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Univers Zero - Heatwave CD (album) cover


Univers Zero



4.08 | 154 ratings

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3 stars The fifth Univers Zero studio album was to be the last for 13 years, and while it is a strong piece of work it's a bit of a comedown after the twin peaks of Ceux Du Dehors and Uzed. Two musicians from earlier line ups rejoined for this recording; violinist Patrick Hanappier and keyboard player Andy Kirk. Kirk also composed most of the music on the album, with Daniel Denis contributing just two shorter pieces, and electric keyboards feature even more prominent than on UZED.

The album gets off to a strong start with the title track, composed by Andy Kirk. This is on a par with the best of early Univers Zero, and there is some excellent soprano sax from Dirk Descheemacker. Two shoter pieces follow, both composed by Daniel Denis. Chinavox is an effective piece of chamber rock which has the atmosphere of Univers Zero's earlier work but which isn't particularly memorable, while Bruit Dans Les Murs is a piece dominated by electric keyboards that actually sounds closer to Present or even Henry Cow on Western Culture. Denis' drumming is outstanding on this track, and it points the way forward to his solo album Sirius and the Ghosts. The second half of the album is taken up with the 20 minutes long The Funeral Plain, another Andy Kirk composition. There are some highly effective passages, and the use of synthesisers and electronic effects is an early foretaste of the kind of music that Univers Zero would create when they reconvened in the late 90s, but there are also places where it feels a little drawn out; the piece may have been more effective if it had been a little shorter.

Heatwave is a worthy addition to Univers Zero's discography, but is definitely one of their lesser albums. This is partly due to the increased use of synthesisers and electric keyboards; while these are deployed very effectively at times, Patrick Hanappier and Dirk Descheemaeker are both oddly under used. The use of orchestral instruments has always been one of Univers Zero's defining features, and without them the music becomes good but rather generic avant prog. Newcomers should start with one of the earlier albums, while established fans will find enough good material on this album to make it worth tracking down.

Syzygy | 3/5 |


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