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Univers Zero


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Univers Zero Heatwave album cover
4.09 | 166 ratings | 11 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heatwave (8:34)
2. Chinavox (4:49)
3. Bruit Dans Les Murs (8:25)
4. The Funeral Plain (20:24)

Total Time: 42:12

Line-up / Musicians

- Michel Delory / guitar
- Andy Kirk / piano, synthesizer, vocals
- Jean-Luc Plouvier / piano, synthesizer, vocals
- Dirk Descheemaeker / clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax
- Patrick Hanappier / violin, viola
- Christian Genet / bass, nailskake (?)
- Daniel Denis / drums, percussion, vocals

- Chantal Smets / vocals (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Marie-NoŽlle Dufromont

CD Univers Zero self-released (1986) original release

LP Cuneiform Records ‎- Rune 9 (1987, US)

CD Cuneiform Records ‎- Rune 9 CD (1987, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to progfan97402 for the last updates
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Buy UNIVERS ZERO Heatwave Music

UNIVERS ZERO Heatwave ratings distribution

(166 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

UNIVERS ZERO Heatwave reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really! As it follows up UZED , their groundbreaking album, they tried to repeat the formula on this one but are only partially successful at it. Don't get me wrong , this is still awesomely dark music coming from bowels of our volcanic planet but this sounds less inspired than Uzed. They will fold for some thirteen years , Daniel Denis (the drive of the band) will then play with their French friends Art Zoyd and develop even more out-of-this- world music. Funeral Plain is of course the highlight on this album.
Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The fifth Univers Zero studio album was to be the last for 13 years, and while it is a strong piece of work it's a bit of a comedown after the twin peaks of Ceux Du Dehors and Uzed. Two musicians from earlier line ups rejoined for this recording; violinist Patrick Hanappier and keyboard player Andy Kirk. Kirk also composed most of the music on the album, with Daniel Denis contributing just two shorter pieces, and electric keyboards feature even more prominent than on UZED.

The album gets off to a strong start with the title track, composed by Andy Kirk. This is on a par with the best of early Univers Zero, and there is some excellent soprano sax from Dirk Descheemacker. Two shoter pieces follow, both composed by Daniel Denis. Chinavox is an effective piece of chamber rock which has the atmosphere of Univers Zero's earlier work but which isn't particularly memorable, while Bruit Dans Les Murs is a piece dominated by electric keyboards that actually sounds closer to Present or even Henry Cow on Western Culture. Denis' drumming is outstanding on this track, and it points the way forward to his solo album Sirius and the Ghosts. The second half of the album is taken up with the 20 minutes long The Funeral Plain, another Andy Kirk composition. There are some highly effective passages, and the use of synthesisers and electronic effects is an early foretaste of the kind of music that Univers Zero would create when they reconvened in the late 90s, but there are also places where it feels a little drawn out; the piece may have been more effective if it had been a little shorter.

Heatwave is a worthy addition to Univers Zero's discography, but is definitely one of their lesser albums. This is partly due to the increased use of synthesisers and electric keyboards; while these are deployed very effectively at times, Patrick Hanappier and Dirk Descheemaeker are both oddly under used. The use of orchestral instruments has always been one of Univers Zero's defining features, and without them the music becomes good but rather generic avant prog. Newcomers should start with one of the earlier albums, while established fans will find enough good material on this album to make it worth tracking down.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars Well here's my favourite UNIVERS ZERO record. They have continued on with their more "electric" sound that began on the "Uzed" album.They have increased their lineup from 5 on the "Uzed" record to 7 on this one. They added a guitarist and a second keyboard / synth player. The returning Andy Kirk who would also compose the two longest tracks on this one. Not that this matters, but I feel sort of justified in my high regard for this album when I read one of the "Gnosis" reviewers saying that "Heatwave" was "far and away their high point". It would be 13 years before they would record another album.

