Stoa – Zal

After the first two acclaimed albums of Stoa, in the early 90’s on the Hyperium label, many people were waiting for a follow-up. Although a new album was announced for quite some time, it took several years before it finally was available. Stoa is renowned for their heavenly neo-classical music, orchestral hymns with delicate vocals. For some reason the German formation achieved quite some recognition with their music in South-America. Their third album was first released in Mexico by a label called Samadhi, and only several months later in Europe by Alice in…. There even exists a Mexican fanclub. And on the Stoa website links can be found to a Brazilian and various Chinese fanpages! Perhaps Stoa has created more of an autumn/winter album, but nevertheless I felt like listening to (and reviewing) it today.

“Zal” can directly be recognized as a typical Stoa album, not much has changed in their sound. It contains eleven songs, with subtle arrangements, soft classical sounds and beautiful female vocals. The main difference with their earlier work is that the music on “Zal” is more tranquil than ever. Gone are the bombastic elements and the use of percussion. The overall sound is also lighter and more spacious, with simpler arrangements. Most songs are rather minimal, with a lot of romantic piano and (partly synthetic) strings, with lovely vocals added by the classically trained singer Antje Buchheiser, who joined the band in 1997. The mostly melancholic lyrics used are taken from various poets, like Verlaine, Blake, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Rilke and more. There is also a cover present from Black Tape for a Blue Girl, ‘I Wish You Could Smile’. Some of my favourite songs are ‘Think about eterninty’, ‘Maare’, ‘Chanson d’Automne’ and ‘Nubibis Atrius’.

Nice restrained majestic music to listen to when you’re in an introspective mood. If you’re looking for something melodic and varied you may get bored a little, but if you’re longing to dream away a little then this is a perfect album. Subtle neo-classical music with flowing songs filled with a lot of feeling.

artist: Stoa
label: Alice in...
details: 11 tracks. [AIW 116]