Sunday, July 5, 2015

Various Artists - 1995 - Unsettled Scores

Various Artists
Unsettled Scores

101. The True Wheelbase/Coco Boudakian (Medley) - Forever Einstein
102. Hobart Got Burned - Kit Watkins/Coco Roussel
103. Onde Crepusculaire - Doctor Zero
104. Ubik - Peter Frohmader
105. Enfield In Summer - Piero Milesi
106. Transsiberien - Philharmonie
107. Unna - Hugh Hopper
108. A Moral Dilemma For Our Times - Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic
109. Promenade Sous Zero - Miriodor
110. Meccano Pelorus - Phil Miller
111. The March (Or Ornette Went To Cecil's House, But Left After About 10 Minutes) - Henry Kaiser And Friends

201. Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dances - Happy Family
202. Dedicated To K.C. - Djam Karet
203. Pain Waits Till 5PM - Present C.O.D. Performance
204. They Walk Among Us - Richard Pinhas/John Livengood
205. Miniluv - David Borden
206. Three Curiously Insubstantial Duets, No. III - VolApuk
207. Summer Walk - Rattlemouth
208. Piege - PFS
209. Complainte - George Cartwright
210. Carousel, Dedicated To Hugh - U Totem
211. Get Moose And Squirrel - Virgil Moorefield
212. She Wears Her Dead Mother's Hat - The Muffins
213. Scene Of The Madmen - Forrest Fang
214. Dyed - C.W. Vrtacek

What a delicious concept, Cuneiform bands play their favorite music by other Cuneiform bands. Since they all share (or did at the time) a similar aesthetic, the result is stylistically coherent while still bringing fresh perspective. The music is as clever as the pun in the title!

There are even some rare treats for the cognoscenti: unfinished tracks that see their first release here, medleys across bands (Miriodor play both Present and Univers Zero), cross-Atlantic collaborations (Doctor Nerve and Univers Zero playing together through the miracle of tape), and more.

In the liner notes, label head Steve Feigenbaum states that the double album took over 4 years to pull together (1991-1995), which might explain why it's never spawned a sequel. Certainly the music cries out for one !!

Thierry Zaboitzeff - 2003 - Missa Furiosa

Thierry Zaboitzeff 
Missa Furiosa

01. Preparation
02. Introitus
03. Kyrie
04. Gloria
05. Les Moines
06. Lacrimosa
07. O Vierrou
08. Dies Irae
09. Sanctus
10. Requiem
11. Agnus Dei
12. Libera Me

- Thierry Zaboitzeff / guitars, bass, cello, electronics, vocals
- Peter Angerer / drums
- Ruper Bop / violin, Oud
- Jean Bermes / vocals
- Christine Augustin / vocals

Thierry Zaboitzeff calls his and his crew’s newest album ‘Mïssa Furïosa’ a ‘techno-pop mass’. Well, i fear he won’t land in the disco dance charts with this ! ‘Mïssa Furïosa’’s premiere was elaborately staged at the Brucknerfest in Linz in September 2002. The small Paris label Intoxygene released the mass as a cd in 2004.

What do we hear here? A mass for two vocal soloists, voices, keyboards, bass, cello, violin, e-guitar and drums, enriched with electronic sounds, samples, tapes, computer rhythms and beats, ethno sounds and Zaboitzeff’s  gloomy growl. Zaboitzeff followed the form of the traditional Catholic mass (Introitus, Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Angus Dei – he left out the Credo), added a few more sets of his own, and created an electro-liturgical spectacle, complete with Latin lyrics.

The result is dense and full-toned, definitely interesting and very unusual. Gloomy, Zoyd-like sound mass meet classical soprano and baritone vocals, Middle Age choirs with modern dance beats, accompanied by hectic strings, wafting electronic peaks and minimalistic-repetetive bass patterns. Heavenly choirs float over endlessly repeating sequence patterns, augmented by Zaboitzeff’s demonic voice, bellstraps and hectic string sounds, over which the two solist’s intricately woven song soars. Floating sacral sounds intersperse with intense sections which at times become Zeuhl-like/hysterical (‘Dies Irae’), with sonorous, monumental keyboard landscapes, an almost-gospel choir (‘Gloria’), lamenting ‘monk’s chants’, a rhythmic-complex electronic sound jungle, short, nearly danceable sections, dominated by bass, drums and rhythm machine and much, much more.

When interviewed, Zaboitzeff stressed that his work contains neither blasphemous nor particularly Catholic intentions. His aim was to recreate the sacral atmosphere, the religious and iconographic rituals (embedded in a modern, contemporary sound) that had impressed him so much as a child during church visits. Some listeners may dislike the faintly techno-like beats which occasionally appear, but once you get used to them, ‘Mïssa Furïosa’ becomes interesting to listen to, with an impressive sound. The old Art Zoyd spirit shimmers through all over the place. Strange but good!

Achim Breitling

Art Zoyd - 2006 - Le Champ Des Larmes

Art Zoyd 
Le Champ Des Larmes

01. Fleuve-Bruit 1 (3:38)
02. Tenebrae (3:05)
03. Eclats de souffle (3:02)
04. Tam-Feu (2:26)
05. Incendium / GC_Sub (3:17)
06. Fleuve de Pluie / Fleuve-Bruit 2 (6:51)
07. Achéron _ le Fleuve Obscur (9:16)
08. Murmur Fulminis / Totem 1 (2:13)
09. Abundans Civitas (5:02)
10. Laetitia / Totem 2 (2:28)
11. Sepulchra / Fleuve-Bruit 3 (3:33)
12. Styx _ le Fleuve Noir (18:32)
13. Le chant de la Méduse (2:26)
14. Egressus / Totem 3 (6:26)

- Yukari Bertocchi-Hamada / keyboards, sensors, kaoss
- Patricia Dallio / keyboards, sensors, kaoss
- Daniel Koskowitz / percussions, pads, kaoss, totem
- Jérôme Soudan "Mimetic" / percussions, pads, kaoss, totem

 First off, it must be said. This isn't rock in any sense. This is modern electronic avant-garde music. All sorts of electronic buzzes, beeps, and drones saturate this disc. Even the percussion doesn't sound completely acoustic (although it may have been run through pedals and devices augmenting the sound). I suppose you could always question the rock credentials of Art Zoyd, but most of their albums I heard had enough to be considered rock, even if it was just on the fringe of the genre. Here, all that is gone and just sound remains. Thus, it should go without saying that this isn't easy listening music. Even fans of Art Zoyd may not like this album, but I personally think it is excellent.

The music for this disc was created to play with "5 video sources", assumedly as a soundtrack to whatever was playing. While it would be cool to see the video accompaniment, I think Le Champ Des Larmes stands fine on its own. The base for this music is generally some sort of electronic drone, either low or high, either full or sparse. Over this, sound gets layered. Percussive thomps, more electronic drones, various sounds in general (which sometime sound like they were processed through various effects)...really any sort of electronic monstrosity that these four musicians can coax out of their equipment. Sometimes there is alot happening in a fervor, other times there isn't (and occasionally it is just the electronic drone base). And that is where one of this album's strengths lies. The so called tension and release. There are many parts that "build" (even if it doesn't go anywhere in particular). Eerie sounds that just float on by creating that atmosphere of unease. Perhaps akin to wandering dark corridors inside a building. That nervousness of being unable to see more than 5 feet in front of you. The chance that at any moment something may jump out and strangle you. The dread of not knowing what's coming, but the foresight to know that its likely to be malevolent. That's the kind of music that is presented here. It's about atmosphere. It's about tension. It's about sound, more than anything. Unfortunately there are some pitfalls here. Generally the times where it's just the electronic drone base without anything happening above it. Occasionally it works (such as in the opening song) while other times it overstays it's welcome (such as in Styx _ le Fleuve Noir and especially Le chant de la Méduse). These moments do drag the disc down slightly, but mostly for ruining the atmosphere created by the better moments (as opposed to being unpleasant in general). But there is plenty to sink your teeth into here, even if it doesn't climax all too often.

