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ART ZOYD

RIO/Avant-Prog • France


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Art Zoyd biography
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, stirring and immensely stimulating.

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FaustFaust
CD Baby 1993
Audio CD$19.71
NosferatuNosferatu
CD Baby 1993
Audio CD$30.00
GENERATION SANS FUTUR(ltd.paper-sleeve)(reissue)GENERATION SANS FUTUR(ltd.paper-sleeve)(reissue)
MARQUEE
Audio CD$38.17
Musique Pour L'OdysseeMusique Pour L'Odyssee
Sub Rosa 2013
Audio CD$11.43
$9.99 (used)
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les CitesSymphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites
Sub Rosa 2012
Audio CD$11.45
$18.02 (used)
UbiqueUbique
Import
Inpossible
Audio CD$19.99 (used)
HaxanHaxan
Atonal (Caroline) 2003
Audio CD$30.50 (used)
Le Champs Des LarmesLe Champs Des Larmes
CD Baby 2006
Audio CD$17.25
$14.98 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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ALAIN ECKERT QUARTET "Alain Eckert Quartet", SEALED CD, Art Zoyd USD $23.99 [0 bids]
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Metropolis/Appars/Le Chat - 2 DISC SET - Art Zoyd (2003, CD New) USD $26.35 Buy It Now 23 days
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UNIVERS ZERO Heatwave CD dark Belgian chamber prog Magma bartok present art zoyd USD $15.98 Buy It Now 27 days
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ART ZOYD shows & tickets


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ART ZOYD discography


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

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

3.88 | 64 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
1976
3.89 | 58 ratings
Musique Pour L'Odyssée
1979
4.10 | 61 ratings
Génération Sans Futur
1980
4.26 | 37 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
1980
3.92 | 43 ratings
Phase IV
1982
3.43 | 29 ratings
Les Espaces Inquiets
1983
3.97 | 59 ratings
Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'Enfer
1985
4.22 | 47 ratings
Berlin
1987
3.63 | 28 ratings
Nosferatu
1989
2.50 | 9 ratings
Art Zoyd / J.A. Deane / J. Greinke
1990
3.63 | 16 ratings
Marathonnerre I
1993
3.21 | 15 ratings
Marathonnerre II
1993
3.87 | 17 ratings
Faust
1995
4.52 | 26 ratings
Häxan
1997
3.38 | 13 ratings
u.B.I.Q.U.e
2001
3.98 | 22 ratings
Metropolis
2002
3.50 | 6 ratings
Musiques Nouvelles Ensemble - Expériences De Vol # 1, 2, 3
2002
3.80 | 5 ratings
Musiques Nouvelles Ensemble - Expériences De Vol # 4, 5, 6
2005
3.00 | 13 ratings
Le Champ Des Larmes
2006
2.41 | 8 ratings
La Chute De La Maison Usher
2008
4.00 | 1 ratings
Eyecatcher
2011

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)

3.25 | 5 ratings
Les Espaces Inquiets / Phase IV / Archives II
1987
3.25 | 5 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités / Musique Pour L'Odyssée / Génération Sans Futur / Archives I
1987
3.59 | 13 ratings
Marathonnerre I & II
1998

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

2.14 | 5 ratings
Sangria / Something in love
1971

ART ZOYD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Berlin by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.22 | 47 ratings

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Berlin
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ole-the-first

5 stars Dark, beautiful and stunning. That's all I can say about this LP by the French avant-prog band Art Zoyd.

This album consists of two great epic tracks (both are really epic) and a bunch of shorter things. The highlights here are 'A Drum, A Drum', one of those long epics, and 'Baboon's Blood', a shorter track. 'A Drum, A Drum' is an everchanging, very theatric and extraordinary odd piece of art. Some flavor of Ancient Greek comedy comes in here, ain't it? 'Baboon's Blood' is an eerie goth-like song with ominous beat and even creepier vocals.

In general, atmosphere here is perfectly gloomy and sometimes plainly grim. 'Berlin' is one of those rare albums that would leave you totally astonished and begging for more. Unfortunately, Art Zoyd remains a very less-known band, but if some day you'll have a chance to listen to this masterwork, don't skip it!

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 Häxan  by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.52 | 26 ratings

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Häxan
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

5 stars Looking down the anthill

This is the soundtrack for the Danish/Swedish art movie Häxan(The Witch) from 1921. Director Benjamin Christensen created an ironic piece of cinema based on his own interpretations of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) that all through the middle ages was used as irrefutable proof of the inner witch in women who were unwanted, strange, self-thinking or dangerous - often sentencing them to an early death at the end of a rope (The huge bonfires with burning women is a misconception that still prevails though, but in reality it was very few unfortunate souls that ended up as fiery embers on the stake). Christensen's point was however, that most of the women rendered as witches actually suffered from mental illness. Misconception and superstition leading to fear and pushing society to deal with the stuff we are afraid to face.

