the music on Kawana is similar, though more fusion oriented. If you are interested in the Magma / zuehl school, but are concerned about the singing, Zao and Weidorje would be good places to start. The explore the fusion ideas of Magma yet don't have the vocal language developed in Magma by drummer Christian Vander. To me, Zao would be just as comfortable next to Weather Report as they would Magma. Didier Lockwood is ever present with his excellent violin playing. Yochk'o Seffer is generous with his soprano sax. These two guys trade licks and solos over some nice fusion grooves. Francois Cahen's synth work sometimes reminds me of Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, particularly on the opening track, "Natura." If you like vocals, check out Magma, but if you prefer instrumental work, like me, then you'll want to hear this fine example of zuehl fusion. Note that there is a bit of vocals on the last cut, but there is no singing or words. -- Mike Taylor

Zao typifies the progressive fusion approach of the French zeuhl scene. Somewhat related to Magma and other artists of the early seventies in France, Zao released five or so albums. Kawana features a tight, busy rhythm section, not unlike Magma but with a jazzier feel, coupled with violin, keys and guitar make this instrumental offering a slow but steady grower. At first listen I wasn't impressed but many listens later I've come to greatly appreciate their proficiency. Fans of Arti + Mestieri, Weidorje, Xaal, Univers Zero and of course Magma should check this out.
Shekina was an experiment in music styles by the progressive jazz fusion band Zao. Back in 1975 they wanted to combine the experimental jazz fusion of Zao with a string quartet, Le Quatuor Margand, to create a synthesis between European jazz and pseudo-classical music. The resulting LP, Shekina, is now available on CD in Musea's catalog of reissues. Over the course of the five tracks on this CD you experience a juxtaposition of Le Quatuor Margand's chamber music against Zao's complex jazz instrumentation. Le Quatuor Margand were excellent sight readers and they had to work extremely hard to play with Yochk'o Seffer's minimal musical notation. The resulting music is very tight complex arrangements with Magma and Soft Machine (circa Third) styling. At the time of this recording Zao consisted of Yochk'o Seffer (saxophones, clarinets, and vocals), Francois "Faton" Cahen (keyboards), Gerard Prevost (electric bass), Jean-My Truong (drums), and Pierre "Ty Boum" Guignon (percussion). Le Quatuor Margand was Michele Margand (violin), Marie-Francoise Viaud (violin), Francoise Douchet (viola), and Claudine Lassere (cello). The quartet later went on to form Seffer's Neffesh Music. The music is as fresh today as it was in 1975 and no doubt influenced bands like Art Zoyd, Third Ear Band, and Univers Zero. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Magma spin-off. I heard one track from Z=7L once. Strange, very intense operatic female vocals. It has haunted me to this very day, and impressed me much more than some of the other "zeuhl" bands I've heard (like Eskaton). I'd very much like to hear the whole album someday.

I also heard a snippet from a much later album, Typareth I think. Almost straght-ahead jazz, not fusion. Very undistinguished and mediocre when compared with that first album. -- Mike Ohman

In 2004, a re-banded Zao played a concert in Tokyo, which was captured (on two separate dates) and released in 2007 as Zao in Tokyo. The new band features original/past members Yochk'o Seffer (sax and tárogató, a Hungarian woodwind similar to a sax), Francois "Faton" Cahen (piano & Fender Rhodes) and Gérard Prévost (electric bass). Joining them is a great singer who reminds me of Stella Vander singing wordless Magma-like "operatic scat" named Cynthia Saint-Ville, plus Françoise Causse on drums and KBB leader Akihisa Tsuboy on violin.

The sound quality on Zao in Tokyo is excellent, and for my tastes, the music is the most interesting I've heard from Zao since their early days. Very jazzy, but definitely with that zeuhl wierdness on top of it, which is accentuated by Saint-Ville's vocals. I like it much better than, for instance, Kawana, though that's not a bad album in its own right. But this is better. If you're a fan of older Zao or zeuhl in general, pick this one up, I don't think you'll be disappointed. -- Fred Trafton

[See Cahen, Francois | Dugrenot, Joël | Heldon | KBB | Magma | Seffer, Yochk'o]

Zappa, Frank [USA]
Updated 10/31/06

Freak Out (66)
Absolutely Free (67)
Lumpy Gravy (67)
We're Only In It For The Money (68)
Cruising with Ruben & The Jets (68)
Uncle Meat (69)
Mothermania (69)
Hot Rats (69)
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (70)
Weasels Ripped My Flesh (70)
Chunga's Revenge (70)
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (70)
Live At Fillmore East (71)
200 Motels (71)
Just Another Band From L.A. (72)
Waka/Jawaka (72)
The Grand Wazoo (72)
Over-Nite Sensation (73)
Apostrophe(') (74)
Roxy & Elsewhere (74)
One Size Fits All (75)
Bongo Fury (75)
Zoot Allures (76)
Zappa In New York (78)
Studio Tan (78)
Sleep Dirt (79)
Sheik Yerbouti (79)
Orchestral Favorites (79)
Joe's Garage Act I (79)
Joe's Garage Acts II and III (79)
Tinseltown Rebellion (81)
Shut Up n' Play Yer Guitar (81)
Shut Up n' Play Yer Guitar Some More (81)
You Are What You Is (81)
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (82)
Shut Up n' Play Yer Guitar (The Box Set) (82, Compilation) The Man From Utopia (83)
Baby Snakes (83)
London Symphony Orchestra Vol.1 (83)
The Perfect Stranger (84)
Them Or Us (84)
Thing-Fish (84)
Francesco Zappa (84)
True Glove (84) [This title does not appear on the official discography]
The Old Masters, Box I (85)
Frank Zappa Meets Mothers Of Prevention (85)
Does Humor Belong In Music? (86)
The Old Masters, Box II (86)
Jazz From Hell (86)
London Symphony Orchestra Vol.2 (87)
Joe's Garage Acts I, II and III (87?, Compilation)
The Old Masters, Box III (87)
Guitar (88)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol.I (88)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, The Helsinki Tapes, Vol.II (88)
Broadway The Hard Way (88)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.III (89)
The Supplement Tape (90) [This title does not appear on the official discography]
The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (91)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.IV (91)
Make A Jazz Noise Here (91)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.V (92)
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.VI (92)
Playground Psychotics (92)
Ahead Of Their Time (93)
The Yellow Shark (93)
Civilization Phaze III (94)
London Symphony Orchestra, Volumes I & II (95, Compilation)
The Lost Episodes (96)
Läther (96)
Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute (96)
Have I Offended Someone? (97)
Mystery Disc (98)
EIHN (Everything Is Healing Nicely) (99)
FZ:OZ (02)
Halloween (03)
Joe's Corsage (04)
Joe's Domage (04)
Frank Zappa

There's little point in denying that Zappa is progressive: from the outset his albums transcended the norms of music, and at the same time made fun of them too. He's used irregular instrumentation, odd time signatures, rapid changes in style, tempo, and dynamics as an integral part of his music. Whether you like it or not depends. His style varies considerably from one album to the next, so where does one unfamiliar with his stuff begin? For fans of standard progressive rock, I would recommend any of these six albums, mostly because they emphasize the instrumental side of his pallette: Sleep Dirt (The original LP, the CD has vocals added), Zoot Allures, You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.2, Jazz From Hell, Overnight Sensation/Apostrophe (2 on 1 CD), or from the early years, Hot Rats. Shut Up n'Play yer Guitar is an interesting one (originally on three LPs, now on 2CD) made up entirely of splices of guitar solos from his live shows. Uncle Meat is an early soundtrack of some type, which contains much of his best early work, but may not be a good starting point for the uninitiated. Broadway The Hard Way is excellent, and features some sharp-tongued wit from the 1988 political open season.

