Art Zoyd — Faust
(In-Possible AZ 2001, 1996/2002, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-02-01
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.
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
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
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