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Art Zoyd biography
Founded in Valenciennes, France in 1969

In 1968, French smalltown Maubeuge was giving birth to this fascinating avant-garde outfit that now boasts 13 albums, 17 videos, many soundtracks and music for shows, worldwide festival appearances plus numerous live and compilation disks. By the early 80's, ART ZOYD had already gone through over 30 musicians but the core always centered around composer and classically-trained violinist Gérard Hourbette and bassist Thierry Zaboitzeff. Constantly evolving over the years, their music is always highly adventurous, drawing on elements of the modern classics (Bartok, Stravinsky), the chamber rock of UNIVERS ZERO, a bit of jazz, a good dose of zeuhl and lately, a penchant for electronics. Despite their lack of a drummer, their material is intensely rhythmic and largely relies on strings, horns and piano. Considered more 'neo-classical chamber' than truly rock, their energy level has the intensity of bands such as MAGMA and 70's KING CRIMSON, with strong dynamics and atmospheric climaxes.

With each successive album, the rock aspect of their material slowly gave way to a blend of zeuhl and classical music, developing ever tenser and darker climates - surely not for the faint of heart. "Phase IV" (1982) is hailed as their all-time masterpiece and displays a remarkable "ear" for dense and dramatic textures. "Les espaces inquiets" (1983) is in the same vein but a bit more experimental, the music alternating between ominous, plodding parts with minimal instrumentation (usually a solo piano or organ) and faster, more frantic sections led by trumpet and strings. "Le mariage du ciel et de l'enfer" (1985) is perhaps the one that best displays the band's adventurous compositional sophistication while remaining reasonably digestible for new listeners. "Nosferatu" (1989) features nightmarish music that could wake the dead - albeit all too willing to oblige, no doubt. Finally, "Haxan" (1997) shows the band at their most 'electronic'. It features UNIVERS ZERO's drummer Daniel Denis who mostly plays around with sample triggers (sequencers). A good sampler for ART ZOYD neophytes is their 1987 album "Les espaces inquiets / Phase IV / Archives II", made up of 32 tracks covering the two cd's plus a few extras.

If you get off on UNIVERS ZERO, MAGMA or RIO in general, if you have a passion for the likes of Bartok, Stravinsky and Schoenberg, you definitely should check out the music of ART ZOYD : it is risky, unsafe, dark,...
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ART ZOYD Videos (YouTube and more)

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Buy ART ZOYD Music

CD Baby 2012
44 1/2 : Live + Unreleased Works44 1/2 : Live + Unreleased Works
Box set
$200.67 (used)
Generation Sans FuturGeneration Sans Futur
Sub Rosa 2015
$13.47 (used)
Musique Pour L'odysseeMusique Pour L'odyssee
Sub Rosa 2013
$88.81 (used)
Nosferatu by Art Zoyd (1998-04-07)Nosferatu by Art Zoyd (1998-04-07)
Dossier (1998-04-07)
$38.16 (used)
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les CitesSymphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites
Sub Rosa 2012
$149.00 (used)
Experiences De, Vol. 4-5-6Experiences De, Vol. 4-5-6
CD Baby 2014
$47.68 (used)
CD Baby 2012
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
La Chute De La Maison... Art Zoyd Audio CD USD $29.00 Buy It Now 1 day
44 1/2: Live & Unreleased Works Art Zoyd Audio CD USD $285.38 Buy It Now 3 days
ART ZOYD?PHASE IV?RR14/15 1st UK Nimbus press Dbl LP?Vinyl=EX+/VG(tape on cover) USD $72.98 Buy It Now 4 days
Art Zoyd vinyl LP album record Generation Sans Futur French MAD3011 COMA 1985 USD $39.48 Buy It Now 4 days
THIERRY ZABOITZEFF Promethee LP Dark Avant Prog - ex-Art Zoyd, on Cryonic Inc. USD $29.99 [0 bids]
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ART ZOYD Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Brûleront Les Cites SEALED LP Patricia Dallio USD $39.97 Buy It Now 7 days
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Yog Sothoth ?- Yog Sothoth 1984 LP Cryonic Art Zoyd R.I.O USD $18.66 [0 bids]
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Art Zoyd - Musique Pour L'odyssee Vinyl LP French 1st Press 1979 Prog USD $38.57 Buy It Now 8 days
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LP Art Zoyd Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'enfer MAD3009 CRYONIC France Vinyl USD $21.99 Buy It Now 23 days
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ART ZOYD discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ART ZOYD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 95 ratings
Art Zoyd 3 [Aka: Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités]
3.89 | 90 ratings
Musique Pour L'Odyssée
4.02 | 90 ratings
Génération Sans Futur
4.20 | 65 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
3.94 | 63 ratings
Phase IV
3.83 | 49 ratings
Les Espaces Inquiets
3.99 | 73 ratings
Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'Enfer
4.31 | 71 ratings
3.65 | 37 ratings
2.66 | 13 ratings
Art Zoyd / J. A. Deane / J. Greinke
4.06 | 25 ratings
Marathonnerre I
3.29 | 23 ratings
Marathonnerre II
3.92 | 29 ratings
4.42 | 69 ratings
3.48 | 23 ratings
3.96 | 33 ratings
3.60 | 10 ratings
Art Zoyd & Musiques Nouvelles: Expériences De Vol
3.78 | 9 ratings
Art Zoyd & Musiques Nouvelles: Expériences De Vol 4-5-6
3.04 | 23 ratings
Le Champ Des Larmes
3.12 | 15 ratings
La Chute De La Maison Usher
2.29 | 5 ratings
Expériences De Vol - 7 [Aka: Pure Noise]
4.57 | 12 ratings
3.44 | 9 ratings
Armageddon - Opérette Pour Robots

