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


Art Zoyd



4.11 | 94 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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 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.

TCat | 5/5 |


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

Share this ART ZOYD review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

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.