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UNIVERIA ZEKT

Zeuhl • France


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Univeria Zekt biography
After they had released their second effort, "1001░ Centigrades", the french Zeuhl band MAGMA released another album with almost the same line-up, but under a different band name: UNIVERIA ZEKT. The album, entitled "The Unnamables", was intended to be a relatively 'easy' introduction into the world of Zeuhl music, for the band was trying to broaden its audience. Unfortunately, the album is very hard to find nowadays.

: : : Joren van Ree, The Netherlands (December 16, 2005) : : :

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The UnnamablesThe Unnamables
Musea 1971
$11.95
$25.00 (used)
The Unnamables by Univeria Zekt (2001-01-01)The Unnamables by Univeria Zekt (2001-01-01)
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$33.85
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3.12 | 53 ratings
The Unnamables
1971

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UNIVERIA ZEKT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars UNIVERIA ZEKT was a short-lived pseudonym used by the French band Magma. The side project which was basically the same line up as heard on "1001 Degrees Centigrades" (with a few more vocalists) was an attempt to create a training wheel version of their first two albums in order to help ease the music loving public into their strange alien sounding take on jazz-fusion and zeuhl. This idea as far as i know was unprecedented and a testament to the innovative approach that Christian Zander and his crew of Koabaians were taking during the day.

For the most part much about their sole album THE UNNAMABLES is basically a watered down style that was present on Magma's first two albums with a deemphasization of the hardcore jazz and hypnotic zeuhl rhythms and more of a focus on funkier bass lines, soulful vocals and less progressive compositions that were easier to digest. The entire sci-fi based Kobaian concept was jettisoned as well with English titles and lyrics replacing the unintelligible Kobaian folklore of the Magma universe. The first half of the vinyl album were intended to mimic the cliche generic jazz-rock outfits of the day with tracks like "Altcheringa" sounding like something Chicago would have released in their early years. The second half of the album explores more simplified variations of the style heard on "1001 Degrees Centigrade."

Being the innovator that he was, Christian Vander recognized this little misstep side project to be the failed venture that it was and wisely scrapped it in order to reinvent the Magma universe itself by scrapping the "every stylistic change except the kitchen sink" approach and refining their sound into the magnum opus stylistic approach heard on their first true zeuhl epic "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h" and beyond. A wise decision indeed as that was when Magma really began to become recognized as one of the greats of the French prog scene.

If taken simply as the anomaly it was, UNIVERIA ZEKT's one album THE UNNAMABLES is entertaining enough to throw on every so often but it will neither ever rank highly above any of Magma's albums proper with the possible exception of the stinker of a mess "Merci." While the album begins hardly recognizable as Magma related with funk and soul stealing the show, the longest track "Africa Anteria" is weird and creative enough to actually appear on a bona fide Magma release. While i wouldn't go out of my way to track this one down, it is certainly worth a listen or two especially if you are at all interested in the period that connects the more jazz-fusion oriented first and second albums and how they transmogrified into the classic zeuhl-centric sound that debuted on "MDK."

Overall THE UNNAMABLES isn't really that bad of an album if you like a good funk and soul type of album with a few jazz freak outs interspersed here and there. The rhythmic zeuhl tendencies are hidden in the bass line as well as some tracks like "Africa Anteria" exhibiting some of the vocal styles that would become Magma trademarks on their then future discography. The musicianship is excellent of course, but because of the fact that i'm completely familiar with the entire Magma universe upon hearing this one, i can't say that this one really gets me all hot and bothered musically speaking! Basically there is some good stuff on here but unlike most Magma albums, this one is awkwardly uneven.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The band wasn't really unnamable; this was simply Christian Vander and Magma recording outside their Koba´an mythology, under an assumed name. In retrospect the pseudonym wasn't very secure: the album and song titles may have been (mostly) English, but the band alias was undisguised, grade-school Zeuhl.

The project itself has its own unique legend, recounted in detail elsewhere in these Archives. Briefly, it was intended as a beginner's guide to a sometimes willfully difficult group: a more listener-friendly alternate to the alternate universe of Magma, twice removed from reality and thus closer to terra firma. In an odd way the effort might be said to validate the geometric curvature of space-time, taking the music so far beyond planet Koba´a that it almost returns to Earth.

