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Univers Zero - Uzed CD (album) cover


Univers Zero



4.29 | 339 ratings

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5 stars Is a masterful set of songs depicting life from the point of view of the university of nothing. Dross and hard work are peppered here and there with glimmerings of joy and harmony. This album is much more melodic and familiar sounding and feeling than I expected. (My first UZ LP was "Clivages.") Composition is very cerebral and yet performances are amazingly emotional! Such a metaphor for the human condition. The opening of "Presage" (9/10) sounds like MIKE OLDFIELD's "Hergest Ridge"! What a surprise: It's not! Still, the melodies here (and, yes, people, there are melodies) are beautiful and the music far less angular, less staccato and less harsh when compared to later UZ albums. I love the Arabian-influenced electric violin playing and bass slaps wreaking havoc within the steady weave of drums, piano and woodwinds. The shift at 5:30 to more MILES-sounding jazz sounds and structures is awesome. A little MARK ISHAM minimalism mixes in around 6:40, until a stop and slow almost TON BANKS-like section establishes itself from the 7 to 8 minute mark. The song then takes up a GENESIS Canterbury theme. (I never heard it before, but there it is: proof that GENESIS was influenced by the Canterbury Scene.) Avant garde outro bleeds right into "L'étrange mixture du Docteur Schwartz" (8/10) with it's robust bass lines (and chords) laying beat for horns. Piano chords with cello, percussion and then bassoon bass and electric piano bring the four-minute song to a rolling stop. Then the theatric (sounds appropriate for a silent film score) "Celesta (for Chantal)" (9/10) broods into our world like a provocative Chick Corea-John McLaughlin collaboration. Minor chords and oppressive periphery riffs and notes from a variety of support albeit almost incidental instruments make one wary of JONI MITCHELL getting ready to sing (ŕ la "Paprika Plains"). But then around the 5:00 mark a unified, syncopated bass & drum rhythm pounds out an obtuse beat for an ALLAN HOLDSORTH-like axe solo to bleed all over the song's last minute and a half. Wicked! "Parade" (8/10) has a much more upbeat (and, again, GENESIS-like) feel than I might have expected?despite its attempt at somber solemnity. The song's shift at the 3 minute mark allows drummer and clarinetist to go a bit wild for a bit before BURT BACHARACH-like piano, harpsichord & orchestral sounds reign it back onto rank and file. Percussionists break things up for a bit before the song winds down with its celebratory feel. The sixteen minute "Emmanations" (10/10) is brilliant! It feels like a rendering of the nefarious march of the human automaton in industrial (or maybe post-industrial?) society. (Lemmings, in the end.) (Are we sure that's not TONY BANKS on the piano & keys?) Interesting coda/outro playing out from the 12:30 mark. Coffee break? Sleep, haunted, restless sleep? Or perhaps the end of human life, the passive takeover of robots.

Amazing experience?highly recommended. Truly a masterpiece of musical expression of the human spirit. Bravo, UZ!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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