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RIO/Avant-Prog • France

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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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Atonal 2003
$39.99 (used)
44 1/2 : Live + Unreleased Works44 1/2 : Live + Unreleased Works
Box set
$196.76 (used)
Musique Pour L'odysseeMusique Pour L'odyssee
Sub Rosa 2013
$74.37 (used)
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les CitesSymphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites
Sub Rosa 2012
$116.87 (used)
CD Baby 2012
$59.89 (used)
Marathonnerre IMarathonnerre I
Atonal 1993
$12.00 (used)
Experiences De, Vol. 4-5-6Experiences De, Vol. 4-5-6
CD Baby 2014
$40.05 (used)
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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)

3.89 | 99 ratings
Art Zoyd 3 [Aka: Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités]
3.88 | 95 ratings
Musique Pour L'Odyssée
4.02 | 95 ratings
Génération Sans Futur
4.20 | 68 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
3.95 | 66 ratings
Phase IV
3.81 | 54 ratings
Les Espaces Inquiets
3.99 | 79 ratings
Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'Enfer
4.30 | 76 ratings
3.70 | 42 ratings
2.71 | 15 ratings
Art Zoyd / J. A. Deane / J. Greinke
4.08 | 29 ratings
Marathonnerre I
3.30 | 25 ratings
Marathonnerre II
3.94 | 32 ratings
4.42 | 77 ratings
3.25 | 25 ratings
3.96 | 35 ratings
3.55 | 11 ratings
Art Zoyd & Musiques Nouvelles: Expériences De Vol
3.80 | 10 ratings
Art Zoyd & Musiques Nouvelles: Expériences De Vol 4-5-6
3.02 | 25 ratings
Le Champ Des Larmes
3.12 | 16 ratings
La Chute De La Maison Usher
2.27 | 6 ratings
Expériences De Vol - 7 [Aka: Pure Noise]
4.54 | 15 ratings
3.40 | 10 ratings
Armageddon - Opérette Pour Robots
4.41 | 8 ratings
Phase V
0.00 | 0 ratings
Experiences de Vol 10/11/12/13

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)

3.50 | 11 ratings
Les Espaces Inquiets / Phase IV / Archives II
3.53 | 11 ratings
Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités / Musique Pour L'Odyssée / Génération Sans Futur / Archives I
4.19 | 12 ratings
Marathonnerre I & II
0.00 | 0 ratings
Magma / Art Zoyd - Mekanik Destructiv Kommandoh
0.00 | 0 ratings
Musique Pour L'Odyssee
4.98 | 6 ratings
44 1/2 Live + Unreleased Works Box Set

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

2.39 | 9 ratings
Sangria / Something in love
0.00 | 0 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
Derniere Danse

ART ZOYD Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Phase V by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.41 | 8 ratings

Phase V
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

5 stars You may have travelled Thailand, Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, New York, New Zealand, Venice, Costa Rica, Kenya, and the Chinese Wall. You may think you have seen it all. Well, almost all. You have never been to Antarctica. What would you want there? It's remote and cold, no trees, few animals, no human beings apart from a few researchers. Still deep in your heart you know that Antarctica holds something for you that you cannot find anywhere else. Well I cannot be sure that it's something for you, you may be more of a nervous type, you may need something to keep you busy all the time and hot, you may not belong down there. Still you know for some of us it's a dream, and for some it may be ultimately more the place to be than all the other fancy destinations.

Another thing to realise: Antarctica is vast. You may think you have seen photos, so you know how it is, but don't forget, it's bigger than the whole of Europe and almost equal to the whole of South America.

Next thing to realise: This is a most inappropriate introduction to a review of Art Zoyd's Phase V. Neither is this an album about Antarctica (it has track titles that are totally incompatible with that idea such as "Out of the window of a train"; the photographs indicate that it's rather about derelict city and industrial landscapes), nor have I actually ever been there. So you may dismiss the whole thing but wait! Still there are connections.

Phase V is a 5 CD-set, and Art Zoyd have made it ridiculously inaccessible (and at the moment I'm not even talking about the music). No free samples are flying around at the time of my writing as far as I know, I don't think it's available anywhere for less than 30 Euros (which is not that much money for 5 CDs but a fortune at this day and age for buying music without having had a taster first), information given by the band is pretty scarce (chances are that the majority of the material was recorded between 2010 and 2017 but I actually don't know; who exactly did what where? No idea) and then they split it up into loads, actually 90, tracks, that first, before reviewing, want to be put into progarchives in the right format. Thank you very much. It took about one year from the release to anybody (me actually) bothering to put the album on PA, and this is one of the longest serving most innovative and influential RIO/prog bands there is! On top of that, Gerard Hourbette, mastermind of Art Zoyd, died on 8 May 2018, so this is the last album released during his lifetime on which he performs (not sure whether there is more material somewhere in the vaults to be released at some point). I couldn't find any English language review of it either (German language "Babyblaue Prog Reviews" have a review and the author has dug out slightly more info, it's 2009-2017 actually).

