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5 stars UZ is back for good ! Impressed by "The hard quest" and "Rythmix", this opus is a masterpiece ! Close to perfection, the music of UZ sounds like an cosmic soundtrack devoted to peace and freedom. Eache piece is an achievement in terms of composition. Rythms are wonderfull !

Of course, this is not a "billboardf" music and it could be a surprise to hear it on air...but if you are looking to something special and unusual, go to UZ world ! Don't miss them on tour this summer, the show is impressive with live video show.

A die hard fan

Report this review (#30511)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars You can consider me a RIO fan, and i admit that is true, but when it comes to reviewing, i must be objective in all forms possible. Univers Zero, the most influential Belgian Progressive (AvantGarde) band ever is back with what i can call, the most modern, joyful and free-form album of UZ>'s history. A 16-mini piece album, composed by all-well-known characteristics of Univers Zero, has now a different taste. "Implosion" is the album in between "Ceux de Dehors" and "The Hard quest"; it contains serious movements of rhythm and form, encompassed by RIO's idiosinchratic minimalism and tendency to destroy the time signatures almost completely. In chort, "Implosion" is another masterpiece by Univers Zero, the most consistant RIO band ever!
Report this review (#30512)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Since UZ had released the groundbreaking Uzed album in 86, the connoisseur was grumpily saying that the formula they had achieved on that album had not really (or little) been renewed as such, for the last three albums (spanning over some 17 years), but with this album, Implosion, this was about to be remedied to. If you are to look inside the (tiny) booklet, you will see an extended line-up (namely with the return of the original members Michel Berckmans), but on the following tour (the first one since their re-formation in 99), UZ will have a more conventional and restrained line-up (where surprisingly long-time collab Descheemaeker will not be included);

The thing that strikes most when looking at the track listing is the sheer number of them (an unprecedented 16) and the average length (or should I say shortness). Once your disc is inside your deck and spinning the shock comes right away: never had you heard such (and so much) synthesised/sampled music before on a UZ album. What must be known is that most of these tracks came with their pictorial montages that made them essential for the future tour, even if this is not quite so obvious on the album. If I said in the above paragraph that the music had evolved, please do not be afraid of not finding the typical UZ ambiances: everything is still there and very much in the same spirit as before with the sombre but haunting atmospheres evoking the mysterious mid-east (somewhere between the Egyptian empires and the Sumerian era), but so much more. As one of the highlights, Temps Neuf (and its reeds reminding of Art Zoyd's JP Soarez and Pietton), or the lengthy finale Meandres are representing the classic UZ, there are times when this album borders a bit too close for comfort techno-id music in the short interludes.

Most proghead should lend an attentive ear to the two Mellotronic themes (which are definitely not what you would expect), but this album is must-hear for everyone enjoying challenging music. As much as I love UZ's music, it would never occur to me to play an album of theirs while wanting to get cosy with the mistress in distress, but it is still highly recommendable to everyone as long as they are not getting turgid ;-)

Report this review (#30513)
Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This band is one of my heroes. For someone like me, when you see a new UZ album sitting on the shelf, you don't hesitate in buying it. And as expected, it does not disappoint. Nor does it surprise, however. It seems that UZ is unfolding the natural evolution seen in their last two albums, each of which pushed a little further in this direction. What is interesting here is the shortness of the tracks. The structures are much simpler at first listen, and it seems that they don't have enough time to develop into full-blown songs. It's as if what you are getting are snippets of songs that are unfinished, strung together across the album's 50 minutes. But I guess they know what they are doing, after all, if they don't then we're all in trouble. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here, since the music is beyond a mere mortal like myself to understand fully. Some of these snippets are pretty catchy, too, and you will find yourself whistling along after repeated listens. Strangely, Falling Rain Dance reminds me very much of Ravel's Bolero. Gone also is the oppressive, overbearing atmosphere of doom of their early works, and that is why I listen to them; for the dissonance, fear, panic, and gloom. Maybe that's why I'm only giving it 4 stars, while still acknowledging the brilliance of the work.
Report this review (#30514)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As a long standing fan of Univers Zero, and a bit of an all round Zeuhl head, I was delighted to hear that Daniel Denis had reactivated Univers Zero but also a bit apprehensive - a lot of acts reform after a lengthy break and you wind up wishing they hadn't. In the event, UZ's new output was up to standard but on The Hard Quest and Rhythmix there was a sense that they hadn't really progressed beyond their peak in the early 80s.

Implosions is an excellent album that sees UZ updating their sound without compromising their original vision. In a way, it is like a more fully realised version of one of Denis' solo projects, using a large pool of musicians to add colour and texture to specific pieces. The integration of electric keyboards and samplers into the trademark sound of mainly acoustic orchestral instruments playing dark chamber rock has also been convincingly achieved. Some of the shorter pieces would not sound out of place on the soundtrack to a particularly dark computer game such as Doom or Resident Evil, but this never seems incongruous. At their best they always sounded like a musical interpretation of one of Bosch or Breughel the Elder's visions of eternal damnation, and Implosions continues with this tradition but drags it bodily into the third millennnium. It's also a beautifully recorded album, with every detail of the intricate arrangements crystal clear. Denis' drums have never sounded better, and the balance of acoustic and electric elements is enough to make strong hi fi afficianados weep.All of the players are outstanding, but Dirk Descheemaeker's clarinet playing deserves a special mention - his phrasing is tuly breathtaking, particularly in pieces that are so rhythmically complex.