So how on earth did Art Zoyd end up making music for an art movie made some 50 years earlier? It was actually commissioned by the city of Copenhagen, back when they were awarded with the honour of being the cultural capital of Europe 1996. This then came out the year after.

I purposely choose to offer up this information at the start of this review, because I feel it has everything to do with the actual music. For my tastes, Art Zoyd have here created an unparalleled piece of music that compliments the sombre and dark universe of Häxan uncannily well. There is a sense of the melodramatic in this album that takes on new meaning. A bitter-sweet touch of sadness that rivals an abandoned dog's yearning cries.

Firstly, Art Zoyd seem to have gone back in time for their inspiration for this work. The cold metronomic electronics mirror the ones they did for their two 1980s releases Berlin and Le Marriage du Ciel et de L'Enfer. Myriads of emerging beats swarming around - creating a startling effect much like looking down into a metallic anthill. The opening beast of a track that lasts 30 minutes should illustrate this chilling and seductive effect. The genius part of the equation though, is the manner in which all these drumming metronomic beats start interweaving with each other: the background suddenly appears in small shimmers of sound, and you get soothing breaths of string instruments passing by you like a swift encounter with a delirious and beautiful death.

Secondly, the inexplicable tension that this group somehow is able to wield is downright spooky. What I mean by tension is the way these musical surfaces stretch out for long periods of time before changing pitch or path. Just like the aforementioned electronic albums from the 80s, there's a similar usage of tension on here - an awaiting future release. The way these pieces build up is perhaps the direct opposite of how most post-rock bands work, yet they still wield that same sense of feeding off the cataclysmic turnovers within the music. With Art Zoyd it just feels like a rubber-band being stretched to the end of infinity and beyond, and then, only then the great big man with the scissors cuts through the umbilical chord - and the sounds evolve, change, transform like a musical version of bloom.

Binding everything together you get angular orchestrated reed sections, cartoonish madman runnings, odd fat man vocalisations, industrial blacksmith hammerings - keeping the beat - like a startled guillotine, and then enveloping all of this a certain stealth vibe about the whole thing - feeling like the music only resides in shadow, creeping up on you like a fragmented whisper.

This is what Art Zoyd is all about. A subtle understated- yet brutal force of music that literally sweeps over you like unexpected gusts of wind. Melodies are second-hand, and at times they just feel like debris or leftovers from the deep entrancing atmospheres - taking you by the hand with the frostbitten force of a small iceberg. That opening cut for example has next to nothing resembling 'melodies' - yet somehow the running time of half an hour feels like a flash. You get lured into black holes, dark brooding forests - an abyss of sound that surely speaks about the fearful images of Benjamin Christensen's cinematic tale of woe. Imagining the middle ages with all that entails - emphasising the overtly superstitious, - the menacing and unfriendly surface of this album suddenly starts making sense. Turn up the volume, turn off the light and let your mind drown out everything but the small ant army of beats and dramatic sways of string accompaniment. A world of images emerges. An inner movie appearing like flickering lights in snow, and then, hopefully, these once senseless and inhuman wrongdoings may finally incinerate before your eyes in a cathartic swoop of sound.

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 Metropolis by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 22 ratings

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Metropolis
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the most satisfying things that happens to me in relation to music is when the light goes on as it were with an album that at first I didn't even like. This usually happens when i'm listening to Rio / Avant styled music that just comes off as too difficult or out there initially but then after many listens it clicks with me and I wonder why I didn't get it earlier. This has happened to me a lot with ART ZOYD's records including this one. Especially this one. I find that ART ZOYD makes music that I never really understand fully but I do appreciate it. While most albums reveal their hidden secrets after 10 listens or so I don't think ART ZOYD's music ever does give up these secrets completely even after 50 listens.

This was an album that doesn't really sound like any ART ZOYD album i've listened to before. It is a soundtrack for the movie Metropolis which was re-made in 2002. The original movie came out in 1927 and was a Science Fiction film. This soundtrack is minimalistic and dark. It really gets my imagination going. A lot of themes or sounds seem to be reprised. This isn't the Classical sound of early ART ZOYD but it does have more in common with their electronic styled recordings. There's lots of percussion and electronics along with samples, keyboards and sax. It's often dense and dark as we go from scene to scene usually uninterupted. There are 33 tracks to this soundtrack which amounts to about 108 minutes of music. There are also two extra tracks not related to the soundtrack worth about 42 minutes in total. These two tracks fit in well with what has gone on before in this 2 disc affair. The first of these two extra songs was written for a ballet. All I can say is that it must be for a ballet from hell.

