Exposé Online banner

Univers Zéro — Clivages
(Cuneiform Rune 295, 2010, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2011-06-01

Clivages Cover art

The word "darkness" is often prominently mentioned in descriptions of the music of Univers Zéro, and there are certainly aspects of this newest release that fit that mold. However, the predominance of clarinet, bassoon, glockenspiel, and violin in the arrangements often lends a lightness to the mood in spite of the jarring rhythms and dissonance. The opening track, "Les Kobolds," is positively bouncy, with only a slightly ominous ostinato in the low end of the piano hinting at the band's sinister reputation. Of course, that is followed directly by "Warrior," which is full of creepy noises and distorted bass notes thumping out beats that would sound at home backing a dark ritual in a horror movie. The moments of uneasy calm, where distant, indistinct sounds wallow in misty atmospheres, only serve to heighten the impact of the impending rhythmic outbursts. The band's combination of modern Classical music (Stravinsky, Bartók) with free improvisation and rock makes for a heady blend which is obviously not for everyone, but for those so inclined is a very tasty mixture. The musicianship and composition are of the highest order, no fumbling dilettantes here, and no reach-exceeds-grasp unrealized ambition — these guys (four of whom contribute compositions) have big, complex ideas and are perfectly capable of implementing them. Does it stand up to the albums that made their reputation? To my ear, it does; while it may be subtler, this is a sign of maturity rather than lack of ideas.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2010 releases

Related artist(s): Univers Zéro, Daniel Denis

More info
http://www.cuneiformrecords.com

Latest news

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mathew Shipp Duo with William Parker - DNA – Mathew Shipp has paid his dues in the eastern US jazz circles for the past several years and DNA is his first for Thirsty Ear Records out of New York. Two traditional pieces are included on the disc...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues