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Univeria Zekt - The Unnamables CD (album) cover


Univeria Zekt



3.15 | 56 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
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.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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