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Album Review

After a couple of weaker projects (Ubique, Expériences de Vol) during which one wondered if the days of Art Zoyd as an avant-prog group were over, Metropolis sets the record straight. Complex, dense, and percussion-heavy, it takes us back to the group's finest works of the '90s. Gérard Hourbette (samplers, electronics), Patricia Dallio (samplers, keyboards), and Kasper T. Toeplitz (electronics, bass) form the core of the unit, both composition- and performance-wise. They are joined by Didier Casamitjana and Laurence Chave on percussion, Serge Bertocchi on saxophones, and Yukari Hamada-Bertocchi for extra keyboard and sampler tracks. The pièce de résistance of this two-CD set is a one-hour-48-minutes soundtrack to Fritz Lang's classic science-fiction movie Metropolis. It follows a scene-by-scene breakdown of the scenario but is by no mean an aural illustration of the moving pictures. Each one of the 33 sections consists of an amalgam of separate pieces written by Hourbette, Dallio, and Toeplitz. The themes battle for a place in the stereo spectrum, one briefly eclipsing another before a third one enters with an apocalyptic drum pattern. It results in a complex music threatening to break away into chaos, yet remaining cleverly ordered. "Metropolis" can stand the comparison with the group's previous silent film trilogy (Nosferatu, Faust, Haxan) and it has very few weak moments. The second CD is rounded up with two more works. Hourbette's "Le Chat de Schrödinger" (24 minutes), written for a ballet by Karole Armitage, is typical Art Zoyd: simple bleak themes backed by doomsday percussion and arranged into a suite of contrasting movements. Kasper T. Toeplitz's "Appars" (18 minutes) is completely different. Performed by the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles, it is a droning dark ambient composition for string and percussion ensemble and relates much more closely to the material on Expériences de Vol than the other pieces on this album. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Formed: 1969 in Valenciennes, France

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The French avant-prog unit (with no member actually named Art Zoyd) formed around the core of bassist Thierry Zaboitzeff, percussionist Jean-Pierre Soarez, and violin player Gerard Hourbette, with guitarist Rocco Fernandez, pianist Patricia Dallio, percussionist Daniel Denis (who later formed Univers Zero) and a changing lineup of half-a-dozen additional instrumentalists. The group's first album, Symphonie Pour le Jour Ou Bruleront les Cités, was self-released in 1976, followed by albums for Recommended...
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