I was going to go track to track like usual but 33 tracks with me saying a lot of the same things is just too much. It was interesting listening to this one mechanical sounding rhythm that was reprised several times. It sounds like a train heading down into the bowels of hell. Very dark and creepy. I like how Man With Hat (Phil) described this to me : "It would definitely be fitting to play in a hellish labyrinth of corridors leading to pure doom." Perfect. "There is a track on UNIVERS ZERO's "Implosion" that this reminded me of but note that "Implosion" came out a couple of years after this.

This is a recording that has really excited me for some reason and I look forward to spending more time with it. Love the cover art as well as we see a sea of these creatures looking very angry.

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 Phase IV by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.92 | 43 ratings

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Phase IV
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by 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....

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 Phase IV by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.92 | 43 ratings

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Phase IV
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Génération Sans Futur by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.10 | 61 ratings

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Génération Sans Futur
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Art Zoyd well and truly hit their stride on this album, which once again includes a visiting Daniel Denis from Univers Zero. For me, however, the standout performers are saxophonist Gilles Renared and trumpet player Jean-Pierre Soarez, who between them add a jazzy spin to the group's spooky chamber rock with performances evoking everything from classic Miles Davis to far-out free jazz experimentations. Underpinning all this are stronger compositional structures lending form and coherence to the group's work, the result being an album with all of the experimental power of its predecessors but with substance to match. An excellent refinement and polishing of their unique approach to the chamber rock concept.

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 Musique Pour L'Odyssée by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.89 | 58 ratings

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Musique Pour L'Odyssée
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With a couple of Univers Zero members in tow, you'd think Art Zoyd would win me over with this one - after all, I love the other major creepshow chamber rock act in town so why not the Zoyd? And it's true enough that the foreboding bass work and angry chants on this album are clearly well put-together - the chanting in particular, promoting the sort of rhythms Magma used to accomplish in their more martial moments - but despite all this the album remains one where I can look at it and acknowledge that it's a well-executed piece of work and yet I just don't feel anything when I listen to it. Three stars seems fair - it's worth a try, but be aware that it may fall flat.

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 Génération Sans Futur by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.10 | 61 ratings

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Génération Sans Futur
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars In the same year of the re-release of the debut album the Art Zoyd are in the shops with the third studio effort an one new element. The first thing that hits the listener are the bass chords played by a grand piano, an instrument never used before by the band.

Patricia Dallio is the new entry in the lineup and the first 2:30 minutes which are the intro to the longest track of the album are a sort of welcome. Then "La Ville" develops with the usual bass, guitar and brasses on an obsessive rhythm. After 5 minutes we are immerge into the darkness with Zaboitzeff and Eckert screaming something that I don't understand. They stop and the piano takes their place. There are no trivial passages. Everything, even in the most chaotic moments, seems to have its place but it's when the rhythm stops that the darkness is totally black. Who cries what? Is it the lament of whom? The track's title doesn't say anything. So let's quit with the attempt of "interpreting" the meaning and just let us be transported in a descending spiral by the brasses to stop when the bottom is reached, when after 10 minutes the cello wakes us up in a hidden room and we start looking around. It's incredible how this compulsive, disharmonic and dark music can be relaxing at the same time. In this rhythmless phase it could remind to the De Profundis of the Estonian Arvo Part if it wasn't for the bass that adds a touch of jazz-rock to what is for me classical music. In the last two minutes the symphony becomes paroxistic with the piano contributing with just three/four notes, the rhythm given by the cello and the brasses making the rest. A pause, then the coda

The sudden end of La Ville is the starting point of "Speedy Gonzales". The track title is a sort of joke, the music is not. Yes it can remind to a fast mouse running in a cartoonwith a sombrero, but you need to use a lot of fantasy. Does it represent the "Generation with no future" hypnotized by the TV? I don't know.

Let's go to the B side where a bass piano note sounds like a gong. There are major chords, so this appears to be an "easy" track, in the sense that it contains many elements that I could define "recognizable". It's the title track. The first secion lasts for one third of the track, then the "gong" returns to introduce the same major chords but played by different instruments (apparently) so it's not the same thing as before. The bass arrives to disturb the mood and we are in the middle of a jazzy chaos with bass and drums in the base and the piano launched in a free-jazz session. The trumpet cries like it's trying to be a sort of Stella Vander. The music grows chaotically with trumpet and sax riding the waves of piano and drums. The crescendo of chaos has a sudden stop and what follows is a totally different section. Another stop. Another grand piano chord...and it's done.

"Divertissement" is a fusion of contemporary classics (cello and violin) with jazz (bass, mainly).Neither the violin accents can disturb the mood. After 2 minutes the cello takes the rhythmic role. Here' is where, I think, the Quintorigo may have taken the idea for their strings cover of Deep Purple's Higwhay Stars. But it's just a bit more than a minute, then we are back to a classical environment. It sounds like a Requiem. Like Speedy Gonzales, calling this song "Divertissment" (Funny thing) seems to be a sort of a joke.

