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Art Zoyd - Häxan CD (album) cover

HÄXAN

Art Zoyd

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.46 | 56 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Considering this is my tenth ART ZOYD album I never dreamed it would turn out to be my favourite. It was the reviews from Guldbamsen and Logan that moved me to go to great lengths in order to make sure I owned this and was it ever worth the effort. Released in 1997 it is one of many film soundtracks the band has created over the years. "Haxan" or "The Witch" is a film from1921. Listening to this you will have no doubt this is ART ZOYD but there are some things about this soundtrack that are different, which I will get to in my description of this record. Daniel Denis is back playing percussion, keyboards and samples like he did on their 1995 album called "Faust". The UNIVERS ZERO drummer is no stranger to this band having played on a couple of their early albums back in 1979 and 1980. UNIVERS ZERO was on hiatus for most of the nineties.

"Glissements Progressifs Du Plaisir(Extraits)" is the 30 minute plus opener that is a ride all on it's own. Deep pulsating sounds echo out of the darkness. Cymbals and percussion-like sounds join in. A fearful atmosphere sweeps through again and again. A change 4 1/2 minutes in as spoken words, organ and a beat take over. Pulsating sounds and sparse keys follow as it builds. Suspense is the word here. Spoken words return 8 minutes in then the tension builds even more before 10 minutes but then quickly we get a dark calm as themes are repeated. Strings, horns and more arrive around 12 1/2 minutes then we hear birds chirping a minute later. What?! After 15 minutes it turns scary then loud chaotic sounds take over before another eerie calm arrives. Fear falls upon the soundscape at 19 minutes. Electronics, piano and drums before 23 minutes along with a deep atmosphere. Vocals join in as the tension builds. Just run! Finally the tension breaks 28 minutes in as horns and pulsating sounds continue.

"Nuits" opens with church bells as outbursts of drums and what sounds like mellotron choirs(probably real choirs) as deep voices and horns come and go. So cool. The tempo picks up 2 minutes in then back to the deep voices and horns. It sounds like something is lit on fire then more intricate sounds as a beat follows. Themes are repeated. Great track. "Haxan Phi" has this creepy atmosphere with sparse piano and distant female operatic vocals, strings too. It kicks into a full sound then laughter can be heard. It settles back as we get a good rhythm with female operatic vocals coming and going. More laughter and eerie sounds then a calm after 4 minutes then it builds as laughter and female vocals come and go.

"Haxan XI" has this dark atmosphere with pinging sounds as strings join in as it gets fuller. Dogs can be heard barking and it sounds like a fire crackling. Heart beat-like pulsating sounds then more strings. "Haxan Psi" has a laid back piano melody, strings and eerie electronics. Horns too in this slower paced piece. Male vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. "Epreuves D'acier" features some interesting sounds with deep male vocal expressions that come and go. Horns after a minute. A calm after 2 minutes with bells and outbursts of male vocals. It sounds like someone taking pictures over and over as creepy strings join in. It sounds like we're being taken somewhere by a rail car then we get water sounds and a haunting atmosphere. Sirens too and outbursts of strange sounds. I do not want to be here. Vibes and male vocals come in then the sounds of pictures being taken again and uptempo drumming. So much going on here. Intense is the word. It ends with the sound of rushing water. Am I dead?

"Marche" ends this over 72 minute record. Percussion-like sounds as horns join in. Breathing sounds follow and whoever this is it sounds like they are about to be killed and they fear for their life. He stops breathing before 2 minutes as this emotional atmosphere arrives that moves me deeply(gulp). Piano joins in then it turns fearful to end it.

Sorry for the long review but man this is why I love ART ZOYD. The masters of creating soundscapes for the mind and they usually take me to a place I would never physically want to be. For that I bow to their talent. Masterpeice!

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |

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