ART ZOYD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ART ZOYD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ART ZOYD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 10 ratings
Les Espaces Inquiets / Phase IV / Archives II
3.52 | 10 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités / Musique Pour L'Odyssée / Génération Sans Futur / Archives I
4.20 | 11 ratings
Marathonnerre I & II
5.00 | 4 ratings
44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set

ART ZOYD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.31 | 7 ratings
Sangria / Something in love

ART ZOYD Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Berlin by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.31 | 71 ratings

Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By the time "Berlin" came out, the transition of Art Zoyd from traditional instruments to a more electronic was underway. Though there are still physical instruments involved on this album, the electronic sound is more prevalent on this one as it continues to take over for the next decade. This is still a great album and worth checking out, at least for those into avant prog bands, especially the chamber-style and electronic bands as it is brilliant experimentation of the two styles and the textures and sounds that can be created. There are still plenty of interesting sounds and passages, lots of experimentation and dissonance, and lots of atmospheric darkness.

The songwriting duties stay with Gerard Hourbette and Thierry Zaboitzeff who wrote the tracks which alternate from one to the other starting with Hourbette's 20 minute contribution.

The original vinyl version of the album only included the 2 long tracks which are over 20 minutes long each. The CD reissue added several short tracks to this making things more interesting. This review is for the expanded CD.

The album starts off with one of the 20 minute pieces "Epithalme". This is Hourbette's 20 minute contribution. It starts with a rapid repeating electronic pattern and slowly builds and adds other churning instruments which turns into a spooky combination of organ and sax taking turns at the lead. It has a dramatic and cinematic sound. At around 5 minutes, this fades to the background as a solo piano takes over playing dissonant chords. Finally at 9 minutes, a subdued string instrument comes in as a sort-of bass, and a repeating keyboard chord pushes things forward along with that rapid pattern which has reappeared. Things start to build again, with all of the instruments almost seeming to be in worlds of their own. At 13 minutes all of this stops and is replaced by an organ, a pounding, mostly non-rhythmic drum and a repeating synth chord. A piano soon joins in. At this point, things have become rather stately, but still mysterious. At around 16 minutes, there is another change as new unsettling tones, melodies and sounds come in and things become more discordant. The pounding drum comes back in along with other familiar patterns from before. Things seem to be building to a finish at this point as everything comes together.

Next is a short 5 minute piece called "Baboon's Blood". This is Zaboizeff's first contribution to the album. This one is more melodic and rhythmic, yet it is still unsettling expecially when strange vocals come in, some sung, some spoken, some almost grunted. It becomes almost operatic, but in a creepy manner. A violin comes in and tries to pull a melody out of the strange vocal patterns.

There are also 3 tracks that are part of a suite written by Hourbette on this expanded album. The next 2 tracks make up the first 2 movements of the suite (each around 3 minutes a piece) called "Petite messe à l'usage des pharmaciens" which means "Small Mass for Use by Pharmacists". The 1st movement is "Offertoire". It starts as a more ambient track with a beeping sound, chimes, a reed instrument that seems hesitant to be there, and other sounds, all of these kept at a soft level. The 2nd movement is "Kyrie" and is introduced by a repeating piano pattern with a piano melody played on the top and a clacking percussive, rhythmic noise. This is soon joined by a screeching violin. Later, a male choir joins in it's own little melody that seemingly has nothing to do with any of the other sounds.

