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Art Zoyd


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Art Zoyd Phase IV album cover
3.92 | 77 ratings | 6 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. État D'Urgence (14:38)
2. Naufrage (6:41)
3. Dernière Danse (4:33)
4. Deux Préludes (2:05)
5. La Musique D'Erich Faes (Collective Improvisation) (0:14)
6. Et Avec Votre Esprit (5:14)
7. Ballade (4:03)
8. Chemins De Lumière (15:09)
9. Du Sang Sur La Neige (4:16)
10. Vue D'Un Manège (4:08)
11. La Nuit (13:00)
12. Les Larmes De Christina (3:44)

Total time 78:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Thierry Zaboitzeff / vocals, bass, cello, acoustic guitar
- Thierry Willems / Steinway piano, Yamaha electric piano
- Gérard Hourbette / violin, viola, piano, synth
- Didier Pietton / alto & tenor saxes, percussion
- Jean Pierre Soarez / trumpet, fluhelhorn, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Thierry Legrand

2xLP Recommended Records - RR 14/15 (1982, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ART ZOYD Phase IV ratings distribution

(77 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ART ZOYD Phase IV reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This progressive Rock In Opposition "RIO" album is good although the 100% instrumental tracks are quite cold, not accessible at all, VERY dramatic and full of lengthy bits. The music uses an excellent and balanced combination of strings and horns arrangements. The comparison with Univers Zero and Frank Zappa around the Orchestral Favorites album is valuable. However, Art Zoyd here constantly produce a palpable climate of tension and unease in their music: the tracks often sound like a film music, and some parts flirt with minimalism like on the "Naufrage" track: they could have been made shorter; also Art Zoyd here are much less symphonic, melodic and rhythmically sustained than Zappa and Univers Zero. The omnipresent trumpet sometimes sounds Latin and sometimes has the Mark Isham's style. The omnipresent electric piano a la Tony Banks circa the And Then There Were Three album gives a too artificial dimension to this very acoustic album: they should have played an acoustic piano. On "État d'urgence", there is a Magma-esque passage. I like the calming and secure air change a la Ekseption in the "Dernière danse" track. "La musique d'Erich Faes" is an irrelevant 13 seconds random violin rub that must be skipped. I much more prefer the more rhythmically sustained and structured tracks like "Ballad" and "Dernière danse". This music will definitely amplify your worries.

rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This fourth album is a double vinyl and might just be the cornerstone of AZ's career. Obviously named after its chronological order, this album is reversing the trend that was letting Zaboitzeff becoming an equal partner in composition time, with Hourbette taking the lion's share here. Most notably line-up change is Thierry Willems replacing Patricia Dallio on piano. The percussion are handled by the wind players Soarez and Pietton, and for the first time in two records, no guest from Univers Zero.

What to say about this album except that it is yet another typical AZ album so far and whatever you have found in previous albums, you will find roughly the same. Etat D'Urgence (penned by Zaboitzeff) is one strong long epic an ever-changing and dense composition with dronal tones. Most of the rest of the (shorter) tracks on the first disc (bar two) are all from Hourbette and are definitely darker, more enigmatic, so the balance is somewhat respected. The second disc however is an almost entirely Hourbette affair, but it is well in the line of the first disc, the two long tracks Chemin De Lumière and La Nuit being the highlights.

Not any better (or worse than the previous album or the following two), Phase IV is an excellent RIO-Zeuhl record, but just one more to add to the pack, but then again, this kind of classical music is never easy on the nerves and to listen to both disc at a time would actually be an exploit for almost the whole planet including progressive music minded intellectuals. Although impressive, it is difficult to recommend this album, especially if you mean to listen to it as a whole album at once.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars For me this is the least enjoyable of the first 4 albums. It doesn't help in my opinion that this is a double album. Yes there is a lot of incredible music on this recording, but I also feel there is a lot of meandering and some average passages (average that is for Art Zoyd).

The first track as usual is brilliant, and the best of the lot. This really recalls previous albums, the way they contrast those intense sections with the calm passages. The first 4 minutes features a lot of horns,violin and piano and then we are hit with a dark, intense section with vocals. It becomes uptempo again 7 minutes in. Dissonant horns, deep bass and vocals all before 10 minutes. Check out the bass lines 11 1/2 minutes in as horns play on. Deep, dark hum sounds to end it. Classic ART ZOYD. "Naufrage" features piano and violin before a full sound 2 minutes in. Great soundscape a minute later that is very intense. A calm follows but it doesn't last long. "Derniere Danse" opens with violin, bass and horns. Cool sounding tune. Dissonant horns 2 minutes in before it settles down with some deep bass. The tempo picks back up before it ends. "Et Avec Vetre Esprit" is the fourth amazing song in a row. Piano and horns lead the way before bass joins in. Great sound. It calms down with choir sounds 2 1/2 minutes in. More tension 4 minutes in. "Ballade" is where I feel they start to lose me. This one is brighter sounding for the first 2 minutes then heavy bass and blasts of horns come in. Nice. It then settles back down. "Deux Preludes" is a short mellow track of horns and piano. "La Musique D'Erich Fals" is mere seconds of scraping violin sounds.

Disc two begins with "Chemins De Lumiere" a 15 minute killer track that starts with piano and a dark mood. Some suspense when the violin comes in around 3 minutes. Piano again takes the lead after 4 minutes as violin and horns take a back seat. Piano is the dominant instrument on this song. "Du Sang Sur La Neige" is my favourite from disc two. The dissonant horns and violin are incredible. "Vue D'un Manege" again features piano, horns and violin. Themes are repeated. Good tune. "La Nuit" is 13 minutes long and the most difficult to get through. There isn't much going on for the last half of the song. "Les Larmes De Christina" features dual piano melodies, horns and violin.

Barely 4 stars for me, this is a lot to digest. Certainly this is their most ambitous recording so far, but i'm just not enjoying it as much as the first three albums.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Although Univers Zero's Daniel Denis doesn't guest this time, Art Zoyd's Phase IV continues the cross-fertilisation of the ideas between the two bands. The result is an album which continues their chamber rock experiments and yet, to my ears at least, is perhaps the most diverse of their early releases. The composition Ballade, in particular, contains some rather beautiful sections which suggest that despite their thorny, spooky, avant-garde reputation the Zoyd by this point were not afraid of incorporating some more accessible elements into their music if they would fit aesthetically. No longer seeming quite as avant for avant's sake as their previous albums, Phase IV represents an extremely mature artistic statement on the part of the band.
Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
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....

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