"Trois Miniatures" (Three miniatures) is the most jazzy track of the album. The guitar is clean like it was played by Stanley Jordan or Al Di Meola, there are swing moments, but always without losing the darkness which permeates the whole album. The fact that the author of this track is not the usual Zaboitzeff is evident. The composing style is more traditional and less challenging. A very good track to approach this band.

I'm not sure if it can be considered a masterpiece, but it's surely an excellent album, enough for the 4 stars

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 Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités  by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.26 | 37 ratings

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Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars The ART ZOYD debut album was released in few copies and it's a collection item. Any other band wishing to re-release the debut would probably reprint it. Art Zoyd decided to re-record it instead, even with a different lineup.

I have never heard the original debut, so I can't make any comparison but the fact that Zaboitzeff is classically trained makes me think that it shouldn't be very different.

The album is made of two long suites. The first which gives the title to the album exceeded the side A of the vinyl so the third part was on side B.

Let's imagine Magma without the Vanders. I mean that there is no drums and no operistic vocals, but the mixture of classic and jazz has a mood very similar to the Zeuhl founders, specially because of the use of brasses (Trumpet and alto sax) on which Zaboitzeff screams at the beginning of the first track. The orchestration is symphonic. The cello and the violin supported by the electric bass setup a dreamy classical ambient. I think that this is where the Hungarian After Crying can have take some inspiration even if probably both the bands have taken something from Stravinskij. After about 7 minutes a bass riff adds a bit of rock to the strings. The music is dramatic and engaging. Thinking to the "Special Brigades" of the title it gives the idea. The whole concept is dramatic: the album title means "Symphony for the day when the cities burned".

When the special brigades shut up the cello starts with a solo. This is "Masques" (Masks). The cello solo is melting, maybe it represents the cities after the fire. After a couple of minutes trumpet and bass break the melody and after few seconds of decoherence the bass takes the leadership. There is no rhythm of any kind. Neither the bass can lighten the situation while the trumpet plays an incredible number of notes and trills. The pathos increases. A bass note, it seems a voice, is now leading over a noisy but rhythmically static situation. After about 7 minutes it changes totally. I don't know what Zabitzeff repeats several times with his voice. It's another Zeuhl moment but the cello and the violin become suddenly rhythmic, between the Rites of Spring and After Crying's De Profundis. This is already "Simulacres" (mock), the last movement of the first suite.

This part is more rhythmic, thanks to the bass and sometimes to cello. The music is apparently unstructured but it's only an impression. The last minute is very intense with a frenetic rhythm set by bass and cello trills. It's a crescendo of tension and thrill that ends suddenly with a couple of orchestral accents.

The second suite is, I think, the avant counterpart of Dark Side of the Moon. "Deux Image De La Cite Imbecile" means "Two images of the imbecile city" and the first of the two is "The Ants". Let's imagine rows of people walking in line frenetically, like ants. Also Zaboitzeff's voice tries to give this idea when he cries something that I don't understand with a high- pitched and nasal voice. This music makes me think to some scenes of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

"Carnival Scenes" is the second image. Effectively if you have ever been in a Mediterranean city during the carnival time (not necessarily Venice), but also looking to Rio de Janeiro, you can probably understand what Art Zoyd mean. Between the end of the first chaotic movement and the start of the symphonic second part, at about 2 minutes from the start, we can also clearly hear the guitar that's almost always present in the album, sometimes taking the role of the bass when the bassist is playing the cello. This second part is more structured, nearly rock, then there's an alternance of calm and chaotic moments. It's not properly what one can call "easy", but it's the most approachable part for who is not into this kind of music.

As always, when I review Avant/RIO albums I find difficult saying that an album of this kind is an excellent addition to "ANY" collection. One has to get used to this music before liking it is possible. However this is surely excellent and prog, so 4 stars.

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 Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.88 | 64 ratings

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Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Take the chamber rock and apocalyptic tone of early Univers Zero, run it through the laundry to wash the goth out of it, and sprinkle it with some Mothers of Invention whimsy and you might get a close approximation to the Art Zoyd sound as expressed on this album. Whilst I fully concede that it's an extremely original piece of work and doubtless a major influence on the chamber rock genre, at the same time I just can't get into it - to my ears, it sounds like there's a bit too much weirdness and inaccessibility for the sake of it to my tastes. If you took out the hootings and the dissonance, you wouldn't have very much left, and the hootings and dissonance do nothing for me. Approach with caution: you may find, like me, that after repeated careful listenings the album just fails to connect with you.

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