Surely Hourbette didn't die in an ebb of productivity; the 44 1/2 boxset including, the Zoyds put out 17 CDs of unreleased material in 2017/18 alone, I think this is more than any other RIO band released over their entire career! It's too much actually, it seems, for most people to listen to, so this vast continent of music seems to fly under everyone's radar.

Now to the music on Phase V. It surely has some Antarctica feeling about it. Art Zoyd continues to do avantgardistic, freezing, mostly electronic landscapes. Part of the music is really remote from even progressive rock territory, there are slow meditative minimalistic pieces, some rather industrial sound alchemy, some machine rhythms, some parts rather populated with movement somehow contrasting the Antarctica impression, although many of these also have some rather cold uninviting character (also don't forget Antarctica has penguins, Aurora, volcanic activity, mountains up to 5000m and spectacular but unsettling phenomena as a consequence of global warming on top of the vast snow plains). There is no proper singing, although voice samples and some electronically manipulated speaking are used. One could say that already for quite some time, in the 21st century, Art Zoyd is more of a project of serious contemporary experimental music rather than belonging to any category with a rock or popular music connection - what an admirable development for a progressive band though! I also want to emphasize that they didn't fill their more than five hours of music on the cheap. Quite a bit of composition and construction must have gone into some of the less minimalist parts, they haven't split this up into 90 tracks for nothing. In terms of speed and intensity the listener gets quite some variety and there are many, many things to discover.

The CDs are split up into different projects, some if not most or all of them were probably made as soundtrack or theatre music (the German reviewer cited above claims that some of these are only parts of what was actually done, including film concerts and sound installations). It starts with Kairo and Les particules noires, which share the first CD. Kairo has a number of rather minimalist parts and is surprisingly icy, given the name, although it also features some rhythm. Later on CD 1 we get some more actual notes and chords (this is only a transient side phenomenon of this work). There are some references to earlier Art Zoyd work, e.g., Transmutations would have been something pretty typical for the band since the 1980s. CD2 has the nice title "Trois reves non valides". It starts with a slowly moving but actually delightful more liquid 10 minutes number, "Je suis compose d'eau", certainly a favourite track, before going into smaller tracks. It has some more civilised sounds such as churches, opera singing, a lot of other voices and some allusion to classical music, so it comes over as somewhat warmer overall despite the odd icy part. It is very inventive and hosts some striking contrasts between parts, both worth marvelling at and in places a bit annoying, but it is overall exciting and may be the most entertaining CD, and it is braced by a somewhat more intense reprise of "Je suis compose d'eau".

CD3 hosts four different works and is as such even more heterogeneous. Les rives du futur has a lot of rhythm and is more transparent and composed than other parts with a number of returning motifs, still in itself almost as heterogeneous as the whole album taken together. Here, as well as elsewhere, intense rhythmic parts are often interrupted by less structured sound valleys. Histoire naturelle is rather minimalist, meaning that rarely more than one thing is going on at a time. Also there are not so many long sounds that fill the space. It is, if you want, the most decluttered part of the album. Note though that the different projects are never consistently different, they all share many characteristics and differ gradually rather than radically from each other - this one is actually decluttered over the first half but becomes more packed with stuff later. Occasionally a piano or strings are met. Vampyr has some really scary Vampyre voices, this is really pretty dark and threatening stuff. There is only 1 1/2 minutes Musique pour Julia, but this is quite worthwhile and special as the most pastoral contemplative part of all the 5 CDs. I would've assumed that this is only a snippet of a bigger work and I am somewhat gutted that we don't get this one in full even though there's so much music already - but there may have been good reasons, who knows?

CDs 4 and 5 are both then devoted to "Paysages des enfers" (landscapes of hell), and although they are not quite as frightening as Vampyr, they are the proper Antarctic heartland (with some hot springs in unexpected places, and even some spots populated by penguins, researchers, funghi and whatnot), dominated by longer cool and windy sounds, and the tracks get some longer time to develop. Well probably things still change quickly enough that you may not agree with the Antarctica analogy, but it is a strange, remote and inaccessible landscape indeed that we have here. At some points it becomes quite loud and intense like a snow storm. The band has thought of other impressions, the first track on CD5 is called "the dead child" and is rather gothic, certainly with zero percent sentimentality. Then later a "space lab", some more vampyre voices and a long varied finale titled "at the age of 25 I was captain of the guard of the king of Naples" if I'm not mistaken. How on earth these titles fit together I don't know, but it doesn't matter really. In any case the finale is something of an open end, and we can be sure that Hourbette wasn't ready to die yet, and would have had even more to give.