Freak Out! is a very important album, as it's the first real attempt at experimental music in a rock context. "Help, I'm A Rock" and "The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet" are landmarks, and sound odd even today. "Trouble Every Day" on the other hand sounds mundane today, but as one of the most vehement political statements of its time, it was revolutionary. That's disc two of the LP. Disc one consists of pop-rock, some interesting, mostly not. Uncle Meat is simply amazing, mixing jazz, modern classical, electronics and rock in a daring way never tried before. If this isn't prog, I don't know what is. Lots of woodwinds (saxes, clarinets, bassoons), odd keyboards (harpsichords, celeste, electronic organs) and percussion (vibes, xylophones, marimba) make this fascinating to listen to. Full of great solos (mostly Zappa's guitar) and astoundingly complex counter-melodies and such. Though there are vocals on the album, they are treated as just another instrument, given the silliest possible lyrics to sing. Overnite Sensation and Apostrophe are attempts to commercialize the approach, with some really dumb lyrics, contrived vehicles for a Zappa guitar solo, and the odd xylophone breaking the monotony. They're not bad albums, but they're far from his best work, he's just going through the motions. Studio Tan is much improved, back to the more complex style of Uncle Meat, yet including full string and horn sections along with Zappa's guitar and Ruth Underwood's fantastic percussion work. The sidelong "Greggery Peccary" includes some annoying narration by Zappa (please Frank, leave the conceptualizing to those arty and pretentious enough to pull it off! :) ), but about two-thirds of the way through, there is a wonderful section with pounding piano and blasting horns. As for Ruth Underwood's dizzying marimba performance on "Redunzl", I love it! Them Or Us is pretty much a typical Zappa album: some moments inspired and brilliant ("Marque-Son's Chicken", "Sinister Footwear II"), others moronic and terrible ("Stevie's Spanking", "In France"). Jazz From Hell is an album of wacked-out sampling keyboard music. Perhaps using Milton Babbitt as his muse, Zappa takes the idea of music beyond the limits of human perception, and takes it into the stratosphere. By using computerized keyboards, he is able to create music of such complexity the likes of you'd never believe was possible. The one exception is the beautiful "St. Etienne", a non-electronic number recorded live which is the vehicle for one of Zappa's best guitar solos. And speaking of "live", I must mention You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2--The Helsinki Concert, an outstanding live album featuring some of Zappa's most talented cohorts: Chester Thompson, George Duke, Ruth Underwood. -- Mike Ohman
[See Ant-Bee | Duke, George | Mats and Morgan | Preston, Don | Sugarcane Harris | UK]

Click here for the official Frank Zappa web site

Zaragon [Denmark]

No Return (84)

The core of Zaragon joined forces in 1979. By the time of this album, Zaragon were a five-piece of Ralph Hoel (keyboards), Martin Nielsen (vocals), Finn Jansen (guitars, backing vocals), Bjørn Hoel (drums) and Jim Andersen (bass). The original PMP Records LP release of No Return was comprised of five songs, ranging from from the 2:24 minutes of the closing "Exit" to "Thoughts" and "No Return," each about 12 minutes in length. Although Zaragon's symphonic style can compare in general terms to Genesis circa Wind and Wuthering, this Danish band has more similarities to German symphonic bands such as Amenophis and Novalis. The long songs take most of the right turns, electric guitars and sweepng synths soaring to progressively grander heights in true symphonic style. Although Ad Perpetuam Memoriam (the label that reissued the CD) suggest the English vocals are comparable to prime Kansas, I think Nielsen comes no where close to the vocal abilities of Steve Walsh. He does sing with a trace of accent, which doesn't bother me, but doesn't have quite the powerful delivery of Walsh. The bass and drumming are basic and nothing to write home about. The CD release comes with a seven minute bonus track, very similar in style except the synths are digital and the guitar has more "crunch," giving them a neo-proggish sound. Overall, while not uninteresting, Zaragon did nothing special to distingish themselves from the myriad symphonic bands that preceded them. -- Mike Taylor

Zarathustra [Germany]
Updated 3/5/01

Zarathustra (71)
Pretty obscure German outfit, originally released an LP in 1971 which was re-issued on CD in 1995 by Second Battle. In a nutshell, what we have here is a German poor man's Uriah Heep (can such a thing exist??). First, the lineup and track listing: Ernst Herzner, lead vocals; Wolfgang Reimer, guitar and background vocals; Michael Just, bass and vocals; Klaus Werner, organ; and Wolfgang Behrmann, drums. Track listing: Eternal Light 5:39, Mr. Joker 3:42, Past Time 9:54, Nightmare 5:34, Sad Woman 3:35, Ormuzd 7:27.

Lots of Ken Hensley-ish heavy Hammond organ, those piercing, annoying Uriah Heep-ish background vocals, and songs which could well have been composed by Mr. Hensley himself; that is, plodding, pedestrian, bombastic and for the most part downright sleep-inducing. What's more, the guitarist is quite possibly even worse than Mick Box! The singer tries hard to sound like John Lawton and I must admit he doesn't do a bad job at all; he has very little of a German accent that jumps out only on a few words. If you liked stuff like Demons & Wizards, Magician's Birthday, and Firely there's probably no reason you won't like this.

For me there were two highlights on this CD that momentarily transcended the Uriah Heep trip (OK, so I'm not a Uriah Heep fan! What was your first clue?). There's a minor-keyed, reverbed organ break on "Past Time" that has that quintessentially gloomy German feel to it that we all know and love, though influence-wise it seems clearly a nod to Purple's "Child in Time". Thank God the singer is no Ian Gillan! By far the coolest part of the CD up to that point, the guitarist actually finds an interesting little riff to play here that sticks in your head.

The next song, "Nightmare", starts off as more of the same - Uriah Heep meets Bloodrock? Again, though, there's a neat quieter break in the middle that brings to mind Eloy in their Inside or Floating period with an excellent understated guitar phrase and some very German-sounding notes played (by what??) with extreme reverb. The funny thing is that even in these moments you can tell they're still trying to be as Heep-like as possible!

If you're familiar with Uriah Heep and like them, I'd say give this one a go; if you're not a fan, don't. Whatever the case, this one just barely deserves to come in under the label "progressive". - Alex Davis

Zartong [Armenia]

Zartong (79)

Symphonic prog with Middle Eastern influences. -- Mike Ohman

Zauber [Italy]

Il Sogno (78), Est (91), Phoenix (92)

Another solid Italian band. Nothing very fantastic, but if you like the genre, you should like this.

The first album Il Sogno is pretty good musically, leaning on Italian folk and rock, with nice instrumentation and female vocals. Real nice stuff. Only problem is I think it was transferred to CD from an LP, there's some pops and clicks to be heard. Haven't heard the two new ones.

I bought Est rather on a whim and regretted it. Very poppy and lightweight. Some of it seems to be live but that doesn't save it. I'd avoid it if I were you. People seem to think the first album was OK.

Zauner, Stefan [Germany]

Narziss (76), Prism and Views (78)

Was in Amon Düül II during their salad years, but at least Prism and Views is said to be more symphonic oriented.

[See Amon Düül II]

Zazen [USA]

Mystery School (91)

Mystery School is an excellent melodic fusion album, featuring Andy West on bass (Dixie Dregs), Joaquin Lievano on guitar, and Steve Kaplan on synthesizers, plus two percussionists. Musically, it's not to edgy, not too jazzy, with lots of power, melody and soloing, and perhaps a slight new-agey feel on some cuts. Don't be frightened away, this is excellent stuff, everything you might expect from this lineup.

Trio led by Joaquin Leviano on guitar. Not too dissimilar to Leviano's solo work or to Jean-Luc Ponty's later works. Fusion bordering on new age, but definitely what I like to hear from this genre when I listen. During a discussion on mention was made that Zazen released several earlier works on cassette. I doubt that any are to be found anymore, most certainly not outside of the SF Bay area.

[See Dixie Dregs, The | Lievano, Joaquin]

Zazu [USA]

Zazu (75)

One-shot band who released this monster heavy prog-rock gem on the Wooden Nickel label (Styx's first label) in 1975 to general indifference. Their singer does sound like Styx's Dennis DeYoung but their music is nothing like Styx. heavy prog guitar riffs, wild keys and complex arrangements. The standout track is the incredible 10 minute "Ittsanottasonata, But It's Close" (you get the picture...). If you like your prog with a heavy edge is is a must. -- Juan Joy

Zebra [Spain]

Zebra (76)


ZED [France]
Updated 7/11/03

Visions of Dune (79)
An interesting project by French synthesist and composer Bernard Szajner. A kind of electronic zeuhl piece, a little like Heldon / T Dream but with its own angle. The music is inspired by Frank Herberts sci-fi classic Dune and includes many luminaries of the French zeuhl/electronica scene. Klaus Blasquiz of Magma contributes one of his typical chants/rants but fed through an electronic effect on "Ibad." The closest comparison has to be Heldon though with layers upon layers of synth, winsome guitars, strange guttural murmers and sequencers everywhere. Standout track has to be "Harkonnen" a dark pulsating piece with Magma-esque distorted bass and Frippian-guitars. Visions of Dune is a nice little obscurity that will appeal greatly to fans of the French electronicists but does get a little over-indulgent at times. Yet the good tracks really stand out. Released on the Initial Recording Company (IRC 003) and each LP was individually numbered. -- David Abel

Zello [Sweden]
Updated 5/8/02

Zello (95)
Quodlibet (99)
Zello - Anders Altzarfeldt, Svetlan Raket, P-O Saether, Lennart Glenberg, Dan Lindell and Mats Olsson.

