UNIVERS ZERO
Michel Berckmans • Serge Bertocchi • Aurelia Boven • Kurt Budé • Michel Delory • Daniel Denis • Dirk Descheemaeker • Marcel Dufrane • Christian Genet • Patrick Hanappier • Andy Kirk • Martin Lauwers • Bart Maris • Andre Mergenthaler • Emmanuel Nicaise • Eric Plantain • Jean-Luc Plouvier • Christophe Pons • Bart Quartier • Guy Segers • Igor Semenoff • Reginald Trigaux • Roger Trigaux • Peter Van Den Berghe • Alan Ward

duoFounding members of the original "Rock In Opposition" [R.I.O.] movement and the inventors of "chamber rock", Univers Zero have continued to change and grow and develop over their entire career, while still keeping a ensemble sound and spirit that is easily recognizable.

 

 

Univers Zero's official website


HERESIE



RUNE 313

"...an incredibly powerful listening experience. In fact, Heresie is a stunning one-of-a-kind item which has never been duplicated by anyone -- including Univers Zero." – Bill Tilland, All Music Guide

How does a group follow up a auspicous and unique debut recording? A recording that is so completely out of step with everything that is currently in fashion in popular and even in experimental music that nearly 35 years later, it still is able to surprise people hearing it for the first time. How? Well, if you were Univers Zero, you did it by moving even more to the extremes of your music. While the influences from 20th Century classical music (Stravinsky, Bartok, Huybrechts) mixed with aspects of progressive rock (the angularity of King Crimson added to the unique zeuhl sound of Magma) remain, they are stripped down and presented in the starkest and darkest way possible. Guitarist Roger Trigaux still plays some amazing licks, but for much of the album, he is hunched over the harmonium (a 19th century pump organ), which gives the music an eerie, gothic sound - a gothic sound matched by the other front line instruments of violin/viola and oboe/bassoon. Meanwhile the rhythm section is completely electric, with heavy Magma-influenced bass and with Daniel Denis' fantastic drumming propelling everything foward.

Originally released in 1979, Heresie has long been considered a high-water mark of new music composition, performance, and dark, sinister intensity for over 30 years and has never been out of print. This reissue transforms and updates Univers Zero’s most infamous work with a new cover that uses bits of the original packaging, as well as many new elements. It also has a striking and clear new remix from the 1979 multi-track tapes that defines and clarifies all the instruments in a way that is much more focused than previous editions. Never have Daniel's cymbal's so clearly sizzled with such menace or has Guy's bass gone so low into the underworld. The reissue is accompanied by a 16 page booklet containing a history of the band’s years during the Heresie period and illustrated with archival photos. Lastly, there is a 12 minute, relvelatory bonus track from very early in the group's life added; a track that later was cannibalized by its composer, into bits that would eventually find their way into "Ersatz" on Le Poison Qui Rend Fou and "The Limping Little Girl" and "Ceux D'En Bas (Suite)" on N°6 by Roger's post UZ group, Present. One of the most significant avant-progressive rock albums of the very late 1970s just got even more significant!

“The music is consistently ominous, always hinting at the heaviness of metal but never pummelling the listener. And when it occasionally gets dense, it’s a slab of strange, ingenious orchestration you hear, rather than a simple overdriven amp sound.” – Nick Storring, Exlaim!

Heresie (remasterd/remixed) press release

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CLIVAGES



RUNE 295

Clivages is their first studio album in over five years, but much more importantly, it is their first studio release since 1986's Heatwave to feature the energy and sound of a working, rehearsing, live ensemble performing in the studio! It features the current line-up of the group who have been playing concerts and working together for quite some time now: Michel Berkmans (bassoon, English horn, oboe), Kurt Budé (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax), Pierre Chevalier (keyboards), Daniel Denis (drums, sampler), Dimitri Evers (bass), Martin Lauwers (violin) and guest Andy Kirk (guitar and percussion).

Univers Zero are rightly famous for finding the perfect balance between classical and rock influences and drawing on musicians from both worlds. In terms of this, Clivages is possibly their best-balanced release , featuring a couple of small chamber works for the trio of strings, reeds and double reeds of the group. The rock side has not been ignored in any way, however and in addition to contributions from band members Denis, Budé and Berckmans, Clivages features Andy Kirk's 12' piece "Warrior", which harkens back to the sound of the band circa Heatwave!