All in all, this is an excellent disc. The atmosphere here is honestly unmatched in any other music I've heard (especially if it's a dark/dreary/etc type of atmosphere). Listening to Le Champ Des Larmes really does make me feel like I'm driving down a foggy abandoned highway at two in the morning, and all the little nuances and wonders that go along with such an event. However, this is by no means rock, and really doesn't have a place on this site. On my personal scale, this is an easy four stars. For PA, this is probably two stars. So I will make an unfortunate compromise and give this a three star rating. If you need a strong melodic backbone, driving rhythms, and a generally busy backing this isn't for you. If you generally dislike music that could generally be described as noise, or dips into the noise pool on a (semi-)often basis, stay away from this one. But, if you are a fan of modern electronic avant-garde music you really should give this a listen. Even though I may not listen to this every day (or month for that matter), when I do it surely is a delight. Recommended.

Art Zoyd - 2002 - Metropolis

Art Zoyd 

101. Générique (4:17)
102. La Ville d'En Bas (2:31)
103. Les Jardins Éternels (5:45)
104. La Salle des Machines (5:12)
105. La Ville (1:53)
106. La Nouvelle Tour de Babel (7:01)
107. Le Complot (4:37)
108. Freder et Josaphat (1:10)
109. L'Homme Mince - Le Travailleur 11811 (4:27)
110. Rotwang L'Inventeur (2:40)
111. Apparation du Robot (2:04)
112. Le Descente vers les Catacombes (6:37)
113. La Légende de la Tour de Babel (3:08)
114. Dans l'Attente du Médiateur (2:23)
115. Maria et Feder (4:52)
116. Scène de Maria dans les Catacombes (3:55)
117. La Mort et les Statues (2:10)
118. Maria Prisonnière (1:07)
119. Métamorphose du Robot (2:42)
120. Maria - Robot (1:47)
121. Aparition et Danse Charnelle de la Femme-Robot (3:15)
122. Le Triomphe de la Mort (1:17)

201. Metropolis (Fortsetzung): (33:26)
201. Les Nuits de Yoshiwara 3:44
202. Le Prêche contre les Machines 2:41
203. Maria est libre 0:27
204. La Révolte des Profondeurs 1:50
205. L'Ouvertures des Portes 0:58
206. L'Inondation 3:11
207. L'Ascension des Enfants 4:05
208. Danse des Ouvriers sur les Ruines 0:47
209. Maria - Robot au Bûcher 5:57
210. La Poursuite 4:29
211. Le Cour Médiateur 5:17
202. Le Chat de Schrödinger (24:08)
203. Appars (18:01)

- Serge Bertochi / sax, tubes
- Didier Casamitjana / acoustic & electronic percussion
- Laurence Chave / acoustic & electronic percussion
- Patricia Dallio / samples, keyboards
- Yukari Hamada-Bertochi / samples, keyboards
- Gérard Hourbette / samples, electronics
- Kasper T. Toeplitz / electronics, bass

Late Art Zoyd are far from their early chamber rock albums, far from ordinary electronic music and would be pretty unique even if compared to some contemporary classical music. This album is a different beast to the previous eperiments like u.B.I.Q.U.e or soundtracks like Nosferatu.

The album is divided into 3 parts, the first and main being the soundtrack to the silent movie Metropolis. As explained in the booklet, the main ideas are artificial intelligence, logic and the lack of it, and similarly to movies the music is presented from different angles. The music isn't an interpretation of the actions or some background music, it is a composed score, and it even has a certain time lag between it and the movie. Therefore, the soundtrack could be for bamby at the same manner, the main idea here is the music. The piece begins with a few fade-ins, some sei-melodic arpeggios, highly rhythmic drums and a bit of keyboards, but you should be warned that it wouldn't always be like that. Other pieces can feature dark ambient-like volume swells and droning wind echoes, more rhythmic tracks, a few dance-beats, idm-like glitches and clicks and in few places even harsh noise. But the main point of the album is the competition between all those pieces in every place. Over the time you begin to recognize patterns, melodies or samples which reoccur in a different setting, together with pieces from a different time-place and that's what making the album both rewarding, and annoying for the listener. The negative side of it is that a 1''48' musical piece is physically difficult to listen to, and the framework isn't very similar to prog-rock or oher avant-prog - if you look at the line up, you may notice the lack of many live instruments, such as strings which were very common to early Art Zoyd. So all you've got is a bit of sax and tubes, very rare keyboards, and lots of programmed and live percussion, sound effects and samples. Overall the listening isn't usual at all, but at the 3rd time or so it may become even more rewarding, or stay only lots of clicks, beats, beeps, noise, two- note base lines and unfortunately nothing more.

Next goes the 24 minute Le Chat de Schrödinger(The Schrodinger Cat), whic in fact is a piece for ballet, based on a book of quantum physics(that's so modern composition.) The piece deals with energy and movement, and despite it being written together with Metropolis and they both have connection between them, this one is closer to regular avant-prog. It has not much similar with Le mariage du Ciel et de L'enfer which was the previous ballet Art Zoyd have written, but it's a much more rhythmic, energetic, harsh and dynamic piece. At one place it seems that they went back into chamber-prog territory, but the sound pallete remains the same as in Metropolis.

The last 18 minutes Appars, composed by Kasper T. Toeplitz for the Ensembles Musiques Novelles as part of the Experiments de vol is closer to the electro-acoustic dark ambient music, which may sound as one synth playing unclear dark notes and a bit of percussion, though it is a bit more structured than it seems. Overall it's easier to listen and a welcome change from the album's more frantic pace.

Overal it's a difficult album, unusual and unique. A difficult listen, 3 hours is quite a lot afterall. It's nothing like symphonic prog, other avant-prog or other Art Zoyd albums, but if you are interested in new and innovative music, it is a very good addition to any collection.

Art Zoyd - 2001 - u.B.I.Q.U.e

Art Zoyd

Glissements Progressifs Du Plaisir:
01. Septima Du Centaure (5:41)
02. Tone Reverse (4:10)
03. Zoïle Ou Les Cités Électriques (5:00)
04. Réve Non Valide (2:31)
05. Apparition De L'Église Éternelle (3:41)
06. La Chute Des Anges (5:33)
07. L'Adoration Des Mages (3:49)
08. La Tentation De Saint-Antoine (5:24)
09. Le Chant De La Sibylle (7:39)
10. Anachorète (1:58)
11. Activités Prédérivées (4:31)
12. Rêve De Netteté Absolue (2:25)
13. Compartiment 14/128 Caisson Terminal (9:05)
14. Portuaire (7:24)
15. Allez À Des Moines (2:30)
16. Proxima Du Centaure (1:48)

- Gérard Hourbette/ keyboard, sampler, electric percussion
- Daniel Denis / electric percussion, keyboard
- Patricia Dallio / sampler, keyboard
- Mireille Farmer / Midi marimba, electric percussion, keyboard
- Emma Stephenson Poli / keyboard

13 e-guitars, 3 basses, 6 saxophones (Alto , Tenor and Barytonsax), 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 10 schlagzeuger and 1 Perkussionist.
- Michel Berckmans / conductor

It seems that the symphony orchestra becomes a temptation for every aging rock group, even one so unique and avant-gardist as Art Zoyd. Ubique (or "u.B.I.Q.U.e.," to reproduce the title's spelling) is a symphonic poem composed by Art Zoyd leader Gérard Hourbette for the quintet augmented by a 41-piece orchestra led by ex-Univers Zero Michel Berckmans. For this occasion, Art Zoyd consisted of Hourbette, Patricia Dallio, and Emma Stephenson Poli on samplers and keyboards; original drummer Daniel Denis; and percussionist Mireille Bauer, best known for the years she spent in Pierre Moerlen's Gong. The "Orchestre d'u.B.I.Q.U.e." is a gigantic beast comprising 13 guitarists, three bassists, a big horn section, and ten drummers! Despite all that, the music seems to lack power. In fact, the orchestra adds nothing noticeable to Art Zoyd's sound, which already drew heavily on orchestra samples. Live, it must have been totally different, but on record, Ubique is less in-your-face than group-only effort Metropolis, which came out two years later. If the music is not as powerful as the extravaganza promised, the writing remains pure Hourbette: creepy, martial, progressive. The symphonic poem consists of two movements. Some sections of "Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir" had been included in the group's 1997 soundtrack for the silent film Haxan. Here it is featured in an extensively revised version. The use of an orchestra makes the group's music sound less scary and more pompous, but it cannot take away all of its Gothic appeal.

