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Daniel Denis - Sirius and the Ghosts CD (album) cover


Daniel Denis



3.15 | 19 ratings

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3 stars Daniel Denis' solo albums provide a kind of continuity between the break up of Univers Zero in 1986 and their reformation in 1999. Sirius and the Ghosts picks up where Heatwave left off, and sees Denis further exploring the possibilities of electric keyboards. The compositional style is very much in keeping with Uzed and Heatwave, featuring just six comparatively long tracks with the trademark time changes and doom laden atmosphere.

Although the pieces are well written, not all of them sound fully realised. Only two tracks feature Denis on full drum kit, and the excellent supporting players are only used sparingly. This is the main weakness of an otherwise good album - parts which could have been interpreted more imaginatively by other players are performed by Denis himself on synthesisers and electric keyboards. It's no accident that the strongest pieces on the album are those which come closest to being a full band performance - Beyond the Mountains and A`L'Ombre Du Zed are extremely strong, with the brilliant reeds player Dirk Descheemaeker adding some real colour and the low end of the sonic palette being complemented by cellist Jan Kuijken and bassist Michel Hatzigeorgiou. The pieces that make up the second half of the album sound relatively thin in comparison; Sirius is played entirely by Denis except for the clarinet part, and on Strange Twist the only support comes from the bassist. Sirius features some excellent percussion, and Strange Twist sees Denis back on the drum stool doing what he does best, but there's something a bit lifeless about the arrangements. The album closes with the sombre Fete Souterraine, the only completely solo performance on the album. This is played entirely on keyboards, and while it's atmospheric enough the presence of some acoustic instrumentation would have made a big difference.

For Univers Zero fans there is plenty to enjoy on this album. Whilst it's not as strong as anything released by the band proper, it's still a solid, well crafted piece of work that is unmistakably in the same style. Denis' drumming is as powerful as ever, and he acquits himself respectably on keyboards. Newcomers would be better advised to start with Univers Zero's Ceux Du Dehors and proceed from there.

Syzygy | 3/5 |


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