I really like all 4 of these tracks a lot. The album opens with the title track "Heatwave" a Kirk composition. Percussion and sax create a great sound.There is more of a melody after 3 minutes as the drums lead the way. Sax returns and some beautiful guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. It ends dramatically. "Chinavox" and the next song are Daniel Denis compositions."Chinavox" features just an amazing collage of sounds. Lots of percussion and clarinet on this dark and intense track. "Bruit Dans Les Murs" is quite intense with electric piano and drums leading the way. This is dark with some incredible drumming on it. Sax arrives before 2 minutes.The song builds 5 minutes in as things get frenzied. Nice. The drumming is outstanding !

"The Funeral Plain" is the epic at over 20 minutes and the album's highlight. It opens with electronic sounds with no real melody. It builds in strength with electric piano and clarinet standing out. The violin joins the piano 4 minutes in, and a couple of minutes later the drums join the clarinet and piano. It's like a release before 9 minutes as the tension is broken. Dark sounds follow with lots of atmosphere. Percussion sounds replace the dark vibe but only briefly as it returns. Drums and violin create a full sound. The tension returns before 17 minutes as the guitar is just screaming. This is truly an amazing piece of music as I got goosebumps 19 minutes in.

You know Daniel Denis and Andy Kirk shine on this album. Electric piano and drums lead the way on this one, with the horns and violin more in the background. This is a masterpiece.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was the period where the band began to show definite signs of fatigue and in result the music on Heatwave suffered immensely from it.

All was definitely not well with Daniel Denis' Univers Zero and Andy Kirk had to chip in and help his band-mates out with the material for the album. It resulted in the first album by the band here Denis did not write the majority of the compositions. With that in mind it's even more surprising to discover that his pieces are below the previous efforts while Andy Kirk, on the other hand, stands for some of the more elaborate material on the album. Still his compositional skills are not enough to maintain a momentum on the album's 20+ minutes monster titled The Funeral Plain and I usually lose my interest 3/4 into the track.

I think that the album cover for this album suits it well since Heatwave has a rather moody and dark industrial feel to it. There are quite a few instances that feature repetitive music sections which remind me of a factory setting. This sets a very direct mood for the music that non of the previous albums had. I mentioned in my review of Heresie that the album took me to entirely new places every time I listened to it. This is unfortunately not the case with Heatwave because the music here restricts itself to one specific setting and keeps me there for the duration of the album.

The opening album-titled composition is slightly above the rest of material especially towards its final section where the clarinet plays an up-tempo melody that the rest of the band follow. Still it fades in comparison to all of the previous Univers Zero openers which literally blow it out of the water by their sheer force.

In retrospect it was a very wise decision from Daniel to dismiss the band after this album since his efforts here were below standard and I believe that he was considerate enough to acknowledge it himself. This definitely shows strong leadership skill on his part which can only be matched by King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator.

Those who like Univers Zero will find Heatwave appealing although I would strongly encourage to experience the debut album and Uzed before exploring this final frontier in Univers Zero's pre-reunion discography.

Edit: If you live in Stockholm, Sweden then you have an opportunity to borrow this CD from the library at Kulturhuset.

***** star songs: Heatwave (8:37)

**** star songs: The Funeral Plain (20:22)

*** star songs: Chinavox (4:53) Bruit Dans Les Murs (8:27)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Heatwave continues the more electric sound of Uzed. A battery of synths is applied to add an extra layer of weirdness and dissonance. It's an exceptional work of art again and it confirms Univers Zero as a unique brand that guarantees a refreshing and adventurous listening experience.

With Heatwave the album opens with one of UZ's most impressive compositions. The integration between the modern classical influences and RIO has come to full fruition. The bass, drums and electric guitars take up a very important role and create a dark and urgent momentum, often recalling Magma. This track must be a sure favourite of the new RIO generation bands like Nebelnest and Guapo.

UZ were certainly not living on an island, Belgium had a very lively post-punk scene and UZ show those influences. Chinavox is the RIO version of what Japan was doing on Tin Drum. It has a strong Cantonese flavour, be it twisted by modernist dissonance and intimidating alien ambience.

Also Bruit Dans Les Murs shows how UZ incorporated elements from concurrent post-rock/industrial acts. The stark opening part reminds me very much of Coil's Horse Rotorvator album from the preceding year. Also Laibach comes to mind, certainly where the brass section joins at the 1.40 minute mark. UZ develops the piece with more dynamical musicianship then named bands - especially the drums had never been given such an important role in UZ's sound - but the prevailing cold mechanical feel is very similar.