Art Zoyd - 1997 - Haxan

Art Zoyd 

01. Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir (extraits) (30:42)
- Ubik 1 / Ubik 2 / Ubik 3 / Allez à des moines / Drama / Ralentando / Ubik 7
02. Nuits (7:26)
03. Häxan Phi (5:37)
04. Häxan Xi (2:10)
05. Häxan Psi (4:25)
06. Epreuves d'Acier (17:57)
07. Marche (3:45)

- Patricia Dallio / keyboards, samplers
- Daniel Denis / percussion, keyboards, samplers
- Gérard Hourbette / keyboards, percussion, samplers
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass guitar, vocals, keyboards, samplers, percussion

This is the soundtrack for the Danish/Swedish art movie Häxan (The Witch) from 1921. Director Benjamin Christensen created an ironic piece of cinema based on his own interpretations of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) that all through the middle ages was used as irrefutable proof of the inner witch in women who were unwanted, strange, self-thinking or dangerous - often sentencing them to an early death at the end of a rope (The huge bonfires with burning women is a misconception that still prevails though, but in reality it was very few unfortunate souls that ended up as fiery embers on the stake). Christensen's point was however, that most of the women rendered as witches actually suffered from mental illness. Misconception and superstition leading to fear and pushing society to deal with the stuff we are afraid to face.

So how on earth did Art Zoyd end up making music for an art movie made some 50 years earlier? It was actually commissioned by the city of Copenhagen, back when they were awarded with the honour of being the cultural capital of Europe 1996. This then came out the year after.

I purposely choose to offer up this information at the start of this review, because I feel it has everything to do with the actual music. For my tastes, Art Zoyd have here created an unparalleled piece of music that compliments the sombre and dark universe of Häxan uncannily well. There is a sense of the melodramatic in this album that takes on new meaning. A bitter-sweet touch of sadness that rivals an abandoned dog's yearning cries.

Firstly, Art Zoyd seem to have gone back in time for their inspiration for this work. The cold metronomic electronics mirror the ones they did for their two 1980s releases Berlin and Le Marriage du Ciel et de L'Enfer. Myriads of emerging beats swarming around - creating a startling effect much like looking down into a metallic anthill. The opening beast of a track that lasts 30 minutes should illustrate this chilling and seductive effect. The genius part of the equation though, is the manner in which all these drumming metronomic beats start interweaving with each other: the background suddenly appears in small shimmers of sound, and you get soothing breaths of string instruments passing by you like a swift encounter with a delirious and beautiful death.

Secondly, the inexplicable tension that this group somehow is able to wield is downright spooky. What I mean by tension is the way these musical surfaces stretch out for long periods of time before changing pitch or path. Just like the aforementioned electronic albums from the 80s, there's a similar usage of tension on here - an awaiting future release. The way these pieces build up is perhaps the direct opposite of how most post-rock bands work, yet they still wield that same sense of feeding off the cataclysmic turnovers within the music. With Art Zoyd it just feels like a rubber-band being stretched to the end of infinity and beyond, and then, only then the great big man with the scissors cuts through the umbilical chord - and the sounds evolve, change, transform like a musical version of bloom.

Binding everything together you get angular orchestrated reed sections, cartoonish madman runnings, odd fat man vocalisations, industrial blacksmith hammerings - keeping the beat - like a startled guillotine, and then enveloping all of this a certain stealth vibe about the whole thing - feeling like the music only resides in shadow, creeping up on you like a fragmented whisper.

This is what Art Zoyd is all about. A subtle understated- yet brutal force of music that literally sweeps over you like unexpected gusts of wind. Melodies are second-hand, and at times they just feel like debris or leftovers from the deep entrancing atmospheres - taking you by the hand with the frostbitten force of a small iceberg. That opening cut for example has next to nothing resembling 'melodies' - yet somehow the running time of half an hour feels like a flash. You get lured into black holes, dark brooding forests - an abyss of sound that surely speaks about the fearful images of Benjamin Christensen's cinematic tale of woe. Imagining the middle ages with all that entails - emphasising the overtly superstitious, - the menacing and unfriendly surface of this album suddenly starts making sense. Turn up the volume, turn off the light and let your mind drown out everything but the small ant army of beats and dramatic sways of string accompaniment. A world of images emerges. An inner movie appearing like flickering lights in snow, and then, hopefully, these once senseless and inhuman wrongdoings may finally incinerate before your eyes in a cathartic swoop of sound.

Art Zoyd - 1995 - Faust

Art Zoyd -

01. Down (5:23)
02. Gates of Darkness 1 (8:10)
03. Flask (2:44)
04. Plague (1:49)
05. Faust (3:31)
06. Marais (2:10)
07. Parole (1:36)
08. Pact (3:25)
09. Bruissement (3:21)
10. Essaim (1:40)
11. Irruption (0:31)
12. Gates of Darkness 2 (4:01)
13. Pavan (4:02)
14. Dies Irae (3:57)
15. Procession (2:09)
16. Easter (2:26)
17. Marthe (1:44)
18. Games (3:46)
19. Intrigues (3:38)
20. Accelerando (11:51)

- Patricia Dallio / keyboards, samplers
- Daniel Denis / percussion, keyboards, samplers
- Gérard Hourbette / keyboards, percussion, samplers
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass guitar, vocals, keyboards, samplers, percussion

 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 !

Art Zoyd - 1992 - Marathonnerre

Art Zoyd

101. Complainte (5:56)
102. 2. Szene (9:10)
103. Barbares (1:00)
104. Alleluja (4:38)
105. Tocsin (4:12)
106. Firebirds (4:15)
107. 1. Zwischenspiel (0:58)
108. Konzo Bele (4:00)
109. 1. Szene (12:06)
110. Danse de Mort (3:26)
111. Ritournelle (3:52)
112. Fair Fair (5:22)
113. Prophase (4:15)

201. Métaphase (4:55)
202. Aka Jour de Pluie (4:15)
203. La Belle et la Bête (2:16)
204. Anamorphose 1 (2:15)
205. Anamorphose 2 (1:11)
206. Anamorphose 3 (6:15)
207. Porte de Chatillon (2:38)
208. AZPP (1:32)
209. Mariée à la Nuit (8:01)
210. 2. Zwischenspiel (2:19)
211. Tournoi (3:04)
212. 2ème Expérience de Vol (5:49)
213. Le Lac des Signes (10:28)
214. 3ème Expérience de Vol (5:19)

- Patricia Dallio / keyboards
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, keyboards, percussion
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass guitar, vocals, keyboards, percussion

This is a studio recording of pieces performed as part of a continuous 12 hour performance event. This is quite different to the Art Zoyd of old; the stripped down 3 piece line up relies heavily on electronics, and the distinctive string and horn parts are largely absent. The piano and percussion still provide the main rhythmic impetus, however, and the Bartok/Stravinsky influences are still present and correct, although there's also an element of Steve Reich style minimalism in this incarnation of the group.

