x_bruce | Oak Park, ILLINOIS United States | 09/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My mother used to hear my band's rehearsal tapes as I plaed them. Her comment was frequently, "that music is so morbid!" which was somewhat true. At the time we did King Crimson influenced songs that were a bit more heavier (in the day).If my mother had heard Heresie I'm pretty confident she would have freaked out. This is one seriously depressing album with a no compromise approach that is astonishing some 25 years after it was recorded.The opening song, "Faulx" is uncompromising and foreboding. Just as well as it foreshadows track two, "Jack The Ripper" which is unrelenting in it's malevolence and ending in the album's closer "Vous le Saurez en Temps Voulu" which keeps the intensity going and brings on shades of darkness seldom heard and impossible to describe with words.The admirable thing about Univers Zero's Heresie is it's cohesive and unrelenting musical vison. It's dark and scary music that doesn't resort to cliches to take you on it's dark voyage.I must confess that although I admire Heresie it is not an album I can listen to all the time. It is simply too intense. yet if asked to name one of my favorite discs it would make the list because much like a guilty pleasure UZ have crafted the most bleak works in all of music, this includes classical along with so called gothic bands which typically DO use the cliches.The playing is stellar, UZ still plays chamber classical with elements of rock. The cohesive ensemble playing is impressive for an album made at a time where solos were almost manditory in rock based music. You won't find that here but you will find some incredible sounds that get under your skin. The result is an album by a band that is probably the most uncompromising and dark collection of works that you will ever hear.Even if like me you don't play Heresie as frequently as other albums it is the one you will come to every now and then, listen, be astonished by the technique and the spirit in which the songs are written.An amazing album."
Darkness that drowns you.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 02/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although they were one of the original "Rock-In-Opposition" bands, the Belgian group Univers Zero was more of a chamber ensemble than anything else. Scarce are rock elements in their music, as the instrumentation and compositional quality derive mainly by European neo-classical/modernist composers Igor Stravinsky and Bela Bartok. UZ is not prog-rock (which is more influenced by jazz-fusion, Baroque fugue, and Romanticist symphonies), nor are they post-rock (which has classical inspirations in Branca and minimalism); UZ draws inspiration from the modernists. What UZ does with those influences is carry them through far darker modes of expression. _Heresie_ is one of the darkest, most frightening albums ever created (only Shub Niggurath's _Les Morts Vont Vites_ might be darker), violently dissonant and rhythmic, rife with austere melodies and drones.
And _something_ else. I don't know what it is. But while words can give a sense of what the album sounds like, one cannot convey the pervasive, all-consuming nightmare world of this album. Darker than the bleakest black metal, darker than the darkest Swans, darker than Ligeti's _Lux Aeterna_... you name it! When I first heard this album I was very new to avant-garde music and I found it difficult for my mind to embrace this horrific thing. Even now it scares me a lot, but the musicality is mesmerizing. Daniel Denis was probably RIO's best composer at his peak (tho' the Stormy Six bunch was hot too), and _Heresie_ is his highest caliber of work along with _Ceux du Dehors_. He is also a brilliant percussionist, his playing somewhere embroiled between the role of a classical percussionist and a rock drummer. He is one of the few original drummers I have heard. The rest of the group is amazing, and this is definitely the best form of UZ that I have heard: Michel Berckmans (oboe, bassoon), Patrick Hanappier (violin, viola), Guy Segers (bass, voice), and Roger Trigaux (guitar, piano, organ, harmonium).
The album features three long pieces: the 25-minute "La Faulx", the beginning of which is a 9-minute drone which languidly develops atonal harmonies, then it changes gears to a rhythmically imaginative and severely aggressive chamber cacophony. The only glimmers of light are some of the elegiac, sorrowful melodies which appear briefly at times. "Jack the Ripper", my favorite here, flattens me with its climactic jerky, syncopated ending. "Vous le saurez en temps voulu" is the most macabre, as it eventually culminates into a creepy, odd-metered waltz that makes me think of dancing skeletons.
This is a bonafide classic album of pure darkness. I recommend this primarily to lovers of dark, dissonant classical music, and secondly to anyone else who is interested -- although it is difficult if coming from a rock background (like me was when i first heard it). This album and _Ceux du Dehors_ are essential!! Ignore _all_ negative reviews - they just don't get it. So sad, i know. "
The darkest,gloomiest album ever made?
