If I were in charge of organizing a ballet, one of the very last bands on the planet whom I would think of for scoring it would be Art Zoyd. Still, it's diversity that makes this world a better place. Roland Petit, who knows a hell of a lot more about ballet than me, did indeed do just that, immediately after seeing the Zoyd perform on television. As will probably be guessed by those already familiar with this band, the music may not always be 100% dark, but it can be counted on to be 99.9% uneasy. As this album demonstrates, the band is no less than masterful with subtle arranging and a penchant for building slow-burning tensions that might unceremoniously be pulled out from beneath the listener at a moment's notice.
The first composition, "Sortie 134 - Part 1" is a classic representation of what the band is all about, displaying a strong Bartok and Stravinsky influence and also musique concrete elements (e.g., the sampled children's laughter). The climax features Zaboïtzeff's doomed vocals getting drowned in a sea of organ lurches, piano stabs, chiming clock noises, and a 1-2 percussive pounding.
If you think the polyrhythmic activity of King Crimson's "Thrak" was challenging, then sink your flimsy teeth into "Cryogenèse - Rêve Artificiel." Two particular sections come to mind. One is right at the beginning, with accented notes against a (required...believe me) metronome ticking away. Seventeen beats in, the first accented note occurs. This is followed 10 beats later by a double-accent, then a single accent 9 beats after that, and a double accent in-between the 9th and 10th beat after that, before the cycle repeats. Then there's the section that begins at 4:56. Here the metronome clicks off a 31-beat cycle, with accents on the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 12th, 16th, 21st, and 24th beats. After one of their trademark lengthy, dynamic buildups with triplicate polyrhythms and sinister organ chordal washes, the music suddenly gets flushed and the 31-beat pattern played over with a five-beat lag, before everything is eventually overtaken by various animal sounds, lawnmower-like drones, and asthmatic breathing. See why I wouldn't think of this band to score a ballet?
For the most part, the "Io" and "Mouvance" pieces constrain themselves to one theme with a firm use of repetition; thus, they are more immediately accessible. Out of these, I am particularly taken with "Io 1," a simple utilization of the Leading Whole Tone scale (C-D-E-F#-G#-A#-B-C), combined with other-worldly trumpet from Soarez. If Miles Davis had sat in with Univers Zero, this undoubtedly would be what the resulting music would sound like. The brisk rippling of keyboard notes on "Mouvance 2" are effectively contrasted by the neurotic staccatos that open up "Mouvance 1."
After these short pieces forming the middle of the album, "Cryogenèse" (the return of the dreaded metronome!) gets magnificently revisited, by its end overloading the listener with a pure sense of dread. The album closes with a coda ("Sortie 134 - Part 2"). Not awful by any means, but with its drum machine and jarring, techno feel, it represents the least of the moments on this disc.
Overall, though, the music on Le Mariage du Ciel et de L'Enfer is terrific and ranks among Art Zoyd's best work. Texturally, it is an optimal balance between their increasing incorporation of electronic timbres in the 1980s with their earlier, more organic period. The music also balances their level of compositional sophistication that easily holds its own with contemporary classical music, while at the same time being reasonably digestible for new listeners. This album represents an excellent inroad for those interested in exploring Art Zoyd's output. I don't know how the ballet was received, but from the picture shot included in the CD, it looks pretty wild and I would have loved to have seen it. Incidentally, Petit also hired another prog-related band in the early 70s to compose and perform one of his ballets (hint: their name ended in "-oyd," too). Ground and Sky review - Art Zoyd - Le Mariage du Ciel et de L'Enfer
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 wonderful 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. When i finished listening to this i thought to myself "Was that just a bad dream i had ?" ART ZOYD have just been put near the top of my favourite Rio-prog band list.Get this record !! ART ZOYD Le Mariage Du Ciel Et De L'Enfer music reviews and MP3
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Sortie 134 - Part 1 (11:00)
2. Cryogenèse - Rêve Artificiel (18:12)
3. IO 1 (3:51)
4. IO 2 (2:15)
5. IO 3 (5:15)
6. Mouvance 2 (3:34)
7. Mouvance 1 (5:54)
8. Cryogenèse - Les Portes du Futur (14:30)
9. Sortie 134 - Part 2 (3:48)
Total Time: 68:19Line-up / Musicians - 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
Art Zoyd - Sortie 134 - Part 2