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Hector Zazou


Country of origin:

Born in Algeria of French and Spanish parents

Type of music generally:

Ambient electronic songs and soundscapes with various influences, mostly world music

Status:

Final release, L'Absence (2004); Hector Zazou died in 2008

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Hector Zazou

A 1995 Sound on Sound article on Hector Zazou

Taktic Music's biography for Hector Zazou (only in French/en français seulement)

Comparisons:

Other electronic world music artists

Covers/own material:

Traditional and others

General comments:

Hector Zazou is mostly known as a producer, though he also plays multiple instruments. His work has electronic backgrounds creating soundscapes around traditional world tunes and songs. He brings in talented singers and other instrumentalists to fill in the sound, so it is both organic and electronic.

if you haven't had a listen to Sahara Blue, or his more recent Songs from the Cold Seas might I strongly suggest you do? They are wonderful—with a interesting and varied mix of vocalists on both of them. (anthony.baxter@aaii.oz.au)

any Hector Zazou fans out there? A friend recently turned me on to his work. I loved it all. He has some interesting early work he did with an African singer. I think that at least half of all european ecto artists have collaborated with him...Björk, Dead Can Dance, Värttina, Anneli Drecker. From this side of the ocean, there is Jane Siberry and Suzanne Vega. Neat stuff. (cstack@ix.netcom.com)

Recommended first album:

Songs from the Cold Seas

Recordings (mostly as producer):

  • Noir Et Blanc (1983)
  • Reivax Au Bongo, Vol. 2 (1987)
  • Geographies/13 Proverbes Africaines (1988)
  • Geologies (1990)
  • Guilty (1992)
  • Sahara Blue (1994)
  • Songs from the Cold Seas (1995)
  • Glyph (1996)
  • Remixes (1996)
  • Made on Earth (1997)
  • Lights in the Dark (1998)
  • 12 (Las Vegas Is Cursed) (with Sandy Dillon, 2001)
  • Strongs Currents (2003)
  • Sonora Portraits #2 Strong Currents (2003)
  • L'Absence (2004)

Sahara Blue

Release info:

1994—Tristar

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of ethereal world music

Group members:

Hector Zazou—synthesizer, guitar, arranger, keyboards, clavier, sampling, electronics

Guest artists:

Lightwave—synthesizer, special effects, electronic percussion
John Cale—vocals
Bill Laswell—bass, beats, effects
Keith LeBlanc—percussion
Khalèd—vocals
Anneli Marian Drecker (solo and Bel Canto)—vocals, voices
Yuka Fujii—walkie talkie
Lisa Gerrard (solo and Dead Can Dance)—vocals, yang chin
Barbara Gogan—vocals
Kenji Jammer—guitar, guitar effects
Vincent Kenis—bass, guitar
Brendan Perry (solo and Dead Can Dance)—percussion, vocals, darbouka, bodhran, tin whistle
Renaud Pion—clarinet, bass flute, saxophone
Ryuichi Sakamoto—piano
Steve Shehan—percussion
Guy Sigsworth (Mandalay, Frou Frou)—keyboards
Tim Simenon—beats, sample programming
Matt Stein—programming, loops
David Sylvian—guitar, vocals, walkie talkie
Malka Spigel—vocals, voices
Sussan Deyhim—vocals
Gerard Depardieu—vocals, voices
Nabil Khalidi—oud
Samy Birnbach—vocals
Dominique Dalcan—chant
Christian Lechevretel—trombone, trumpet, clavier

Produced by:

Hector Zazou, Tim Simenon

Comments:

there are two versions of sahara blue, one with a couple of songs by david sylvian, and the other with those songs replaced by songs with dead can dance.... also on the album are gerard depardieu, anneli drecker, and since i don't have it in front of me right now i can't remember any more (sorry). um, in my opinion, chansons des mers froids is a better album, musically...although "i'll strangle you" could make a great dance remix ;). the lyrics on sahara blue are from the poems of arthur rimbaud. (contzen@sfu.ca)

I was never able to appreciate anything on Sahara Blue except for "I'll Strangle You". (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

From the fella who bought us Songs From The Cold Seas Worth getting just for the anneli drecker and Lisa Gerrard vocals, but the whole thing is good. (vickie@enteract.com)


Songs from the Cold Seas

Release info:

1995—Sony/Columbia—CK 67068

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of ethereal world music

Group members:

Hector Zazou—arrangements, keyboards, electronics, drum programming, guitars

Guest artists:

Sari Kaasinen, Kirsi Hähkönen, Sirpa Reinman (Värttina)—vocals
Barbara Gogan—electric guitar, acoustic guitars
Marc Ribot—electric guitars
Mark Isham—trumpet
Brendan Perry—percussion
Angelin Tytot—percussion
Sargo Maianagacheva—ethnic drums
Budgie—drums, percussion
Guy de Lacroix Herpin—bass
Lightwave—additional sound programming
Björk—vocals
Guy Stigsworth (Mandalay, Frou Frou)—grand piano
Renault Pion—clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone sax, keyboards, Scottish pipes, flute, EWI, winds, percussive EWI, electronics
Suzanne Vega—lead vocals
John Cale—vocals
Claudie Amirault—backing vocals
Pierre Chaze—electric guitars
Sara Lee—bass guitar
Jerry Marotta—drums
Lena Willemark—lead vocals
Ale Möller—mandola
B.J. Cole—pedal steel guitar
Vimme Saari—lead vocals
Demnine Ngamtovsovo—rhythmic vocals
Lone Kent—electric guitar
Jan Johan Andersen—khomous (mouth harp)
Ivan Spoptchine—ethnic drums
Orlan Mongouch—balalaika bass
Jane Siberry—vocals
Patrick Morgenthaler—electric piano
Siouxsie—lead vocal
Tchotghtguerele Chalchin—Shaman song
Sakharine Percussion Group—percussion
Sissimut Dance Drummers—percussion
Catherine-Ann MacPhee—vocals
Harold Budd—electric piano
Tokiko Kato—vocals
Elisabeth Valletti—harp
Ainu Dancers of Hokkaido—percussion
Lioudmila Khandi—vocals
The Balanescu Quartet—strings
Noriko Sanagi—koto
Elisha Kilabuk—vocals
Koomoot Nooveya—vocals
Marina Schmidt—backing vocals