Next is Zaboizeff's 20 minute piece called "A Drum a Drum". It starts with a spooky sounding cello and an weird huffing- puffing sound. This is all joined by electronic pings and percussive noises. It becomes quite dirge like with it's slow-plodding rhythm. At 2:30, this all disappears and is replaced by some high-pitched electronic sounds and then a sudden series of discordant interruptions that involve a horn and some electronic treatments. Strange vocals come in. A sax also comes in after a while, trying to pick out something that resembles a melody. Around 8 minutes there is an abrupt change and things get really creepy, then suddenly and tense and jittery rhythm starts with some quickly plucked string patterns. At this point, there is a very playful section with acoustic and electronic sounds, then weird vocals start again. The playfulness continues, but the vocals add an unsettling element to it all. The violin has its turn at lead instrument for a short time as the playful section continues. Sometimes, the instruments sound like they are trying to speak. Then suddenly a chanting group takes over, then fades and we are left with high chirping noises. Then out of nowhere, another almost tropical-sounding section commences with some percussive style instruments and electronic music. But this all changes to drama as the vocals and intensity grows. This section fades at 16:30, and is replaced by oboe tiptoeing around whispering vocals. A violin and piano soon join. Things turn mysterious again and more vocals. Instruments drop off one by one until we are left with a solo piano to end it all.

The next track is the 3rd part of the previously mention suite. This part is called "Introit" and is another short 3 minute section. Percussive splashing noises, strange vocal/musical textures and an organ drive this one forward. The album closes on another short 3 minute track called "Unsex Me Here". This one starts with a cello churning out a repeating pattern which gets joined by plucked strings and textured percussion. The cello uses it's repeating pattern to create an ascending melody of sorts. Vocals eventually start creating a new melody with a synthesizer shadowing.

Many people don't consider this album as strong as previous albums, but I still find it as great as any of their best work. Even the shorter tracks are extremely interesting and intriguing. This is still top quality avant-prog/RIO music and I love it all. Yes there is the impending takeover of the electronics in this, but the balance between electronics and acoustics here is inspired brilliance as the sounds are used to create textures, atmospheres and sounds that are unique and inspiring. I love this album just as much as their completely acoustic albums for their exploration into the combination of these instruments and the brilliance of the songwriting. This is definitely an album that needs to be explored by all and should be considered a modern- classical recording.

 44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set by ART ZOYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
5.00 | 4 ratings

44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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 Où Brûleront 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 '44½' 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.

 44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set by ART ZOYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
5.00 | 4 ratings

44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by 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.

 Les Espaces Inquiets by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.83 | 49 ratings

Les Espaces Inquiets
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars ART ZOYD's fifth album is in my opinion one of their best. I'd rate it in my top five with "Haxan", "Generation Sans Futur", "Le Mariage Du Et De L'Enfer" and "Musique Pour L'Odyssee". This one clicked with me right away as the dynamic duo of Hourbette and Zaboitzeff have once again created an album that takes me to dark places which are full of adventure. Apart from the usual instruments we get cello, viola, violin, tapes, trumpet, flugelhorn, sax and vibes. This was recorded in Switzerland at Sunrise Studios back in August of 1983 and it clocks in at under 43 minutes.

"La Foret Qui Avance" is a top three and I love that they opened with such an experimental track. Check out the intro with that distortion and experimental sounds. It's eerie as strings start to come and go slicing away. Whispered voices also come and go in this creepy and scary section. In fact hair-raising might be the right description. "Ceremonie" is another top three for me. This has three main sections over it's over 9 minute length. I was actually reminded of ELP to start with the sound of that organ as it's quite powerful. You can hear the horns join in as there's lots of depth to the sound here as the rhythm almost pulses. It does settle back before 2 minutes and there's so many intricate sounds here and still plenty of depth. The piano joins in followed by strings. So much going on. Love the huge bass sounds from Zaboitzeff and also the guitar as he has it crying out 4 1/2 minutes in. So good! A change after 5 minutes as it brightens yet it's still dark and melancholic. Love this! Another change before 7 minutes as horns blast and deranged vocals speak and yell in this more stripped down section. A brilliant piece of music. "Errance" opens with laid back piano as a horn joins in crying out of the darkness over and over. It calms down even more before 3 1/2 minutes with sparse piano and horns until we get more life before 4 minutes as sounds come and go to the end.