Echoes of Kansas, Kaipa and maybe even UK can be heard in Quodlibet (Musea FGBG 4278.AR), but Zello still manage to deliver a rocking symphonic album that sounds surprisingly fresh. Having ground their axes into dust, Zello dance to the tune of an expertly-played electric violin and the accompaniment of two stacks of mainly vintage keyboards. The music has high-energy bombast that can sound heavy without being metallic, the lengthy instrumental sections are dominated by harmonised or unison violin/Moog leads and interplay with rumbling Hammond, and the band know how to write memorable vocal melodies, be it in the single-ready "I Will Be the Wind" or the rambling, 25-minute "Zwecia". Three under-a-minute instrumentals based on Swedish folk themes punctuate the four main tracks, and the folk influence seeps through on many of these as well, allowing the music same kind of character that Kaipa had. Vocalist P-O Saether sounds like Steve Walsh with his nose clogged and a cheese grater stuck halfway down his throat, which may or may not alienate you (quite acceptable IMO). While Quodlibet seems to lack the final boost to lift it to classic category, it shows you can make intense and evocative music that draws on 1970's progressive vocabulary without simply recycling the same old cliches. -- Kai Karmanheimo

Zello is an interesting little Sweden neo-proggy band. It has always been called "A Swedish answer to Kansas", and I think I can agree - mostly of the tunes on the album I have (Quodlibet) are simple Kansas-violin / keyboard driven music (with no guitar this time - and that's the only one difference from Kansas in general), mostly with hard and pop intonations. It seems that UK and Jethro Tull also were big influences on Zello. Quodlibet is their second album and it has five songs on it with three short instrumentals (which really are the re-work of old Sweden traditional tunes). The best on here is "I Will Be The Wind" with its catchy tune and cool violin. 25-minute "Zwecia" is a very strange song-sometimes it is boring, sometimes it is gorgeous and sometimes it is just awful.

Other songs are pretty well perfomed, but, anyway they are still Kansas imitations. But as much as I hate Kansas, I'd say that Zello are very good sometimes (but awful in other times - as most of Kansas, actually). My advice to those guys is just to be a little more original - and they will get their sound. Still, if you are a Kansas fan, Quodlibet is a must for you. -- Oleg Sobolev

Click here for Zello's web site

Zelta Zonk [Germany]
Updated 11/18/07

Studio (07, Burned-on-demand CDR, Rec. ~1976)
When I get a promo of an unknown band that's burned onto a CDR with an insert printed on a home inkjet printer, the quality could be anything from horrific to perfection. While I wouldn't call Zelta Zonk's studio album recorded in the mid-'70's "horrific", I would have to say it's what you might expect a progressively-leaning mid-'70's garage band to sound like if they recorded their music in a home studio. The drums are muddy, the vocals are distorted, the synths are "dry" (run directly into the mixing board with no reverb), the timing is all a bit on the loose side and the tuning is of the "good enough for rock'n'roll" variety. It sounds as if it was all recorded in one take with everyone playing together.

Well, so much for the recording quality. How about the music? Pretty good for a mid-'70's garage band. The "prog" content is mostly in the analog synthesizer sounds, some pretty cool sounding and others laughable by modern standards. The keyboardist also plays a combo organ and some sort of electronic piano/harpsichord sounding machine. The guitarist is trying hard, but usually sounds more like some late '60's psychedelic guitarist than prog. Still, there are some nice moments, especially some of the "planned solos" where guitar and electronic piano or synth double each other. The drummer's trying hard too, but ... well, it feels like everyone is overreaching their abilities a bit. The compositions are OK, but tend to ramble quite a bit with long stretches for solos that don't quite seem to be sure where they're going, particularly the keyboard solos. Of course, that was par for the course in those days, but this is a prime example of why nobody does this sort of thing any more nowadays. For the record, the songs seem to get better as the album progresses ... or maybe I'm just getting used to the sound? No, it definitely gets better. By the end of the album, they're starting to sound like a low-budget version of Focus. Recording quality still leaves much to be desired, though.

All the negative commentary aside, there were parts of Zelta Zonk's studio album that made me smile and reminded me of the days when I was in my own garage band trying hard to play progressive rock and overreaching our abilities. I think my band did a better job with our recording than Zelta Zonk, but I'm well aware that I'm prejudiced in this regard. You might not agree at all. While I doubt that Zelta Zonk will become your next favorite band, you might have some fun listening to it, as I did. Go to their web site (link below) and find out the details about how to get a copy for your own enjoyment. At least you can't say it's pre-packaged corporate-mandated made-for-airplay cookie-cutter music. These folks were obviously doing what they wanted to do, and hence nobody ever heard of them. That's also par for the course. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Zelta Zonk's web site

Zen Rock and Roll [USA]
Updated 5/4/11

End of the Age (02)
The Birthright Circle (04)
Undone (11)
Zen Rock and Roll's Jonathan Saunders

Original entry 12/31/10:
Zen Rock and Roll is Jonathan Saunders from Memphis, Tennessee, who plays all instruments and sings. I picked up both Zen Rock and Roll albums on a Christmas sale from ProgRock Records, and though I had never heard of them, the ProgRock description sounded interesting. This was one of the best accidental discoveries I ever made ... Zen Rock and Roll is excellent, both albums.

The albums are heavy on keyboards, including the obligatory synths, organ and Mellotron, but there's also very good guitar and bass work here, and though the drums sound like they're samples, they are arranged artfully and carefully enough that you won't even notice at first they're not real drums. Looking at reviews on other web sites, one of them mentioned that this is instrumental music, which is not true. Saunders' vocals abound, and are quite good both vocally and lyrically. The lyrics seem to have some vague Christian leanings (the first song on End of the Age, in fact, is sung in Latin, and may be liturgical, though I'm not sure of that), though they're not preachy, so the subject matter didn't bother me in the least.

Musically, I've seen comparisons in other reviews to early Yes, which isn't a bad jumping-off point for a description, though this isn't nearly as similar as, say, Starcastle or even Glass Hammer. I'd rather just say it's upbeat symphonic prog, not "challenging" in style at all, at least to my ears. This would have been popular in the '70's. In fact, there's a bit of "pop" edge to the music, like a more pastoral Styx, a less metallic Queen or a less Beatlesish Klaatu. Don't take these "pop" comparisons as a negative ... these two albums can only be categorized as symphonic prog, and a very good example at that. I thoroughly enjoyed them and would highly recommend them to anyone who doesn't need their prog to be "difficult".

Zen Rock and Roll's web site has vanished, though Saunders still maintains a presence on the web via his MySpace page [since vanished -Ed.]. Even this is getting pretty stale, so I suspect that Saunders has moved on to other pursuits and doesn't seem to be terribly active musically at the moment, at least not with this musical persona. ProgRock still lists both albums as available for only $9.95 each, or you can download them from Mindawn (see and links above). If you're a symphonic prog fan, give Zen Rock and Roll a try, I found both albums to be highly enjoyable. -- Fred Trafton

Update 5/4/11:
It hasn't been so long since I added the above entry, and noted that Jonathan Saunders no longer had much of a web presence. I assumed he had moved on to other pursuits, but apparently it has been health issues that prevented him from creating new music. My impression is that these are now resolved, at least enough for Saunders to complete a new Zen Rock and Roll album, released yesterday, and entitled Undone.

To my ears, this album is more symphonic prog-pop than the previous albums, which while having some pop aspects, were really more symphonic prog. By this I mean there are standard song structures with very heavy emphasis on the lyrical content. In some ways it recalls Thomas Dolby's early work, with vocals and synthesizers, including innovative synth sounds.

