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Univers Zero: Clivages

The name Univers Zero should be very familar to fans of progressive rock. After all, the Belgium act has been wowing fans & audiences for over 30 years now, and practically helped invent the RIO (Rock In Opposition) movement that still remains strong to this day. Clivages is the instrumental acts' latest studio release on Cuneiform Records, and it's another strong entry in their already extensive and impressive discography.

Opening cut "Les Kobolds" is a bit more upbeat and almost 'happy' sounding than what we normally expect from UZ, but the dark, dissonant, and foreboding elements we have come to love about the band appear on the ominous 12-minute track "Warrior". Here, creepy sounding keyboards provide the bed for monstrous horn & reed passages as well as an explosive, and quite rare for UZ, electric guitar solo from Andy Kirk. As a seemingly head on collision of prog rock, classical, and free-jazz, "Warriors" is an engaging and adventurous piece, easily one of the highlight of the CD and one of their most exciting numbers in years. The more pastoral, bassoon & oboe led "Vacillements" follows, which then leads into the eerie sound effects laden creeper "Earth Scream". You'll be reminded of Gryphon, and even Gentle Giant, on the uplifting "Soubresauts" which has some nice interplay between violin, reeds, and piano, and the dark, 14-minute epic " Straight Edge" is another of Clivages' highlights. Here, there's a building tension that creeps into the piece, as the band flip between classical orchestrations to rambling free-jazz to all out rock, for a wildly successful formula. Kurt Bude's saxophone solo on this one is especially impressive. If you've always liked the more classical leanings of UZ, look no further than "Retour de Foire", a real moody number featuring some swirling melodies created by oboe, violin, bassoon, clarinet, and English horn.

While Clivages perhaps doesn't contain as much 'menace' as previous releases, and it can arguably be called one of their more 'uplifting' albums in recent memory, there are a few tracks here that are certainly some of the most daring material they have recorded in quite a while. The mixing of prog/classical/jazz elements is wildly entertaining as always, and they've created a few epics here that perfectly mesh those styles and provide for an adventurous listen. Few bands these days are able to deliver with such style and class as Univers Zero does, so let's be thankful they continue to provide exceptional new material time and time again.

Track Listing
1. Les Kobolds (4:15)
2. Warrior (12:10)
3. Vacillements (3:35)
4. Earth Scream (3:11)
5. Soubresauts (7:59)
6. Apesanteur (3:40)
7. Three Days (5:53)
8. Straight Edge (13:57)
9. Retour de Foire (7:42)
10. Les Cercles d'Horus (3:45)

Added: August 21st 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1772
Language: english

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