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SOLEIL ZEUHL, a short retrospective….

SOLEIL ZEUHL label was launched in 1998, as a non-profit organization. The aim was to gather onto one label the numerous bands influenced by MAGMA. In fact, the idea was not that new as in 1975 Giorgio Gomelsky had already created a label whose vocation was similar (UTOPIA). Unfortunately Utopia did not last much & only released a few records (some Magma albums because he was their manager back then and two singles – notably one by Janik TOP). The bands at the time supposed to enter the Utopia catalogue were Potemkine, Masal, Etron Fou, Xalph & Carmina. Then, Giorgio settled back in USA and nothing more happened.

Afterwards, the numerous Zeuhl bands (sub-progressive genre quite popular in France at the time) issued their albums here & there – often self-produced. During the 90s, when CD sales were booming, the most popular albums among these made their way to CD (Weidorje, Zao, Yochko Seffer etc. being reissued by Musea) but many gems remained un-reissued & were slowly sinking into oblivion.

SOLEIL ZEUHL somewhat took over the general concept of the late Utopia label, trying to centralize the Zeuhl scene by reissuing classic titles but also producing new young bands. SZ started its activity with the reissue of the ARCHAÏA album (recorded in 1977) that became available in December 1998. We’ve been lucky with this one as it was featured on the famous NURSE WITH WOUND list that has gained cult-status over the years among the passionate of experimental & unusual sounds. In spite of the absence of distribution & the lack of communication, this first issue sold well & quite quickly - allowing the label to continue with further releases.

In 1999-2000, the reissue of DÜN was the logical follow-up to ARCHAÏA. Recorded in the legendary Sunrise studio in Switzerland by Etienne Conod (Art Bears, Henry Cow, Univers Zero, Aksak Maboul etc..), this long-awaited reissue was also a success. In parallel to SZ was briefly created – time to release a vinyl-only album by French combo MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL- the SOLEIL de GAÏA label dedicated to psychedelia. This sub-branch did not survive that sole production as we realized that the potential distributors were not the same. By lack of available time (nobody works permanently into the label), the idea of a psychedelic label was dropped.

SOLEIL ZEUHL grew during the 00’s, reissuing the complete works of POTEMKINE (band already approached by G. Gomelsky in the mid 70s), producing the second ONE SHOT CD in 2001 (band featuring three members of the then fresly re-activated MAGMA), discovering François THOLLOT, reissuing the complete works of ESKATON, launching the Japanese band AMYGDALA & the talented French bands SETNA/XING-SA & NEOM…

In 2003, time of a unique CD, we produced MIX CITY (acid jazz band), on the SOLEIL GROOVE sub-label. Although the distribution was much helped by FNAC (major French music megastore), it failed to find its audience, in spite of the band great talent.

The label has now released a total of 25 records (14 being new productions, showing the involvement of SOLEIL ZEUHL into the living scene in spite of the bigger difficulties to sell when compared to reissues).

The recent crisis of the record industry did hit us too, in spite of our tiny dimension. It’s been necessary to change our model (lower the production costs, expand the retail sales, drop the distribution into shops & overall try to increase our “visibility” - which is the most difficult point…)

SOLEIL ZEUHL is now entering its 13th year, with a strong calendar - completely focused on Zeuhl : a few reissues (notably STRAVE & NOA - both recorded in 1980) but also new productions (THOLLOPHONIE, the new F. Thollot project recorded with a full band) ; showing evidence of the activity in 2010 of this musical genre… in spite of a limited audience….

Thanks to all of you for having supported the label during these years. Let’s wish that SOLEIL ZEUHL may continue to exist, in spite of the many difficulties of the period (music crisis, lack of exposure into the official medias, difficulties met by bands for playing live etc.).

Alain Lebon – August 2010.

Our productions are sold on-line (by us) at : , CD& and
(same seller pseudos : SOLEILZEUHL).