The exception to this is the nearly 15-minute instrumental epic "Concerto for the Original Sinners". This piece is mostly synth-orchestra, complete with string machines and overdubbed faux-brass and woodwind sections, but also with some Queen-like guitar multitracking. It's an ambitions piece that nearly lives up to its ambition, despite a couple of sections that get dull due to maybe one too many variations on the theme before moving on. Still, not bad.

For my taste, I liked End of the Age and The Birthright Circle more than Undone, though Undone certainly has its moments. I found the lyrics to be a bit depressing, which felt strange juxtaposed against the sunny, bouncy, almost dance-able music. But you might not be bothered by this. So head over to the Zen Rock and Roll's web site (link below) to check out some samples and decide for yourself. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Zen Rock and Roll's web site
Click here for the Zen Rock and Roll Facebook page (breaks out of GEPR frames)
Click here to order all Zen Rock and Roll titles from ProgRock Records

Zenit [Switzerland]
Updated 12/31/10

Pavritti (01)
Surrender (06)
Zenit - Gigio Pedruzzi (Drums), Frank Di Sessa (Guitars), Lorenzo Sonognini (Voices), Andy Thommen (Bass Guitars), Ivo Bernasconi (Keyboards)

Original entry, 7/11/01:
Zenit is a southern Swiss band, an offshoot of Clepsydra and with close ties to Shakary. Their vocalist sings in both Italian and English on their debut album, Pavritti.

Pavritti starts off with a string synth part that sounds remarkably like UK's "In The Dead of Night", but when the guitar joins in, the rhythm becomes very confusing ... I've listened to it half a dozen times now, and it sounds as if the synth and guitar/drums parts are two different songs that happen to be in the same key. This annoyed me the first few times I listened to it, but even though I still can't force it to make sense to me, I've begun to like it. It's very different sounding.

The next few songs I find a bit disappointing. The musicianship and studio work are fantastic throughout the album, but the first few songs (aside from the first cut) are more in the musical neighborhood of Alan Parson's Project circa Eye in the Sky or maybe even more like Toto or Steely Dan. In other words, good music, good musicianship and good production quality, but not really what I would call Progressive.

However, you'll want to ride out the first part of the album to get to the last half. The songs definitely become more progressive as the album continues, oddly at about the time the lyrics switch from Italian to English. Begining with Track 7, "Fragile", the songs begin to sound more progressive. "Fragile" sounds a lot like (no, not Yes) Genesis, particularly with the Phil Collins-like vocals.

"Alone" is a nice solo acoustic guitar piece, but the best of the album is definitely its namesake, the 13:47 "Pavritti". Vocals are in English, with some great almost ELPish organ work, more of the Phil Collins-like vocals, and some very Tony Banksish synth soloing. The piece ends with some raucus (drunken?) singing around a campfire. It's not the most original thing I've ever heard, but it's excellent work, and this piece alone puts Zenit's debut on my "recommended" list. -- Fred Trafton

[See Clepsydra | Shakary]

Click here for Zenit's web site

Zepeda, Antonio [Mexico]
Updated 4/18/05

Templo Mayor (82)
Ecomusica (84)
El Rostro de La Muerte Entre Los Nahuas (84)
Astracarnaval (85)
A La Izquierda Del Colibri (86, w/ Jorge Reyes)
La Region del Misterio (87)
Corazon del Sol (87)
Retorno a Aztlan (89)
Paisajes (93)
Amerinida (94)
Espejo de La Noche (94)
Brujos del Aquatierra (97)
Zepeda is a mexican electronic musician in the space realm, who also uses prehispanic instruments and percussion. Comparable to people like Luis Perez, Jorge Reyes, like that, sort of new agey. Templo Mayor is a double.
Regarding A La Izquierda Del Colibri:
Mexican Space Music at its best, with influences from Prehispanic music. He's got a zillion albums, both solo and with other artists - I've only heard a few. The best of those was Templo Mayor, which I'd recommend to all fans of the space genre.
[See Reyes, Jorge]

Click here for an Antonio Zepeda web page

Zerfas [USA]

Zerfas (73)

Beatles-influenced psych-prog. -- Mike Ohman

000 [France]
a.k.a. Zero Zero Zero or Triple Zero
Updated 5/7/03

Cryptosensus (00)
Chamber drum 'n'base? Progressive rave? Present or Shub Niggurath go tekkno? Choose what you like. I hope that 000 wouldn't be chosen to represent the further trends within progressive musics. But it seems that was rave club movement in France potent enough to make Franck Fromy [of Shub Niggurath]'s mind compelled to try a "new" (perhaps even predictable) step towards a better or expanded sales of his music, for Cryptosensus certainly can not be treated as experimental. It is light years away from those modern electronics which utilizes as a source the bottomless reservoirs of progressive and experimental musics, such as Squarepusher, and is only wedding Shub Niggurathian broodings with sylicon rhythmics of the popular electronica. Instead, this chamber drum'n'base sounds very unintriguing, if quite logical and is far from the meaning of the words "odd", "weird" or "strange". -- Nenad Kobal
[See Shub Niggurath]

Zeus [Germany]
Updated 7/11/03

Europium (79)
Ex-Birth Control keyboardist Zeus B. Held playing keyboard-led prog. Europium has a very modern sound typical of much late seventies prog. The production sounding so modern can come across as a bit soulless at times. There is undoubtedly some good playing on this LP, Can's Jaki Liebzeit appears on a couple of tracks. Side Two contains a 21-minute "Europium Suite" (every self-respecting prog artist had to have a "suite" it was de rigeur in the 70's) while Side One has 8 short pieces in the 2-4 minute range. The short tracks are actually the most impressive. "Mechanical Choir" is almost disco, in a Kraftwerk type of way. (Zeus produced many 80's disco acts). Other tracks including the suite are let down by uninspired songwriting. Overall the music has quite an original feel and I'm struggling to find any comparisions. There are elements of Triumvirat, Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze as well as Giorgio Moroder and The Human League. There are certainly more LP's by Zeus, perhaps the earlier material might hold more promise, I don't know. Listen to before buying!! -- David Abel
[See Birth Control | Can]

Ziff [Germany]
Updated 11/16/01

Stories (95)
Sanctuary (97)
I've heard Stories and it is bad, uninspired and boring neo-prog. -- Sasha Lindskog

Zingaia [USA]
Updated 10/31/05

Beneath the Veil (97)
Dancers of Twilight (00)
Soles on Earth (04)
I've wanted to include Zingaia in the GEPR for a long time. I'm not confused ... Zingaia can't really be called a "prog band". They are new-age, and have been compared to other innovative but not really prog bands like Enigma and Delerium (which one day will have their own GEPR entries as well). The core of the band is husband and wife team Michael and Katlyn Breene; he's a musician with lots of studio experience and she's an artist, sculptor, dancer and stage magician. She's obviously also into metaphysical stuff, which is woven deeply into Zingaia's music. She came up with the name in a dream ... the Zingari are gypsies and troubadours from ancient Greece and Gaia is a goddess of the earth.

From my point of view, I'd almost have to invent a new category for bands like this (I'm including Enigma and Delerium as well). Perhaps "progressive new-age"? I guess the main reason for wanting to label them "progressive" is that these bands all have an appeal to those in an "altered state of conciousness". And I don't (necessarily) mean drug-induced, either. The altered state might also be caused by meditation, exercise or sexual arousal. Zingaia's first album Beneath the Veil is a perfect example ... though there's nothing particularly startling happening in a Henry Cow or ELP sense, this is an innovative album in its own right. This is a very sexual album, and I don't mean "baby baby let's do the nasty". This is about sex as a religious experience, slow, ecstatic and bringing both participants to new levels of consciousness through ecstasy. The vibe of the music has a lot of Flying Teapot through You-era Gong stylings, particularly the bass lines that march through circles of ascending progressions with Tim Blake-like synth swoops and sequences and Katlyn's breathy crooning, not unlike Gilli Smyth, entreating the listener to "be the key ... open me" or simply whispering "ecstasies". Their label describes it as "dancable", which I suppose it is if you're dancing "the dance of the seven veils", because it certainly wouldn't appeal to coked-up youngsters dancing into the wee hours at the local trendy club. If you're a fan of old, spacey Gong or Tangerine Dream, then this album has a lot to recommend it. And if you're with the right lady, you may me able to stimulate more than just your ears while listening to this album. (Have you guessed yet that this is my wife's album? Still, my wife thinks the only thing sexier than this album is Magma's Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy, so I have a pretty cool wife.) I like Zingaia's take on new-age, with lots of stimulating touches from the prog world.

