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Album Review

Typhareth turned out to be the final release of the first manifestation of this great French progressive group,and it didn't please their many fans. Many diehards lamented the loss of founder Yochk'o Seffer, who had left the group to concentrate on his new project Neffesh Music; Seffer had been a key element of the complex Zeuhl sound evident in Magma and earlier Zao releases. This album was more mainstream — closer to Weather Report than Magma, jazz-rock fusion without modern classical overtones, somehow more American than European in tone, composition and color. Time changes attitudes, and Typhareth has been reissued and reclaimed by fans of French progressive jazz; it stands up as a solid work in its own right. Francois Cahen usually takes the melodic lead on electric piano, while Gerard Prevost's nimble bass playing is in front, allowing the other instruments — percussion, sax, flute, trombone — much room for expression. At times it is so laid-back it is almost loungey, pulled persistently forward by a sophisticated rhythm section, including a young Manu Katche on his first recording. Cool, assured, and dynamic; there are so many excellent parts it is no wonder it has become a go-to album for producers seeking choice samples. This was Zao's last release for over twenty years, during which time he and Francois Cahen would create some vital work in their solo careers. A resurgence of interest in Zao led to the reissue of their back catalog, and some live recordings, in that last decade. Typhareth holds its own as a minor fusion masterpiece, and it's worth a listen for fans of the genre.

Typhareth, Zao
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