"The (group) plays with rarely heard fervor and stylistical consistency... Univers Zero's importance in the history of modern chamber music is once again confirmed...” – Touching Extremes

"...an indispensable release for anyone who believes that "Bartók" and "rock" can fit comfortably in the same sentence.” – All Music Guide
“…over the last three decades the ensemble has lived up to the dictionary meaning of avant-garde: those in the arts who create or apply new or experimental ideas and techniques. Clivages…coalesces what has made Univers Zero such a unique and demanding group for the past 30 years but the record also yields new inclinations. For one, compositional responsibility has been split to different band members… This allows for both familiarity and surprise.... Like earlier Univers Zero outings, Clivages has a live-in-the-studio approach with minimal overdubs, superb instrument separation, bright EQ and frequency modulation that is impeccable. This is music that has outstanding sound realization, recommended for a high fidelity system.” – Doug Simpson, Audiophile Audition

Clivages press release

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RELAPS: ARCHIVES 1984-1986



RUNE 280

Relaps presents something that Univers Zero's fans have been hoping for for decades; a peek into the recorded archives of one of the greatest avant-rock ensembles since mid 1970s! This CD documents the final 1980s line-ups of Univers Zéro before the band's long sabbatical from recording and touring. The live sound is excellent throughout and the CD features a 16 page booklet with a informative history of the band during this time period as well as rare, never-seen photos. The line-ups featured on Relaps are the quintet who recorded UZED and the septet who recorded Heatwave. The material is drawn from those two albums, with the live setting providing some different arrangements and even greater fire to the pieces; I found the pieces taken from Heatwave to be particularly inspiring and outrageous. There is also a short, otherwise unheard composition included here. While UZ continue to play truely awesome gigs and develop the material that will be found on their next studio album, Relaps provides a chance for the listener to catch up with some never-released and exciting recordings from a truly classic band!

"For anyone who has been interested in (Univers Zero), this set is simply indispensable. For anyone who has read the name or heard it being bandied about in the same breath as Art Zoyd, Magma, or even King Crimson, this volume is well worth investigating." – All Music Guide

"The mood is dark and intense throughout...a tightly controlled developmental logic is always at work.... A must for lovers of adventurous music." – Keyboard

Relaps press release

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UNIVERS ZERO



RUNE 1313

Over 30 years ago, after 3 years of work and rehearsals, a group of seven unknown Belgian musicians gathered in a small basement studio to record their first album, which they released themselves in a tiny edition of 500 copies. The album was untitled, but the catalog number was “1313”, which the album later became known by. The power and originality of their creation turned heads and all these years later, this album is rightly considered the beginning of the ‘chamber-rock’ movement as well as a classic of the genre. With the release of their first album, Univers Zero went on to co-found the hugely influential “Rock in Opposition” movement with four similarly-minded bands. Active until 1987 and then reactivated in the late 1990s, Univers Zero are considered to be one of the greatest avant-garde rock bands of all time.

Working in a world-class studio, this album has been re-mixed from the original multi-track tapes and remastered. It has never sounded better. The front cover is restored to be a facsimile of the original issue, and included is a never-released live bonus track in surprisingly excellent sound, a 16 page booklet with many never-before seen photos, as well as a very complete history of the band up to the recording of this album.

"This is the album that built the reputation of the group...it still sounds as crisply smart and outta-time as ever." – Byron Coley

"...a remarkably subtle weaving of rock, classical and avant-garde tactics." – Alternative Press

"It’s stunning how well Univers Zero's 1977 debut holds, musically and sonically, compared to...anything else happening in so-called new music-like storm clouds rolling out of the horizon or mad shadows cast in the night, there's a dusky ecstasy present here.... On top of that, there are hints of Bartok, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and King Crimson." – CD Review

1313 press release, quotes

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LIVE



RUNE 220

Univers Zero occupy a special place in the new music pantheon. They practically invented the 'chamber-rock" style and their albums are classics of their kind, with an instantly recognizable sound. Group leader Daniel Denis had long insisted that he wasn't interested in having a performing band, so it was a thrill and a shock when he put together a stable band version of UZ for the 00's. This edition of the band is the most perfectly realized version of Univers Zero for live performance, which is something that Daniel obviously agrees with, as he had resisted a live album until now. Consisting of six tremendous players: Daniel Denis-drums, Michael Berckmans-bassoon, English horn and oboe, Martin Lauwers-violin, Peter Van Den Berghe-piano and keyboards, Kurt Budé-clarinet and saxophone and Eric Plantain-bass, the band has finally managed to fufil Daniel's vision of marrying a rock band with the majesty and power of classical instrumentation. This is an utterly fantastic sounding recording which includes some significant re-arrangements of a number of great works, which bring out new aspects of these pieces!