I don't have their second album, Dancers of Twilight, though judging from the MP3 clips on their web site, this album is a lot more standard new-age fare, sounding like more recent Tangerine Dream offerings, though it still has a mystical feel and lots of ethnic drumming, supplied by new band member Abbi Spinner. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Zingaia's page on the Sequoia Records web site

Zingale [Israel]
Updated 10/30/08

Peace (77)
A Party Inside (96)
The Bright Side (08)

Peace is near the top of my list for re-issue of the year. Zingale were an Israeli band who recorded one album (nine tracks) and five singles in the early to mid-seventies. All are contained on this 67 minute disk. The CD is simply breathtaking. Zingale are influenced by the Canterbury scene however it does not begin and end there. Rather that is their launching point. Start with The Rotter's Club and proceed onward. Zingale effectively blend violin, keys, and guitar into their own unique belnd. At times reminding one of Hatfield and yet other times conjuring up some of the best of Yes or the song "Ile de Fievre" by Shylock. The majority of the songs are in English and with a few of their earlier tracks in Hebrew. To me the vocals were perhaps the weakest aspect of the band. They seem to really blend into the music than to stand out. However with Zingale the key really is the music. Not real great at writing reviews but I cannot recommend this strongly enough especially if you enjoy the Canterbury scene or some of the earlier psychedelic prog.

This is the only Israeli prog rock group I know of, and I think it's good. Zingale (pronounced TSINGALEH) means a grass joint in Hebrew (or maybe Arabic), but the band, according to the CD booklet claims that the name is after the word "sing." The band is consisted of 7 (or maybe 8) players, and the play pretty strong stuff which can be compared to Yes or Gentle Giant at their best! They sing in English, the vocals sound a bit like Beatles harmonies, but the vocal melodies sound very much like Yes melodies. They are more violin oriented (which means you won't get too much guitar solos, but rather lots of great Gentle Giant's violin). They've also got a good drummer and a great bass player. Oh, the keyboards are also Gentle Giantish. The music itself varies from many types of prog rock, and I can't really define it. It is a sort of a concept album, all the songs are connected and all that, and one song really links to the next one. The album was released in 1977 in Israel in a very limited edition.
Zingale were the only Israeli progressive band that I know of. The other Israeli bands (Churchills and related) were psychedelic bands. Zingale were a six piece band with strong keyboard and violin presence. The bassist is pretty tasteful but the drumming is not overly complex. Some comparisons could the Canterbury scene (e.g., Caravan circa For Girls Who Grow Plump ...) but they have a fairly individual sound which I can only assume is due in part to some Israeli cultural influences. The CD reissue (limited to 750 copies) contains several songs that were issues as singles before the release of the LP. While the LP songs are sung in English the "singles" were sung in their native tongue. Many of the songs are instrumental and flow one into another, though individual songs may run anywhere from 4-7 minutes. While not as good as other Canterbury-influenced bands such as Kultivator, Zingale are certainly a worthwhile band to audition. -- Mike Taylor
News 6/1/08 (first update since 12/28/01 when the band photo was added):
Ephraim Barak (guitar/vocals) and Udi Tamir (bass) were two of the original members of Zingale, and they recently ran into each other and decided to try to make music together again. According to Barak, "In the magical and beautiful hills of the Galilee surrounding Safed, the city of Kabbalah, Ephraim and Udi met again after almost 30 years. They started playing together again and it was as if their musical connection was never severed. ... we felt a mystical spirit flowing through us, a bright presence." After the addition of drummer Barak Ben Zur, this new incarnation of Zingale has completed a new album, to be titled The Bright Side.

Barak sent me a demo CDR containing highlights from the album. It's very promising, with lots of complex, intricate prog. I can't compare it to Peace since I haven't heard that album, but if Peace has a distinct Canterbury sound then it must be quite different since I don't hear much of that in this demo. Barak said in an e-mail, "Some parts of our new music felt as if it was flying to the Infinite. That's why we call our genre Progressus in Infinitum (prog in infinity). Maybe it's a new genre, but without a doubt, it felt new to us." Well, Infinity's an awfully long distance away, but I certainly must agree that The Bright Side is interesting. There's quite a bit of "psychedelic" feel in many of the pieces, and the recording quality is very '60's, though musically it's more complex than your usual 60's psychedelic fare. Guitar and bass dominate the instruments, but there's synthesizers as well.

There's no news yet on exactly when the new album will be released, or how those of us in the west can obtain a copy when it is. I'm sure Barak will keep me informed, and I'll pass the information along to you as soon as I find out. -- Fred Trafton

News 10/30/08:
Well, there was no GEPR upload since I wrote the above, and in the meantime Zingale has completed their web site and released The Bright Side. It's now available on CD Baby (see link below). As usual, you can preview some MP3's on the CD Baby page. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Zingale's web site
Click here to order The Bright Side from CD Baby
Click here for a general overview of Israeli prog, including Zingale

Zinkl [Germany]
Updated 6/25/02

No Snaildance, Please (94)
Lovely Night Creatures (95)
Plexus Andromeda (97)
Circus Maximus (99)
Underwater (01, w/ Alquimia)
Dance Music for Insects (02)
I have Circus Maximus and the collaboration album with Alquimia, Underwater. They have their similarities, but it's easy to hear the styles of the two artists blending together on Underwater.

Zinkl describes his music as "Progressive Electronic". When I hear this, I usually think of Tangerine Dream or maybe Cluster. But Circus Maximus I would describe more as "Progressive Techno" than those bands. There are a lot of Techno elements, particularly the use of sampled sounds to create hard-driving rhythmic percussion sections. However, there are also too many changes to make it very usable as pure dance music, hence Progressive Techno. The rhythmic tendencies hardly ever let up, though, so don't expect any mellow sections, and it's mostly 4/4 timing too. Still, interesting enough to warrant more than one listen.

Underwater is quite a bit more mellow, thanks I suppose to Alquimia's composing influence and the contribution of her ethereal vocals to this recording. The rhythms here begin to sound less Techno and more Tribal, though not as much as on Alquimia's previous CD's. These two musicians styles complement each other well. The result is more accessable than either of their solo works, which may have been done on purpose. A pleasant enough album, though not exactly required listening. -- Fred Trafton

[See Alquimia]

Click here for Zinkl's web site
Click here to order Zinkl albums from BSC Music.

Zior [UK]

Zior (71), Every Inch A Man (73)

Hard rock/heavy psych.

Zip Tang [USA]
Updated 1/21/11

Luminiferous Ether (07)
Pank (08)
Feed Our Heads (10)
Zip Tang - Marcus Padgett (sax, keys, vocals), Rick Wolfe (bass, vocals), Perry Merritt (guitar, vocals) and Fred Faller (drums, percussion)

Original entry 8/31/07
Zip Tang is a Chicago-based band playing an extremely tight progressive jazz-rock. Their debut CD, Luminiferous Ether is incredible, especially considering this is their first recording. It's pretty obvious these guys are seasoned musicians, their playing is precise and perfect, and they trade melodies from one to another as if they are all part of a mentally-linked hive mind (or as if they've listened to some Gentle Giant before). Luminiferous Ether is a collection of fine songs, with some Zappa-jazz feel, a fair bit of hard-edged Fusion, an occasional dash of blues and a whole lot of classic rock'n'roll in the mix. There's not a song on the album that's not really good, and several are just plain spectacular, including the Zappa-influenced album opener "Tower of Tuna".

But my favorite thing on the album is an 18-plus minute rendition of ELP's "Tarkus" ... the whole thing. Their arrangement is both startling and completely familiar. They play every note of the original, but the arrangement is much jazzier, and the keyboard parts are spread across all the instruments. The 5/8 introductory motif, for instance, is re-imagined as chugging metal guitars, while the keyboard melody is taken by saxophone. An interesting thing they do is slow the cadence down for all the 5/8 sections, and with these mostly being played on metallic guitars, they acquire a certain "doom-metal" feel that works really well. The keyboard solos are distributed equally among sax, guitars and keys ... the sax usually plays the melodies just like they are on the album, while the guitar solos use the same basic melodic ideas as the original, but takes them in different but still well-fitting directions. This cut alone is well worth the price of admission for this album, even though Zip Tang's original compositions are every bit as interesting.