Although the original performances may have been good, most of this album is rather flat and often feels lifeless. The best tracks are those which sound most like the earlier version of the band - AZPP/Mariee a la Nuit has a sense of urgency and musical development that is missing from too much of this album. Elsewhere the album is stronger on atmosphere than on content - the sound is often extremely beguiling, but it doesn't necessarily stand up to close or repeated listening.

Newcomers to Art Zoyd would be better off starting with Phase IV or Generation Sans Futur. Established RIO fans will find things to enjoy on this album, but it's something of a let down compared to their earlier work.

Art Zoyd - 1990 - Nosferatu

Art Zoyd 

01. L'oeuf du serpent (3:40)
02. L'agent Renfield (3:17)
03. Le voyage de Harker (4:03)
04.Le matin (1:40)
05. Le château (4:14)
06. Nosferatu (2:42)
07. L'oeuf du serpent II (3:00)
08. Rumeurs (2:35)
09. Rumeurs II (2:56)
10. Anaphase (4:08)
11. Le maitre arrive (2:24)
12. Rumeurs III (2:39)
13. Les docteurs (2:28)
14. La peste (3:14)
15. Livre des vampires (1:47)
16. Anaphase II (4:38)
17. Le maitre est mort (3:23)

- Patricia Dallio / pianos, keyboards
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin, pianos, keyboards, percussion
- André Mergenthaler / cello, alto sax, bass vocals
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass guitar, vocals, tapes, keyboards, percussion

This is the first of three soundtracks ART ZOYD did for those silent horror movies of the twenties. This one is for F.W. Murnau's 1922 released movie called "Nosferatu" which was based on Bram Stoker's book called "Dracula". Interesting that Stoker's widow sued Murnau for copyright infringement and won. All copies of his movie were destroyed although bootleg copies survived. The lineup on this album is the same as on the previous one "Berlin". I have to say off the top that this surpassed my expectations by a wide margin.This is incredible ! In fact i'd like to quote some of Kai Karmanheimo's thoughts because he says it so perfectly: "Dissonance is prolific, tonality itself unstable and hummability lies dead in it's coffin, but instead of chaotic and cacophonous, the music comes across as rigorously regimented and ruthlessly repetitive, with individual instrumental links subjugated and blurring together to create a singularly sinister impression". He goes on to say : "'s the choice of timbres, the sizzle of sinister electronics, that sustain the music through minimilist episodes and obsessive repetition and makes "Nosferatu" more interesting in my ears than ART ZOYD's earlier, predominantly acoustic works that I have heard". So we get 17 tracks at almost 53 minutes and three bonus tracks from a ballet called "Vornange" they did a year earlier.Those three tracks give us over 17 minutes of excellent bonus material. Hourbette composed 8 of the tracks on "Nosferatu" with Zaboitzeff composing the other 9 songs.

"L'oef Du Serpent" opens with a dark atmosphere and percussion before this almost buzzing sound comes in. This is a powerful soundscape that will make you restless. "L'agent Renfield" is also dark and haunting before it calms right down. Strings before 2 minutes as it turns dark and creepy. Sounds like a beast is on the prowl. I don't think his name is Edward either. A calm with piano ends it as the danger has passed. "Le Voyage De Harker" is eerie with outbursts that are alarming to say the least. We start to get a rhythm that sounds like the train to hell. It's like your too afraid to move but you can't stay where you are. This is freaking scary ! Chimes on the next short track before we get to the wind blowing (it's like there's voices in the wind or is that my imagination) on "Le Chateau" with loud sounds coming and going. Then we hear the birds chirping 2 minutes in with flute, bass and strings to follow. Morning has come and the danger has again passed for now.

'Nosferatu" has these striking abrasive sounds with strings.This is all very disturbing. "L'oeuf Du Serpent II" is what i'm sure fear sounds like. "Rumeurs" opens with percussion and other unpleasant sounds, then that wind starts blowing again with those voices crying out in horror. Or is that my mind playing tricks again. "Rumeurs II" has lots of atmosphere and it's not enjoyable. Pulsating sounds on "Anaphase" and other creepy sounds that will make your hair stand up before "Le Maitre Arrive" takes over. Cold piano lines and vocal melodies early before it changes to a fuller and richer sound. Back to the keys and vocal melodies to end it. "Rumeurs III" has these deep throaty spoken words part way through before we get a children's choir with keys then sax. "Les Docteurs" is almost catchy with that slow rhythm. Samples of a woman talking and birds chirping on "La Peste". "Livre Des Vampires" is scary. "Anaphase II" is darker with percussion and sax. Powerful. "Le Maitre Vit Mort" is dramatic yet melancholic. Then flurries of piano with weird vocal samples take over.

Art Zoyd - 1990 - Art Zoyd - J.A. Deane - J. Greinke

Art Zoyd 
Art Zoyd - J.A. Deane - J. Greinke

01. Art Zoyd - Mariée À La Nuit (14:58)
02. Art Zoyd - Caryocinèse (4:51)
03. J.A. Deane - Inheritors (18:37)
04. J.A. Deane - Lizard (4:04)
05. J. Greinke - An Opening (3:43)
06. J. Greinke - Somewhere Calling (6:11)
07. J. Greinke - In Another Room (4:49)
08. J. Greinke - Travelling Secrets (5:13)
09. J. Greinke - The Well (8:05)

- Track 1 composed by Thierry Zaboitzeff & track 2 composed bybGerard Hourbette
performed by
- Patricia Dallio / keyboards
- Gerard Hourbette / viola, violin, keyboards, percussion
- Andre Merganthaler / cello, alto saxophone, keyboards
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass, keyboards, tapes, sampling, percussion
With special guest:
- Tumomi Takegi / vocals (1)

Tracks 3 & 4 composed by J. A. Deane
performed by
- J. A. Deane / synthesizer, sampler, electric trombone
- Olan Jones / vocals
- Richard Horowitz / keyboards
- Bruce Ackley / alto clarinet

Tracks 5 - 9 composed by Jeff Greinke
performed by
- Jeff Greinke / guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion, sampler, processing

The ominous and riveting 23 minutes of otherwise unavailable (amazingly, seemingly to this day) material by French R.I.O. monsters Art Zoyd that comprises the first third of this three-way split CD dates from the post-Berlin era of their work (specifically the period between Nosferatu and Marathonnerre), with the synths and sampling that began significantly augmenting their chamber rock approach from this period onward affording their music a different sort of solemn gravity from their more acoustic based (if no less astringent) earlier work. Wish I could say I was more jazzed about the remainder of the discs contents, but both Jon Hassell and Butch Morris collaborator J.A. Deane and Jeff Greinke are ploughing similar furrows of ethno-synthiness that'd probably work effectively as Discovery Channel soundbeds, but are rather outside my personal musical remit. Any release containing 23 odd minutes of otherwise unavailable Art Zoyd pretty much sells itself though, methinks.

