Univers Zero - Ceux Du Dehors

Year of Release: 1981
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: RUNE 39
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:12:00

Univers Zero's album Ceux Du Dehors is an example of the so-called RIO (Rock In Opposition) movement, which essentially is a form of avant-garde music. Still, when I first listened to this CD's opening piece, I wondered why everyone said how challenging and far out it is. Sure, the first track, "Dense," is amazingly complex, a challenging 12 minutes in length (short attention spans not allowed), and nothing short of a masterpiece, but it's not that far in style from much other symphonic rock, such as, say, Happy the Man (well, Happy the Man on steroids). In fact, "symphonic" is the perfect descriptor for all of Ceux Du Dehors, which is, from the start, as much classical as it is rock. Part of this has to do with the instrumentation, which includes -- along with drums, bass, and keyboards -- bassoon, oboe, English horn, viola, violin, and clarinet.

But, although the second track, "La Corne Du Bois Des Pendus" also starts off on the safe side of avant-garde (that is, the melodies, though dark and unusual, are not overly chaotic), the further you get into the track and the rest of the album, the more avant-garde it gets. The listener begins to see what this RIO stuff is all about. Pulsing bass layered with atonal strings and horns, over which bleak melodic themes take the listener on frightening musical journeys. This stuff makes King Crimson's grimmest moments seem like theme songs for a children's show!

The rest of the album follows suit. Tracks 3 and 4, "Bonjour Chez Vous" (in case you haven't noticed, Univers Zero is French) and "Combat" (almost 13 minutes) are energetic pieces whose melodies and rhythms chase each other about in a swirl of abandon, although both have their gentler moments (at one point near the end, "Combat" sounds downright jolly, at least comparatively), as well as their share of chaos. The track "La Musique D'erich Zann" takes you to the farthest reaches of this album's avant-garde nature, boasting droning instrumentation that builds into a wall of cacophony, whereas "La Tete Du CorBeau" actually sounds a bit King Crimsonish, as if Robert Fripp were writing for a rock orchestra. Finally, the closing piece, "Triomphe Des Mouches," should be marked with a warning for those with nervous dispositions: Not for the weak hearted!

In summary, Ceux Du Dehors fits as neatly in the modern classical bin as it does in the prog or experimental bin. This is challenging stuff that offers new surprises every time you hear it, the kind of album that will sound as fresh in 20 years as it does now (and that's considering that it was recorded 20 years ago, in 1981). For those of you into RIO, this album is essential. For those who have worked up the courage to try out something on the avant-garde side, Ceux Du Dehors offers enough melody to lead you, kicking and screaming, into the nightmares that await.

Dense (12:26) / La Corne Du Bois Des Pendus (8:42) / Bonjour Chez Vous (3:52) / Combat (12:53) / La Musique d'Erich Zann (3:29) / La Tete Du Corbeau (3:11) / Triomphe Des Mouches (5:36)

Michel Berckmans - bassoon, oboe, English horn, voice
Daniel Denis - drums, percussion, harmonium, voice
Patrick Hanappier - viola, violin, voice
Andy Kirk - keyboards, voice
Guy Segers - bass, clarinet, voice

1313 (1977)
Heresie (1979)
Ceux De Duhors (1981)
Crawling Wind (1983/2001)
UZED (1984)
Heatwave (1986)
The Hard Quest (1999)
Rhythmix (2002)
Implosion (2004)
Live (2005)

Genre: RIO

Origin BE

Added: May 22nd 2001
Reviewer: Clayton Walnum

Artist website: www.univers-zero.com
Hits: 798
Language: english


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