Finally, I can't leave the album cover art without mention. Though a bit disturbing, it is an outstanding piece of progressive art. It's interesting enough that I wanted to preserve a copy here for your perusal, though you can see the same thing on their web site for the time being. It's titled "Does Man pass through life, or Life pass through Man?" I don't know the answer, but it's a fittingly fantastic cover for an equally fantastic album. My highest recommendation for this one, and I'm really looking forward to more from these gents. -- Fred Trafton

Updated 1/21/11:
Somehow, I missed the release of Pank (head buried in the sands of work, no doubt), so I don't have anything to say about that album, but the band sent me a copy of their 2010 release Feed Our Heads. Man, this band is a totally class act. If you're the kind of listener who rolls their eyes at "wankery", "self-indulgence" or "bombast" when it comes to their prog, then you're gonna love Zip Tang. Well, OK, there's a little bit of wah wah burbling spaciness in the synths and jazzy sax solos (enough to make me ask if they were Gong fans -- they're not!), and the guitars certainly don't stick to easy passages or 4/4 time signatures. It might be considered too difficult and attention-demanding by younger listeners who've grown up on alt-rock or 2000's pop stars, but for those who would be reading the GEPR, this is really not hard to listen to at all, very mature and familiar without rehashing the same old jazz or rock stylings. The biggest danger is not noticing the progginess on the first listen because it feels so natural, and then not listening to it again. Don't do that! Three listens minimum!

My closest comparison would still be to Zappa, though I could also compare them to Umphrey's McGee in that they are very much modern guitar and rock oriented, rather than '70's prog in style. Zip Tang also makes heavy use of vocal harmonies, almost to the point that Gentle Giant comes to mind, though Zip Tang's approach is way less classical and less British-sounding. The recording quality on Feed Our Heads is marvelous, every instrument can be heard with crystal clarity.

And, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the lyrical content. Very inventive. "Girl Behind the Glass" is a song either about a peep show patron or a peeping tom expressing his love for a girl he can watch but never have or even touch. But rather than coming across as creepy, I actually feel compassion for the guy. But my favorite is "I'll Put It Right", a song about someone making the most outrageous promises from free health care to getting rid of all crime, taxes, bad TV shows and insect annoyances. Oh, yeah, and he'll create a world religion so we can all live in peace and harmony and have an answer to any question we might ask. Hey, I want this guy for president!

Feed Our Heads isn't your usual prog album at all, which makes it truly progressive rather than "retro". It won't be to everyone's taste, but it's certainly to mine. I really love this album, as much as I did Luminiferous Ether (even without an ELP cover song), and it will score high on my "Best of 2010" list*. Give it a couple of listens for maximum penetration ... it will FEED YOUR HEAD if you do! OK, someone had to say it. -- Fred Trafton

* Which I really will get around to compiling one of these days. Hey, I still haven't heard every 2009 album yet!

Click here for Zip Tang's web site
Click here for Zip Tang's MySpace page
Click here to order Luminiferous Ether from CD Baby
Click here to order Pank from CD Baby
Click here to order Feed Our Heads from CD Baby

ZNR [France]
Updated 5/7/03

Barricades III (76)
Traite de Mecanique Populaire (79)
Initials stand for Zazou 'n' Racaille, (Hector and Josef, respectively); first album described as "electro-acoustic hotchpotch" second as "new, 'distinguished,' delicate music, both serious and disrespectful." Each has other collaborative albums.
Barricade 3: Another intrigue for my ears and probably for yours, too. Intriguing, because it has penetrated miles-deep on the mellow side of sonic things, but it can't be qualified as anything other than avant-prog. Sounds odd but 'tis that. For all those that have already being scared, commencing to feel sleazy and have prepared too scurry away, I must becalm you and tell that mentioned mellowness doesn't include any kind of the saccharine sweetness or cloying twee. Instead, 'tis full of Satiesque quirks and Faust-like studio fuckery, of which the latter doesn't sound annoying by any means. It is much necessary ingredient of the experimental mixture, which doesn't tend to rumble in Univers Zero / Shub Niggurath manner, but wants to challenge the listener going chasing it after it slap him on the cheek or better said, stuff his ear with, eg., the sudden flow of madcap distorted voices, where a second ago lulling melody was oozing out. The overall musical effect is strange restraint, most of the music giving the feel of being played with utter seriousness, while on the contrary, the track-titles, interpretation of vocal parts and multilingual lyrics suggest salvae of relaxed laughter. I can't help but trace the feeling of musicians' muscles being tense to the point of no-more-controlable convulsions, while not being permitted to laugh heartily. This way or another, the music demands and proves itself to be somewhere on its own, maybe weird but undeniable original. To paraphrase Erik Satie in listener's context: "Open the head prior the listening of Barricade 3." Quite recommended, indeed. -- Nenad Kobal

Zoambo Zoet Workestrao [Slovenia]
Updated 8/13/00

Kabelski Kresovi (95, Cassette)
Laibach - Tiranha (split CD with Absent Minded) (98)
Zoambo Zoet Workestrao is besides Begnagrad and Quatebriga the best Slovenian RIO/New Musics band, the only one existing and the most ignored of all bands, though undeservably so. Name is pronounced like in French or in Portugese just like it would be written Joambo Joet Workestrao. The first cassette has both harsh sound and music, and could be defined as "core in opposition" as it is quite wild and without compromise. On Laibach - Tiranha, things became lighter but hundred times weirder. From the beginning, itís everything else than easy to get into. Using Captain Beefheart era Trout Mask as a base, album is dadaistic musically and lirically, tongue in cheek humour abounds. It has creepy undercurrent similar to Residents era Mark of the Mole (it sounds like someone would hold it back, not allowing it to go faster, so it sway from time to time, sounds like it will explode because of its strength), mixed with sloweird contra-rhythms, some Primusian and VoiVodian feelings (which are not that easily discernible) plus out of touch singing in Slovenian (not Slovakian) and Serbocroatian plus Slovenian ethnic sounds, esp. Histrian (from the Histrian peninsula, where Slavic and Romanic culture are distinctly intermigled) plus some undefined uniqueness (even better so). The ethnic twist brings them close to Nimal. Thus the ending result is totally unique!!

The line-up is usual on one hand and unusual on the other, as guitarist (there are bassist and drummer, too) plays also saz and native string instruments and recorders (overall kinda power-trio). I needed more than ten very patient listenings (and even more unpatient ones) to get into, but it was fair payed. In short, if this band is not RIO, than it is very close to, as it is far more "opposed to", than other new bands from the Central Europe area (Uz Jsme Doma, etc). I have played it to a friend which is at home in mainstream waters, and he described it as "arhythmically dizzy" and felt somewhat sick and tired after listening.

If you need to get rid of unwanted guests, these guys are for you. They can be as backstabbing as space cookies (no joke), attacking in waves and from behind the back! Recommended, if you can get it, though I donít believe that CD is distributed outside Slovenia (if youíre afraid of Laibach-Tiranhaís brevity, I must tell you, that it is more than 45 minutes long, Absent Minded add only 24 minutes of their punkcore which can be easily skipped, because Laibach-Tiranha will employ your brain for quite a time). -- Nenad Kobal

Zodiac [USSR/Latvia]
Updated 3/23/01

Disco Alliance (80)
Music in the Universe (83)
Disco Alliance/Music in the Universe (00, re-release of both albums on one CD)
Of all the CD's recently re-released by Boheme, this one lives up to its label the least. Dubbed "Space Electronic Rock", you might get the idea that this album is something like Tangerine Dream, Gong, or maybe even Escapade or Quarkspace. Nothing could be further from the truth. This album is mostly electro-pop dance music, more in the vein of '80's bands like A Flock of Seagulls, The Human League, Howard Jones or Gary Numan. There are a few cuts that aspire to a bit more, but the dance beat is thumping away on 90% of the CD. At least it's all instrumental ... I don't have to listen to the Latvian equivalent of singing about cars, pencils and other mundane objects. (Actually, they probably would have been forced to sing in Russian, which is likely why they didn't sing at all).

