Univers Zero

Ceux du Dehors

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The third full-length release from Univers Zero (disregarding the limited-release Crawling Wind EP, which Cuneiform re-released with bonus tracks in 2001), finds the group continuing to evolve. Group members may have realized that their previous release, the perversely brilliant Heresie, was a dead end of sorts, because on this new recording they ease up on the unremitting gloom and return to the more general and varied chamber music sound of their first release, 1313, except with more precision and skill. The tricky charts of percussionist Daniel Denis and new keyboardist Andy Kirk are executed with great panache. The labyrinthine compositions are typically filled with unexpected twists and turns, and angular repetitions of jagged riffs that accelerate, decelerate and mutate in passages of acute tension or quiet but ominous dread. Instrumentally, Michel Berckmans' bassoon and oboe, Andy Kirk's harmonium, and Patrick Hanappier's viola and violin can sometimes give the music a decidedly medieval quality, and pieces like Kirk's "Combat" are dark but also rhythmically vibrant. Too serious for rock and too tightly orchestrated for jazz, Ceux du Dehors sometimes suggests a darker and more complex version of the motorik minimalism of classical music contemporaries Philip Glass and Steve Reich, although it is doubtful that they were a conscious influence on the Univers Zero sound at the time of this recording.

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