Exposé Online banner

Art Zoyd — Faust
(In-Possible AZ 2001, 1996/2002, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-02-01

Faust Cover art

It's been too long since I've heard anything by Art Zoyd. They have continued down their unique path begun on L'Enfer, taking them in recent years to the macabre soundtracks of German Expressionist film maker, F.W. Murnau. The previous outing saw them tackle Nosferatu. I honestly don't think there exists a group anywhere whose music is more suited to these early silent films. Not just because of the disturbing menace inherent in the Art Zoyd ethos, but because of their ability to concoct the most chilling mood, with such a dearth of raw materials. Restraint is really the name of the game, especially with these soundtracks, and Thierry Zaboitzeff and crew have proven throughout their career a sensibility to this that utterly defies description.

Faust has been performed live recently as a quartet, including Daniel Denis (of Univers Zero) on drums. And of course the music is all composed to sync perfectly with the accompanying film. Hence, it is divided into many different "scenes," twenty in all, most of which are very short. They all segue, and the whole production clocks in at 60 minutes. Sneeze, or go out for popcorn and you miss a sizable chunk. Film music often succeeds in inverse proportion to how well it stands alone as abstract music. So as I listened I tried to imagine myself watching the film. Familiarity with Goethe's version of the legend helped a lot, and while I'd say there are certainly two or three sections that fall into the you-had-to-be-there category (especially the finale, "Accelerando," which is nothing more than... well, an accelerando), the remainder speaks quite convincingly in and of itself. My only gripe is that Daniel's acoustic drumming is scant, to say the least. Apart from a few of his signature snare drum phrases, you would never guess he's anywhere on this. I was really looking forward to hearing a discernible percussion contribution, like that on Génération sans Futur.

Instrumentally Art Zoyd have gone through a big metamorphosis over the years. Gone are the trumpets, violin, sax, tape-manipulation, and most of the cello and piano as well. Samplers and synthesizers are the main event now, supplemented by percussion. And yet, just as much painstaking effort goes into their musical craft, transcending the clichés and obvious temptations inherent in the technology trap. Every scene is treated in a completely unique way so that no one passage resembles any other. Nevertheless it all bears the unmistakable mark of France's most individual ensemble. Neo-gothic avant symphonic music that embraces futuristic methods of composing, but severs no awareness of traditional musical practice. Art Zoyd again prove they are masters of their craft.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 11, 2002 releases, 1996 recordings

Related artist(s): Thierry Zaboitzeff, Art Zoyd, Daniel Denis

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

László Hortobágyi - Summa Techonologiae – While not well known in the States, Hungary's László Hortobágyi has for most of the 90s been making some of the most exciting ethno-electronic music available anywhere. Another disc from the...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues