Monday, June 14, 2010

Univers Zero Returns to the Studio After A 14 Year Hiatus

The band Univers Zero made their last studio album in 1986. We are fortunate that they've been back to the grind, putting out a new and fascinating album they call Clivages (Cuneiform 295). Like the return of Ulysseys, we rejoice first, then worry later about the adventure they no doubt have been on. I'm sure that is an epic story in itself. We welcome the wandering heroes with our ears open. And our reward is great.

Universe Zero makes a kind of post-Zappa mix of modern classical and rock. They do it so well that the stitches are not showing. Listening, you forget to care what is what and just revel in the fine musical flow. Clivages weaves together the two styles in ways that give the new hybrid a feeling of organic inevitability. It's how the music is arranged, which is quite skillfully, and the pieces themselves, which are inspired. There are interesting ostinatos, a rock pulse, various contrapuntal intricacies and shifting meters for a sort of rock-classical chamber effect. Band members take turns with the composing. It all has such clear vision and fine-tuned execution that you feel like they all have internalized the sort of music they want to do, and then have gone ahead and done it. And done it extraordinarily well. If Univers Zero hadn't come up with this album, we would all be the poorer. That's how much I think of it. It is simply superb!

After Frank Zappa, Universe Zero produces the very best rock-classical music out there. Thank you Belgium for giving us so much wonderful music over the centuries! Please, Univers Zero, don't let so much time go by this time. Get right back in the studio. We want more!

Highly recommended.

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