When I think of it from the outside, it might feel Antarctic, but every time I listen to it I'm actually shocked how much they managed to put into this, even, in some places in quite short time. Rest In Peace Gerard Hourbette, nobody can say that you didn't deliver until the very end. Here potentially ends the story of the mighty Art Zoyd who have created their own continent, bah, universe of music, and let their guiding light go with a work that even at pretty old age has more creativity in it than many musicians put out over their lifetime. Well I could come up with some things to criticise and there is the genre issue that would make people think that maybe this shouldn't have 5 stars on a prog rock site, but honestly, who'd give 4 stars to Antarctica and say that it was nice and impressive but they feel a bit lukewarm about it because the breakfast was poor?? This work needs to be chased, worked on, and relistened many times, and it will be ignored by the vast vast majority... how much they miss!

 u-B-I-Q-U-e by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.25 | 25 ratings

Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars "Ubique" (stylized "u-B-I-Q-U-e") by Art Zoyd was released in 2001. Only two of the early members remained in the band at this time, composer and instrumentalist Gerard Hourbette and keyboardist Patricia Dallio. Besides these two, there were 3 other regular members of the band, whose line up emphasized the use of electronics. On this particular album, however, we see a movement towards the traditional instruments of their original line up in the use of an "orchestra" which consisted of 13 guitars, 3 basses, 6 saxophones, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 10 drummers, and 1 percussionist. Sounds pretty impressive, right?

Well, it is quite an impressive sound, and it is made all the better with guest conductor Michel Berckmans from "Univers Zero". Unfortunately, the "orchestra" isn't used as much as it should be throughout the album, and you still get left with that feeling that the overall sound depends too much upon electronics. Not that it is a bad thing, but with AZ, the sound was just more appealing when traditional instruments were used. I understand, that like Frank Zappa and other artists, that electronics can generate the perfect sound that artists want, but in the end, they can also make the music sound "fake" or clinical with lesser feel of dynamics and emotion. Some artists are out there that can pull this off, but not often.

The album is based upon the book Ubique by Phillip K. Dick, a science fiction writer. The band calls it a symphonic poem, which is an apt description. The album is divided up into two suites, "Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir" made up of the first 9 tracks, and "Metempsychose" made up of the last 7 tracks.

When the orchestra is used, the result is much better, even when it is used in tandem with the electronic instruments. The music is powerful and cinematic, a dynamic and beautiful. Whether the orchestra section is forte or pianissimo, the overall feel is much more satisfying, though at times, it is used sparingly. However, there are sections where the electronics have the say, too many of them in fact, and those sections just aren't that convincing.

The first 2 parts of the first suite are full and exciting, sounding like an authentic soundscape for the setting of the story. As the suite continues, however, electronic instruments start to take completely over and this is the case for most of the rest of the suite, which takes up a big part of the album. Things tend to get repetitive and unchanging in some sections, and quickly the listener can easily lose interest as repeated patterns and passages tend to wear on you. The last few parts of the suite start to utilize the orchestra better, and things start to improve, but you almost expect a little big more, as some sections tend to put the orchestra into the background behind the electronics.

The 2nd suite starts out with a great combination of both sources and together they create a dramatic and imposing landscape. This continues into the 3rd section of the suite which only consists of various generated noises and effects, but still carries forth the impact. After this, there are 2 long, minimalist sections, that goes on way too long (about 15 minutes) and would have been better served if there were some sort of visual to go with it, but as music, it is too repetitive and uninteresting. While it is true that with a lot of minimalist music, you can conjure up your own visuals, I find it difficult to do with this music because it is meant to portray specific scenes and the only real reaction I get is being startled at the sudden introduction of another instrument. The last two movements are short, but they re-establish the theme of the 2nd suite and things start to get interesting, but it's all over quickly.

Overall, this is the sound you expect from the electronic version of the band, but your expectations could be higher since there is a use of more traditional instruments. They could have been used a little more effectively though, and there are long sections in this overall album that hardly utilize it at all, and see very little movement in the music itself. The album still is good enough to be considered good, but your expectations wish that there was so much more here. I don't think this is an album for people interested in Art Zoyd's style to completely ignore, as there some great passages here, but it is still far from their best work, so it is not one I would start with. I might have a better understanding of the music if I was more familiar with the source of the topic the music is centered around, but it does provoke a darkness and feeling of foreboding, as you would expect in a dark sci-fi story. But a better familiarity might generate a better affinity for the music itself. I can easily settle on 3 stars for this one even with my ignorance of the inspiration of the album.

 Berlin by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.30 | 76 ratings

Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

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
4.98 | 6 ratings

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

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

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
4.98 | 6 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
3.81 | 54 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
3.89 | 99 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 | 77 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
4.08 | 29 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
4.54 | 15 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!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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