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Art Zoyd - Phase IV CD (album) cover

PHASE IV

Art Zoyd

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.92 | 43 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Many years ago I was used, as soon as I bought a new album, to copy it to a tape so to have the possibility to enjoy it in my car, even with albums like this that aren't surely the best fit for a travel by car. I didn't write anything but the album's title on the tape so I've always been convinced that the disc 1 was the disc 2 and vice versa. This can happen. How many people has the same issue with albums released by the Transatlantic label, for example?

So now it's quite strange for me starting this review from my "disc 2".

"Etat D'Urgence" (State of Urgency) is a very dark long track. I think the album's cover reflects well the feelings. However just in the middle of the track it becomes more rhythmic, quite Zeuhl, with brasses in evidence and the darkness replaced by a sense of urgency like the track's title suggests. At this point we can hear a number of possible influences, but the fusion of classic and jazz suggests me the word "Zeuhl". We lack only a soprano, but the speeches cried starting from minute 10 restore the RIO/Avant mood respect to a possible Magma influence. Surely this is one of the best Zaboitzeff's compositions, full of different moments, never boring neither easy. The coda slows down to a sudden end.

"Naufrage"(Shipwrecking) is started by a piano solo later followed by cello and I think contrabass played with the bow. When th ebow stops there a short moment f peace suddenly interrupted by piano again. Piano is the only instrument able to drive this track. even when it just plays repetitive notes. The track progresses with the strings overtaking the role of leading instruments in a crescendo of intensity to slow down in the finale for a conclusive fadeout.

Piano again, immediately followed by the other instruments. It's "Dernier Danse"(Last Dance) There's a hint of a melody immediately overwhelmed by the orchestra. After 2 minutes the obsessive sax alto transforms this into a very eclectic track. It's incredible how a 4 minutes song, a length good for the radios, can contain so many things. The last minute with the obsessive rhythm provided by the strings is fantastic. Bumblebees flying...

"Deux Preludes" is a short one based on piano. It shows a contemporary classic influence contaminated by rock chords.

"La Musique D'Erich Faes" is 14 seconds of cello which introduces "Et Avec Votre Esprit" (.and with your spirit). I don't know what's the relationship between this sentence, part of the catholic liturgy, and this very dark and intense orchestral music. Suitable as comment to a horror movie, after two minutes features a sort of church choir in the background which is one of the darkest things of the album. It's so grotesque that makes me think to HP Lovecraft. Grotesque like the Arzachel's "Azatoth" but very much darker.

"Ballade" is opened by harmonics and piano on major chords, like a children's lullaby. This is very unusual for Art Zoyd, a short excursion out of the usual darkness, a pause in the sunshine with a Canterbury or even a YES flavor that the brasses move to the Zeuhl area in the second part of the track. The bass line is remarkable.

Ok, too much fun. The relaxation time is finished, let's get back to hell. "Chemins De Lumiere"(Paths of light) is dark as usual but the rhythm is initially slow. Even though there's nothing electronic, the first minutes of this long track have a singular connection with the early Tangerine Dream, probably because this track seems to be a patchwork of several 4 minutes tracks. The second of them is very low volume and dreamy...even if more than a dream it looks more like a nightmare. The transitions consist in one second of silence, but the recurring themes give unity to what only apparently is discontinuous. It's only at minute 11 that the usual obsessive atmosphere is restored by piano and brasses, but the tempo remains slow and this puts the listener in a hypnagogic situation.

"Du Sang Sur La Neige" (Of blood on the Snow) is as repetitive as an Edgar Froese's track. The variations are progressive (in the sense of progressively appearing) like in a wicked bolero. The saxes and the cello create a wall of chaos on four repetitive piano high pitched notes. The chaotic moments of Vangelis' Heaven and Hell come to my mind even thoug from a musical point of view there are absolutely no relations between Art Zoyd and the Greek maestro.

"Vue D'un Maneige"(View from a Maneige) is based on a rhythmic sequence of a single note. It looks like a 7/4 but I'm not sure. A good hypnotic track.

The second long track of this double album is "La Nuit"(The Night). Effectively the first minute gives a sense of nightly restleness, with the alto sax playing like flies and mosquitos in a warm night. This is not a summer night, it seems to be in a damn swamp, specially when the chaos comes. The flies are very big, now. The chaos comes and goes, and sometimes the brass accents produce major chords. It's like somebody sleeing in an alternance of exited nightmares and relaxed REM phases. It's a great track. Near to the end the flies and the mosquitos are back. The sleep is finished and you can wake up and be conscious of them.

The album is closed by "Les Larmes De Christina"(Cristina's tears). I don't know who is Christina, but also this track is very dark, based on a lazy rhythm provided by a piano chord. Does it transmit sadness or are they tears of pain? I think the first. The soul's pain is sometimes worse than the physical. There's a sense of resignation in this short closer.

Not an easy album, but in general RIO/Avant things are usually uneasy. If you have the patience of put yourself into this dark world for about two hours this can be a 4 stars experience.

..and do not listen to it while driving....

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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