Now, don't get me wrong ... actually, I like electro-pop dance music. But it's not prog, and it's not what most of us would call "Space Music" either. Just don't be fooled by the labeling. With a slight remix (crank up the drums and bass), this album would be right at home as Techno music in a rave today. Dance 'til you drop, anybody? -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Boheme's web site
You can mail order Boheme titles by e-mailing to

zOmb [France]
a.k.a. La Zombie et ses biZons
Updated 6/1/08

Herbe de Bizon (04, as La Zombie et ses biZons)
Le Peuple des Songes (08, as Christian Brendel and zOmb)
Christian Brendel and zOmb - Claude Thiebault (bass), Eric Varache (drums), Didier Paupe (guitar), Christian Brendel (vocals), Thierry Collin (vibes and drums) and Christine Maffeïs (flute)

I haven't heard zOmb's first album recorded as La Zombie et ses biZons without Christian Brendel, but only the second album Le Peuple des Songes which sort of has the feel of a Brendel album with zOmb as sort of "backing musicians". But with a "backing band" of this caliber, they steal the show ... especially since I don't speak French, and so Brendel's "poetry" (if indeed that's a proper description) spoken over the music is pretty much lost on me.

Actually, "spoken over the music" is a bit of an overstatement. A better description would be that there are long, complex instrumental sections without words alternating with sections where Brendel's voice comes to the forefront and the band backs off and simplifies a bit. One might almost describe it as "beat poetry" except that the band's music sounds nothing like what those beatniks ever dreamed of. Musically, it sounds like a mix of Larks Tongues in Aspic-era King Crimson heavily spiced by large amounts of Magma (due to the drum and bass interplay), Camembert Electrique-era Gong (due to the Didier Malherbe-styled flute) and Frank Zappa (due to the Vibraphone). These influences are all very obvious (I was shocked after reading the Musea blurb after hearing the album to see that their description named the same reference bands ... I'm frequently baffled by Musea's comparisons, but not in this case), but the combination is so fresh that I would be the last to complain about being "derivative". This is simply excellent prog with the feel of being a real '70's band. Le Peuple des Songes is highly recommended ... though I must admit I would like to hear the opinion of someone who speaks French to tell me if comprehending the poetry helps or hinders enjoyment of the album. For my part, I loved it -- essential!

By the way, I spell "zOmb" with a lowercase "z" and uppercase "O" because that's what they do. Don't know why.-- Fred Trafton

Click here for Christian Brendel's MySpace page
Click here for zOmb's MySpace page
Click here to order either album from Musea Records

Zomby Woof [Germany]
Updated 1/16/04

Riding On A Tear (77)
No Hero (79, Unreleased)
This band took their name from a Frank Zappa song. An excellent symphonic rock outfit which originally released their obscure LP on the Jupiter label, but it has recently been reissued on CD by Garden Of Delights. Zomby Woof were part of the second wave of German progressive rock along with bands like Epidaurus, Second Movement, Madison Dyke, Minotaurus, Epidermis, Streetmark, etc. And their style is very much related to all these groups. They also sound similar to later period German band Anyone's Daughter. Zomby's main distinction is having 2 vocalists (and the english vocals are pretty decent too) and having the advantage of a good recording studio. Three band members played keyboards, so naturally the album has sumptuous keyboard passages of Grand Piano, Hammond Organ, Moog synthesizer, clavinet and some Mellotron. The bass player has a "busy" and up front technique that is standard for this genre and the album features lots of extended instrumentals which can get fairly bombastic in places and dreamy in others.

This band proposes nothing new, but are a stellar example of Germany's contribution to this style. They are as good as any of their better known countrymen. Lovers of symphonic krautrock, especially of the above mentioned groups or even Grobschnitt and Pell Mell, will probably eat this up. It's one of the better albums from the late 70's German prog scene, and a rediscovered classic.

The CD booklet reveals that an (unreleased) second album was recorded in 1979 with David Hanselmann involved on vocals. Who knows if this album (called No Hero) will ever see the light of day! Many people may not have heard of this band, and even krautrock bibles like "Crack In The Cosmic Egg" and "Cosmic Dreams At Play" are sketchy on details. But all fans of complex, keyboard rich symphonic rock should get a listen to the CD reissue. -- Tharsis

Click here to mail-order Riding On A Tear from Garden of Delights

Zon [Canada]
Updated 11/23/01

Astral Projector (78)
I'm Worried About the Boys! (80)
I found [Zon] referenced in Jerry Lucky's book "The Progressive Rock Files", where he describes them ... as progressive, so I checked them out. [Editor's Note: It is possible that Lucky was referencing the French Zon Orchestra Unlimited and this band just has a similar name.]

This band is very misleading. Looking at the first album, you would think that this is a lost prog-rock classic! The cover is all white, with only a face of a scary old man staring at you. Then the record sleeve has pictures of the band with huge organs, and a vocalist wearing what seems to be Peter Gabriel's old man mask from the Genesis live shows. Hey it must be good! Well, I don't know what market they're trying to corner, but music is actually quite boring rock with a good dose of keyboards. It sounds like Boston on a bad day. The second album continues the descent into boredom, and now the boys all have perms! Sorry, this stuff is too mediocre to be recommended, even for the curious. -- Simon Karatsoreas

Z.O.U. (Zon Orchestra Unlimited) [France]

Z.O.U. (75)

[See Magma | Zoo]

Zoo [France]

Zoo (70), I Shall Be Free (71), Hard Times Good Times (72)

[See Clearlight | Delired Cameleon Family | Z.O.U]

Zorn, John [USA]
Updated 1/10/01

Zorn is a prolific musician with a huge discography, too large to fit here. Click here for a complete discography.
Wow. If you're into organized noise, this is for you. Naked City is the one most people talk about. I didn't like the album at all until I saw the concert. Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Joey Baron, and Wayne Horvitz played on this one. I really like it a lot now. Incredibly tight, and very grating (and what lovely artwork too :-) News for Lulu is another good album.
He collaborated on the two Painkiller albums Buried Secrets and Guts of a Virgin. These are pure monstrous noisefests. Good too.
Avant garde downtown New York jazz musician whoís all over the map. From moody film soundtracks to straight ahead jazz, to an album like Naked Cityís The Torture Garden, which consists of 42 tracks in 22 minutes, all of them bursts of extreme noise, but done by a crack avant jazz band. Heís also put out a tremendous number of albums, especially now that he runs his own label, Tzadik. His best material has a schizophrenic approach, where the music will jolt suddenly from one idiom to another. The place to start is The Big Gundown, or Spillane, as both these albums are excellent. The Big Gundown reworks pieces by spaghetti western composer Ennio Morricone for stunning results, the music is surreal and strange, throwing in all sorts of styles into a blender. Side one of Spillane consists of one long track of music noir (like the aural equivalent of a Mickey Spillane novel), with lots of changeups and different moods. The other side has just two tracks: one featuring blues guitarist Albert Collins and the other with the neo-classical Kronos Quartet and a turntable artist. Cobra is also quite good, freeform improvisational music, whereas the similar Locus Solus is not quite as good in my opinion. I found the News for Lulu albums (with Zorn on sax, a guitarist, and a trombone player) too sedate, maybe in need of a bass, drum or keyboard? (or perhaps I am missing the point?) Iíve listened to the first Filmworks album, which was very good, a lot of variety from abstract moodier pieces to cartoon-like pieces to schizophrenic rock. The Zorn solo album Naked City (not to be confused with the several albums done under the band name Naked City, but essentially the same group of musicians) is another excellent album. It contains a lot of good examples of his trademark schizophrenic fast-change approach, where the music will suddenly veer on dime from jazz to noise to punk to western swing to blues to cartoon soundtrack. The Masada albums, Zornís take on Jewish music, are okay, though more straightforward. -- Rolf Semprebon

Zoroaster [UK?]

Ahriman (??)

