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Univers Zero - Ceux Du Dehors CD (album) cover


Univers Zero



3.99 | 178 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The third album by the Belgian chamber avant-rock band UNIVERS ZERO followed in the footsteps of the avant-garde ominous dread that the self-titled debut (aka "1313") and the spine-tingling "Hérésie" presented with all the stunning musical maestrohood on steroids, however CEUX DU DEHORS (translates as "Those of the Outdoors" or "The Outsiders") found inspiration from the darkened world of H.P. Lovecraft's most demented works after someone left some of his short stories in the recording studio. Much of this album revolves around those occult and darkened themes set to the musical complexity and labyrinthine avant-prog angularities that had made the band stand out from virtually the rest of the entire musical scene in the late 70s.

As with the previous two albums UNIVERS ZERO was centered around the stable quartet of Daniel Denis (drums and percussion), Guy Segers (bass, clarinet, vocals), Michel Berckmans (bassoon, oboe, English horn, vocals) and Patrick Hanappier (viola, violin, vocals) and joining the ranks were the new talent of Andy Kirk joining in on piano, harmonium, organs and vocals. In addition there are three guest musicians that spice up the album with a violin, cello and hurdy-gurdy all which prove to add some of the most haunting and blood curdling sounds that can be experienced in the world of recorded music. While the band would begin to shift their sound on the following "Uzed," CEUX DU DEHORS can be thought of as the last of a dark mythological trilogy of the band's origins only continues the journey with even more precision and skill.

While "Hérésie" explored the absolute limits of impending doom and ominous nihilism and perhaps ranks as one of the scariest sounding albums of all time, CEUX DE DEHORS starts out on a much lighter note at least towards the beginning with the almost festive "Dense" starting things out with more emphasis on fiery circuitous rhythmic drives that allow the classical chamber orchestral sounds to ping and pong and resonate in astounding tight-knit precision. The light hearted melodic flow is almost exuberant in its medieval-tinged folklore burbling to the surface. The track which is one of two that exceed the 12 minute mark (the other being "Combat") may start off as a jittery caffeinated romp but five minutes in the band revives the eerie gloomy chamber rock drones and classical minimalism that can raise the dead and then proceeds to mix the two moods together displaying an uncanny ability to juggle these opposing musical tones.

While tracks that follow "La Corne Du Bois Des Pendus" and "Bonjour Chez Vous" tend to focus on the fiery instrumental acrobats that focus on the extremities of chamber rock and classical wizardry while the album ebbs and flows through angular labyrinthine compositions that zigzag unexpectedly and utilize unorthodox tempo changes and jagged riffs that find the most jarring ways to ratchet up the tension, CEUX DU DEHORS slowly but surely drifts off into the same nightmarish musical perversity that "Hérésie" excelled at in freakish perfection. In particular the last three tracks starting with "La Musique d'Erich Zann" there is more focus on classical minimalism such as that by Philip Glass and the Krautrock motorik rhythmic drives as heard by German bands like Neu! only set to a classical orchestral performances that take a little jazz improvisation and industrial bleakness and funnel it all down into some of the most ominous hair-raising sonic terror that will never allow you to look at the bassoon and oboe in the same way. The way this track starts is like a haunted pasture with freaky imitations of sheep freaking out.

The bleakness continues with "La Tete Du Corbeau" and the closing "Triomphe des Mouches" which ends the album in utter contrast as to how it began. Perhaps these latter tracks were leftovers from the earlier sessions before the band decided to lighten things up a bit? Regardless, CEUX DU DEHORS is another amazing album by UNIVERS ZERO that displays an even more uncanny flock of bird randomness in the tight instrumental interplay and an even more unbelievable mastery of using sonic juxtapositions to create the maximum fear factory. While the album pales only in comparison to the phenomenal perfection of the first two albums and the inconsistencies of stylistic approaches that differentiate the beginning tracks from the end, it's really not that big of a deal when the music presented on every track is of this amazing caliber. On CEUX DU DEHORS, these Belgians proved that they indeed could craft the perfect soundtrack for the Dark Fantasy perversions of Lovecraft and in the process make it sound so ridiculously natural.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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