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Art Zoyd - Häxan CD (album) cover

HÄXAN

Art Zoyd

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.43 | 78 ratings

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TCat
5 stars Once again, Art Zoyd undertakes creating a soundtrack for a silent film. This time the film is about witchcraft and the way those that were suspected of being witch were tortured. The film itself is highly regarded, and Art Zoyd was commissioned to do the music this time instead of doing it on their own. So, in most cases, soundtracks don't stand alone very well. But, as we have seen before, Art Zoyd can make a soundtrack that easily stands on it's own. Does it happen this time? Absolutely.

This album stands as one of the best avant-prog albums out there. The music is absolutely amazing, dramatic, dynamic and deserves to be called modern classical music. This is some of the best music in this genre. Even though AZ was performing mostly electronic and keyboard generated music at this time, (except for some cello, percussion and some strange vocals from time to time) the music is so well orchestrated and produced, that it sounds far from being manufactured, or at least you forget the fact that it is electronic.

This album is simply amazing. The music can be challenging, but the music demands to be listened to. Yes you can use it for background music, but you will miss how amazing it is if you do that. And there is way too much going on in the music that if you put it on as background music, you will find yourself constantly being distracted by it's complexity and it's amazingness.

The album starts out with a 35 minute track, which is actually a 7 movement composition. This one is closer to actual orchestration as far as the feeling of the piece. It consists of a lot of tension building movements that really see no release, just a lot of building of tension with a variety of devices. The pay off comes in the last 8 minutes of the piece in a tension breaker that will leave you speechless if you are really listening. Yes it is demanding, but there are plenty of smaller pay offs throughout the rest of the piece. It sounds more like a traditional orchestra for the most part, or at least more adapted to that format then the rest of the album. But that last 8 minutes is just astounding.

After this, the music has more of a modern sound, but it still incorporates classical technique and ideals. You will hear an obvious difference in "Nuits" as more modern techniques are used with strange sounds and etc., but there is still plenty of exciting and interesting melodies throughout the music, and it never gets boring if you are paying attention. A lot of things will fly right past you if you aren't listening. There are even a few passages where the music suddenly slips into a modern beat with a bass line and all, and you think, where in the world did that come from. It is not out of place by any means, it all fits together. The next 3 tracks are different parts of "Haxan" named after greek symbols or letters. "Haxan Phi" is very exciting, dramatic and excellent, "Haxan Xi" is shorter and more subdued, and "Haxan Psi" is a more quiet and flowing without a lot of change. It can tend to take you away into a meditative state.

Suddenly, the 17 minute track "Epreuves d'Acier" kicks in and acts like one of those things that composers used to put into their music to startle listeners back into a wakeful state. Careful here, because you will be startled because your volume has been creeping up and if you are not ready for it, you will be taken by surprise. This is another very dynamic and fluctuating piece with plenty of moods and wonderful passages that will intrigue you. The last piece is short and called "Marche". It is a quiet yet dark piece that ends the album.

It is very hard to describe just how great this music is. You really have to experience it to grasp how awesome it is. There are always changing moods, dynamics and structures. There are plenty of surprises. Anyone who loves their music challenging and intelligent needs to hear this and pay full attention to it. It is a masterpiece of the highest order and actually earns 6 stars in my own rating system and there are not many albums that earn that extra star. It is reserved for the best of the best. That is what this album is. But I can only give it 5 stars here, so there you go. Amazing music that needs to be listened to.

TCat | 5/5 |

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