Mathias Jonsson | Enköping, Sweden | 01/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The second album of this band is probably the most dark, gloomy album ever made! This one is more improvised than "I313" and much darker. If you like diabolic and gothic moods you probably love this one. The first track features The call of the Aethyrs from the Enochian Magic system. The music is dissonant and very dark, with this group's typcal emphasis on the sound of harmonium, bassoon, oboe and violin, toghether with drums and bassguitar. There is also some electric guitar parts but they are more subtle. The compositions are weaker and a bit more uneven than the masterpiece "1313", still if you like modern classical music, R.I.O prog and atmospheric music you definitely need this!"
Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 04/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HERESIE was the second LP recorded by this (mainly) Belgian ensemble. Their first, eponymous on its release and later re-titled 1313, set me on my ear - this album convinced me with no turning back that this was a band whose work I would continue to seek out as long as they continued to create. I've been tempted to review this amazing album for some time now - the problem was that I haven't owned a copy for years, and I would have had to write it from my memories of it. Since this music has been imbedded in my mind from the first time I heard it, back in 1979, this would not have been an impossibility - but I wanted to wait until I reacquired it on CD. I just picked it up this afternoon - and my memory served me very well indeed. The beauty, power, and creativity at work here is among the most breathtaking I have ever experienced in music - at times dark and threatening, even nightmarish, it never ventures into `noise', but rather utilizes every sound at the band's disposal to get the images and feelings of the compositions across. It's `difficult music' - in the finest, purest, most stimulating and rewarding sense of the phrase. It's definitely not for the faint of heart or the unadventurous - it illustrates without compromise or pretension what can be achieved when musical boundaries are crossed, then obliterated. There are elements here of classical, rock, jazz, and improvisation - but the totality of this music is `simply' Univers Zero. The addition of bassoon, oboe, violin and viola to the more usual `rock' instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano, organ, harmonium), along with the depth of composition and arrangement present in this group makes them stand out from others in the `progressive' genre.There are `only' three tracks on this release - but what masterpieces they are! The album opens with the 25-minute-plus Daniel Denis composition `La Faulx'. The piece goes through many mood and tempo changes - much as you would expect from classical music, but as I mentioned above, the classical influence is only one piece of the puzzle. `La Faulx' begins broodingly with the harmonium playing some dark, low-register chord groupings - the violin works its way into the sound, followed by Daniel Denis' masterful, subtle touches on percussion, along with the oboe of Michel Berckmans. Each instrument vies for supremacy slowly, with the group coming together as a unit in strong fashion, driven along by Denis' drums and the bass of Guy Segers. The bassist adds his voice to the mix as the intensity slowly increases. A short, quieter passage featuring the oboe works its way in, followed shortly by a more rhythmically-oriented section. The piece works its way through several time signature changes and dynamic variations - themes are stated, fade and reappear later in the work until the darkness with which the track was introduced reasserts itself for the ending.`Jack the Ripper' (a co-composition of Denis and guitarist/keyboardist Roger Trigaux), the second track, is every bit as foreboding and full of menace as its title would suggest. As in the first piece, the instruments begin as if they're awakening from a deep slumber, shuddering themselves to wakefulness, shaking off the bonds of sleep to unite and walk through the darkness as a unit. The album's closing work, Roger Trigaux's `Vous le saurez en temps voulu' (`You will know when the time is right'), is, similarly, masterfully constructed and executed. The band plays with incredible ability and feeling - in sync like five fingers on a single hand, or writhing like five individual serpents, as the music demands. They are creators, performers, interpreters and slaves to the sound - in control and in thrall simultaneously. It's a wonder to behold.This music leaves me breathless - it lives and breathes as a sentient being in a way that most other bands only approach. I remember when I had this album in LP format that I wore out one copy and had to buy a second one - what a blessing that CDs are more durable! This is desert island material for me, no doubt about it."
"I recently bought this album in Brazil (almost a miracle) and i'm an incoditional Magma fan. Univers Zero uses acoustic erudit instruments with bass and drums close to perfection ! As Magma, the atmosphere created in this album is something from other dimension ! Dark, strange, i listened to the first track with the lights off: I had to turn on the lights, because it's too much sinister ! Excelent violins, oboe, basson, perfect. The strange dialet spoken in the beggining is astonishing, as dark as the gutural voices before the Daniel Dennis drums starts the epic-like rythm. The two other tracks are excelent, using the same standard of La Faulx, the first and my favorite track. A dark album, very intense and complex, excelent arrangements and a pefect fusion between rock, chamber music, medieval atmosphere and dark tales. An essential choice for people that like Magma, Art Zoyd and similar bands !"