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Art Zoyd - 44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set CD (album) cover

44 1/2 LIVE + UNRELEASED WORKS BOX SET

Art Zoyd

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Nogbad_The_Bad
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team
5 stars In celebration of Art Zoyd's long and varied history their guiding lights, Gerard Hourbette & Thierry Zaboitzeff, along with the label Cuneiform, have put together a 14 disc boxset made up of 8 live CD's, 4 CD's of unreleased materials and 2 DVD's. The DVD's including the full performance from the 2015 Rock In Opposition Festival and television appearances from the 70's & 80's. The live music is from the 70's, 80's 90's and 2000's. They were one of the eight members of the Rock In Opposition movement in the 70's with the likes of Henry Cow & Univers Zero.

The quality of the recordings here is excellent and this is a fantastic document of their varied sound from edgy avant instrumental music through music commissioned for ballet, soundtracks and silent movies. The DVD of RIO is a distinct highlight bringing back wonderful memories for anyone there.

The design of the box, cd/dvd's and books is gorgeous and is really complementary to the material. It will take months to absorb the depth of this material but it is easy to say this is essential for anyone who is a fan of Art Zoyd.

Report this review (#1818303)
Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Over the years my musical tastes have broadened, which is probably both a good and a bad thing when one is as much of a musical addict as I am. A quick check on the Mac tells me I have more than 11,000 albums, a terabyte of music, stored there, and that doesn't include all the CDs and vinyl in the study. Over the years I have taken advice from both critics and friends, and have investigated music that I should have known much earlier in life. I don't know how or where, but at some point, I became aware of Art Zoyd, and their 1976 album 'Symphonie Pour Le Jour Oů Brűleront Les Cités', and from then on, I have been a keen investigator of their works as they are like nothing else I have come across, although they are often cited within the RIO movement. So, when I heard that Cuneiform (one of my favourite labels) was going to release a set containing 12 CDs, 2 DVDs, 2 books and 2 posters I knew that I just had to have it. This was a huge undertaking for the label, as the set was going to be the largest and most artistically lavish project they ha dever been part of, and consequently they checked with fans to see if they would purchase it before they went ahead with the deal, and luckily enough there are enough people with discerning taste to make this a reality in November.

The tale told by '44˝' incorporates everything from decades-old demos for brilliant but abandoned pieces to live recordings of multimedia extravaganzas involving film, theatre, and more. It encompasses intimate trio performances as well as full orchestral assaults featuring dozens of musicians in full flight. It offers explosive industrial soundscapes and sweeping symphonic surges, quiet dread and monumental wallop, delicate acoustic chamber pieces and bustling electronic outbursts. Art Zoyd has always been a band in flux, not only stylistically but in terms of personnel as well. Countless musicians have come and gone through the band's ranks over the years, but most of them can be heard here, with core players like bassist/cellist Thierry Zaboitzeff, trumpeter Jean-Pierre Soarez, keyboardist Patricia Dallio, and violinist/keyboardist Gérard Hourbette providing the through-line. On recordings that go all the way back to 1975, this sprawling set - you can't capture the gist of an ensemble like this without going heroically deep - spotlights the multitude of ways in which Art Zoyd blazed a trail unquestionably their own. Their constantly shifting sound was even a million miles from their RIO comrades, let alone anything even minutely more conventional. They've always been left field of the left field, the maverick's mavericks, and if anything, this set underlines just how diligently they've pursued that grand idiosyncrasy decade after decade, offering new views of their evolution in the bargain.

The packaging is amazing, the music incredible, the production spot on. This is simply indispensable for anyone who have ever wanted their music to be real and not plastic. If ever there was an example of a label showing that they are there for the fans, for those who love what they do and are proud of it, as opposed to searching for the next big thing, then Cuneiform are it. I am proud to say that I have been involved with the label for more than twenty years, and the guys never cease to amaze me with their search for the very best in music, but this time they have outdone themselves. It may take months to get through everything in the box, to read the books, and truly understand what this band means in terms of the history of modern music and the impact they have had, but it is time very well spent indeed. It simply doesn't get any better, or any more complete, than this. It is impossible to imagine what else Cuneiform could have done to make this release any more essential than it is.

Report this review (#1840705)
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
Lewian
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There is no way to do this absolute monster of a box set justice in a review. Maybe I start by writing that Art Zoyd have developed over time from a RIO band that used mainly acoustic elements including strings and woodwinds into a more electronically oriented experimental avantgarde collective, from a strong orientation toward chamber-like composition in the beginning to more focus on subtle atmospheres and sound design, evolving their signature sound inspired by horror movies and the depths of the psyche while still remaining unmistakably Art Zoyd when it comes to the mysterious dark mood and experimental spirit. A number of members came and went through the years, many with remaining long term association with the band, and later the group became more of a collective with changing line-ups often in parallel doing different projects. Spiritus Rector Gerard Hourbette sadly passed away far too young at 64 in 2018, but it looks like many of the tentacles of Art Zoyd will go on. All this is represented here, so if you want to start your Art Zoyd fandom with a bang, buy this (obviously if you're not rich chances are you're not going to plunge into such a set first even though I may tell you that you won't regret it... maybe some will actually, because AZ are surely not for everyone).

This is 12 CDs, two DVDs, and maybe still additional gimmicks if you order now (I love my Art Zoyd T-Shirt that I got with this) and as far as I know all previously unreleased. There are live versions of quite a bit of Art Zoyd's back catalogue, all of which have quite a bit of additions and variation. Most sound very good although there's the odd outlier in sound quality, but anyway, the fan will have the originals and can still enjoy spotting the differences. In any case having these versions is worthwhile if you want to hear how they changed and developed their material live. I'm even more excited about the several CDs (hard to count as some of this material is scattered all over the place) of yet unreleased high quality music, much for ballet etc., that would have made a valuable complete career in RIO on its own but wasn't deemed apparently to be up to publication standard by the Art Zoyd collective up to 2017 (of course the sad reason may be that despite being an absolutely authoritative and super productive band, there was never enough money in the hand of buyers who could appreciate such off mainstream experimentation enough to buy even more than the several dozens of albums that they had put out anyway). There is the odd foray into unusual territory like more poppy electronic, charming enough to be entertaining and not distracting from the greater scheme of things which here means properly GREAT.

If I start to review any detail of this, my week will be lost and there are unfortunately a few other things that I have to do. Remember, this is two full discographies of fine bands worth of material, despite the fact that AZ have released loads of other stuff that isn't represented here. Pity that probably only the craziest people like me will buy such a set. Not sure whether the world would be a better place otherwise, there are some disturbing psychological and even parapsychological tendencies portrayed in the most scary way in some of AZs music, so maybe I should be happy that far more people love Lennon's Imagine than having ever heard any note by Art Zoyd, but if you're interested in the worrying stuff that goes on underneath, look and listen here!

Report this review (#2595212)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2021 | Review Permalink

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