Art Zoyd - 1987 - Berlin

Art Zoyd 

01. Epithalame (20:12)
02. Baboon's Blood (5:35)
03. Petit Messe à l'Usage des Pharmaciens - Offertoire (3:13)
04. Petit Messe à l'Usage des Pharmaciens - Kyrie (3:32)
05. A Drum, a Drum (20:20)
06. Petit Messe à l'Usage des Pharmaciens - Introit (2:59)
07. Unsex Me Here (3:23)

- Patricia Dallio / pianos, keyboards
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin, pianos, keyboards, percussion
- André Mergenthaler / cello, alto sax, bass, vocals
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass guitar, vocals, tapes, keyboards, percussion

 The French ensemble Art Zoyd has never been interested in creating uplifting, high- spirited music: their style is traced by an overall tendency to play with gloom and density in a contemporary chamber-meets-RIO context. That being said, I will add that "Berlin" finds the band exploring the darker side of their musical ideology with a vengeance, but never getting rough; on the contrary, they always procure to keep an air of distinction as it is expected from the intellectual demands that the AZ members usually draw up for their musical ideas and performances. The albums kicks off with the 20-minute 'Epithalame', a solid exercise on minimalism and atonal layers in which the synthesizer and the grand piano alternate positions in the protagonist role. The synth- dominated passages are sustained on frantic harmonic sequences effectively punctuated by the cello and violin; as a result, they tend to portray a clear sense of tension, a tension that certainly does not reach an explosive level due to the minimalistic nature of the interplaying. On the other hand, the piano-dominated passages are more explicitly languid. At minute 11 the symphonic trait starts to get more obvious, subtly growing through a crescendo that leads to a Gothic orchestral motif in minute 13: the organ and the percussive storm assume the leading role, taking the track to an amazing climax. Once this climax is over, it is the dissonant touches of piano and the harp-like synth chords that take center stage until the opening synth motif states the coda: all this time, the recurring sound of synthesized bells and the string ensembles colours have been creating a permanent background that provided a cohesive unity for the various successive passages. Lovers of experimental prog (not exclusively RIO-heads) may feel captivated by this robust opener. I personally find the remaining repertoire not as outstanding as 'Epithalame', but it is not to be dismissed at all. 'Baboon's Blood' has a more recognizable motif for which the string ensemble assumes the leading role. The ambience is more somber, something like a soundtrack to a silent horror movie: the Expressionist airs are complemented by a weird chant, that stands somewhere between the ritualistic and the Dadaist. The 2-part 'Petite Messe a l'Usage des Pharmaciens' finds the band focused on the free-from use of massive electronic ambiences for the 'Offertoire' section; on the contrary, the 'Kyrie' section is more articulate, but not necessarily listener-friendlier, since the synth and piano motif is properly adorned by dissonant sonic streams on - violin and sax - and odd percussive punctuations. The other long track is 'A Drum, a Drum', which portrays a very tribal feel, as suggested by its peculiar title. This tribal atmosphere is not only provided by the percussive instruments and the ritualistic chanting, but also by the keyboards, sax, strings, sundry synth effects and lunatic narratives, which mostly give us the impression of a peculiar travel through the darkest corners of a wild jungle full of impending doom - potentially deadly safari! Although it's fair to say that the brief up- tempo motif that surfaces at minute 14 comes to show that AZ can also be fun. occasionally. Oddly enough (but hey, this is an Art Zoyd recording that we're talking about), the following number is the 'Introït' of 'Petite Messe': it is very Gothic in nature, an ambience effectively enhanced by the use of a keyboard-sampled choir. Finally, 'Unsex Me Here', despite the carnally violent implications of its title, stands as an eerie closure, as relaxing as AZ can be. In conclusion, "Berlin" is one of Art Zoyd's most accomplished works, and it's also a masterpiece of post-70s RIO.

Art Zoyd - 1985 - Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'Enfer

Art Zoyd 
Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'Enfer

01. Sortie 134 - Part 1 (11:00)
02. Cryogenèse - Rêve Artificiel (18:12)
03. IO 1 (3:51)
04. IO 2 (2:15)
05. IO 3 (5:15)
06. Mouvance 2 (3:34)
07. Mouvance 1 (5:54)
08. Cryogenèse - Les Portes du Futur (14:30)
09. Sortie 134 - Part 2 (3:48)

- Patricia Dallio / electric piano, grand piano, keyboards
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin, electric piano, grand piano, keyboards, percussion
- Jean-Pierre Soarez / trumpet, percussion
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / cello, bass guitar, voices, tapes, keyboards, percussion
- Didier Pietton / Soprano saxophone (3,4,5)

This was released as a double album back in 1985 and was the music for Roland Petit's ballet called "The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell". It's hard to believe this was used as music for a ballet, although Petit was known for his theatrical productions. He apparently saw ART ZOYD on television and so contacted them about doing this. I must say I feel very fortunate to have this cd as it is the last of their chamber music period before they went heavily into electronics.This is the only one of their early period that is not out of print yet, and it's one of their best. I got my copy at "Wayside Music". What's it sound like ? Well my favourite place to listen to music is in my truck on my hour drive to and from work. I listen to the longer cds like this on my way home because I can take my time and go the long way. I've been listening to this all week at work and one customer gave me a hard time about it saying I should have Christmas music on instead of this depressing stuff, I decided to let him live. So tonight on the way home in the dark I had a careful listen to this recording.The closest reference in my opinion is UNIVERS ZERO, in that this is very intense and dark.This is more minimilstic and experimental but every bit as good, in fact I like it better than UNIVERS ZERO's early works.

"Sortie 134(Part 1)" opens with a lot of tension as dual piano melodies and trumpet lead the way before it calms down and we can hear children laughing. Some violin and piano before a full sound comes back 3 minutes in that comes and goes. A change before 6 minutes as we get lots of percussion and piano. Vocal melodies before 8 minutes.This is intense ! Great track ! It ends with children laughing again as it blends into "Cryogenese(Reve Artificiel)". The sound of a metronome ticking can be heard as trumpet blasts and piano comes in. A change 3 minutes in as the metronome stops and the trumpet and piano continue. Again this is so intense. Another change 5 minutes in as metronome returns with piano. I'm reminded of UNIVERS ZERO 6 1/2 minutes in. Trumpet a minute later. Actually an outbreak of trumpet 9 1/2 minutes in goes on for a minute. It becomes so intense and unrelenting. Another change 14 1/2 minutes in as some strange sounds replace the trumpet. Sounds like synths 16 1/2 minutes in as the piano stops. What a ride that was. "Io 1" features sax melodies that are at time dissonant. "Io 2" is eerie and haunting. A cool rhythm with sax comes in that stops and starts. I like this one.

"Io 3" opens with almost a pulsating sound as violin comes in. It stops and then continues but this time piano is added. It stops again and restarts.This part is kind of spooky. Vocal melodies join 4 minutes in. "Mouvance 2" incorporates these beautiful piano melodies. A full sound before 3 minutes. "Mouvance 1" features more piano but it's more aggressive. Trumpet comes in tastefully as we again have two pianos being played. The intensity is removed as the song settles down. Violin comes in as piano quietly plays on. "Cryogenese(Les Portes Du Futur)" opens with outbursts of piano. Percussion comes and goes. Organ and trumpet 1 1/2 minutes in. The outbreaks come back. Violin 3 1/2 minutes in. Vocal sounds. Metronome comes in. Organ 7 minutes in. The rest of the song is fantastic ! One of the best part of the album. It has more of a melody with trumpet blasts, piano and organ. "Sortie 134(Part 2)" has a good beat, and the children laughing are back. Vocal melodies and speaking as well. Great ending to this album.