The results couldn't hope to match the impact of its parent band, but even lo-fat Magma-Lite has its moments, more so the longer it plays. The album closer "Undia" is probably the most conventional song within the classic Magma cosmology of the early-to-mid 1970s: the closest Magma ever got in their Golden Age to popular music (the song was actually released, a little optimistically, as the B-Side to a 45-rpm single). This is music to inspire an intergalactic gospel revival, with a beautiful vocal melody and simple-yet-strange instrumental chorus, all very catchy but unmistakably Zeuhl.

But as a watered-down primer it didn't work at all...thankfully. To its credit, the album wasn't mainstream enough, and the lack of any commercial impact left Vander free to pursue his less compromised instincts, with a vengeance in the upcoming Magma album "M.D.K." A further benefit to the album's relative failure is that it improved with age, revealing some of the uncomplicated joy tucked deep beneath the band's otherwise dense conceptual and thematic masterpieces.

The album in total is a worthwhile companion piece to the earlier, jazzier Zeuhl of Magma's first two albums, in particular the horn-dominated "1001░ Centigrades", recorded the same year. Consider it a pleasant dip in the kiddie pool for cautious listeners afraid to dive headlong into the deeper, darker waters of classic Magma.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars There will always, I suppose, lie a grave danger in taking a different path from the one you started from. Especially this is true when the expedition grew from the most daring and revolutionary form of music known to man. Magma is certainly one of those bands that ripped all convention apart by creating a genre so daring and non-conformist as zeuhl.

So, after doing that and in the making of all this magnificent music of zeuhl one can't help but thinking that Vander and crew grew weary after a while and decided to do something a little more accessible. Thus Univeria Zekt came into being. At least that is what I imagine.

Unlike Magma Univeria Zekt plays a decicedly more accessible kind of music with an generous slice of jazz on top. Actually, I find this album to be more of a jazzy affair than anything I have heard from Magma and that says alot, bearing in mind the obvious inclusion of jazz into said band's sound. In parts this is an old school jazz affair laced with elements of zeuhl and rock music. The result is one of very jazzy rock with avant garde leanings. To me it is very enjoyable and lovely indeed. I like Magma alot but that does not mean I think that this album is anything like "selling out". I would not compare to Magma, rather I would like to compare it to other jazz rock albums of the era and as such it holds up extremely well.

From the opening organ of "You speak and you speak Colegram" to the ending ballad of "▄ndia" it holds together very well. I love the energy of "Altcheringa", the beauty of "Clementine", the overly jazzy horns of "Something's cast a spell", the late night drums and piano of "Ourania" and the powerful epic of "Africa anteria".

I urge to you to not compare this album to Magma. Listen to it for the album it is. If you do you will find an amazingly tight and cohesive album of jazz-rock, every bit as highly charged and engaging, thrilling and daring as the greats of the genre.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Magma's cheeky attempt to create an introduction to their highly unusual work came at a good time, since in 1972 their style was flowering into the full-blooded zeuhl of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh and was rapidly moving away from the Miles Davis-influenced fusion of their early works. This attempt at a "beginner's guide" fails as a beginner's guide, however, because it isn't really very representative of what Magma were doing at this point in time at all - it feels like a sappier, wetter version of the sort of fusion they'd moved beyond two albums ago. Fun for collectors, but I prefer the hard stuff.
 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Bleeurgghh!... there goes my lunch. You can add it to that sleeve design. It could only surely improve it.

A bit funkier than 'Magma', but a great diversion nonetheless. Recorded around the same time as '1001˚C'. Christian Vander's drums are a bit straighter making for an easier listen. An album that increases in value each time I hear it. The impending doom and ominousness of 'Magma' is replaced by a more playful and lighter album.

The usual superb interaction between musicians is in evidence throughout this little 33 minute album. In fact by the time you're half way through 'The Unnamables' - you'll be thinking 'this isn't such easy listening after all' what with all the saxophone skronk and wailing instruments.

'Africa Anteria' appears to be the highlight of the album and at 11 minutes is by far the longest. An uptempo jazzy funk tune that reminds me a bit of 'Funkadelic' with that man who wore all those rings and funny clothes. Mostly it sounds like an unlikely episode from 'Starsky and Hutch' where a drug deal has gone wrong - you know the thing - villains shooting wildly at innocent civilians.

So much for appealing to a wider audience... 'The Unnamables' sunk without trace, never to be heard of again and Magma bounced back stronger than ever in '73 to deliver back to back masterpieces. There we go... All's well that ends well.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I believe not many prog fans know about this album. In its very early years Magma tested possibility to chose another, more accessible jazz-fusion direction. This album is the only result of that experiment, and Univeria Zekt is in fact Magma with guest vocalist and trumpeter.

