Belgium - Full Moon 216 - 04/15/14
This is the 13th album by Univers Zero since the start about 40 years ago. It has a quite new - and younger - line-up. Founder, band
leader, drummer and main composer Daniel Denis felt he had come to an end with the previous. Other members became more engaged in other
projects and live work had dried up. Apart from him, only Daniel, Kurt Budé (clarinets, saxes and percussion, who has been aboard the UZ
ship for about ten years) and Dimitri Evers (bass, for about five) remain from the previous studio album Clivages
in 2009. The two newcomers are Nicolas Dechêne (guitars) and Antoine Guenet (keyboards), the latter only 27 years old. Gone are the bassoon,
oboe and violin from Clivages.
The new and more stream-lined rock-based - sort of - version of UZ has of course a different sound compared to all previous. But despite
more electric instruments, I think most of the tracks have a lighter touch than the earlier albums of the present century. It surely has
something to do with the compositions in addition to the arrangments, four tracks written by Denis and three by Budé. Only the almost
13 minutes long title track posesses the gloom and doom to a large extent of former efforts. We're still in for a kind of composed (very much
so) instrumental chamber rock. But there is less low bassnotes and also less minor chords than we're used to, it seems. When I first heard
the album, only the title track really hit my spine and neck hair. It was a bit hard to witness a guitar solo part - sort of - like in
"Vocation". After some spins, the album felt more natural and exciting throughout. If the band members want to develop and progress, of
course they have to change and seek new challenges and expressions. And there certainly are some juicy chunks in that direction here,
without losing the connection to the past and without losing any integrity. Kurt's "L'Espoir Perdu" is probably the track furthest away
from the Univers Zero of old with a guest trumpet and trombone at the fore, sounds like a chamber brass band if you can imagine.
The music of the album was originally written to accompany old experimental silent movies. It stands firmly on its own as well. I guess
after listening more intensively to Phosphorescent Dreams for a year of five, it will fall into the line of Univers Zero's classics.
The band certainly remains my of my favourites of the challenging kind!
Copyright © 2014 JP