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Univers Zero - Univers Zero [Aka: 1313] CD (album) cover

UNIVERS ZERO [AKA: 1313]

Univers Zero

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.22 | 240 ratings

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Bonnek
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal Team
3 stars 1313 is the album that kicked off the chamber rock movement in Belgium, a dark brew of early 20th century classical music performed with rock drums and a non-conformist - not to say anarchistic - state of mind. While I love Universe Zero a lot, I can't share the general enthusiasm for their debut album as their mix of modern classical, avant-rock and zeuhl is still somewhat immature here, it doesn't reach the standards of excellence they would reach on later albums.

1313 is just the start, it has great compositions but not the unique vision of later albums. What UZ basically does is to create music similar to what Stravinsky did 60 years earlier and perform it with a small classical ensemble including electric bass and a rock drum set. Hence the term chamber rock. What I miss here is that they don't go beyond that first stage to become something else, something more personal that better integrates the classic and the rock elements.

My main gripe is that the percussion doesn't blend in very well yet with the other instruments. Sonically the drums seem to be in another place then the rest of the music, and from a compositional point of view they don't add anything to the pieces. They provide rhythmical accents but it's not the prominent pulse that would take UZ's music in more compelling and original directions in the 80's. I also miss some of the fury and grim atmosphere of the following album Heresie.

I think the album might have worked better for me without the drums, but then it would stand so close to the music of Stravinsky and Bartok that a comparison would be unavoidable and - unfortunately for UZ - not in their favour.

That's what the rating means here, this is really a very good album that would rate 4 stars if I hadn't heard any Stravinsky yet, but I was raised on that music and compared to the 5 stars that I would give to Petrushka and Sacre Du Printemps, this can't possibly have more then 3.

Bonnek | 3/5 |

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