Univers Zero - Crawling Wind

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: Rune 155
Format: CD
Total Time: 41:37:00

The path of innovation and brilliance. It is a treacherous trail upon which precious few dare to tread, lest they be forgotten and swept away by the tides of unyielding time. And of those who pursue the extenuating quest even fewer manage to escape without succumbing to the pressures that the outside world cunningly prepares and sets on the way like clever traps. It is only by persistence, iron will, and relentless emotion for one's art that the path can be walked, and it is only the likes of Univers Zéro that possess such qualities in ample cornucopia. Daring, often grim and foreboding, a journey into either obscure paranoia or joyful unity, Crawling Wind is testimony to the courage of this Belgian unit, and to the many reasons why its music is one of the most important luminaries of sheer artistic creativity in modern times.

A particularly rare item in the history of Univers Zéro, this record sees the light of day once more by grace of Cuneiform Records, and is mutated into a full-length beauty from its Japanese EP existence by the addition of three additional tracks, one of which was only available at one time or another as part of a record label sampler, the others being released for the first time ever. The very heart of the affair, however, is constituted by the original three compositions and the ravishing aesthetic counterpoint that they represent. Like sisters who share atavistic qualities of the family but who are so different from each other simultaneously that they are each like a doorway into all the different secrets and traits of a distant past, these three tracks witness Univers Zéro oscillate between RIO and chamber rock with strongly diverging moods that nevertheless share a common background and harmonic reach.

Contrasting with the subsequent darkness and moody grandeur of its counterparts, "Toujours Plus À L'est" initiates the chamber gala in a jolting and playful Bulgarian motif that is wonderfully accompanied by Guy Segers' bass and Daniel Denis' drums in an arrangement that seems to hover inches away from the explosive before entering the very center of the piece in a series of themes that continually grow in maddening dissonance and jump back and forth between the recesses of chamber music and rock, all before coming back to the jovial lilt with preceding slight variations and setting the stage for a dramatic change of scenario. Then "Before The Heat" opens with a chilling collection of acoustic noises acting as intimidating elements of tension above a sparse Gothic line of dirge-like nature, serving as bridge for the paranoiac darkness of the live "Central Belgium In The Dark."

It is then, at the centerpiece of the original Crawling Wind release, that Univers Zéro revels in its unique mastery of chamber instruments and contrasting arrangements that seem to grind the listener with the earthiness of a Stravinsky topped by a rather subtle veneer of rock. Whether classical music by academic standards or not, and taking into account that such a status is irrelevant in the case of an ensemble like this, Univers Zéro relishes the very essence of chamber music while being subtly inspired by the somewhat brute strength of rock music, producing an acoustically riveting collection of sounds and themes that no other could lay claim to.

The album is just as engaging elsewhere though, so that the material annexed to the original release is not only interesting, but also an additional doorway into the facets of the band. "Influences" recalls late Henry Cow in its instrumental adventurousness, "Tiomphe Des Mouches" is elegantly suffocating in its sinister darkness, and "Complainte," the original studio version to be found on the band's debut, sounds like a post-apocalyptic version of Saint-Saëns wonderful "Bacchanale." Perhaps the only fault to be found in the addition of such intense compositions is the fact that they break the sense of continuity found on the original heart of Crawling Wind, and thus seem to confer its re-release the appearance of a jumbled collection of brilliance and exploration that perhaps could have been even stronger had there been a more common reference point. Whatever form or nature the release has thus acquired, however, is of no importance or hindrance in the timeless quality of Univers Zéro and the unquestionable radiance that Crawling Wind has emitted for years, and it is so that the path that once was walked has seen birth once again.

Similar artists: Art Zoyd, Béla Bartók, Magma, Art Bears

Toujours Plus Á L'est (5:29) / Before The Heat (4:03) / Central Belgium In The Dark (9:50) Additional Tracks: Influences (7:36) / Triomphe Des Mouches (9:51) / Complainte (5:28)

Daniel Denis - drums, percussion, voice, violin, harmonium
Dirk Descheemaeker - clarinet, casio
Andy Kirk - piano, organ, synthesizer, voice, viola, music box, percussion, harmonium, radio, guitar
Guy Segers - bass, voice, violin, invisible talk, flies talk
Alan Ward - violin


Christian Genet - bass
André Mergenthaler - cello
Jean-Luc Plouvier - keyboards
Michel Berckmans - oboe, bassoon
Patrick Hanappier - viola
Roger Trigaux - guitar

1313 (1977)
Univers Zero (1978)
Heresie (1979)
Ceux Du Dehors (1981)
Crawling Wind (1983/2001)
Uzed (1984)
Heatwave (1986)
The Hard Quest (1999)
Rhythmix (2002)
Implosion (2004)

Genre: RIO

Origin BE

Added: June 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.univers-zero.com
Hits: 617
Language: english


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