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Univers Zero


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Univers Zero Relaps album cover
4.38 | 41 ratings | 4 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. L'Etrange Mixture du Docteur Schwartz
2. Presage
3. Parade
4. Ligne Claire
5. Emanations
6. Heatwave
7. The Funeral Plain
8. L'Etrange Mixture du Docteur Schwartz (free-style version)

Line-up / Musicians

Michel Delory - guitar (5, 6, 7, 8)
Daniel Denis - drums
Dirck Descheemaeker - soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
Christian Genet - bass
Patrick Hanappier - violin, viola (5, 6, 7, 8)
Andy Kirk - keyboards (5, 6, 7, 8)
André Mergen - cello, alto sax, voice (1, 2, 3, 4)
Jean-Luc Plouvier - keyboards

Releases information

Released on Cuneiform Records

1, 2 and 3 - Recorded in March 31, 1984 at The Pavillon, Hannover, Germany
4 - Recorded in February 25, 1984 at Dottignies, Belgium
5 - Recorded in February 17, 1986 at Frankfurt Jazz Festival, Frankfurt, Germany
6, 7 and 8 - Recorded in October 9, 1985 at Centre Culturel de Seraing, Seraing, Belgium

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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UNIVERS ZERO Relaps ratings distribution

(41 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

UNIVERS ZERO Relaps reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!

Although presented as an archives compilation, this album could also be a live album since all the tracks were recorded live in a bunch of concert ranging from Feb 84 until Feb 86, but somehow it also echoes the Crawling Winds compilation that focused between 81 and 83. With its superb red-tainted fossil rock artwork, Relaps rehashes mostly material of their most important album (to that date and still nowadays) Uzed and its successor Heatwave, in spite of a lengthy lapse of time where the band lay dormant, while Denis and Mergenthaler where active with Art Zoyd. Armed with an informative booklet detailing UZ's difficult days in the mid-80's, Relaps is an essential piece of work showing that the band's most exceptional moments were indeed live.

Roughly the disc is made of two main chunks of three tracks (In Hannover, Feb 84) opening and closing the album, while the centre two selections are a bit less significant (relatively speaking, of course). The first chunk is potentially my fave since it includes mostly tracks from my fave album of theirs: Uzed; and most notably the always-amazing Présage, which is still THE cornerstone on which the second phase of UZ sits upon. Equally interesting, Parade is a stunning piece that gains from its studio version. After an excerpts of Ligne Claire (I wonder why Denis selected so few , most likely average sound quality), but it waters the mouth, we are thrown into a brilliant rendition of Emanations (also from Uzed) in what became UZ's last concert for over a decade, the Frankfurt Jazz Festival.

And finally the last chunk comes from Seraing (industrial suburbs of Liège) where the tracks are mostly from the future Heatwave album with the returning Andy Kirk in the fold and indeed both the 9- mins Heatwave and the 18-mins Funeral Plain are both outstanding versions (especially the latter) and to cap it all off, a short improv of Etrange Mixture. Great stuff!!

Ell this archives album is charming bit to have patiently waiting their new album in some six months after this release, plus a DVD, a Mexican and a German tour and finally the RIO festival in Carmeaux. All of this, some 32 years after the release of their 1313 debut album, might make this 09 year, their busiest. In the meantime the apetite-rousing Relaps zakouskis make a great hors d'oeuvre in the upcoming feast.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars Like the "Crawling Wind" EP this is a compilation of live tracks from the mighty UNIVERS ZERO. While that EP consisted originally of music from the 1981-1983 lineup who created "Ceux Du Dehors" and performed live many, many times. In fact that was the most stable and active of UNIVERS ZERO lineups. This album features the final two eighties lineups including four tracks from the quintet who created "Uzed" and four tracks from the septet who released and composed "Heatwave".These final two lineups barely toured at all with only six and three concerts between them respectively. While the "Ceux Du Dehors" lineup played over 30 gigs there was a lot on tension within the band. Andy Kirk relates on the final concert this lineup performed. "We weren't playing together anymore...we were playing against each other ! Daniel and I both played as if it was the last show on earth. As usual we finished with "The Funeral Plain" and in the final section, Alan and Dirk left the stage, Guy threw his bass to the ground, and Daniel and myself finished the concert alone...No one could have stopped either of us playing. I can still see the stunned look on several members of the audience."