Produced by:

Hector Zazou

Comments:

I picked up a copy of the new Hector Zazou album this morning, and it's marvellous. I like it even better than Sahara Blue. The music pulls into the mind all of the arctic places that the songs come from/are inspired by. Plus, if nothing else, Jane Siberry has a BEAUTIFUL track that almost makes me cry. Performers range from Suzanne Vega and John Cale, to Värttina to a woman named Tokiko Kato who sings this beautiful lullabye. (sigh) The entire album has a feel similar to Ale Moller and Lena Willemark's album Nordan (they, incidently, perform on a track) only it is far more diverse, and far more produced. In fact, it sort of has that ECM label sound. Plus, today it's cold and rainy here (Northern Michigan) and it makes the songs sound marvellous. It's marvellous.... I highly recommend it. (ab580@leo.nmc.edu)

sound-wise i think Songs from the Cold Seas is an apt title. the songs are mostly icythereal and sad, filled with shipwrecks and loss and mourning, alien distance and dangerous exploration. in many senses of those words. :) temperaturementally it's too cool for my season (spring is *here* give me the Breeders!) but i like it a lot and come-again Winter my Drear...this album will be back. (winona@mildh.pair.com)

i have it (the original french version—there is an english one out) and recommend it to anyone! an *excellent* album, chock full of performances by god-like artists, and great music! :) anyway, although this album doesn't affect me emotionally all that much, it definitely needs to be included in my list of the year's best because i think it's the one album i listened to most often throughout the year. i never get sick of it. lovely music and arrangements, and wonderful voices. i just wish anneli marian drecker had sung on *this* one instead of on sahara blue, and then everything'd be perfect :) (damon)

I like Songs from the Cold Seas *much* better than Sahara Blue. Plus, Jane Siberry's "She's Like the Swallow" is worth the price of the CD. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

I love cuts 1 3 5 7 and 11 on Songs from the Cold Seas. the rest are so slow and morose that I feel like I'm stranded on an iceflow w/ no hope of ever leaving it, and I do not care to feel that way. (zzkwhite@ktwu.wuacc.edu)

The album features, among others, Jane Siberry, Suzanne Vega, Björk, and Siouxsie of Banshees fame, all doing variations on traditional or quasi-traditional songs from the arctic (ranging from Japan to Siberia). I usually don't go for "traditional" music, but every song on this album is dark, soulful, and beautifully arranged. (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

how can you resist an album by a guy with such a cool name? I can't. This is great stuff for late at night after all the neighbors are in bed. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

A very special thank you to all who recommended Hector Zazou's Songs From The Cold Seas. It's incredible! It's my favorite '95 album (so far). (I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

Wonderfully spooky. (dixon@physics.berkeley.edu)

Songs from the Cold Seas is one of the nicest strangest albums I keep listening to this year. Lots of great stuff here. (brad@lightfallsdesign.com)

This is a brilliant album. Definitely one of my favorites. It's a concept album dealing with all things Arctic. The guest list is stunning: not only is there a great Värttina song on it, but you also get music in collaboration with Björk, Suzanne Vega, John Cale, Jane Siberry, Siouxsie Sioux and many others. It's almost a can't miss album. Jane's contribution is the beautiful "She Is Like A Swallow". I can't recommend this album highly enough. (neal)


Lights in the Dark

Release info:

1998—Elektra/Asylum

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of ethereal world music

Group members:

Hector Zazou—arranger, sounds

Guest artists:

Mark Isham—trumpet, arranger
Peter Gabriel—backing vocals
Caroline Lavelle—cello
Brendan Perry—vocals, backing vocals
Katie McMahon—vocals, backing vocals
Carlos Nunez—ocarina
Thierry Robin—oud
Jacques Pellen—guitar
Breda Mayock—vocals, backing vocals
Daniel Yvinec—bass
Donovan Jones—choir, chorus
Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola—vocals
Kent Condon—guitar

Produced by:

Hector Zazou and Geoffrey Perrin

Comments:

After his trip to the cold seas (1994), Hector Zazou takes us onto a "journey to the source of sacred irish songs". Lights in the Dark contains 13 songs that originate from a time when paganism progressed towards Christianity. The booklet (very comprehensively and in three languages) describes the historical background and the origin of the songs.
     The three female singers Katie McMahon, Breda Mayock, and Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola do an excellent job of interpretation. The album features guest-appearances of Mark Isham, Peter Gabriel, Brendan Perry, Riuichi Sakamoto, and Caroline Lavelle. If it wasn't bright and hot outside I would listen more often to this great album. I'll keep it for the long autumn and winter nights.
     An excellent album. Very quiet and dark and beautiful. If you like Loreena McKennitt, you'll like this album, too. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2012-05-18 22:43:38.
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