Puzzled by this album's title? It belongs to Acid Mothers Temple's list of "tribute titles," although this time it doesn't reference Jimi Hendrix or Frank Zappa. Univers Zero was a key developer of avant-garde chamber rock and took part in Chris Cutler's Rock in Opposition movement in the late '70s (check out the group's AMG biography for more). Is there any link between UZ and the music on Univers Zen Ou de Zéro à Zéro? No, not the least bit. This album stands as one of AMT's strongest realizations, simply because it covers a lot of musical ground in exciting ways and with good enough studio sound to satisfy a selective listener without killing the trashy feel of the music. The album begins with a frantic space rock jam, "Electric Love Machine." It propels a heavy guitar riff into interstellar space Hawkwind style -- i.e., without making a single pit stop and with plenty of synth sweeps. "Soleil de Cristal et Lune d'Argent" (Crystal Sun and Silver Moon) is more nuanced, starting from almost nothing, building into a jam frenzy (listen to it on headphones; there are a lot of instruments buried under the guitar drone), coming apart and starting over for an orgiastic finale. "Ange Mécanique de Saturne" (Saturn's Mechanical Angel) is a trippy guitar-and-voice number, anticlimactic and haunting. "Blues Pour Bible Noire" will enrage any blues purist: For 20 minutes it kicks around a simple 12-bar motif drenched in echo and avant rock guitar solos. The album ends on an unannounced piece of strange vocalizing, adding that Dada touch fans of the group love. In an already crowded discography, Univers Zen manages to crawl its way to the top as one of AMT's most representative albums. If you were looking for a place to start, you found it.
AllMusic Review by François Couture
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