Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Art Zoyd - Faust CD (album) cover


Art Zoyd


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Initially I thought that the running streak of the first couple of albums had petered out by the later, more recent era of AZ, but having listened to this one a few times, I have been pleasantly surprised by the powerful material contained in this (I believe) score for a film...If this is not a score/soundtrack, well it sure sounds like it should be one. What we are dealing with is a musical collection so rich in sound and texture and ambience that the individual songs collectively convey a rich tapestry of images. Most are scorched earth and barren wastelands, dark corners; sinister, long, dimly lit hallways with voices echoing from nowhere. The story of Faust is centuries old, and a very potently symbolic tale of man's desire to know all, and the shortcut he is willing to take. In yearning for "the secrets" and pleasures of life, Faust had made a pact with the Devil (actually his representative, Mephistopheles) for said treasures, yet sealed his fate by turning over his soul in exchange, forever damning him. No doubt a strongly Christian, cautionary tale, warning of the road to excess and its damning consequences. I suppose a modern interpretation would be the southern "meeting the devil at the crossroads".

The music evokes the imagery so well in this album, that you feel as if you yourself are descending into the despair of an inescapable fatality.... The music starts immediately into a chilling descent, in the track "down" where the harmonies clash ever so slightly in such a way, building downward glissandi, in such a way that you are not quite sure if the pitch is descending, it is maddening and delirously dizzying- the way the music seems to bend downward, as if the protaganist (you) were being pulled into a descent of frustration, desperation, and madness. I must say this begins the nightmare rather well. This may just be the DARKEST album they have accomplished. Of the longer two songs on here (the rest are shorter segues of textural and subliminal, minimalistic and potently emotional bridges that blend into each other- each one a cliff-hanger setting you up impatiently, even cautiously for the next), Gate Of Darkness 1 is palpable in its building crescendo- erecting the very gates of an entry into the darkest concept imaginable... as if one were staring into a portal that accesses the very depths of a grand and beautifully terrifying hell. It is a curious vista, one which begs you enter it. It does not overstay its welcome. As I write this review, it is the day before Halloween (Samhain), and nothing could be more proper than the ritualistic invocation of the true concept of the once pagan holiday... utilizing dark music to set the scene.

Although for the most part I love this album, I find that a few of the songs unnecessarily repeat a groove or notion. There are however always leading voices over this groove that solo, yet I almost expect the music to follow a more bold classical feel, wherein the individual voices lead their own way, pulling in different sections, yet many of the undercurrents build a gently boiling progression that builds, but at times is almost anti-climactic. To its credit, there are many more exotic instruments used here... very mysterious feeling abound. The music here is more concerned with building an overall brooding feel.

I am impressed that the collective known as Art Zoyd have managed to modernize their sound in such a way that they obviously did their homework, by this I mean they were heavily influenced by industrial and IDM and electronic/experimental acts. The sounds used here are almost Musique Concrete meets drone and dark ambient. There is a lot of texture and implied rhythm and beats, making this more subliminal and slow-moving rather than immediate like most of their other albums. I suppose it helps to have been exposed to the forementioned styles of music- in order to appreciate this album more. They utilize a pounding rain in one track, with rhythmic thunder claps. Another track has a cawing crow. I thought I heard a zither, repeating a haunting arpeggio.

In the song Pact, you feel as if the deal is sealed with the appearance of dark minions crawling on the floor towards you, branding your soul as you sign in blood. Although a short movement, the track Irruption is a clanging, pounding, demonic and metallic (in the sense that it sounds like a punishing heavy metal track, yet more industrial) passage that I wish they would have fleshed out more. It is intense and very driving. Dies Irae (day of wrath) is another favorite song, once again evoking the essence of an apocalyptic embodiment. Essaim, which is basically a word for a swarm of insects, constructs that very notion. It is like a manifestation of a plague. I actually imagined more of a "lord of the flies" sort of image, like the coalescence of flies, constructing the devil himself. It is a very rousing track. Accelerando is, just as the title suggests, a song that builds from a slow pulse of chimes in the fore with bass thump in the back, the rhythm of the chime multiplies exponentially every couple of measures and then subsides; then the bass takes its turn... the song ebbs and flows in the fashion.... building building building and releasing (etc.) As stated, many of the tracks are withdrawn and scared, quietly crawling...

Overall I would say that this album utilizes the ambient and chilling elements that make Art Zoyd so engrossing... I imagine that experimental Norwegian act Ulver has listened to this band at length... as they use some of the same tricks of suspense and impact through layering and building. This is the french equivalent of a horror soundtrack, although not cheesy. Its unfortunate that more people have not given this one a chance. I find that I enjoy horror movies quite a bit for the score... the way it manipulates your emotions and lends a real sense to the scenes that flash by, without which you would probably laugh at implied horrors. This album is oozing infection and erosion.

