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Univers Zero - Clivages CD (album) cover

CLIVAGES

Univers Zero

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.02 | 170 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A More Eclectic Offering from the Masters of Dark Chamber Rock

CLIVAGES is the first modern (post 1313 and Heresie) offering I own from chamber rock masters Univers Zero. While I rank 1313 as a modern masterpiece and Heresie as a singular achievement in dark music, CLIVAGES sees the band seem more human. The band has clearly chosen to expand their palette since the early days, incorporating electric guitars, a greater leaning on rock rather than purely classical sounds, and (GASP!!!) even using a few major chords. After 30 years, I very much appreciate that the band has something new to say. Though these elements make CLIVAGES a worthy addition to my library, the mix in ideas has also mixed the consistency of the power of the songs.

The first obvious impression that this album gave me was that it was relying much more heavily and obviously on repeated melodic figures than in the old days. In almost riff-like fashion, these figures sometimes seem to be looped rather than woven carefully first on a score sheet, and then by the players. Luckily, each of these little melodic motifs are quite interesting, using odd scale and meter in a way that is sure to delight most prog fans. From the opener "Les Kobolds" through the quirky "Soubresauts" to the main theme of the Gentle Giant-like "Apesanteur," this more blunt use of the riff runs consistently through the album. While done expertly, this technique makes me as a musician think about the composers themselves and the music as an observer and a critic (though an applauding one) rather than as participant drawn into a sonic landscape. There is no doubt that this is achieved on the two albums I mentioned, and occasionally even here for some stretches.

As another review mentioned, the best songs happen when Univers Zero sticks to what they know and do best: disturbing, classically orchestrated, meticulously composed pieces. "Warrior," "Earth Scream," and "Straight Edge" are among the best on the album, dark and brooding, just the way we like UZ. In contrast, "Soubresauts" features a simple major harmonic figure that reminds almost of pop music. Of course these section are punctuated by angular, staccato lines, but there is a sense of light (well maybe cloudy with a chance of sunshine) to contrast the darkness here. This certainly isn't the post descent into the abyss, covered in heavy layers of dark mud that is Heresie.

It will be interesting for me to explore other more modern outings by UZ. As it is, I enjoy CLIVAGES very much. While not masterpiece level, I easily give it 4 stars. A great job by a veteran band showing that they can not only show some new spins on their trademark sounds, but are willing to inject new ideas too. A strong 4/5.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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