ZAAR
Cosia • Michael Hazera • Yan Hazera • Pairbon

duo

Guitarist Yan Hazera and drummer Michael Hazera are alumni of the great band Sotos, who spent 8 years honing their sound. After Sotos disbanded, they wanted to persue a similar musical vein, utilizing elements of chamber rock, zeuhl, improvisation, Rock In Opposition structured complexity and even French folk traditions. They found an excellent bassist and then gave themselves the unique edge of adding a vielle a roue (hurdy gurdy) player. The vielle a roue dates back to medieval times and has several strings which vibrate by turning a crank attached to a resined wheel. You play a melody by pressing keys on the instrument, while the other strings drone. It's a marvelous instrument and it sounds like nothing else; in this context, it often sounds like a cross between a Mike Ratledge-style electric organ, a cellist and bagpipes!

Zaar official website
Michael and Yan were also members of SOTOS


ZAAR



RUNE 224

This is the debut album by a quartet of musicians who know exactly what they want to do and who already have a totally distinctive ensemble sound! This album includes two lengthy pieces, with several shorter works as well, giving the album a nice balance. While you can certainly hear echoes of Sotos on this album, I think that Zaar have already moved further than Sotos and have the possibility to appeal to a greater number of listeners. Excellently recorded by Bob Drake, who captured the rich overtones of these four instruments - not an easy feat! A band with a unique voice who are in the great French tradition of excellence in 'left-field' rock.

"This French prog rock quartet, rising out of the ashes of Sotos, is built around brothers Yan Hazera and Michael Hazera on lead guitar and drums, respectively. The single-named Pairbon replaces Sotos' bassist, Bruno Camide; the cello and violin from the earlier group are replaced by a hurdy-gurdy played by Cosia (another single-named musician).
Historically, the legacy of Magma has lain heavily on most French instrumental prog rock groups, but the Hazera brothers lighten up Magma's relentless, apocalyptic zeuhl sound with lots more space and some short acoustic pieces that demonstrate a refreshing willingness to move outside conventional prog rock boundaries.
There are parallels here to Univers Zero's best work, especially on "Scherzo # C," where shifting time signatures and dissonant contrapuntal riffs create a challenging type of chamber rock. The two long pieces on the CD provide plenty of scope for drama, but both "Sefir" and "Omk" utilize a number of quiet interludes to both ratchet down the intensity and create expectations for what follows. As a result, the "payoff" becomes not the shrieking climax but, rather, all the adventures along the way.
Cosia's use of the hurdy-gurdy is particularly creative on the opening piece. Although this instrument has folk and even medieval classical roots, the hurdy-gurdy on this CD seems to be subjected to various electronic treatments and some "outside" playing that occasionally suggests a small animal in distress. Indeed, Cosia's first solos almost seem to be generated by a Moog synthesizer or electronic oscillator, although he also displays the instrument's ability to produce bagpipe-like drones and later shows off its violin timbres (in essence, the hurdy-gurdy is a mechanical violin).
It's hard to believe that all these sounds are generated by a single instrument (even a really strange one), although nothing on the CD cover or liner notes indicates otherwise. Overdubbing is a distinct possibility, of course -- and with all the contemporary devices available for a guitar to plug into, Yan Hazera could also be responsible for some of those mystery sounds.
The second long piece, "Omk," reverses the roles initially, with Hazera soloing and Cosia providing the backing drone, but then Cosia takes over again with a moody solo that hovers between scraping violin and wheezy pump organ. Both long pieces also showcase the excellent staccato attack of drummer Michael Hazera, whose work can move beyond simple (or even complex) timekeeping and into improvisational territory that owes more to jazz than rock.
This is a very sophisticated recording that deserves a wide audience." – William Tilland / All Music Guide

Zaar press release

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PRESS RELEASES
Zaar press release

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