Art Zoyd - 1983 - Les Espaces Inquiets

Art Zoyd 
Les Espaces Inquiets

01. Légendes: La Forêt Qui Avance (3:48)
02. Cérémonie (9:08)
03. Images D'Une Ville-Poussière: Errance (4:47)
04. Images D'Une Ville-Poussière: Cortège Des Officiels (4:29)
05. Images D'Une Ville-Poussière: Au-Delà Des Vallées (4:08)
06. Migrations (13:08)
07. Légendes: Le Bruit Du Fer (3:04)

- Patricia Dallio / Grand piano, electric piano
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin, keyboards, percussion
- Didier Pietton / Alto sax, Tenor sax, percussion
- Jean-Pierre Soarez / trumpet, cornet, percussion
- Theirry Zaboitzeff / bass guitar, cello, guitars, tapes, keyboards

Art Zoyd was/is one of the better groups in Avant-Prog. One of the greatest things to come out of France. They are similar in sound to Univers Zero but are generally more eclectic and weird. They formed in 1968 and originally were influenced by the Mothers Of Invention and Captain Beefheart. The first album was self-released in 1976. This is Zoyd's fifth album(not including the 1980 remake of the debut).

Leave it to Art Zoyd to start one of their albums with the most avant song on it. The first "Legendes" song, subtitled "La Foret Qui Avance", is a strange and mysterious piece. It's mostly strange noises and creepy voices whispering. The only real music here is the strings which come and go. One of the reasons I like this album so much, despite the odd beginning, is that it has two of my favourite AZ songs here: "Ceremonie" and "Migrations". Those two songs are really great prog music for 1983; they make Neo-Prog sound like Duran Duran in comparison. Of course with Duran Duran we're talking about a completely different "Rio".

"Ceremonie"(which you can listen to on PA) begins with dramatic organ before going into the main part of the song. Simple but effective bass playing with jangly acoustic guitar and some percussion. Then there is some great trumpet before some almost metal-like screeching from electric guitar. The end of the song is very avant though, with some weird Magma-esque vocals. "Migrations" is a song that every progger should hear at least once in their life. This song has some great bass from Thierry Zaboitzeff(why isn't he on PA yet?).

About 4 minutes in there is a great section with bass and a repeated piano part. Eventually we get another piano playing over top with viola, then some organ before it goes back again. This leads to a dissonant section with trumpet and more organ. Around 7 1/2 minutes we get a drum machine pattern with some very nice piano playing. Overdubbed trumpets appear. Later we get a very bizarre sound that goes back and forth in the left and right channels. I can only describe it as a cross between hearing a train go by and a bowling ball knocking over pins.

Of the three "Images" songs, "Cortege Des Officiels" is the most interesting. The last song and second "Legendes" piece, "La Bruit Du Fer", has some programmed drumming which almost sounds like the real thing. The bass part is unique sounding; this reminds me of a song that Einsturzende Neubauten did in the 90s. Art Zoyd are one of the only "rock" groups without a drummer. Beginning on this album they use drum machines and synths. Previously they were an almost acoustic group with electric bass and occasionally electric guitar and electric piano. After this album they dove headfirst into synths and programming, but not quite abandoning the violins and trumpet just yet.

Art Zoyd is a group that should be more known. It doesn't help that their music is expensive. Les Espaces Inquits is not their most consistent album but has some of the best music they did. For 1983 this is very heady and adventurous stuff.

Art Zoyd - 1982 - Phase IV

Art Zoyd 
Phase IV

01. État D'Urgence (14:38)
02. Naufrage (6:41)
03. Dernière Danse (4:33)
04. Deux Préludes (2:05)
05. La Musique D'Erich Faes (Collective Improvisation) (0:14)
06. Et Avec Votre Esprit (5:14)
07. Ballade (4:03)
08. Chemins De Lumière (15:09)
09. Du Sang Sur La Neige (4:16)
10. Vue D'Un Manège (4:08)
11. La Nuit (13:00)
12. Les Larmes De Christina (3:44)

- Gérard Hourbette / violin, keyboards, saxophone, viola
- Didier Pietton / percussion, saxophone, sax (Alto), sax (Tenor)
- Jean Pierre Soarez / percussion, trumpet, cornet
- Thierry Willems / piano, piano (electric), piano (Grand)
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / bass, guitar, cello, guitar (bass), vocals, voices, tapes

Art Zoyd's fourth album remains their strongest offering to date, and also marks the end of their original RIO chamber rock sound. Shortly after this album they were joined by keyboard player Patricia Diallo, and elements of contemporary minimalism (Steve Reich, Philip Glass) were incorporated into their sound. The sound of this double album is generally closer to contemporary classical than to rock - there is no drum kit (although a lot of percussion can be heard in places) and the only element anchoring it to prog is Thierry Zaboitzeff's rumbling bass guitar. Despite this, the music has a real rhythmic drive (mostly propelled by the piano) and the multi instrumental abilities of the band mean that there is a varied sonic pallette which occasionally sounds like a full orchestra. There are also occasional outbursts of demented vocals that recall some of Magma's wilder moments.

For all their formidable abilities as instrumentalists and composers, Art Zoyd's music has always been just a bit too cold and intellectual to fully engage the listener - many of their pieces were conceived as soundtracks to multimedia events or installations, and taken out of context can seem a little lifeless. The music is also very carefully scored most of the time, but with none of the space for improvisation or interpretation that was usually left by perfectionists like Frank Zappa and Christian Vander.

Leaving those reservations aside, it's hard to think of any other band who have patrolled the border between contemporary avant garde and rock music in such a determined and single minded fashion. The fact that they have continued to explore this singular musical territory for over 30 years is even more impressive. Recommended for those times when you want something to engage the intellect and by pass the feet altogether.

Art Zoyd - 1980 - Generation Sans Futur

Art Zoyd 
Generation Sans Futur

01. La Ville (16:50)
02. Speedy Gonzalez (2:55)
03. Génération Sans Futur (9:40)
04. Divertissement (6:45)
05. Trois Miniatures (5:12)

- Patricia Dallio / grand piano, electric piano
- Daniel Denis / percussion
- Alain Eckert / guitar, voices
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin
- Gilles Renard / saxophones
- Jean-Pierre Soarez / trumpet, percussion
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / bass guitar, cello, voices

 This is the third album from French RIO outfit Art Zoyd, released the same year as the re- recording of the debut album. This is the first album to feature pianist Patricia Dallio, who would come and go on future albums. By the late 2000s she was the longest serving member of the group, with the main duo of violinist Gerard Hourbette and bassist Thierry Zaboitzeff having left. Daniel Denis of Univers Zero is back on percussion from the last album, but getting behind a drumkit for one song. His fellow UZ bandmate, bassoonist Michel Berckmans, did not join him this time. This is the most democratic album yet from the band, with four members getting writing credits.

Although this ensemble first formed in the late 1960s, they only released a few psychedelic singles before recording their first, self-financed album in 1976. The music of Art Zoyd can be similar to the music of Univers Zero, but AZ preceeds them and has no drummer and incorporates vocals. Generally in the 'chamber prog' category, but this album in particular is perhaps the groups most jazzy. With each album AZ became slightly more electric and electronic. There is some electric piano here, which would be the first electric instrument AZ used since electric bass and some very sparse use of electric guitar. The following album will have organ and samples; the next one, drum machines and synths. And so on, with the acoustic instruments gradually taking a back seat.

Again starting an album with the longest song on it, this is the only song on the album to feature vocals. "La Ville" opens with whispers and piano playing bassy low notes, two at a time. Then some viola and trumpet joins in. Later the music stops and then bass, viola and piano with some "sh-sist" vocals that get repeated like a mantra. Trumpet comes in. The vocals and bass stop. You hear some guitar now. Later on the music stops again, then goes into a dramatic section with repetative piano and a repeating voice saying something that sounds like "We're in style!" or "Where is tile?!?" The person sounds like they are either boasting about how "we're in style" or is severely confused and wants to lay some tiles down, asking "where is tile?"