"I must say the live UZ is freakin' great. Congrats. For me, it's their best album since Ceux. Truly an excellent recording too." – Dave Kerman

"...one of the best sounding live documents I know of." – Udi Koomran

"Since the late ‘70s, Univers Zero composer and drummer Daniel Denis has been pursuing his vision of a chamber music that borrows the energy and production of rock, especially working with stereo extremes, but with a classical ambiance. Univers Zero weds the pluck of harpsichords and honk of bassoons, bass clarinets and oboes to compositions that seem to speak from another time, yet the whiplash rhythm shifts and explosive melodic declarations mark this as a postmodern work of the first order." – John Diliberto, Pulse!

Live press release

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IMPLOSION



RUNE 190

Implosion features Univers Zero's trademark chamber rock style - a style that they are one of the originators of - subtly modernized, infused with greater classicism and given a sharper, more electric and electronic edge. Besides leader/composer Daniel Denis Denis (drums, percussion, keyboard, samplers, accordion, guitar), musicians on Implosion include Michel Berckmans (oboe, English horn, bassoon), Serge Bertocchi (saxes & tubax), Aurelia Boven (cello), Ariane De Bievre (flute, piccolo), Dirk Descheemaeker (bass clarinet, clarinet), Bart Maris (trumpet, flugelhorn), Eric Plantain (electric bass), Christophe Pons (acoustic guitar), Bart Quartier (marimba, glockenspiel), and Igor Semenoff (violin).Implosion shows that, three decades after it was first formed, Univers Zero continues to evolve, expanding and experimenting with the boundaries of New Music, and, to quote Exposé, ceaselessly "proving themselves to be one of the best and most important groups on the planet."

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RHYTHMIX



RUNE 165

This is UZ's 2nd release since reforming in the late 1990's. and leader/composer/drummer/keyboardist Daniel Denis builds upon the rich legacy of Univers Zero's work, using both the acoustic colorations of their earliest releases (bassoon, oboe, harmoniums) as well as the interest in electronic keyboards and synthesis that marked their later releases. While working with this legacy, Denis is not afraid to experiment, and the music on Rhythmix includes a total of 10 musicians, including some performing on instruments like flute, trumpet, acoustic guitar, marimba and accordion, all of which are instruments that are not normally thought of in the context of Univers Zero, in addition to the violin, bassoon/oboe, piano/harmonium, bass, drums, etc. that we all knew would be there!

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CRAWLING WIND



RUNE 155

Originally released as a limited edition, Japanese-only 12'' EP, Crawling Wind has long been the unavailable crown jewel of the band's oeuvre. Now available for the first time on CD, it has been remastered and expanded, with the addition of rare and never before released studio and live material, to a full length album. It additionally includes a short history of the group written by noted writer Dean Suzuki, a long time fan of the band. Univers Zero's distinctive sound is a combination of their unique instrumentation (piano and keyboards, violin, clarinets, oboe/bassoon, bass, and drums) blended with Gothic imagery and an intensely strong, classically influenced writing style. In the hands of some of the best musicians of Europe, these factors lead to a group on the cutting edge of creating a new, vital and different approach to rock music.

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THE HARD QUEST



RUNE 120

''The fall of Rome? The parting of the Red Sea? What else can compare with the monumental occurence of a new slab of Univers Zero?' ' - Mike Ezzo, Exposé #18

''Univers Zero's vision (is) pretty much unique & for those touched by it, nothing else will quite do...a sound that really couldn't be any other band in the world.'' - The Rough Guide To Rock

''Daring & delightful...their music has mystery and power...'' - Focus



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CEUX DU DEHORS



RUNE 39

Incomparable! For many people, this album is considered their highest achievement.

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UZED



RUNE 15

From 1984, UZED is more overtly electric, and uses clarinet/bass clarinet, cello, keyboards, bass, and drums.

"...a must for lovers of adventurous music" - Keyboard

"Daring & delightful...their music has mystery and power..." - Focus



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HEATWAVE



RUNE 009

Univers Zero play fascinating, modern, chamber music-influenced rock. Simultaneously gothic & futuristic, they are somewhat like the very best of Magma or Crimson, but infinitely darker, with helpings of Eastern European folk melodies added. This band are completely deserving of the mystique & legendary status that have grown up around them. Incomparable!

"...occupying a unique niche all by itself." – All Music Guide

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MEDIA
For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.

Heresie
Clivages
Relaps
1313
Live

PRESS RELEASES
Heresie (remasterd/remixed) press release
Clivages press release
Clivages press quotes
Relaps press release
Relaps press quotes
1313 press release, quotes
Live press release
Live press quotes
Pre-2005 press quotes

CUNEIFORM E-BLASTS
9/20/2013: Cuneiform Bands to Appear at Rock In Opposition Festival September 20-21, 2013 in Carmaux, France
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