"Cortege Des Officiels" features more of that powerful organ again bringing ELP to mind. The song feels like it's starting to take off with piano outfront but then it settles back with more organ and deep sounds. A frenzy after 3 minutes as we get an uptempo piano led melody but then it settles back again. "Au Dela Des Vallees" starts with piano as strings then horns join in. This is really good. It's building after 2 1/2 minutes as we get lots of suspense here. "Migration" is my final top three. Strings to open as piano helps out then the horns arrive droning away. There's more depth after 2 1/2 minutes as we get a piano led outburst that will come and go. There's a steady and determined sound around 4 minutes in then this cool little melody arrives that's repeated. That piano led outburst is back after 6 minutes then we get a change after 7 minutes as the organ returns with this almost buzzing soundscape. Percussion follows as the piano and more join in. Check out the blasting horns before 9 minutes. Some creepy electronics 10 1/2 minutes in as the horns continue to blast with percussion and more. An amazing track. "Le Bruit Du Fer" starts with percussion, bells and more. Horns and strings will also join in this short 3 minute closer.

I can't get enough of this stuff, they are such an adventerous band always brimming with ideas.

 Art Zoyd 3 [Aka: Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités] by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.88 | 95 ratings

Art Zoyd 3 [Aka: Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités]
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars The turn of the seventies witnessed formation of countless bands in Europe. It was time to part ways with worn-out hippie psychedelic and blues rock clichés - the legacy of the sixties' pop music revolution. One of such bands was Art Zoyd, formed in 1968 around Valenciennes, Nord-Pas-de-Calais - a French industrial city located just near the Belgian border. In 1971, the group released a single Sangria/Something In Love, rather conventional, presenting a heavy psych rock style with light jazz touches, stylistically very much in between early Colosseum and Spooky Tooth. The same year, the classically-trained cellist and bassist, Thierry Zaboitzeff joined. Zaboitzeff and the violinist Gérard Hourbette reformed Art Zoyd in 1975 together with Jean-Pierre Soarez and Alain Eckert. One year later, the band released their first LP Symphonie pour le Jour où Brûleront les Cités (translating into "Symphony for the Day When the Cities Burned"), recorded just in nine days.

"Brigades Spéciales", the opening movement of the Symphonie pour le Jour où Brûleront les Cités suite, accents its disturbing, aggressive, theatrical nature since the very first notes. Opening with a rapid viola/cello interplay, it is quickly joined by Zaboitzeff's mad screaming, recalling some moments of Magma's music. Although the rhythm becomes rather firm, the dark, ominous atmosphere remains unchanged. The music bafflingly goes from delicate Largo tempos to loud, punchy Allegro in no time, being heavy without any use of drums or percussion whatsoever. The instrumental arrangements for a thumpy bass, bright, jangly guitar, jazzy trumpet, viola and violin are very sophisticated and intricate. The style is closely related to the works of neo-classical composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky, fusing uneven time signatures and unconventional harmonic solutions with somewhat of an Easter European folk tone. At one point, the whole spectacle is ripped by a very quickly-strummed, high-pitched note on guitar, setting a very odd rhythm, which cannot stay for long, being quickly ruined by a contrasted segment with a sickening violin pattern, similar to that on Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee." Towards the end, the opening motif returns with psychic screaming from Thierry Zaboitzeff. "Masques" starts in an unsafe manner with the viola on the lead, accompanied just by gentle rattle touches. The trumpet and bass guitar delicately start creeping in. A marching rhythm suddenly enters the equation, however not for long, with the movement returning to where it started - silent and scary, yet very unobtrusive. The Miles Davis-like trumpet playing style put in a rural folk scenery results in a surprisingly smooth, natural, and, most importantly, original atmosphere. The addition of wordless vocals makes it even eerier. The rapid, broken Magma-like theme comes in, building up the tension resolved on a quieter part.

