"1975 brought more lineup changes for Zao. Violinist Jean-Yves Regaud and bassist Joel Dugrenot quit, to replace them, Zao enlisted Gerard Prevost on bass and last, but not least, an entire string quartet. Zao had decided to combine their jazz-rock style with classical string arrangements and the string ensemble for the job was an all-female quartet led by violinist Michele Margand. The result was Shekina, recorded during the summer of 1975, that stands as the most unique album Zao recorded.
Shekina is also the most Yochk'o Seffer influenced of all Zao albums, as he takes up most compositional credits. Francois Cahen contributes two pieces and the album opener, "Joyl" is the least interesting composition, as it's a standard jazz fusion (think Weather Report or Karl Jenkins era Soft Machine) number, that does feature some fine string arrangements on it. Seffer's compositions on the other hand are always challenging, combining and integrating elements from jazz, progressive, ethnic and classical music, allowing room for open ended improv while balancing them with skillful orchestration. "Yen-Lang" starts out very ambient and free-floating, with a central instrument being the flute that stands as an improvisational counterpoint to cinematic strings, culminating in a mellow but intense solo against a soft laidback groove towards the second half. "Zohar" became a concert staple and its rigid fast-paced saxophone oriented theme with particularly militant drum work from Jean-My Truong would often lead way to exploratory improvisations. The studio version is notable for an orchestral middle section with just unaccompanied strings playing a variation on the main theme. "Metatron" combines Zeuhl and Weather Report styled jazz-rock contrasting soprano sax driven rigid themes with celestial vocal sections where Seffer shines on falsetto vocalize that sounds more refined than his earlier vocal attempts on Osiris. His sax solo on this piece however is an acquired taste with its high shrill tone.
Even so, Shekina stands as a Zao album lightest on the saxophone, as virtually all other Zao albums with Seffer showcased him on soprano sax for most of the time. Only three tracks out of six included saxophone ("Joyl", "Zohar", "Metatron"). "Zita", another Cahen composition features the instrumentation of bass, electric piano, strings and Seffer's yearning falsetto vocal that makes an already gorgeous ballad sound more haunting. "Bakus", the only composition without strings, features just the basic band augmented by Seffer's falsetto voice and a rumbling bass clarinet doubling the rolling bass lines.
Creatively Shekina was Zao's most accomplished studio album, even though the problems with adequate amplification of the extended ensemble in live settings led to the abandonment of the format a year later. Even though no other Zao album sounds like this, Shekina would be an early manifestation of Yochk'o Seffer's ambition in combining jazz improvisation and classical influences regarding composition and arrangements, a direction he would later pursue in solo career context, particularly his post-Zao Neffesh Music project. An essential listening for Zeuhl connoisseurs." - Stereomouse