This epic is not over yet. Later a freer, more atonal section. Later still, some electric piano and cello with someone mumbling like a Nazi Ozzy. A great bass sound later on while the music is very dissonant. Music stops yet again, then some lovely viola, cello and trumpet. The three instruments later get more tense and urgent sounding. The music stops briefly again before going into an energenic section with fast electric piano. Viola and trumpet play some wonderful lines over top. Great cello near the end. Reprises the "sh-sist" part without the vocals. Nice false ending. This is one of Art Zoyd's better epics.

"Speedy Gonzalez" is a very jazzy and busy song for this group. You could picture a drummer in this song. The bass playing and jazzy guitar is great. Another false ending. The title track features Daniel Denis playing more jazzy than he ever did with Univers Zero. The song opens with a slowed down piano sound and military drumming. Drumming stops and cello, viola, trumpet and/or sax join in. The main melody here which gets repeated later is fantastic. More military drums and a short trumpet solo before it switches to a guitar and piano dominated section. The music stops and you hear the rumbling slowed down piano chord get repeated again. Then the great main melody gets reprised. Changes to a jazzy section with drumming. Then drums stop briefly then come back with some great guitar and a skronking sax. An overdubbed bass and tom-tom rhythm forces it's way in as the sax is still skronking away. The guitar and piano dominated section gets reprised, now with more emphasis on viola and trumpet. Ends with one last slowed down piano chord.

"Divertissement" is a piece that Zaboitzeff will later re-record for a solo album. Basically this a modern classical composition. Nice mix of cello and viola with some piano added later on. In complete contrast, "Trois Miniatures" is almost pure jazz. Laid-back easy jazz with some viola and no drums. Great jazzy guitar playing. After awhile it gets more dissonant with some viola string plucking. Later gets more chamber prog sounding and what sounds like a clavinet starts playing. Music stops and goes back to the beginning section.

This would be a great place to start with Art Zoyd. I know this album was recently re-released, but it's probably expensive. The title translates to "generation with no future", but the music generally is not too dark or bleak sounding. For fans of Univers Zero and Magma, this comes highly recommended. A great prog album from 1980, when there wasn't a lot of great prog being made.

Art Zoyd - 1979 - Musique Pour L'Odyssee

Art Zoyd 
Musique Pour L'Odyssee


01. Musique Pour L'Odyssée (17:05)
02. Bruit, Silence - Bruit, Repos (10:44)
03. Trio "Lettre D'Automne" (7:01)

- Michel Berckmans / oboe, bassoon
- Franck Cardon / violin
- Daniel Denis / percussion
- Gérard Hourbette / viola, violin
- Jean-Pierre Soarez / trumpet
- Thomas Michel / saxophones
- Thierry Zaboitzeff / bass guitar, cello, voices

Art Zoyd's second album picks up where the debut had left things to rest and is seen as their crowning achievement by many specialists. For this album, the group is joined by two members of Univers Zero, Daniel Denis on percussions and Michel Berckman's on oboe and bassoon.

The sidelong title track is an impressive, solemn, very tense piece of music with war-like ambiances, where once again main composer Hourbette is alternating Bartok, Stravinsky with later XXth century modernists (not quite Stockhausen but there are moments where atonality is very close), but the results are again not far away from Univers Zero, which is hardly surprising since both Denis and Berckmans are in the fold. Great dynamics, sombre ambiances, an almost totally acoustic sound (bar the electric bass), Kobaian-like tribal chants are on the main tour programme of this musical Odyssée.

On the other side of the album is Zabotzieff's first composition for the group and it is clearly homage to Magma (referring to the poem Terre on the back of one of their early albums), as in the second movement he grabs his bass guitar and gives one enormous bass guitar thrashing that can only make you think of Magma bass-thumping. Lettre D'Automne is more reflective and seems to be an answer to Stravinsky's Sacre Du Printemps (Spring's Rites).

Certainly as good as its predecessor, this album is yet another outstanding album that every classical music fans must hear, yet Art Zoyd's work is hardly easily accessible, and is only recommended to RIO and Zeuhl fans.

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.

Present - 2009 - Barbaro (Ma Non Troppo)

Barbaro (Ma Non Troppo)

01. Vertiges – 16:36
02. A Last Drop – 11:24
03. Jack The Ripper – 16:41

- Roger Trigaux / guitars, keyboards
- Reginald Trigaux / guitar
- Pierre Chevalier / piano, keyboards
- Dave Kerman / drums, percussion
- Kieth Macksoud / bass
- Matthieu Safatly / cello
- Pierre Desassis / saxophone
- Udi Koorman / sound
- Laurent Van Gorp / tube

The band’s last studio album came in 2001, so expectations were naturally very high for this one. Present didn’t let us down, producing another masterpiece, which reminds us of their past glories, yet also focuses on the future with an even more intense, complex and better-sounding release.

The opener ”Vertiges” has an unrelenting tempo and some of the parts are incredibly complex. There are amazingly difficult segments that still contain so much anguish and other primal emotions. It is a tremendous achievement, showing off some of Present’s trademark aspects, but the piece also seems to have a more modern feel to it. There is an amazing intensity and rawness throughout it that keeps you on your toes all the way through.

“A Last Drop” is a piece composed by Pierre Chevalier. It’s his second contribution to the Present catalogue – the first being “Strychnine for Christmas” from the “High Infidelity” album. His style is quite different to Roger Trigaux’s. His piece is not that hectic and wild, there are a few more peaceful moments to rest your ears. Some segments on the Mellotron is reminiscent of early Crimson, while some guitar riffs of “Red”. It is a nice contrast to the damage on the senses that “Vertiges” inflicts on you.

The last title is a live cover of one of Univers Zero’s most recognisable works, “Jack the Ripper” (co-written by Daniel Denis and Roger Trigaux). It’s as if an extra surge of adrenaline has been put into the piece and “Jack the Ripper” has become even more brutal and manic. There are some added Mellotron and synthesiser parts, which add to the suspense, some of the instruments are different and the introduction is played on the piano instead of the harmonium.

Present - 2005 - A Great Inhumane Adventure

A Great Inhumane Adventure 

01. Delusions – 14:47
02. Alone – 10:58
03. Le Poison Qui Rend Fou – 10:16
04. Laundry Blues – 13:01
05. Promenade au Fond d’un Canal – 23:33

- Pierre Chevalier / Roland piano, keyboards
- Dave Kerman / drums, percussion
- Jean-Pierre Mendes / bass
- Reginald Trigaux / guitar, vocals
- Roger Trigaux / guitars, vocals, keyboards
- Keith Macksound / bass solo (5)

In 1998, Present toured the US for the first time, promoting “Certitudes” album, a month-long journey that found the quartet playing venues across the country, ending in Baltimore, where “A Great Inhumane Adventure” was recorded.

The band certainly made an impression on the audience with the powerful, dark, repetitive music, Dave Kerman playing the drums with seemingly anything he could get his hands on, Roger Trigaux towering over the audience in his dark trench coat, and even pounding on the stage with a big, red pipe.

Three of the tracks on the earlier live 1996 CD are repeated on “A Great Inhumane Adventure”, including the monumental “Promenade au Fond d’un Canal,” which was the featured piece on Triskaidekaphobie, Present’s inaugural 1981 recording. The two guitars entwine exquisitely on the newer live version of the piece, and Pierre Chevalier assaults his keyboards with dissonant, propulsive energy throughout the program. Dave Kerman is a congenial force on drums, and he combines with bassists Jean-Pierre Mendes and (on “Promenade”) Keith Macksoud for the thick, bottom-heavy sound associated with the classic French progressive rock groups. The accented vocals of Roger Trigaux (and Reginald Trigaux’s occasional wailing counterpoint) is an acquired taste, depending upon the listener’s tolerance for goth posturing.

“Laundry Blues” is a typical Present track, though note-worthy if only because it has yet to be seen in a studio album.

This album makes a good companion to 1996's “Live”. If you already like the band, then “A Great Inhumane Adventure” is a must.

