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Univers Zero


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Univers Zero The Hard Quest album cover
3.74 | 94 ratings | 4 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Vieux-Manants (2:50)
2. Civic Circus (4:38)
3. Affinité (5:52)
4. Rouages (5:50)
5. News From Outside (3:24)
6. Rébus (2:46)
7. Kermesse Atomique (5:33)
8. Succès Damné (4:18)
9. L'Impasse du Choléra (1:48)
10. Xenantaya (10:34)
11. L'Oubli (1:46)

Total Time: 54:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Michel Berckmans / bassoon, oboe, English horn, melodica, piano (8,9)
- Dirk Descheemaeker / clarinet, bass clarinet
- Igor Semenoff / violin
- Reginald Trigaux / electric bass, vocals & acoustic guitar (10)
- Daniel Denis / drums, keyboards, percussion, melodica, vocals (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Gérard Thomas with Bill Ellsworth (design)

CD Cuneiform Records - Rune 120 (1999, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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UNIVERS ZERO The Hard Quest ratings distribution

(94 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

UNIVERS ZERO The Hard Quest reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars After a 13 year rest Univers Zero rises again from its ashes. Daniel Denis had put the band to rest in 86 and went off to a solo career (two albums much diserving inclusion on this site) and a collaboration with their friends/mates Art Zoyd (coming from the small industrial city of Maubeuge just across the Belgo-French border) that will last ten years. Actually, Art Zoyd was instrumental to the rebirth of U Z and this album was recorded and produced in Art Zoyd's studios. For the reunion , Michel Berckmans (an original member) came back and the son of another original player Roger Trigaux, Reginald (both father and son are in Present, another seminal and influential Belgian band that had made its triumphant return a few years before) joined on guitars.

The music on this album pretty much picks up where the group had stopped some thirteen years back adding up some ever somber drama to a very descriptive chamber rock . Again Bartok and Ives are the most audible influences here . However this album and its follow- up will remain unplayed on stage for a while since U Z will remain a studio band until start of 2004. The violin does not make a great impact on the music and the 10 min+ Xenantaya is the highlight . Whatever vocals are on this album are strictly voices and recitations - no actual singing - in case you were wondering.

For the people unfamiliar with U Z 's works , I suggest their third album (Ceux du Dehors) for their embryonic stage , UZed for the second and different chrysalidic stage and Implosion for the reformation stage.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was their first album in 13 years, and it seems to be a return (in part) to their old sound. The returning Michel Berkmans is mostly responsible for that as he brings with him the aboe, english horn and bassoon. These instruments had been absent from UNIVERS ZERO's sound since he left after the "Ceux Du Dehors" album. Reginald Trigaux the son of original member Roger Trigaux and member of PRESENT plays electric bass and acoustic guitar on this one. The songs are shorter and less oppressive than past records. I was disappointed with this release overall. It's like there is something missing, and maybe it's just that unrelenting tension that kept me so attentive to all their previous records.Their music has to be listened to with ones full attention or it just doesn't work, this isn't background music folks. This is still a good album just not a great one in my opinion. Co-production:ART ZOYD.

"Vieux-Manants" is one of my least favourites on here. Not a good way to start from my vantage point.This is a fairly slow moving track that sounds like a funeral march.Boring is the word. "Civic Circus" is better. It has a classical feel to it with the harpsichord being prominant. Percussion and keys are also well done. "Affinite" has some tension on it with the eerie violin helping out in that area.There is a darkness to this song as well. Organ later on is a nice touch. "Rouages" comes alive after 2 minutes with heavier drums as the clarinet comes and goes. Eerie sounds after 4 minutes before the song comes alive a second time with keys and drums leading the way. "News From Outside" is dark with some cool drumming from Denis.He then offers up some spoken words, as we get dissonant sounds to follow. Harmonium on this track as well.

"Rebus" features an interesting array of intricate sounds. Not a big fan of the melody though. "Kermesse Atomique" is better, it's slow and dark with different sounds coming and going. I like this one. The next two tracks are Berkmans compositions (Denis composed the rest) and he plays piano only on these two songs. "Succes Damne" has a lot of piano and violin on it. The piano and drums 3 minutes in are good. "L'Impasse Du Cholera" features lots of dark piano melodies. "Xenantaya" opens with vocal melodies from Trigaux in a haunting atmosphere.The song changes 2 minutes in as we get a catchy melody.Yes I did say catchy. An actual beat you can move to makes me think the apocalypse can't be far away. Acoustic guitar as well on this one. "L'Oubli" is a short slow paced song with clarinet, drums and keys leading the way.

I don't know if i'd say this was a triumphant return, but i'm glad they are back. This one is growing on me.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Over a decade had passed since Univers Zero released their classic Heatwave album and gone dormant. Then, from out of nowhere, came The Hard Quest, a return to the fray which disappointingly finds the band retreating to their comfort zone as opposed to taking the experiments of Heatwave forward. With a sound hovering somewhere between Ceux du Dehors and Uzed - but lacking the fire and fury of either - the group produce a perfectly listenable chamber rock piece which manages to remind the listener of how good Univers Zero was back in their heyday without quite reaching that level of quality itself. All it does is make me hungry for Heresie.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This was my first RIO cd and I must say I was impressed.These guys could just as easly be playing chamber music as rock.This is not for non prog fans.Univers Zero is so upredictable and wierd that anyone not familiar with Cantubury or King Crimson style prog will be able to handle this but I c ... (read more)

Report this review (#7607) | Posted by James Hill | Sunday, November 16, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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