The Funeral Plain is another highlight, starting very intimately, with gently unsettling piano playing and very moody clarinet melodies. The disconcerting feeling grows as it continues, the piano gets louder, the clarinet and synths more frantic and the impressive drums join. Excellent build up. The second section is more experimental, sampled machine sounds provide rhythm and the instruments hover above it in dissonant disarray. Around minute 13 it changes into a very Stravinsky kind of march that grows into an insane and alien rocking atmosphere. Pure horror soundtrack material.

I am quite surprised at the moderate reception of this album. I find this to be UZ's most mature and accomplished work, both from a compositional perspective as for its powerful atmosphere and intensity. I guess the dark and industrial edge is less attractive to most listeners, but that sure doesn't frighten the dark PA forces here! 4.5 stars, my favourite together with Heresie and Crawling Wind.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This may just be the greatest prog album released in the 1980s. It is certainly a highpoint for this Belgian band. For 1986, there wasn't much better or more progressive than Heatwave. If you thought Neo was the only kind of prog around in the '80s, then you are very mistaken. You are also denying yourself some great music from that decade. This album is so good it actually rivals some prog albums from the 1970s! Heatwave is an album from the 1980s, recorded by a avant-prog band who started in the 1970s. But it does the unthinkable: the music is just as good as anything from the '70s, but does not sound like dated '80s music.

Keyboardist Andy Kirk returns for this album, and brings some of his songs with him. Some of my favourite UZ songs were written by Kirk. Here he writes both the title track and the 20- minute epic "The Funeral Plain". Yep, UZ decided to do a side-long epic in the mid-80s. There are seven musicians on Heatwave, including a full-time guitarist. This album features UZ at their most electronic and guitar-oriented yet. It sounds like drummer/founder Daniel Denis & co. was being influenced by the industrial music scene of the '80s. Another Belgian band, Front 242, were one of the more important bands of that scene. Although, UZ don't sound like them, but nonetheless seemed to add an industrial edge here.

The digital synthesizers used on the album are used to create great sounds. They don't sound instantly dated like other music from this time period. Well done. The music is the chamber prog you would expect from UZ but with more piano and synths, due to having two keyboardists on board. The guitar adds some great extra textures to the sound. The bass, sax and violin are also important as well. It's a wonderful thing to hear music this great being created in the mid-1980s.

The title track starts with an almost bagpipe type sound with electronic percussion. Synths and sax then play for awhile. Some echoed acoustic guitar and hi-hat before some bass and modified sax. Military style drumming before bass and drums start next section. Some electric guitar later on. Around 6 minutes starts the best part of the song with dramatic violin and evil sounding synth. After Denis almost plays a funky beat. Ends with some more traditional chamber-prog with good drumming. "Chinavox" has digital synths playing icy cold, vaguely far eastern sounding music. Then some sax. Changes to a different section with violin and sax. Nice synth work here. Later some guitar and clarinet. Goes back to the beginning part.

"Bruit dans les murs" begins with electronic sounds and synth bass before you hear talking with some piano and drums. The synth sounds are awesome in this song. Both an eerie and a spacey vibe to the track. Over halfway through starts to get more dissonant and atonal. After a long section with mostly keyboards. If the first three songs were not great enough, along comes an epic to make them look like filler. "The Funeral Plain" is one of the greatest prog epics ever and should be more widely known. It opens with spacey weird synth sounds. Sometimes it sounds like bells and other times like a bee or some kind of insect. Some organ-like synth joins in. Then piano. Later on the piano plays a simple chord sequence while the viola solos. Then bass clarinet solo. Viola and bass clarinet then duel.

The piano playing alternates between being soft and loud. Then drums enter filling space. You hear some kind of altered voice at one point. Music slowly builds and gets more intense. The music then releases in a slower tempo; builds up again and then stops. Next, at the halfway point, starts some of the best music on the album. Metallic electronic sounds go back and forth in the stereo spectrum. Additional synth noises can be heard. The effect is hypnotic. Then bass clarinet comes in with atmospheric synths. Later military style drumming along with violin and bass. Then more synths and guitar. Builds to a great climax, then music calms down. Gets dramatic again briefly and then ends with some synth generated water drops. Incredible!

