Year of Release: 2004
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: Rune 190
Total Time: 48:49:00
Hearing about the impending arrival of a new Univers Zéro album in the more sophisticated circles of progressive rock fanatics equals the excitement of a National Enquirer editor who has somehow managed to get their hands on authentic pictures of Britney Spears doing some very, very nasty stuff. In other words, voices quiver, hands tremble, and a nagging sense of anticipation all infect those interested. And as such victims of wild excitement well know, Daniel Denis, the mastermind behind this Belgian unit, doesn't know how to disappoint. Nor does he seem eager to learn how to do so. Instead, the drummer-turned-multi-instrumentalist keeps churning out his own brand of moody and grand progressive chamber rock with stunningly consistent quality. Thus it comes as no surprise that Implosion, although not nearly as perfect a jewel as its predecessor Rhythmix, is no slouch.
Consistency in Univers Zéro's case, however, should not be confused with stagnancy. Implosion differs from the group's other output in that it features much more evident jazz influences, an element dating all the way back to the Canterbury years of Denis' stint with Arkham. The references to Bulgarian folk music and the work of composers like Bartók remain, but certain tracks, such as "Temps Neufs" and "Méandres" draw a much more direct relationship to musicians like Béla Fleck instead. Unfortunately, they also constitute the album's weakest repertoire, as do certain tracks that deal more with sampling than with traditional "music," and which simply do not work well because of where they are placed in the course of the album ("Bacteria" being a prime example thereof).
In fact, the major reason why Implosion does not work as well as it could is the order of its tracks, which contravenes a sequence that would allow for more apt development. Enough complaining, however. Even under such disadvantages, the album features so many moments of sheer brilliance that the final outcome is quite enjoyable. There is the mechanical rhythmic drive surrounded by eclectic instrumental colors of "Partch's X-Ray," the macabre ostinato dirge of "La Mort De Sophocle," the exotic poignancy and dramatic harmonic language of "First Short Dance," and the prime Univers Zéro piece that is "Out Of Space 4." Even "Méandres," which as a whole fails to equal the effectiveness of its more illustrious companions, features a vast array of exceptional moments.
True, to the Univers Zéro purist, Implosion might signify a disappointment when compared to the bewildering strength of Rhythmix. After all, it is not a perfectly developing collection of music in which every single piece is elemental. But, perfect or not, the album is yet another solid offering on behalf of Denis and his cohorts, who, it must be added, are in performing top form as usual. Perhaps the sophisticated circles of progressive rock fanatics will have to wait some more time to have their fits of quivering anticipation truly fixed, but in the meantime, this will work just like Vicodin.
Similar artists: Art Zoyd, Béla Bartók, Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, Béla Fleck And The Flecktones
Suintement (1:13) / Falling Rain Dance (4:12) / Partch's X-Ray (5:21) / Rapt d'Abdallah (3:01) / Miroirs (1:18) / La Mort De Sophocle (3:11) / Ectoplasme (1:07) / Temps Neufs (4:56) / Mellotronic (4:04) / Bacteria (1:28) / Out Of Space 4 (2:52) / First Short Dance (0:42) / Second Short Dance (0:41) / Variations On Mellotronic's Theme (3:04) / ? Rebours (1:56) / Méandres (9:38)
Daniel Denis - drums, percussion, keyboards, samplers, accordion, cheap guitar
Michel Berckmans - oboe, English horn, bassoon
Aurélia Boven - dello
Dirk Descheemaeker - clarinet, bass clarinet
Bart Maris - trumpet, flugelhorn
Eric Plantain - electric bass
Christophe Pons - acoustic guitar
Bart Quartier - marimba, glockenspiel
Igor Semenoff - violin
Ceux De Duhors (1981)
Crawling Wind (1983/2001)
The Hard Quest (1999)