Four stars for this one, because if this is a five star album we'll need a new rating for Ceux Du Dehors. On the strength of this album, I hope that Univers Zero continue to pursue their singular vision for as long as their inspiration lasts.

Report this review (#30515)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Univers Zero is a rock in opposition (RIO) Belgian band. RIO is a subgenre of progressive rock. Well, for the common people, RIO can be a synonym of classical contemporary music with some experimental parts.

Univers Zero, stronger than ever in 2004, produce this excellent album: Implosion. Sometimes VERY dark, strange and experimental, sometimes extremely structured, synchronized and complex, Implosion should not leave the listener indifferent!

"Rapt d'Abdallah" is among the best tracks, at least the most structured and refined one: string arrangements, bassoon, xylophone, piano, clarinet, gracefully ending with delicate woodwind instruments! AGAIN, this track clearly reminds me Frank Zappa's "Orchestral favorites"!

"La mort de Sophocle" starts with an extremely humming unidentified instrument...contrabass? Then embarks a VERY dramatic & threatening combination of powerful string arrangements and some "door chime" notes: the sound is amazingly pure and natural!

"Temps neufs" is a bit different, exploring some horns arrangements (trumpets + muted horns among others); it seems a clavinet gives some rhythmic enhancement. i would say this brilliant track is slightly jazzy with a very slow low frequency instrument (bass? i'm not sure!).

"Mellotronic" is an OUTSTANDING mellotron oriented track: it is accompanied with delightful acoustic guitars. The mellotron sounds are very varied and original. There are excellent xylophone parts a la Ruth Underwood. The whole should remind you King Crimson and an instrumental Frank Zappa, with a charming dissonant approach.

"Out of space 4" is among the most accessible ones, although not simple at all: it consists in catchy piano, acoustic guitars, bassoon, clarinet and/or English horn?, all carefully synchronized! Obviously, the instrumental work of Frank Zappa is the best comparison that comes to mind.

"Variations on mellotronic's theme" is another way to play the "mellotronic" track, without mellotron, all 100% acoustic: the result is VERY impressive!! It is one of the best track on this album: very complex and loaded, it contains fully interlocking horns, woodwinds instruments, xylophone, string instruments and piano.

"Meandres" is another OUTSTANDING exploration of contemporary music made of bassoon, woodwind instuments, rhythmic piano and string instruments.

Needless to say that most of the tracks have complex, refined and pleasant drums parts and electric bass, quite fitting well with this QUALITY music!

Most of the other tracks are experimental, dark, intimidating, and I have to admit that they sound very interesting, because they bring you emotions!

There are so many unusual sounds that I can't precisely identify all the instruments properly; the experience is very pleasant, satisfying and unforgettable!


Report this review (#30516)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Several years ago I borrowed "Heresie" by UNIVERS ZERO from a friend who shared my taste for COIL, THROBBING GRISTLE, and JOHN CAGE. I remember thinking: "Wow...scary stuff, I must remember to check out this band." Something came up, and I never bought the album. For years I kept it on my must buy list, and other albums just kept edging it out. You see, while it was creepy and brilliant (two big recommendations for me) it just didn't stick in my head enough to make it an urgent purchase. Eventually I just forgot I'd ever heard of the band.

So imagine my surprise when I listened to "Implosion"...sure, it's sometimes eerie and always atmospheric, but nothing like the soul-grinding bowel-clenching music I remembered. Had time made me callous to the delightful chills that UNIVERS ZERO once gave me? Suddenly "Heresie" was back on the must-buy list, to see if I'd been misled...and I wasn't- the earlier album was almost as wonderfully horrifying as I remembered.

So they've matured, I decided, and tried to strip the preconceptions aside and listen with fresh ears. For the casual listener, this is "Soundtrack music with attitude" or "New Age with balls". RIO fans need no such introduction, of course, but they probably all already own this album anyway (or should). All you need to know is that the album is an assortment of orchestral and electronic instruments creating slightly dark atmospheric soundscapes of impressive originality. It's not really that close to soundtrack music, though- it demands more attention and refuses to fade into the background. I'll bet these guys are amazing to see live.

"Out of Space 4" is characteristic of about half of the album (and one of my favorites), with a playful wind ensemble trading movements with piano and acoustic guitar over a driving rhythm. "Partch's X-Ray" (an homage to idiosyncratic composer and instrument-designer Harry Partch) is more characteristic of the other face of the band, an exotic and eerily abrasive but satisfying piece. There's plenty of subtle tension and development in these short and deceptively simple songs- no real resolution or closure, but that would be a little too straightforward for UNIVERS ZERO. I'm assuming they'd much rather you be left hanging with the mood they create. In most cases, it's worth listening to individual tracks rather than the whole album at once, as there's a fairly wide range of moods evoked and it's easy to get overwhlemed.