Report this review (#307444)
Posted Saturday, October 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Like their "Nosferatu" album this is a film score they did for a silent movie. In this case the movie "Faust" was released in 1926 and like "Nosferatu" this too was directed by F.W. Murnau. As per usual Gerard Hourette and Thierry Zaboitzeff share in composing these tracks right down the middle.We have the pleasure of having Daniel Denis (UNIVERS ZERO) on drums, keys and samples.Oh and happy "Logan Day" everybody. See my review for Jean Claude Vannier's debut for an explanation. This particular album sure sounds like an ART ZOYD album and I found myself saying after almost every track "cool song" and the words "that's insane" came up a lot too(haha).

"Down" has this atmosphere that fills the air early on then experimental sounds arrive before 2 1/2 minutes but they leave just as quickly as they appeared. "Gates Of Darkness" has these loud percussion sounds with horn-like sounds as the vocals join in.Yes vocals ! A change 2 1/2 minutes in then these rough sounding spoken words come in after 3 minutes. A calm after 4 minutes then it becomes intense. Great track !

"Flask" opens with atmosphere as sounds pulse and hover.The loud outbursts late are alarming. "Plague" has these insane drums that pound relentlessly throughout. "Faust" is appealing to me because of those spacey synth-like sounds. "Marais" opens with thunder and rain followed by nature sounds.This is unreal, it sounds so good. "Parole" has these sounds that echo as the atmosphere looms like the devil himself is standing near. "Pact" has these sounds that slowly pulse in and out as other sounds come and go.

"Bruissement" is experimental with spacey sounds and church bells. Birds are chirping to end it. "Essaim" has so much going on and what sounds like a bass horn of some sort. "Irruption" is a short piece that is an eruption of loud sounds. "Gates Of Darkness 2" is cool sounding but quite strange too. "Pavan" opens with thunder and rain then the percussion and atmosphere follow.Loud sounds come and go 1 1/2 minutes in then it builds. "Dies Irae" has some spacey atmosphere then the percussion comes in around 1 1/2 minutes as the soundscape slowly disintegrates.Vocal sounds too in this one.

"Procession" is pleasant at first but it builds to a wall of sound. "Easter" has these vocal expressions and it's very experimental too. "Marthe" is mostly percussion and a classical vibe. "Games" is again percussion but with an eerie background this time. "Intrigues" is dark then it kicks in before 2 minutes. It turns dark again before 3 1/2 minutes.This is actually scary. "Accelerando" has these powerful outbursts with loud bells.The outbursts speed up and take over. It settles back before 7 minutes and a calm follows with spoken words before the loud outbursts return and speed up again.Here we go !

Easily 4 stars. Listen to this with headphones at night for full effect.

Report this review (#460907)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Back in 1926, a famous director, F. W. Murnau, made a German film called "Faust". This was a silent movie and obviously had no soundtrack. After viewing the film, Art Zoyd decided to make a soundtrack full of electronic music to correspond with the film. These are the tracks from that soundtrack. After the completion of the soundtrack, the film was shown a few times to the public with this music playing. I haven't seen the original or the one with the soundtrack, but if you have listened to this album and wondered how this music came to be, now you know. I have read the plot line for the movie and it seems to be quite a complicated plot for a silent movie, but apparently, it is a highly rated movie. Basically, it deals with a demon making a bet with an angel that he can influence a just man to be evil. The just man is Faust. This is a rather dark movie and I don't want to give away the ending, but even when all seems lost, good eventually triumphs even over death.

The music here is quite dark and full of mostly sinister sounds and moods. The music is all electronic except for the addition of cello and some vocals, most of which have been electronically manipulated. There is a lot of percussive sounds also mostly created by keyboards. The music is interesting enough and very engaging when listened to through headphones in a dark room. The pieces are mostly short except for three of them, the finale being over 11 minutes in length. But the tracks pretty much run into each other and can almost be taken as one continuous suite. The music is also completely avant garde music almost that can flow from ambient to noisy in a moments notice. There are a few places where there is a standard rhythm, and overall, the music is not inaccessible, but it is still far from any popular sounding music either. There is no real formulaic pattern to the music either. Yet it remains a very interesting listen and seldom gets boring.

This is highly recommended to anyone interested in film music, avant-prog or Rock in Opposition music or even electronic music. It is similar to Univers Zero and even some of Ulver's more eclectic music. The only thing that bothers me is that I enjoyed Art Zoyd's natural music in their earlier albums more, but this is still well done. I think the music loses something when it's not seen with the movie that inspired it and I wouldn't mind hearing it in context with the movie. Anyway, as an album standing on it's own, I can still consider it a 4 star recording, but you do have to be in the right mood for it. But when you are, it is an excellent example of avant-prog.

Report this review (#1367894)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2015 | Review Permalink

ART ZOYD Faust ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of ART ZOYD Faust

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.