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Univers Zero - Clivages CD (album) cover

CLIVAGES

Univers Zero

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.04 | 170 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Clivages' - Univers Zero (8/10)

Longheld to be the pioneers of 'chamber rock', Univers Zero is one of the most influential art music groups still around. Making them even more exciting is the fact that even now, they are still releasing vital music. 'Clivages' does not show this well-traversed band doing much that they haven't already before, but the diversity of styles, moods, and levels in experimentation make this latest record a perfect gateway album for any potential newcomers to the band.

Although I first listened to chamber rock through bands like Aranis, it is Univers Zero that they are influenced by. Making Univers Zero still a little more unique is the fact that they are able to go two ways with their music, one being the band-oriented classical music that defines chamber music, and the second being a more experimental brand that shows up here in forms of dissonance and genre-bending. These two sides of the band each take vastly different journeys, and thus should be analyzed independently. First, the chamber music here is something that I would not find out of place on a film soundtrack. It is complex, yet intimate and emotional. Musically speaking, there is alot going on in terms of melodic counterpoints and textures, but due to the ensemble's relative small scale (as far as classical music is concerned), each musician's own personality is brought to the table and heard nicely. 'Les Kobolds' and 'Vacillements' both nicely define this style for the band.

On the other hand, the band is prone to contrasting this pleasant-sounding chamber music with a flair for the experimental and strange. 'Warrior' takes the listener on a King Crimson- esque voyage through jazz explorations and apocalyptic progressions, almost to the point where the quaint joy of the opening track is forgotten. Univers Zero keeps throwing the listener between moments of happiness and fear. Despite being an instrumental album, I am kept on my feet almost all of the time. The music is played especially well, with each instrument sounding out notes with clear intention and emotion. There aren't too many bad things to be said about 'Clivages', although it could be noted that it starts to feel as if it drags on a little past what may have been optimal, especially towards the latter half of the album. In general, the musical quality is very high, but the album does have a somewhat weak flow in between tracks, brought on no less by the roller coaster of emotions they seem deadset on taking the listener on.

This has been my first earnest experience with Univers Zero, and it certainly won't be the last; even having only heard one album, I have no problem calling this band one of the most interesting acts I have ever heard. It is not music without challenge, but there is a nice variety here to give the listener a rest from the harsher moments the band offers.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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