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Art Zoyd - Musique Pour L'Odyssée CD (album) cover

MUSIQUE POUR L'ODYSSÉE

Art Zoyd

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.86 | 58 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pnoom!
4 stars At the moment, there is only one written review for this album, which is too bad, because it deserves much more recognition than it gets. In essence, this album is my introduction to the RIO division of prog. While I own (or owned) Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante and Frank Zappa - Hot Rats, neither one got me jumping for joy, yelling, "I finally get RIO!" But that is about my reaction to Art Zoyd's 1979 work, Musique Pour L'Odyssee. RIO in general is overlooked by most prog fans (and probably unknown to most non-prog fans), and that, in my mind, is quite sad. Art Zoyd, at least for the moment, is my favorite RIO band, since they are the only one that I enjoy. According to Sean Trane, this album is widely regarded as their peak, and I can see why, even without having heard their other albums. Musique Pour L'Odyssee is an "odyssee" of its own, a voyage through the depths of avant-classical chamber rock, and one of the most refreshing listens I've had in quite a while.

As I've indicated in the first paragraph of this review, I don't know RIO well (yet). Despite this, I will do my best to capture the sound of this album without any reference points that I can compare it to, and hopefully I will succeed. The basic sound of this album is, as I've said, avant-classical chamber rock. For the most part, the album is instrumental, though certain sections do contain some chanting (wordless, I believe). The album consists of three tracks, each one excellent, with the highlight being the 17-minute, sidelong title track that opens the album. As a whole, the album is relatively short, clocking in at just less than thirty-five minutes, but as PFM, Le Orme, and now Art Zoyd prove, quantity of music does not determine quality. There may not be much of it, but this album is full of high-quality music. This is not music to relax to, as it is jarring and full of twists, but I believe that most prog listeners look for music that challenges them (at least, I do), because, as a general rule, prog is more challenging than non-prog music. This is not to be a snob, it simply is the case that RIO, Krautrock, and Zeuhl are some of the most challenging music around, and other, more "traditional" types of prog are quite challenging as well. I can certainly say that if you want easy listening, you will find no solace here. If, however, you are prepared to be challenged for 35 minutes, this is an album you MUST purchase.

The album opens with the epic title track, Musique Pour L'Odyssee (Music for the Odyssey). Right from the deep and throbbing beginning, the ominous atmosphere this song exudes digs underneath your skin, an effect only heightened by the jarring violin that comes in within the first few seconds. It sounds like there are two violins going, and they are both dueling to see which can shred your ears (in an all too good sense) fastest. One is high and wailing, the other deeper and more ominous, more of a tone-setter, while the first really carries the track. For the first two minutes and fifteen seconds, the song continues in this vein, before some additional textures subtly change the track. The saxophone begins to dominate, though the violins misbehave gloriously like before, though they sound different (better, in my opinion). Around four and a half minutes in, the song changes again, getting harder for me to describe with my limited knowledge of RIO. I have a feeling that if I spend too long discussing every moment of this opener, no matter how wonderful it is (and it's quite wonderful), I'll lose you, so I'm going to skim over the rest, picking out highlights. Near the six minute and forty second mark, the intensity of the song really, builds, especially on saxophone, leading into the wonderful and fitting chanting that follows shortly after. Behind this part the music is quite high in intensity, and simply sucks you in. A violin section reminiscent of the beginning returns, followed again by the chanting. About twelve minutes in, the song starts moving towards its climax, with the background music coming in first, setting the stage and building marvelously, and then the eerie violin that is some of the best on the album. The rest of the instruments follow, and the overall effect is incredibly powerful, perhaps the highlight of the entire album. This song doesn't let up until the ending, keeping the listener engaged and attentive throughout, and leading the listener on quite the journey. The sheer power of this track is incredible, and the album is worth owning for this song alone.

Thankfully, however, the rest of the album, while not quite in the same league as the overwhelming opener, doesn't disappoint. Bruit, Silence - Bruit Repos (Noise, Silence - Noise, Repose). Violin gets us started here, soon joined by instruments I do not recognize. Here, Art Zoyd manages to be avant- classical without completely scaring off the listener, giving a false sense of accessibility. The tone is slightly less ominous than on the title track, but this isn't by any means the happy birthday song. This aura of accessibility increases in the second minute of the song, before our first short period of silence. At this point, all notion of accessibility is dropped as Art Zoyd heads into pure RIO territory. The tone gets darker, carried by haunting violin (or perhaps something else, I don't know my instruments well). As the song progresses, the intensity builds in a way only Art Zoyd could manage, as violins, saxophone, and bass combine to form some of the most inaccessible music on the album, and yet, at the same time, some of the best. Shortly after five minutes in, Art Zoyd shows their ability to make the listener feel, with a very sad section that would bring you to tears if you weren't petrified by the music assaulting your ears. Like with the title track, I could go into more detail, but I will spare you the extra words, and simply say that you are in for quite a surprise (and a lovely one at that) around the 9:30 mark of the song. RIO at its very finest right there, a solid reminder that RIO is not for everyone (though, thankfully, if this album is any indication, it is for me).

Trio 'Lettre D' Automne gets started right off that bat with some whining violins that really sets the tone, and gets the listener prepared for a third piece of RIO magic. This may be the weakest track on the album, but that means only one thing. that Musique Pour L'Odyssee and Bruit, Silence - Bruit, Repos are simply amazing. The textures used in this song are odd, and quite hard to describe. Like the rest of the album, Trio is ominous, weighing down on your mind, and quite effective at building in intensity. But as for the actual music, I find it hard to convey in words the effect of this music on the listener. I cannot even say how it makes me feel, because listening to this song, and indeed this whole album, does two things. You get a tumble of emotions that mesh as they race across your mind, and then, as you delve deeper inside, you lose all capability for emotion, for the music demands your full attention, and no part of you can be spared for the sake of measly emotions.

This is not an album that you listen to. This is an album that you experience. It grips you, it twists you, it mauls you, and, once it's done, you get a sense of sheer bliss that is indescribable, it really is. This album is not for everyone, only the adventurous, but I advise all of you to find the adventurous side of yourself and purchase this album. It is a unique experience; no other album has had this effect on me. Unfortunately (though this may change with future listens), I cannot call this album a masterpiece of progressive music, but it is certainly a masterpiece of RIO. I strongly urge you get your hands on this album, an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

4.5 STARS: ESSENTIAL FOR RIO FANS: A MASTERPIECE OF RIO! FOR NON-RIO FANS, AN EXCELLENT ADDITION TO ANY PROG MUSIC COLLECTION!

Pnoom! | 4/5 |

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