Gerard Hourbette / Thierry Zaboitzeff
Recorded October 1984 at Sunrise Studios, Switzerland.
Mastered/mixed January 1985 at Pyramide Studios, Belgium.
Produced By Art Zoyd & Madrigal France.
Le Mariage du Ciel et de l'Enfer (The Wedding of Heaven and Hell) was a stage music written and performed by Art Zoyd for a ballet by Roland Petit. The band was of the premiere in Milan in late June, 1984, and participated to the production's French tour from February to May, 1985, playing live as the dancers performed. Between the Italian premiere and the French tour, Art Zoyd went in the studio to record the music, which was first released in 1985. The line-up is almost the same as on the band's 1982 landmark album Phase IV: Gerard Hourbette, Thierry Zaboitzeff, Jean-Pierre Soarez, Didier Pietton and Patricia Dallio (who had replaced Thierry Willems on keyboards in 1983). The music is typical Art Zoyd: a dark chamber rock heavily relying on hammered piano chords and military percussion, with violin and trumpet used as contrasting elements and occasional creepy treated vocals. After the creative peak of Phase IV, Art Zoyd's music slowly solidified, the same recipe being used more and more often. But Le Mariage du Ciel et de l'Enfer shows the band at the turning point of its career. The track "Cryogenese - Les portes du future" would have fit on Phase IV, but it also announces the band's growing use of keyboards and sense of drama that will become the backbone of their 1990s production (Faust, Haxan). The 2000 Atonal reissue includes liner notes by Roland Petit.
All Music Guide
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 Zaboitzeff'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 "Cryogenese - Rкve 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, "Cryogenese" (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).