Present

Triskaïdékaphobie

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Univers Zero guitarist Roger Trigaux left the group after their second release, Heresie, and formed Present. Trigaux was joined on Present's 1980 debut, Triskaïdékaphobie (fear of the number 13), by Univers Zero drummer Daniel Denis and bassist Christian Genet, who played on UZ's first album. Paradoxically, Present's sound is almost a concentration of Univers Zero -- more Univers Zero than the thing itself -- due not only to the presence of two dominant members of the group, but also to Present's being a quartet (drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards), which allows for the very essence of the musical vision to emerge without any frills or distractions. "Promenade au Fond d'un Canal" begins with a haunting theme, and then moves through a series of jagged but rhythmically precise riffs, building tension and then releasing it (but never altogether), and then building it again. Genet and Denis are, as always, the foundation, playing almost the same accents and lines, and their weight anchors the other instrumental voices and maintains the oppressive atmosphere. The twin pianos of Trigaux and Alain Rochette on "Quatre-vingt Douze" are played percussively, almost as rhythm instruments, and there is a crazed, obsessive quality to the repeated riffs, which typically continue a little bit longer than expected and are always on the edge of nervous hysteria. The effect is suggestive of someone (or something) too tightly wound, which is on the verge of self-destruction. It's a quality, like percussive minimalism, which may drive some unreceptive listeners half crazy, but to the aficionado, the tension is exquisite. [In 2014 Cuneiform released an expanded edition of Triskaïdékaphobie featuring bonus tracks of Present performing two Univers Zero pieces, "Dense" and "Vous le Saurez en Temps Voulu," live at a concert in Brussels. The live recording is adequate but the performance stunning, particularly the ridiculously tight and nearly frantic version of "Dense," the classic Daniel Denis composition from Univers Zero's Ceux du Dehors (and "Vous le Saurez en Temps Voulu," from UZ's Heresie, is given an effective Present makeover as well). All tracks were digitally restored and remastered by Udi Koomran, and the CD booklet includes vintage photographs and a history of the band and Triskaïdékaphobie written by Aymeric Leroy and Renato de Moraes, making the package a must-have for fans of Present and Rock in Opposition-style avant-prog.]

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