Present - 2001 - High Infidelity

High Infidelity

01. Souls For Sale (1) – 3:14
02. Souls For Sale (2) – 3:24
03. Souls For Sale (3) – 3:39
04.Souls For Sale (4) – 5:27
05. Souls For Sale (5) – 4:55
06. Souls For Sale (6) – 6:45
07. Strychnine For Christmas (1) – 3:55
08. Strychnine For Christmas (2) – 6:58
09. Reve De Fer – 9:21

- Roger Trigaux / guitar, vocal
- Reginald Trigaux / guitar, vocal
- Pierre Chevalier / piano, keyboards, organ, mellotron, vocal
- Dave Kerman / drums, percussion, vocal
- Keith Macksoud / bass
- Matthieu Safatly / cello, vocal
- Fred Becker / alto & tenor sax
- Dominic Ntoumos / trumpet, flugelhorn
- Udi Koomran / sound

“High Infidelity” sees Present progress yet some more in the complex RIO and Zeuhl world, that they are building with every album. The band is now in an extended form with with a sring and brass section. The main quartet of Trigaux (father and son), Chevalier and drummer Dave Kerman is still the heart and soul of the band. Macksoud in bass is a regular now.

A rather bizarre sombre almost underground artwork (a collage of Israeli or Palestinian streets night scene) certainly sets the sombre mood of the album.

From the opening six-parts suite Soul For Sale (27 min+) with its insane and oppressive groove on which both father and son pull some searing guitar lines that even Fripp would love to have written, is constantly shifting and twisting almost uncontrollably sometimes reminding you Magma. The brass section adds more than a bit of variety in the soloing, and certainly is used for full drama as underlining the constant tension.

The two-parts 11 minutes “Strychnine For Christmas” (under-titled The Truth About Santa Claus) penned by Pierre Chevalier, is softly underscored by a rare Mellotron behind a rather distant Crimson influence, but the vocals are certainly perfectible (both English lyrics and vocals from Kerman).

Third and last track, written by Trigaux, is the “Reve De Fer” finishes as a tribute to a well known theme with Belew-Fripp interplay.

Yet another stunning work from the ever-progressing Trigaux gang.

Present - 1999 - No.6


01. The Limping Little Girl- Part 1 – 3:07
02. The Limping Little Girl- Part 2 – 3:37
03. The Limping Little Girl- Part 3 – 5:17
04. The Limping Little Girl- Part 4 – 4:54
05. Le Rodeur – 1:59
06. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 0 – 0:08
07. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 1: Le Martin – 4:29
08. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 2: Le Reve de la Muit – 2:02
09. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 3: La Realite – 1:36
10. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 4: Vers Le Cauchemar – 1:58
11. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 5: Le Cauchemar Yo – 3:07
12. Ceux d’en Bas (Suite)- Part 6: Le Combat – 6:18
13. Sworlf – 8:32

- Roger Trigaux / composition, vocals, musical direction, guitar on “Le Rodeur”
- Reginald Trigaux / guitars, vocals
- Dave Kerman / drums, percussion, vocals
- Pierre Chevalier / pianos, mellotron, vocals
- Keith Macksoud / bass
- David Davister / drums & percussion (13)
- Yuval Mesner / cellos

A few line-up changes compared to their previous returning albums, most noticeably Daniel Denis and Alain Rochette gone, finding suitable replacements in Dave Kerman and Pierre Chevalier. Roger Trigaux is also taking a bit of a backseat because of his declining health; he is taking on the role of musical director and composer only playing guitar on one track. Ex-bassist Guy Segers has now moved up a step into being their manager.

Even if most members are now quite young, “Present” shows that this rejuvenation process is not harming their musical directions, on the contrary. Dave Kerman is a very worthy successor to Daniel Denis and is now the spine of the group and also brings a slight touch of humour in the band with their impressive (and oppressive) 17-min The Limping Little Girl, where he keeps intervening with the now-famous line “Didn’t You Hear What Your Mother Said?” which is clearly pun on their early classic “Poison Qui Rend Fou”. Children’s rhymes and other oddities are present throughout the track.

“Le Rodeur” is the only moment on the album where Roger Trigaux is to be heard. The next killer track is “Ceux D’en Bas”, which clearly makes reference to Univers Zero’s “Ceux Du Dehors” and you’d better hang on to your sanity as the ride proposed is a roughie and a toughie. This almost 6-part 20-min suite depicts the fine line between dreams and nightmares and is one of the most astounding compositions Trigaux has ever written. The only sung-track (Le Cauchemard Yo in the Ceux d’en Bas suite) still reminding you (a bit) of Magma and the finale is certainly Dantesque with the throbbing bass battling the mellotrons in a blood-curdling chaos.

Even under the shadow of these two monster tracks, the last Sworlf still manages some interest, mostly because it is very slow paced and very gothic while staying reflective, reminiscent of Shub-Niggurath.

This album compared to the previous “Certitudes” is quite a step upwards as they leave their slight Zeuhl twist totally behind, and heads in adventurous gothic RIO style, as the new line-up is out to make their own sound.

Present - 1998 - Certitudes


01. Delusions – 14:51
02. May Day – 10:03
03. The Sense of Life – 11:12
04. Ex-Tango – 3:46

- Roger Trigaux / guitar, vocals, keyboards
- Reginald Trigaux / guitar, vocals
- Daniel Denis / drums, vocals
- Alain Rochette / piano & keyboards
- Guy Segers / bass

Present’s first full line-up studio album since their (so welcomed back) return is a rather superb one. Original members Roger Trigaux, Daniel Denis (both also Univers Zero members) and Alain Rochette return with long-time compadre Guy Segers on bass and Roger’s son Reginald on guitars.

The prominence of the vocals is noticable, as three of the four tracks have singing: while signing may be a bit an approximations for Present’s vocals here, we can talk more of chants or almost black-mass incantations – just simply dark, sombre and gloomy lyrics, fitting quite well the music.

“Delusions” will become a favourite in concert, with its never-ending piano riff repetition somehow bringing that minimalism that Present is always slightly hinting at, but here coming out in the open, but the last four minutes is a constant and awesome construction shifting constantly between odd time sigs and great soloing. “May Day” (in the help sense) is also another concert classic, yet another typical “Present” lenghty track.

“Sense Of Life”, have even better vocals and changing rhythm patterns and slight free jazz improvs. “Present” has definite touches of zeuhl music in them. They were always a very rhythmic group and Roger Trigaux’s constant switches from guitars to piano, this allows Rochette use a few keyboards extra including a rare mellotron, sparely used but to great effects. The last track is a self-not-so-explanatory and Rochette-penned Ex-Tango, which is another small gem.

Daniel Denis will not be around longer since he will reform Univers Zero again and Present will settle on a more permanent basis on Dave Kerman whom they toured with earlier.

Present - 1996 - Live!


01. Laundry Blues – 11:38
02. Contre – 7:29
03. Alone – 11:33
04. Promenade au Fond d’un Canal – 22:09

- Roger Trigaux / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Reginald Trigaux / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Bruno Bernas / bass, vocals
- Dave Kerman / drums, percussion

“Present” is in free flight during this live album, recorded in December 9th, 1995 at the “AKW” in Wurzburg, Germany. The band isn’t a duo any more, with the addition of a bass and drums the band is on the way to its full re-formation.

The live renditions breathes a sense of space and ambience into the band’s music that makes it sound even more intense and sinister. They have lots of nice dual guitar/bass and lengthy compositions, still the music is very intricate.

Dave Kerman (of 5uu’s) does a fantastic job on drums – it’s fun to try to pick out the spots where he’s using kitchen utensils or Barbie dolls instead of drumsticks.