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Art Zoyd - Phase IV CD (album) cover


Art Zoyd



3.96 | 60 ratings

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4 stars Art Zoyd's fourth album remains their strongest offering to date, and also marks the end of their original RIO chamber rock sound. Shortly after this album they were joined by keyboard player Patricia Diallo, and elements of contemporary minimalism (Steve Reich, Philip Glass) were incorporated into their sound. The sound of this double album is generally closer to contemporary classical than to rock - there is no drum kit (although a lot of percussion can be heard in places) and the only element anchoring it to prog is Thierry Zaboitzeff's rumbling bass guitar. Despite this, the music has a real rhythmic drive (mostly propelled by the piano) and the multi instrumental abilities of the band mean that there is a varied sonic pallette which occasionally sounds like a full orchestra. There are also occasional outbursts of demented vocals that recall some of Magma's wilder moments.

For all their formidable abilities as instrumentalists and composers, Art Zoyd's music has always been just a bit too cold and intellectual to fully engage the listener - many of their pieces were conceived as soundtracks to multimedia events or installations, and taken out of context can seem a little lifeless. The music is also very carefully scored most of the time, but with none of the space for improvisation or interpretation that was usually left by perfectionists like Frank Zappa and Christian Vander.

Leaving those reservations aside, it's hard to think of any other band who have patrolled the border between contemporary avant garde and rock music in such a determined and single minded fashion. The fact that they have continued to explore this singular musical territory for over 30 years is even more impressive. Recommended for those times when you want something to engage the intellect and by pass the feet altogether.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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