AMN Capsule Comments: Mike Eisenberg’s Recent Playlist (July 26, 2021)

From time to time, AMN writer Mike Eisenberg revisits older albums that he has not listened to in a while and provides comments.

Art Zoyd – “Le mariage du ciel et de l’enfer” (1985)

This was AZ’s 6th album, but my first. “Berlin” was already released and after I heard this one, I acquired “Berlin”…how you say…post haste! “Le mariage…” is music for a ballet, such ballet (and the music that went with it) must have been spawned by the unholy union of Vlad Tepes and a 3 horned goat cuz, back then, this music was considered darker than the black pit of the abyss.

I believe this album was an inflection point for this ensemble (I hesitate to call them a band) because they seemed on the cusp of going from fully acoustic to adding electronics. Now, of course, AZ is pretty much 100% cold electronics, but this album may have been the genesis for this.

So, did it hold up for me? Well, kinda yes, kinda no. Back then that whole avant chamber prog scene was new and fresh to me, and when I heard this I nearly soiled myself at how malevolent it sounded. I totally dug it, and played the shit out of it, and pretty much picked up every Zoyd album before and since. The problem I’m having (with “I” being the operative word) is, I pretty much got off that chamber prog train about 10ish years ago. So, for that reason, this album didn’t move me, well…certainly not as much as hearing it in 1985.

That being said, this is Art Zoyd for pete’s sake, and Art Zoyd “did” this music better than anyone else out there at the time, and I think since. Big doff of the cap to Gérard Hourbette (RIP) and Thierry Zaboitzeff, the primary composers along with Patricia Dallio who was absolutely integral to the group for many years. You want this kind of music, reach for AZ first, and then move on from there. I still will recommend this album in a big big way! 

Archimedes Badkar – “Tre” (1977)

This is a great release and, unfortunately the only one I have by this “Swedish Embryo” as they are sometimes referred to. It also sounds like a HUGE band with numerous percussion players, lots of brass, piano, (excellent) drumming, and other exotic things like Kalimba (thumb piano). Generally, each song is based on a groove, and that groove can span the globe. I hear Balkan, African, Indian, Middle Eastern, Swedish (and others I’m probably missing) influences all blended together and chopped up into something that resembles world jazz. It’s most definitely jazzy, and it swings like mad too. On top of the rhythms, the group adds various melodies that, if listened to enough, I could easily see turning into earworms. Sometimes there is a “stoned hippy” vibe going on but hell, whatever they were smoking sure didn’t hinder their abilities to play…these guys were hot. If you feel like world music/jazz and you’ve exhausted your Embryo collection, move on to the Badkar, you won’t regret it!

Michael Eisenberg

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