Sunday, July 5, 2015

Art Zoyd - 1976 - Art Zoyd 3 / Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites

Art Zoyd
Art Zoyd 3 / Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites

- Symphonie Pour Le Jour Où Brûleront Les Cités
01. Brigades Spéciales (13:23)
02. Masques (8:56)
03. Simulacres (6:53)
- Deux Images De La Cité Imbécile
04. Les Fourmis (5:31)
05. Scènes De Carnaval (8:50)

- Patricia Dallio / grand piano, electric piano
- Alain Eckert / guitar, voices
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin
- Gilles Renard / saxophones
- Jean-Pierre Soarez / trumpet, percussion
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / bass guitar, cello, voices
Releases information
LP Art Zoyd 01 (1976)(original version, self released)
LP Atem 7010 (1981)(re-recorded version)

LP Art Zoyd 01 (1976)(original version, self released)

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.

LP Atem 7010 (1981)(re-recorded version

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.

Little did Art Zoyd know that one day this album would become prophetic thirty years later. Hailing from, a small industrial (mining and steel) city in Northern France a stone's throw from Belgium , no doubt these guys lived in those suburbs that they predicted one day from a revolt would burn. One of the most intriguing things is how these future musicians got into such an awesome and experimental avant-garde group as Art Zoyd. Apart from the fact that a lot of Northern France's industrial cities were voting communist, one of the few positive things that communism ever brought was to make higher culture accessible to everyone including the poor (ESPECIALLY the poor), and this IMHO, might just be their (AZ) case. As was the case for Area, Henry Cow and other ultra avant-garde, Art Zoyd was resolutely left wing, much like all of the RIO-chart signatory groups (of which AZ were not original members but part of the second wave) and have a close link to Belgium's Univers Zero, their career throughout.

I am writing the preface of this review under a hypothetical probability strictly knowing what the album has to offer in terms of story through the titles of their works (no lyrics since the music is totally instrumental except for wordless vocals), but there seems to be a solid thread or story, even pressing me to declare this album conceptual. The music, clearly inspired from Bartok, Stravinsky, and Henry Cow or Zappa's "serious music" is screaming, yelling, howling its madness of the riots between Special Brigades and the activists wearing Masks into Masquerade (Simulacre is a sham or an pretentious enactment). This first side is simply stunning and the violence and tension ever present even if there is absolutely no rock element in their music (bar a short passage in Fourmis), but it fits their theme immaculately well.

The second side is an auto-criticism of those suburbs not yet in revolt: two tracks (the third one, Simulacre, still belonging to the first-side theme) depicting the never-ending suffering with an elusive hope of a brighter future (the revolt coming once this hope disappears). Fourmis (ants) is self-explanatory of their plight (with a passage compared to Canada Brass' Flight Of The Bumblebee), while Carnival (a very important theme even in atheist circles) is one of those breaks were they are allowed to vent off their frustrations by deriding the ones dominating them. As you might expect, the music loses some of its solemnity in this last track to adopt a (relatively) more festive tone.

Clearly the works of violinist Gerard Hourbette, greatly helped by Zabotzieff (of Polish descent like many miners fleeing Poland's misery in the late XIXth century) on bass and cello, the music is an impressive modern XXth classic.

Dense, impenetrable or not easily accessible, this album (as most of AZ's works) does not surrender easily to one's taste buds. As a matter of fact, this sometimes obtuse (because of its difficult nature) is not easily recommendable unless you are a confirmed fan of this RIO-Zeuhl music current.

1 comment:

  1. RAR includes the 1976 and the 1981 versions