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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


320 KBPS

After an absence of over a decade, Univers Zero has returned, and more invigorated than ever. The slate has been wiped clean, now with a mix of old and new chalk for drawing. Original member Michel Berckmans has returned after having last played with UZ 18 years previously on Ceux de Dehors. Dirk Descheemaeker, from the band's last albums in the 80s, is also back. These veterans represent the fortified woodwinds section. The members who handle the strings, both new, are Reginald Trigaux (related to the band's original guitarist and Present founder, Roger Trigaux) on guitar and Igor Semenoff on violin. At the center of it all, of course, is drummer Daniel Denis, who on this outing does double-duty, playing the keyboards as well.
The compositions are tighter and more accessible than previous albums, almost as if Denis had written the album keeping in mind with the prospect of luring a new generation of potential fans. Texturally and compositionally, this might be the most diverse Univers Zero album to date. The keyboard sounds generated include the now-reinstated harmonium, as well as organ ("Affintite") and even harpsichord ("Civic Circus"). On "Vieux-Manants," sparse bass drum and tambourine create (as Brandon notes in his review) a medieval feel, while other tracks feature tuned percussion ("Civic Circus") and Denis' traditional drum kit. Denis even loosens up to play a straight 4/4 on the middle-Eastern "Xenantaya"; always wondered if he could do that!
With the excellent recording quality coupled with a return to the more organic sound of the band's earlier albums, I would very much recommend this as a top consideration for those starting off in their exploration of the band, as well as old-time fans who are well in-the-know. This is Univers Zero. This is what they do.

1. Vieux-Manants
2. Civic Circus
3. Affinité
4. Rouages
5. News From Outside
6. Rébus
7. Kermesse Atomique
8. Succès Damné
9. L'Impasse du Choléra
10. Xenantaya
11. L'Oubli

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