After this lineup broke up Kirk eventually played solo in churches and youth centers with the old UNIVERS ZERO harmonium and an upright piano he bought from HENRY COW plus his own keyboards, voice and backing tapes. Meanwhile UNIVERS ZERO came back to life as a quintet with Daniel Denis the only returning member from the "Ceux Du Dehors" lineup that had just broken up. Genet, Descheemaener, Mergenthaler and Plouvier rounded out the lineup.The second and final eighties lineup on here still included Denis, Descheemaener and Plouvier along with a returning Andy Kirk and another returning member in Patrick Hannapier who replaced Mergenthaler who had left for ART ZOYD (he and Daniel Denis had been enlisted as auxilary members anyway). Also add Michel Delory on guitar.This mean't that we had 7 members now with two keyboardists. Kirk and Plouvier complimented each other well as Kirk was into clean, smooth sounds while Plouvier was trying to achive the exact opposite. In fact Plouvier fell in love with the DX7 synth he had bought when he first joined because of it's out of tune sounds.The info i've related came from the liner notes.

Like "Crawling Wind" which was expanded when it was re-issued by the way, the music here is 5 stars all the way. I came in not expecting a whole lot as I didn't really enjoy their "Live" album from the "Implosion" tour all that much. Well this is incredible from start to finish. In fact Andy Kirk has said that the live version here of his composition "The Funeral Plain" is the best ever. I love this electric period of the band and list "Heatwave" as my favourite studio album from them so maybe i'm biased but this recording blew me away !

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Sallying forth through the bleak years of the mid-80s, UNIVERS ZERO forged ahead without compromise dishing out perhaps the most daring music that borders on sheer temerity. The band had a few lineup changes during the years of 1984-86 from which these eight tracks were picked and we are treated to some of the most turbulent and tumultuous recordings of the band that couldn't have been more against the grain in one of the least friendly decades for overtly complex and brooding progressive music that not only went where no band had gone before but did it with an imperious mien that reverberates throughout the decades holding up well after the fact. At the time however, the band was holding their own on their rocky road through the 80s as heard on RELAPS their second live release that only hit the hands of consumers in 2009, a good twenty years plus after these recordings were put to tape and then put under lock and key.

Live albums rarely do it for me like the studio counterparts but i have to say that this second live release RELAPS from the progressive avant-garde chamber music gods UNIVERS ZERO blows the roof off the house! This album was recorded at various venues in Germany and Belgium between the years 1984-86 and captures some of the most stunning magic of this great band displaying their finesse and powerful sonic firestorms in full fury proving that they are no mere studio band spending countless hours just putting sounds to tape without a clue of how to reproduce them. These guys are seriously gifted musicians who have all the chops to match the studio prowess AND exceed it. The fact that they can continually pump this out in a live setting and improvise free-style when the moment dictates also boggles the mind in just how proficient and dedicated the members of this band are. This is one of those rare live albums that actually surpasses any expectations of what i could hope for and deliver the goods and actually not even mind the 70 minutes plus of playing time. It's that phenomenal.

This album covers material from the albums "Uzed" ("L'étrange Mixture Du Docteur Schwartz" [2 versions that bookmark the album], "Présage", "Parade and Emanations") and "Heatwave" (title track and the extraordinary 18:10 "The Funeral Plain.") There is also a near four minute track "Ligne Claire" that is only found on this album. The music is, of course, their usual lineup of drums, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, bass, keyboards, cello, electric guitar, violin, viola and keyboards although the musical ingredients vary according to the period. The music on RELAPS is simply perfectly delivered and you'd be hard pressed to even know this is a live album except for the audience reaction at the end of tracks. The production is crystal clear and amazingly clean for several live 80s venues where who-knows-what can possibly go wrong and the band is absolutely flawless in the musical delivery.

Although i can't profess to know the band's canon note for note, i can say that this music in all its complexity sounds like it is performed in the most logical manner, meaning it is imperceptible if mistakes are being made. UNIVERS ZERO and the Rock In Opposition and avant-prog bands of the era didn't banish patterns within music, they simply or complexly rather, created new ones hitherto unexplored. These patterns of music sound exquisitely logical once heard but to create such unfamiliar forms is the true definition of music magic in my opinion. EVERYTHING works on this one. The compositions, the pacing, the timbres, the use of echoes, the mixing of the instruments and most of all the dark heavyheartedness that just oozes with dispirited melancholy and elegiac lament. This is simply in the top tier of UNIVERS ZERO recordings and one that should not be missed for true fans of this sombre musical chimera.

Review by Warthur
4 stars This archival collection of live pieces from Univers Zero doesn't replicate any one particular show - but it does capture the sound of an era, with its tracks bridging the gap between Uzed - in which the band were still playing in a chamber rock style reminiscent of the sound of Ceux du Dehors - and Heatwave, in which they adopted a chillier, more synth- washed style.

This musical transition is perhaps best observed in the fantastic 1985 rendition of Heatwave's second-side epic, the ever-magnificent Funeral Plain, but it is apparent throughout the collection, and that makes this a decidedly worthwhile pick for anyone who's already sold on Uzed or Heatwave by themselves. If you like both, you'll like this, if you like one but are unsure about the other this might help you see where the one you're less keen on is coming from.

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