This would be the last UZ album for over ten years. I think they reached a peak here. I believe the first album was the weakest of the first five and they only got better. Denis had to dissolve the group after this due to financial problems. Having seven members in the group probably didn't help. Quite literally, Univers Zero was making music for a world that didn't care. I think the only reason their contemporaries Art Zoyd survived was because of that group's affiliation with film soundtracks and ballet productions. The MTV & Top 40 radio loving crowd let this great band die(temporarily). I don't think Heatwave gets enough love. It's certainly a masterpiece of progressive rock. You won't hear much prog from the 1980s sounding better than this. 5 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album was my first from Univers Zero, and I love it even more for that. In the musical doldrums of the 1980s a group of album was shipped to my store that contained this gem, and Doctor Nerve, and it changed my life.

Now that I've gone back and collected the previous albums, I understand that the album doesn't have quite as much of the chamber classical overtones as what came before, but it is great nonetheless.

Daniel Denis' two compositions, Chinavox and Bruit Dans Les Murs are almost dirgelike, but with a grandiosity that still makes me smile.But its Andy Kirk's two pieces that really come alive here. Heatwave to me sounds the most like earier UZ, while The Funeral Plain is a more abstract piece, that builds into a masterwork.

How bad could it be, as it made me search for all of their previous records?

Review by Warthur
5 stars The Middle Eastern influences that Univers Zero had flirted with on Uzed are more fully and satisfyingly integrated into the band's sound on Heatwave, which also includes a greater use of synthesisers than the band had ever contemplated. In fact, it's the incorporation of synthesisers into their music which makes the album such a success, Andy Kirk and Jean-Luc Plouvier's synth soundscapes working perfectly in the horrific soundscapes UZ specialise in.

This embellishment of the group's sound results in an album which is, at points, sparser and more minimalistic than any UZ album since Heresie, with frantic bursts of full-band activity interspersed with dark ambient mood segments; on no track is this approach more perfectly realised than on The Funeral Plain, an incredible side-long piece which, if the band hadn't reformed after their post-Heatwave hiatus, would have been one hell of a high note to go out on.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars Nothing short of amazing and certainly an RIO favorite of mine. Heatwave may not be regarded as their best, other than me. The band was on the verge of disintegrating with Daniel Denis writing two of the "shorter" pieces and Andy Kirk with the side-length and one "shorter" piece. Regardless I can't see any weakening of their music, it's just as challenging and uncompromising as anything they did before. While UZED clearly shows an electric approach, Heatwave expands on that. As usual it's really difficult to distinguish one cut to another but the music is so wonderfully off-the-wall I don't mind. Unusual chord structures and time signatures, blatant disregard for anything remotely resembling a pop hook, doing everything to not guarantee radio airplay and t that's what I love their music for. Of course this is not Rock in Opposition for nothing, totally challenging the rock status quo. This came out in 1986 apparently as a band released CD before Cuneiform Records made it widely available the next year. To think this came out at a time of MTV-friendly synth pop and hair metal this is as far removed from that as possible. While classic prog was floundering in the '80s, neo-prog took its place but not everyone came on board, RIO was at its musical heights in that decade and what Univers Zero did only proves that. Heatwave is an amazing album as far as I'm concerned. No such thing as a bad UZ album!

Latest members reviews

3 stars Well, it's not one of the masterpieces of Univers but sounds good. Poor for minutes, repetitive and bored most of the time. Just "The Funeral Plain" saves to Mr. Denis and company of the complete disaster... However, it's Univers Zero and that's much to say. Maybe it's recommendable for the ne ... (read more)

Report this review (#39826) | Posted by progadicto | Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Their temporary last album,before a long period of absence.Their most electric,but for me their best album.Dark organ playing by Andy Kirk.Absolutely fantastic track 'The funural plain' which takes more than 20 minutes playtime.Starting from soft piano growing to a complete electric climax,full of w ... (read more)

Report this review (#7601) | Posted by | Saturday, February 7, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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