Release Date: 1984

Track Listing
1)  Présage (Denis) - 9:48
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2)  L'Etrange Mixture du Docteur Schwartz (Denis) - 3:52
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3)  Célesta (For Chantal) (Denis) - 6:55
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4)  Parade (Denis) - 6:27
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5)  Emmanations (Denis) - 15:43
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Member: Hippy Pants (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Hippy Pants)
Date: 10/30/2002
Format: CD (Album)

I give this album a lot of credit, not because it'll go to number one with a bullet or because it will sell a million copies making some record company CEO lots of bucks or because it will stay inside my CD player for weeks upon end. No, I give this album credit because it shines like a diamond up a bull's ass. In the barnyard that is the current state of the mainstream record industry, the facets of this lil' jewel shine much brighter than the likes of all those Britney Spears-like clones, the glut of rap star thugs, or wannabe flavor of the week bands that currently pass themselves off as popular music these days. Prepare yourself--this is challenging music. Univers Zero, one of the earlier originators of RIO or rock in opposition, play truly adventurous music, at times cacophonous and abrasive, innovative, perplexing, and totally noncommercial. Granted, you may not listen to this as much as something more pop designed and easier to listen to (i.e., Moby, McCartney, Beck, or whomever), but when I get fed up and bloated with commercial blockage I'll put on this tasty lil' sucker, and like eating fiber and roughage or inducing the best colonic enema money can buy; it will clean out the garbage, baby.
Dave
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Member: maribor (Profile) (All Album Reviews by maribor)
Date: 3/8/2007
Format: CD (Album)

After Ceux du Dehors, which for most people was the pinnacle of UZ's career, band leader and most prolific composer decided to change things up a bit. The line up became completely different for Uzed. The oboe, bassoon and English horn were traded in for the clarinet and sax. The violins and violas were replaced by the cello. The other elements are the same, except that the keyboards incorporated are different. No longer can we hear such vintage keyboards as the mellotron, organ or harmonium (some people really dislike this instrument but I'm quite fond of it), instead the piano is at the forefront as is the synthesizer. The use of the mighty synth was something completely new for UZ and who could tell how it would work out. Luckily, there was nothing to worry about.

The opening track already manifests that this is the Universe that were so loved after the great Ceux. In a way, they sound the same yet different. They have kept their distinctive sound, yet added a new dimension with the synth. I'm not a big synth fan but if used correctly it can become an aid rather than a hindrance. As mentioned, the first track displays all the typical Zero elements – quick exchanges of melodies, a highly complex compositional style and dark atmospheres. Again another typical element is the transition from softer chamber passages to wild and some might say even erratic segments. I just love how they toy with the melodies. Occasionally they'll play pretty much the same melody for several loops but they'll skip a beat here or add a note there. It can be fiendishly difficult to follow sometimes and that's part of their appeal.

The second piece a short but very condensed. So much is crammed into those four minutes it's mind-boggling. The characteristic RIO element of dissonance is present throughout this song.

“Celesta” is a sombre and solemn piece played at a slow pace. It may appear to be somewhat repetitive but again the UZs play around with the melodies and make it trickier for the listener to keep track of what their doing. The quiet chamber atmosphere of the song changes at the end when the electric guitar roars to assistance and the synth makes its grand appearance. You'd never guess that they were actually playing the same melody as in the quiet part if you wouldn't be paying close attention.

“Parade” is one of those pieces that isn't really talked about all that much, however I find it to be one of their most beautiful and emotional tracks. There is a brilliant contrast between the frivolity of a parade and a dark doom-like atmosphere underneath it. In the middle of the song there is one of UZ's best melodies – a gorgeous tune played on synth at first and then continued on the piano. It is quite a celestial experience.

The final piece is the epic on the album and like most UZ epics it builds up slowly but once it gets going, it never stops. The high points here might not be as good as on “Funeral Plain” but it is definitely more consistent throughout. Especially the crazy bass line from the middle of the song until the end is noteworthy. It seems simple enough, yet I had to hear it several times before I could follow it. The only complaint I have is the last couple of minutes, which are basically just noise and effects. I wouldn't mind so much if this were in the middle of the song because it might actually contribute to the atmosphere. I just feel that it's not the right way to end such a spectacular album on such a low point. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

Although the album is more rock oriented than on their previous efforts, the chamber quality is still very much alive. The cello, clarinet, saxophone and all the other instruments have merely replaced the bassoon, violin and so on. The synth hs actually improved their sound and Daniel Denis noticed that for he used it even more lavishly on their next effort. All the musicians are at the top of their game, I'm particularly impressed by Denis. As the main composer of the band, he sure does sit a lot of segments out. It takes a really confident composer to know when to let the other players take the spotlight.

This is for me Univers Zero's most consistent album. Usually, there are some lulls on their albums. Not here. All the pieces must have taken a lot of work to get done, all of them are composed so well and so tightly, no matter if they were long or short. As a final word, I'd just like to say that this was an extremely hard review to write since this music is so hard to determine and describe.
9'5 out of 10.
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