Songs like "Falling Rain Dance", "Temps Neufs" and "Meandres" occasionally stray a little closer to a (relatively) standard jazz-rock format, but conversely these sections are often somewhat weaker than the more avant-garde experimentation. Where "Implosion" shines is when you realize you've never heard anything quite like it. Whether you will like "Implosion" depends mainly on where your breaking point is between enjoyably challenging and unlistenable, between frustrating and rewarding. I'm still not sure how much I like "Heresie", and this album is less gleefully gut-wrenching- if no less masterful and evocative. Because it may not compliment "any prog music collection", I can't give it the four stars it really deserves...but take my word, it's really, really worth trying out.

Report this review (#30517)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is totally different in terms of acceptance level for me as compared to Magma. Univers Zero for me is better than what Magma offers in terms of creativity in creating such a tight music composition. Yes, there are some repetitive chords here and there but the band has inserted varied sounds and breaks just to make them not boring. Take "Falling Rain Dance" (4:12) you will hear good combination of eastern melody combined with the rhythm section of a big band. "Partch's X-Ray" (5:21) sounds like a horror music. "Temps Neufs" (4:56) explores the sound effects from keyboard and intense brass and woodwind music which makes it interesting. "Mellotronic" (4:04) provides eastern music style with excellent variations of acoustic guitar, mandolin and long sustain keyboard work. It's bit unstructured but it has great enjoyment in terms of surprises through breaks. It's quite adventurous, I think. It applies the same to "Variations on Mellotronic's Theme" (3:04). "Meandres (Meanderings)" (9:38) is the best track of this album. The music shows the great combination of brass and woodwind augmented with piano work.

It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#121045)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars What surprised me about this record was how accessible and bright some of the tracks were.Thankfully we still get a lot of darkness and experimental passages mixed in.This variety impresses me, a mix of old and new, in fact the whole album was a pleasure to listen to this past week. With instruments like the English horn, aboe, bassoon, sax, cello, accordion, clarinet, trumpet, flugelhorn, marimba, violin and glockenspiel along with the traditional bass, drums, keys and guitar you know your in for a smorgasbord of sounds. A feast for the ears.

We get started with "Suintememt(Oozing)" that features a loud and heavy sound like a giant shaking the ground with every step, while sampled sounds are heard in the background. Quite creepy. "Falling Rain Dance" is one of my favourites. I love the bottom end that this one has. Daniel on drums and Eric on bass create a lot of heaviness. Meanwhile violin, keys, acoustic guitar, aboe and clarinet all get their turn to shine on this one. "Partch's X-Ray" has these loud percussion beats to open followed by these eerie sounds. Lots of atmosphere on this one. The percussion and eerie hair-raising sounds are back. A rhythm 2 1/2 minutes in comes and goes. This song scares the hell out of me.

"Rapt D'Abdallah" is brighter to say the least. This is uptempo chamber music with intricate acoustic sounds coming and going. "Miroirs(Mirrors)" sounds like voices from the pit crying out, when suddenly this strange clicking sound goes by. Like they have delivered another one. "La Mort De Sophocle(Sophocle's Death)" features more scary low end sounds as violin, cello and keys slowly play. Lots of dark, heavy waves after 2 minutes including clashing gongs that only add to the scary mood. "Ectoplasme" is a short one minute example of what hell sounds like. "Temps Neufs" is a fantastic tune with amazing crisp drumming and bass that rivals Top's deep sounds. Horns come in followed by mellotron as the heavy bass and drums return. This is awesome! More mellotron before 3 minutes. The bass that follows has to be heard to be believed, then MAGMA comes to mind as the bass line speeds up. Some screaming trumpet late. "Mellotronic" is an ode to mellotron. It opens with samples of a song. More heaviness but not like the last song. Mellotron is all over this one. Some excellent acoustic guitar as mellotron waves come in. Marimbas late. "Bacteria" has these industrial-like spooky sounds. My son said it sounds like the music you hear before someone is killed. You get the idea.

"Out Of Space 4" is a good uptempo track with lots of drums, keys and other sounds coming and going. I like it. "First Short Dance" sounds like the dance of death to me. "Second Short Dance" is more otherworldly, like the dance on the other side. "Variations On Mellotronic's Theme" has no mellotron but is uptempo chamber music with some great band interplay. "A Rebours(In Reverse)" features these pulsating sounds with experimental noises coming and going. "Meandres(Meanderings)" is by far the longest song at almost 10 minutes. This song is like a mini version of the light / dark contrast that is felt on this record. The first half is more chamber rock and it sounds amazing. Then after 4 1/2 minutes the mood changes as it becomes dark and haunting with a slower tempo.

Implosion means a bursting or collapsing inwards. This music has THAT effect on me.

Report this review (#168810)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink

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