Univers Zero tries prog rock
x_bruce | Oak Park, ILLINOIS United States | 09/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have almost every Univers Zero album and find Heatwave to be the most comprehendable to listeners used to rock based instrumentation.Heatwave offers more guitar than we've heard from Univers Zero and almost a backbeat on the first three songs. By The Funeral Plain we creep back into the ultra gloom of classic UZ's first three albums.I love 1313 and it's brilliant take on updated chamber goth but I love Heatwave because to almost the same degree it does the same with rock sounds, in particular synths, guitar and an actual rhythm section.The King crimson comparisons are well stated. UZ does at times sound very similar to the Crims. But they still are far from traditional. It is almost absurd and highly ironic how fans of older UZ works can't accept change when that is what good progressive music is all about!If you like harder edged progressive rock or angular classical music Univers Zero is a band not to miss and Heatwave is a good album to start. Other than Uzed any previous CD is also an eye opening listen. Later works are uneven but still far more interesting than most of UZ's peers.At their worst UZ is compelling and challenging. There are no bad Univers Zero albums, just different shades on similar themes."
Creepy neo-classical masterpiece
Markus Derrer | Brandon, Manitoba Canada | 06/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Univers Zero - HeatwaveWARNING: First of all this is not pop music, never was, never will be, never was intended to be. Belgian band Univers Zero were part of the late seventies musical / political RIO (rock-in-opposition) movement and as such people looking for a quick top forty fix will tend to wonder what the hell is going on. Much of their material is actually closer to modern classical than to rock music, except for the intensity of the music, which is to put it mildly, very powerful. Of all the RIO bands Univers Zero definitely are the most sinister and spooky. Their early acoustic albums (1313 and Heresie) featured dissonant violins and very creepy basoon / oboe lines. Like any good band they kept evolving and by Heatwave (their final album before disbanding in 1987) their instrumental lineup had changed to include a lot of electric instruments. This significantly changed their sound and gives the album more of a prog rock feel. This is especially noticeable on the first three tracks. They're still dark, after all with titles like "Bruit dans les murs (Noise inside the walls)", what would you expect? However they're not as positively creepy as the earlier compositions were. Oboe and bassoon are conspicuous in their absence though clarinet and sax manage to fill in ably enough. In contrast to other albums, Heatwave places more of an emphasis on synthesizers, which really does the album justice on the fourth track, the sidelong "Funeral Plain". Stark, repetitive piano notes are complemented and enveloped by creepy synth noises and generate a really spooky atmosphere. It's one of those songs where if you fell asleep while listening to it (as if...) you'd have nightmares for weeks. Amazing. I would highly recommend this to any one interesting in groundbreaking music, just don't play it on your first date...."
Here there be monsters...
Lucinda Watkins | carmel, ny USA | 12/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Univers zero, for those who take the time to really listen, makes much of the most powerful rock or fusion jazz sound like "How Much Is That Little Doggy In The Window?". For those who try it out once and/or as background music may miss a wonderful opportunity. This is not about musical intellect- just attention paid. "Heatwave", while not their first, is an excellent starting point for those entering from the rock side of the fence. For jazz folk, "Uzed" or "1313" are more suitable. An amazing journey through the part of the mind that knows no fear or weakness. Enjoy.Toodaloo!"