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Univers Zero - Relaps CD (album) cover


Univers Zero



4.41 | 36 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Sallying forth through the bleak years of the mid-80s, UNIVERS ZERO forged ahead without compromise dishing out perhaps the most daring music that borders on sheer temerity. The band had a few lineup changes during the years of 1984-86 from which these eight tracks were picked and we are treated to some of the most turbulent and tumultuous recordings of the band that couldn't have been more against the grain in one of the least friendly decades for overtly complex and brooding progressive music that not only went where no band had gone before but did it with an imperious mien that reverberates throughout the decades holding up well after the fact. At the time however, the band was holding their own on their rocky road through the 80s as heard on RELAPS their second live release that only hit the hands of consumers in 2009, a good twenty years plus after these recordings were put to tape and then put under lock and key.

Live albums rarely do it for me like the studio counterparts but i have to say that this second live release RELAPS from the progressive avant-garde chamber music gods UNIVERS ZERO blows the roof off the house! This album was recorded at various venues in Germany and Belgium between the years 1984-86 and captures some of the most stunning magic of this great band displaying their finesse and powerful sonic firestorms in full fury proving that they are no mere studio band spending countless hours just putting sounds to tape without a clue of how to reproduce them. These guys are seriously gifted musicians who have all the chops to match the studio prowess AND exceed it. The fact that they can continually pump this out in a live setting and improvise free-style when the moment dictates also boggles the mind in just how proficient and dedicated the members of this band are. This is one of those rare live albums that actually surpasses any expectations of what i could hope for and deliver the goods and actually not even mind the 70 minutes plus of playing time. It's that phenomenal.

This album covers material from the albums "Uzed" ("L'étrange Mixture Du Docteur Schwartz" [2 versions that bookmark the album], "Présage", "Parade and Emanations") and "Heatwave" (title track and the extraordinary 18:10 "The Funeral Plain.") There is also a near four minute track "Ligne Claire" that is only found on this album. The music is, of course, their usual lineup of drums, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, bass, keyboards, cello, electric guitar, violin, viola and keyboards although the musical ingredients vary according to the period. The music on RELAPS is simply perfectly delivered and you'd be hard pressed to even know this is a live album except for the audience reaction at the end of tracks. The production is crystal clear and amazingly clean for several live 80s venues where who-knows-what can possibly go wrong and the band is absolutely flawless in the musical delivery.

Although i can't profess to know the band's canon note for note, i can say that this music in all its complexity sounds like it is performed in the most logical manner, meaning it is imperceptible if mistakes are being made. UNIVERS ZERO and the Rock In Opposition and avant-prog bands of the era didn't banish patterns within music, they simply or complexly rather, created new ones hitherto unexplored. These patterns of music sound exquisitely logical once heard but to create such unfamiliar forms is the true definition of music magic in my opinion. EVERYTHING works on this one. The compositions, the pacing, the timbres, the use of echoes, the mixing of the instruments and most of all the dark heavyheartedness that just oozes with dispirited melancholy and elegiac lament. This is simply in the top tier of UNIVERS ZERO recordings and one that should not be missed for true fans of this sombre musical chimera.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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