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Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Heresie

Read "Heresie" reviewed by Nic Jones

This reissue of Univers Zero's second album serves as a reminder as to how its singular vision--especially with the passing of decades (such a tricky notion, given the nature of the music)--has been upheld with an extraordinary collective force of will. The usual terms apply--as much as anything the group has ever committed to record, this is music as overcast, dank and cold as an English Sunday afternoon in January, but to a notably unusual degree, the ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Clivages

Read "Clivages" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Belgian-based chamber-rock pioneer Univers Zero's Clivages is a polytonal and multidimensional sojourn that follows suit with dabs and expansions of its comprehensive discography hearkening back to the late 1970s. The band often aligns dark sensibilities with glimmer, gusto and melodic choruses. “Retour de Foire," serves as a classical interlude among the absorbing, intricate and off-kilter chamber-rock works. The core sextet renders meticulously designed and sweet-toned phrasings, abetted by Michel Berckmans' oboe lines, and regulated by drummer Daniel ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Clivages

Read "Clivages" reviewed by Nic Jones

It's no small achievement for a band to be around for over thirty years and still sound distinctive, but the Belgian Univerz Zero manages the feat with no sign of strain. Over that time, the group has cleaved pretty closely to its original template, which can only be described as chamber music for a dark, forbidding world, the likes of which makes even this second decade of the twenty-first century seem welcoming by comparison. There are, however, ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Relaps - Archives 1984-86

Read "Relaps - Archives 1984-86" reviewed by Nic Jones

Even some 30 odd years after it first came into existence, Belgian band Univers Zero sounds as though it's intent upon a soundtrack for the last days of the earth, or at least the last days of human life upon it. This collection of live recordings from over twenty years ago prove it in its way, although it has to be said that if anything, the live setting ensures the performances are even more malignantly visceral than they usually are. ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Relaps: Archives 1984-1986

Read "Relaps: Archives 1984-1986" reviewed by John Kelman

It was tough times in the '80s for experimental/progressive music. Punk/New Wave had virtually decimated popular interest in the more complex music of '70s groups like Van Der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, and Henry Cow--groups that failed to survive into the new decade; live work was hard to come by; and major label support had gone the way of the dodo.

Belgium's Univers Zero never had the benefit of a major label, though that was probably ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Univers Zero

Read "Univers Zero" reviewed by John Kelman

Historic significance cannot be measured in sales. Music often progresses in near anonymity, its true impact only apparent years after the fact. When Univers Zero released its first untitled album in a tiny run of five hundred copies in 1977, it reached few ears. Those hearing it, however, knew that this was something that had not been heard before. By combining a guitar-based rock trio with instruments usually associated with classical music, UZ was far more than a clichéd, Ekseption-like ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Univers Zero: Live

Read "Live" reviewed by John Kelman

While it's often lumped in with Rock in Opposition (RIO) groups like Henry Cow, there really are more differences than similarities between Belgium's Univers Zero and its British counterparts. Both share roots in chamber music--especially the 20th Century variety--and a disposition towards idiosyncratic compositions.

But Henry Cow also explored free improvisation and, especially when teamed up with members of Slapp Happy, a serious political agenda as well. Univers Zero, on the other hand, only provide space for improvisation within the ...


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