Zoviet France [UK]
Updated 7/2/01

Soviet France (81)
Untitled ("Hessian") (82)
Garista (82)
Nörsch (83)
Mohnomische (83)
Eostre (84)
Gris (85)
Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music (85)
Misfits, Looney Tunes and Squalid Criminals (86)
Gesture, Signal, Threat (86)
A Flock of Rotations (87)
Assault and Mirage (87)
Loh Land (88)
Shouting at the Ground (88)
Look into Me (90)
Just an Illusion (90)
Vienna 1990 (90)
Shadow, Thief of the Sun (91)
Collusion (93)
What is Not True (93)
Digilogue (96, LP only, re-released on CD 1998)
In Version (96)
Mort Aux Vaches: Feedback (98)
Vaguely along the likes of Current 93 and Nurse With Wound. This English Industrial band, creates soundscapes of the Industrial sort. With weird motors clanking noises and whirring, Zoviet France have mastered the art of music sculpture. Probably too weird for the symphomaniac, but definitely challenging.
A good starter would be the compilation Collusion - a diverse overview of works from 1983 to 1990. Vienna 1990, What is Not True and In Version each consist of hour-long improvisations taken from live performances and represent the band's strong points, in my opinion. -- Alan Haselden.
Weird Can-influenced British band whose albums usually came strangely packaged: Hessian in a burlap bag, Mohnomische in a cover made of Masonite, etc.
I was a bit surprised to discover this band in the GEPR. The music is quite strange, definiteley something for the very adventures listener. Very experimental with many instruments, tape-effects and distorted sounds and voices. Sometimes quiet and meditative, somtimes very loud and industriallike. Maybe you could discribe it as a mixture between Throbbing Gristle and Tangerine Dream. I think you should listen to one of these, at least once in your life. -- Achim Breiling
Click here for the official Zoviet France web site
Click here for an excellent fan site

Zut Un Feu Rouge [Sweden]
Updated 8/20/01

Kafka vs. Chaplin (83, EP)
Who's Afreud (85)
Sweet Zutrospectacles (86, cassette recordings from 1981-86)
ZUFR is perhaps one of the best hidden secrets in the Galaxy called Progressive rock and the part of cosmic supercluster named Progessive music. Some dozens thousand light years beyond the quasar Virgin V 2005, otherwise known to us as Henry Cow - Leg-end a widely stretched constellation nominated Bauta label and related musicians can be found. This constellation encompasses some barely visible stars. Then there are one or two ultraviolet giants, which again you cannot see. ZUFRís Sweet Zutrospectacles is one of these stars and would be a fine preliminary listening (or more listenings) for those of you whoíd like to check RIO genre in a smoother way (from easier to more demanding). The first passage on the voyage to Etron Fou via The Work, This Heat and Stormy Six era Al Volo or ... to Henry Cow via Hellebore. I guess this would be the easiest band to start with, esp. if you havenít already swallowed the complete Canterbury discography and Gentle Giant opus. Their brand of music is usually defined as progressive art-punk. On initial listening it may sound quite simple, but it has its own flair, which can grip. I think they are more punky apart from other mentioned bands, but they retain the balance. And more importantly, they encompass more of that post-punk, new wave features and even early gothic-rock a la Bauhaus. As Bauhaus were influenced by VDGG and Peter Hammill, this may not cause any trouble. This early gothic rock is then mixed with Frithean sort of folky music, ethnic and world stylings and even Gentle Giant (most notably on "Von Ä Jä" and "Stomping Down Ephesus" - great medieval chorale-like singing from Lachíní, predecessing his marvelous solo work, and piano-sax-xylophone quirks). Production is not the best, but when better it would probably made this an explosive mixture. Some opposing is here as well and some darkness escapes, but not so much as with Univers Zero and definitely less than it is usually ascribed to ZUFR. Besides saying that this is recommended stuff Iíd also like to admit that Iím awaiting for a rerelease of LP and EP. Join me! -- Nenad Kobal
[See Jonsson, Lach'n (Lars) | Songs Between | Ur Kaos]

Zweistein [Germany]

Trip, Flip Out, Meditation (70)

Stoned, underground electronic outfit. Trip, Flip Out, Meditation is a three LP set released on Philips.

Zyma [Germany]
Updated 9/3/01

Brave New World (80?)
Thoughts (85, reissued on CD 1998)
Zyma are a band from Germany whose CD "Thoughts" was released in 1998 on Garden of Delights. The music on this CD consists of the main body of their material which was released on LP in probably '77 or '78, and two "bonus" cuts which were recorded by a significantly different lineup of the band in '74.

The LP lineup was very keyboard-dominated - 2 keyboardists, no guitars and a girl singer who sings quite a bit like Renate Knaup (but don't be fooled, more on this later). Overall, I'd roughly characterize their sound as a cross between more watered-down Canterbury with liberal dollops of West Coast-type bluesy psychedelia thrown in.

The first song starts with some very Hatfield-like keyboard and launches into an odd mix of Canterbury and that famous German minor-keyed gloominess - imagine, if you will, a Teutonic Canterbury (!) - very somber-sounding, with no hint of the trademark Canterbury whimsiness. This becomes more evident in the middle section of the song. Then, with virtually no warning, the song cuts into a bluesy-sounding San Francisco riff and ends. Still with me?

Song two ("Businessman") again starts with some Canterburyish noodling and then goes into a 6/8 two-chord jam with violin & keyboard & backing vocals riffing and soloing around each other. I've never heard It's a Beautiful Day but I wouldn't imagine that this is all that different from their better stuff. The vocals (and their subject matter) in particular remind me of Jefferson Airplane or some of the other American bands of the period with male & female vocals. There's some great bass/drum interplay, but the song is basically a 12-1/2 minute jam that doesn't really go much of anywhere.

Song three ("One Way Street") starts off as a politically-tinged hippie psychedelic song, much more in line with Jefferson Airplane in their After Bathing at Baxter's period than anything Canterbury. Really weak. However, the 7/4 middle part shifts somewhat radically into something rather Soft Machine-like circa 6 or 7, which then segues into an oddly PFM-like two-chord break with clavinet and flute solo! Whew!

Song four ("We Got Time") again starts as a fairly anonymous hippyish ditty in what sounds like 5/4, segueing into a neat instrumental break with violin over a very Richard Sinclair-ish bass line.

Song five ("Wasting Time") starts off with a reasonably National Health / Hatfields type figure with synth, female backing vocals and hi-hat, though you've heard this kind of thing done much better by the aforementioned. The tune gets even more anonymous as it progresses with more of the San Francisco psychedelic influence when the singing comes in. Ends with a long minor-keyed jam that again is more Krautrockish, but absolutely nothing to write home about.

This is where the two bonus cuts come in. The main difference in these earlier songs is that electric guitar was quite prominent in them. Also, they totally just flat-out suck - I'll describe the tracks as best I can:

Song six ("Law Like Love") starts with a cool spacy synth figure but then descends into boring heavy guitar riffing with female vocals. Anonymous early 70s-type hard rock, not Canterburyish in the least. Goes off from there into a slow, bluesy San Francisco-sounding part. Excruciating.

Song seven ("Tango Enough") starts with more faceless heavy-rock riffing, then segues into a slower bluesy part with prominent Fender Rhodes and a *very* vaguely Hugh Hopperish bass line. I'm trying to find good things to say here! The singing again is very West Coast, leading me to think that this girl must have been much more into Grace Slick than Amon Düül. Throw in a forgettable psychedelic guitar solo, and your Zyma CD is now mercifully at an end.

Final conclusion - there is some Canterbury influence here, but in my view it's really pretty superficial, so if you ever hear it said that there's a "heavy" Canterbury vibe going on here, tread lightly. Certain things on this disc make it worth owning, but it's really no big deal. You opinion of it will probably be largely colored by your opinion of West Coast psychedelia - if you hate it (like I do), it really detracts from your enjoyment of this band - but if you don't mind it, then it probably won't bother you so much. -- Alex Davis

Zymovi Sad [Ukraine]

1980's symphonic prog. Never released a proper album, but four tracks were included on the Rock Musicians cassette anthology. -- Mike Ohman

Zzebra [UK]

Zzebra (74), Panic (75)

Ex-If saxophonist Dave Quincy joined up with keyboardist/flautist/singer Tommy Eyre to form this jazz-rock-prog outfit. Eyre played with Joe Cocker and can be heard on Cocker's cover of the Beatles' "A Little Help From My Friends." Percussionist/saxophonist Loughty Amao came from Osibissa. Musically, Zzebra are similar to If, Isotope, Ian Carr's Nucleus, or Soft Machine. I've only heard Panic which is a solid album with good music but not particularly adventuresome. -- Mike Taylor

This band was formed by Dave Quincy (sax) and Terry Smith (guitar) from If and Loughty Amao (percussion) from Osibisa. You find on both LPs nice Jazzrock in the vein of If or Tempest with some African influence. The first one is a bit stronger because Smith left before the recording of the second one. Good stuff! Both LPs are recommended! -- Achim Breiling

[See If]