Music there is quite different even from Magma's very first , still more fusion, releases. Bigger part of compositions there is jazz-rock, with brass-rock (Chicago style) elements and even few free jazz moments. In whole, the album sounds as a bit better than average jazz-rock album of its time with rare zeuhl flavours. It will be really difficult to compare this music with Magma's sound, and much easier - with bands as BS & T or Chicago.

To be honest, I like vocals and all this brass there on this albums, but main problem is compositions: all them are unfocused and with bulky structure (remember - I am speaking about jazz-rock compositions, not zeuhl). I believe this obscure album could be interesting for every real Magma's fun (just to hear how Magma plays jazz-rock). Not very attractive for fusion fans, this album contains not enough zeuhl to be interesting for zeuhl lovers. And it is obscure release, what make it mostly album for collectors.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by moodyxadi

3 stars This piece is interesting at least. Very jazzy and reminding some soft jazzy spots from "Kobaia". The best track for me is the most Zeuhlish of them, the last one, a very beautiful ballad (!) with that menacing zeuhl chords showing themselves here and there. The first track of the album is good too, a jazz rock number typical from this time. I dont know if this is a good start for people afraid of authentic zeuhl material; for me the glorious MDK worked very well.

For the sake of curiosity and for the great last track, three stars. But don't expect the sheer brilliance of Magma in this album; better burn it than bought it.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a hidden MAGMA record under a different name. This is MAGMA with a guest vocalist and a guest trumpet player. It was Laurent Thibault's idea to do this, he produced MAGMA's debut record and now had his own record label called "Theieme". He reasoned with both Vander and MAGMA's record label "Philips" that if the band did a record of easier to get into material on the first side of the album, and then did their Zeuhl on the other side of the album it would attract new fans and make them better known. Besides Thibault really wanted MAGMA on his label, and in this way he had a piece of them, sort of. The first band Thibault signed to his new label was ERGO SUM who is on our site here. Thibault actually enlisted the vocalist from that band to sing one of the songs on this album.

The first side of the album consisted of five songs that combined both the Jazz and Rock styles similar to BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS and CHICAGO. Lots of horns and very accessible. "You Speak And Speak Colegram" is a Lasry tune that is uptempo with plenty of free sax lines and guitar solos. The drums are of course prominant and the organ chips in as well. "Altcheringa" is a Cahen tune that did bring BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS to mind mainly because of the David Clayton Thomas-like vocals from Zabu. This is a very catchy song. Nice guitar solo before 2 minutes as the bass throbs. "Clementine" is a Lasry composition. It consists of only acoustic guitar and flute throughout. This is such a beautiful song, a piece of heaven really. I can't believe this is MAGMA but it is.

"Something's Cast a Spell " is another Lasry tune although the lyrics were taken from an ERGO SUM song from their debut album. The lead singer from that band sings on this one as well. Sax really dominates although we get a great guitar solo from Engel after a pastoral section. "Ourania" is a Vander tune and the last song on side one. Flute and guitar start us off before some crazy sax and discordant guitar follow. I like the drum patterns from Vander on this one.

Side two is Zeuhl and both songs were composed by Vander. "Africa Anteria" features some good bass and the sax and piano form a great team. The sax gets a little dissonant and the bass is relentless as they seem to jam for about 5 minutes. We get those bizarre shouts from Vander and before that a drum solo that is apparently (according to the liner notes) the only recorded drum solo that VANDER did. "Undia" features Blasquiz singing in Kobaian. The song starts off quietly and builds to a full sound. Great drumming on this one and this pattern of starting softly and building in sound happens a second time.

3.5 stars.The first half of the album is interesting to say the least considering this is MAGMA. I wouldn't be without this release for the historical significance alone, even if the music isn't all Zeuhl. A must for all you MAGMA fans.

 The Unnamables by UNIVERIA ZEKT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 53 ratings

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The Unnamables
Univeria Zekt Zeuhl

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars If one is afraid to get involved in the Magma labyrinth fearing to meet the beast (Vander not the Minotaur), this might be the entrance in this world, as this side project was directed to a wider public to entice them into what became known as zheul. Too bad the compositions were weaker here as this certainly missed its target, but it is more accessible.

Please not that Univeria Zekt is the name of the group - at the origin this was not a Magma album.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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