Univers Zero - Heresie CD (album) cover


Univers Zero



4.25 | 214 ratings

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1791 Overture
2 stars Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. A lot of RIO in the late 70's and early 80's was unbearably campy with its textures and imitations of old jazz / cabaret / old surrealist film scores / whatever, and Univers Zero's Heresie is perhaps the apex of that tendency. The surface elements of this album are difficult to get past, for me anyway - the ritual chanting is about as menacing as the skeleton in a seventh grade biology class, and the atmospheric buildups are overwrought and pretentious. The opener is certainly the worst offender in this regard - the track doesn't really get started until about eight minutes in, and the atmospheres the band builds on in the time before that aren't really interesting; is it to fill a full record with only three tracks? When it does get started, we mostly have an interchangeable sequence of odd-timed melodies. Too often the band gets into "I'm playing in 13/8, what else do you want from me?" mode, and any semblance of a disciplined composition simply disappears. The only highlight of La Faulx is a jaw- dropping breakdown about five minutes form the finish line; after an arduous (and actually pretty decent) buildup, the band climaxes by crashing down into a bunch of scattered percussive noises. Neat! But not worth 25 minutes...the rest of the track is a bit lackluster.

Jack the Ripper fares much better and is perhaps the only piece on here I would consider good in its own right. The melodies are more coherent, and it feels like there's some sort of telos going on - again, ignore the cheez whiz and you've got a decent track. The final track is neither as disappointing as the first or impressive as the second - it opens in a manner that makes it sound like it's going to be a repeat of Jack the Ripper, but saves itself, and then sort of lapses again back into the same habits of the rest of the album. By the time you're ~30 minutes in, you've seen what the band has to offer.

This is a historically important record for its influence on chamber prog, but I can't in all honesty call it impressive in its own right. I much prefer Univers Zero's debut, which was far more rigorous; you won't find anything like the 15-minute spectacular Ronde and its frustrating, jazzy dissonances / proggy rhythms here. This is mostly music from an era obsessed with eye-rolling horror film soundtrack nonsense. May require wearing Halloween masks to fully appreciate.

1791 Overture | 2/5 |


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