"Simulancres", the last movement of the suite continued on side two, opens with a loud trumpet theme, which is quickly joined by all the other instruments, becoming very heavy and aggressive, yet very educated and calculated. The cascading instrumental layers play a prominent role in forging a distinctive sonic landscape. Although the dynamic parts of "Simulancres" are very contrasted, the movement's unique integrity remains unchanged throughout, with an "unholy" Eastern European dance rhythm as basis. The rest of the disc is occupied by a no-less fascinating politically-charged mini-epic "Deux Images de la Cité Imbécile." Opening with a fast, chaotic motif, its first movement, "Les Fourmis" takes no time to warm-up. The variation on the theme is really elaborate, putting it into different musical contexts. At one point, double choir (one voice being incredibly squeaky, the other very deep) kick in, reorganizing the sequences and showcasing the harmonic ambiguity of the opening motif - going from light and charming to sinister and oppressive. "Scenes de Carnaval's" tone thoroughly reflects the title - bringing a bustling carnival square on a busy day to mind, with its diverse, dynamic ambience. Likely more than any time before, Art Zoyd's sound is very varied. Zaboitzeff's throbbing bass is quite similar to that of Jannick Top from Magma. From the middle of the movement, the track suddenly loses its power, becoming slightly sleepy, easier to follow until the album is closed with a short, loud vocal sound.

Although quite a few comparisons to other artists have been made in this review, the sound of Art Zoyd's debut album remains unrepeated and incredibly original. Similarly to their English Rock In Opposition brothers, Henry Cow, Art Zoyd took their time before recording their debut, observing the constantly-changing music industry in constant search for the "lost chord." The judgment comes down to the listener, however, I believe this to be one of the treasures of progressive music with its classically-informed, atmospheric soundscapes owing as much to composers such as Schoenberg, Bartok, and Stravinsky, as the creative minds of Thierry Zaboitzeff and Co.

A few years later, Art Zoyd re-recorded Symphonie pour le Jour où Brûleront les Cités in a different, broader line-up, offering tastier instrumentation as well as superior recording quality. However, the quality of the music remains equally magnificent, not influencing my regard of the album anyhow. Essential listening to anybody exploring Rock In Opposition!

 Häxan by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.42 | 69 ratings

Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Häxan for the most part constitutes Art Zoyd's soundtrack for the classic silent movie of the same name. However, this seems to not be the only source on the group's mind; take the electronic-inclined half-hour opener, "Glissements progressifs du plaisir", which shares a title with an obscure French movie, and whose constituent parts allude to Ubik, one of the most important novels by Philip K. Dick and a subject that Art Zoyd would expand on in previous releases).

Overall, the album is a mixed bag of influences, ranging from Art Zoydified electronic music to more conventional film soundtrack stuff with some Zoydian spookiness here and there to more typical Art Zoyd RIO outbursts. The transitions from style to style, however, are handled with such craft that you won't realise they've happened until you find yourself in the midst of a new sonic landscape.

Unfortunately, due to the disparity in running time between the CD and the movie (which is longer than a single CD would be able to encompass), you can't simply put this album on and sync it up to the film, but in being forced to select extracts and assemble something which stands as a decent listening experience in its own right independently of the source material, Art Zoyd have produced something pretty compelling here.

 Marathonnerre I by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.06 | 25 ratings

Marathonnerre I
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

5 stars Marathonnere I is in some ways a very typical 1990s Art Zoyd album. It has a strongly electronic flavour and is full of typical mysterious dark Art Zoyd melodies and rhythms. I know that many listeners prefer their earlier works with more orchestral and acoustic instruments to their later more electronic output, but I am quite fond of their more electronic offerings. I think that the electronic sounds are very tastefully created and combined, and they underline the outworldly extrahuman feeling of the band's music. Marathonnere I is an extract of music for a 12h performance; more of this is on Marathonnere II. What makes the first Marathonnere CD special is that it is more melodic and accessible than many other Art Zoyd's works (including Marathonnere II), at the same time still being unmistakenly Art Zoyd. Also there are a few songs with very straight rhythms; depending on what you like to do with your body, this could work quite well for dancing. "Firebirds" is a good example for a driving, energetic and vibrant rhythmical piece of which there are several here. Quite some warmth is injected into this album by extensive use of voice samples, which give some parts a very tribal feel, and in any way as a human one doesn't feel quite as alone on this than on some other albums from their output. In "Konzo Bele" they even manage to come up with a surprise 4 minutes of stunning beauty; something unheard of on other A.D. albums. This is probably not their most innovative release, but the leading one, at least for me personally, when it comes to putting its melodies and sounds in my head, which have the power to stay with me for long. It may also be a good first taster for people who don't know the band. Don't be fooled, this isn't straight and easy pop music by any means, it is inventive and mysterious, but still, it's also tasteful and good to listen to. If you don't know the band and you're open to electronic music, try this! (If you know the band, try it anyway.)
 Eyecatcher by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.57 | 12 ratings

Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

5 stars After almost 40 years Art Zoyd are still going very strong. Eyecatcher is their most varied and rich offering for quite some time (if not of all times), and not only is it packed with ideas, it's also a very opulent double-CD. Once more it's music for a 1920s silent film, the Russian "The Man with a Movie Camera". It's atmospheric as ever but also this time they pulled out all the stops of their creativity, combining their usual dark textures and machine (and sometimes string) rhythms with trips to atonal contemporary music, recordings of orchestra music (serious and not so serious), voices, field recordings, sharp electronic noises, some of their own digital sound creations and a variety of conventional instruments. The overall theme this times seems to be funfair, with all its colourful and lively stalls and people. Apparently there is a dark basement below the funfair though, so there is still space for dark and mysterious atmospheres, and at times even for some meditative electronic elements. The track listing splits this up into about 50 pieces, so that there is good guideline for the listener but it's hell if your digital system doesn't recognize the track titles and you have to type them all in, as happened to me. Actually, the film music is presented in the order part II/part I/part III (because part II is so long that it needs a whole CD) with three "small pieces" not belonging to the film in the middle of CD 2.

All this may make you wonder whether this works well as a "music only" experience listened to from beginning to end; whether the film could be necessary to give this some consistency and structure. But actually I'm very fine with it. It's true that there isn't an overarching structure that makes everything fit into some kind of logic or system, but still the different parts fade into each other in a quite organic way and the contrasts and changes are strong enough to mnake it exciting but not so strong that any consistency would be lost.

Art Zoyd's inventiveness and creativity is second to none and here they are at the peak of their powers. This is truly unique and special. I should add a health warning, though. This is not rock but somewhere between electronic music, avantgarde and contemporary classical music, and it will be a tough challenge to some prog listeners in its boldness, not concerned about any ease of listening. Due to the width of sounds, it's more accessible than some of their recent work, though. I will give this 5 stars because it's just so good, although "prog rock collectors", be warned!

 La Chute De La Maison Usher by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.12 | 15 ratings

La Chute De La Maison Usher
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

4 stars Maison Usher is a cross between the coldness and remoteness of Champ des Larmes and earlier Art Zoyd music for dark films and stories such as Nosferatu, Häxan etc. As such, it is a bit more accessible than Champ des Larmes (let alone Pure Noise), but still has an impersonal, immaterial, even unwelcoming feel to it. There are familiar elements such as deep church clocks, dramatic electronic textures, slow machine-like rhythms, atonal sequences, dark sound effects. Compared to Champ des Larmes the atmosphere is more dark cellar, ghosts and secrets than ice mountains. Some parts are quite minimalist, but there are also a few in which quite a lot is going on. Once more, there are no conventional song structures or melodies, but some clearer structures and contrasts, more rhythm than on Champ des Larmes, and even some piano. Champ des Larmes is more unique and innovative, but the little bit more connection with "music as we know it" here gives the listener a better chance of getting something out of it.

Art Zoyd were always very special, but they continue to develop even more into their own planet, distant and hard to connect to from anywhere wordly. Their music evokes ghosts and echoes from lost stories of the past, little to really get hold of or stand on. Whenever I listen to this I have difficulties to get into it at first, but I then realise that there is much to discover. If you can bear it, it's a rewarding experience.

3 1/2 stars.

 Expériences De Vol - 7  [Aka: Pure Noise] by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.29 | 5 ratings

Expériences De Vol - 7 [Aka: Pure Noise]
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

2 stars You may not believe it but this is what it says on the tin: pure noise! Granted, there is some variation in the noise from time to time, and the three tracks are somewhat different from each other, but still, expect pure noise, nothing else. Art Zoyd, I think, has evolved into some kind of ever-changing cloud of musicians and discogs lists this as "Various Artists", which is kind of true. The three tracks are played by rather different subgroups with existing but little intersection, but Art Zoyd's website sells it so they don't deny that it's somehow theirs. Also, despite the changing-subgroups-and-composers-thing, there is a consistent concept here, which is (did I mention this already?) pure noise. This will be one star for the vast majority of you but I give it 2 because it is, in its own way, very unique, and it certainly doesn't pretend that it is something else than what it is. I actually bought it because it was quite cheap and I was curious, and given that it was cheap and it is special, I don't regret it. You can certainly use it if you want to show off what weird musical taste you have or clear your place of people if you're having a party and want to go to bed. Still, despite me being used to quite extreme experimental music, i can't give it an artistic appreciation that would earn it more than 2 stars. (I don't rule out that somebody else could.)
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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