mercredi 22 juin 2011

Univers Zero

"heatwave" 1986

Univers Zéro est un groupe de jazz-rock progressif belge, fondé en 1974 par Daniel Denis et Claude Deron.
Créé comme un groupe de jazz-rock, Univers Zéro évolue bientôt, avec l'introduction d'instruments comme le clavecin ou le basson, vers un son original, beaucoup plus sombre, proche de celui de groupes comme Art Zoyd. Parfois considérés comme les fondateurs du chamber rock (« rock de chambre »), la musique d'Univers Zéro est également rattachée au courant zeuhl dominé par Magma.

With a musical vision that is at the same time dark and ominous, yet stylish and sophisticated, UNIVERS ZERO are one of the most unique and influential bands ever to be associated with progressive rock, and the undisputed creators of the genre known as 'chamber rock'. Getting their inspiration from such diverse sources as rock, jazz, European folk and classical music (both ancient and modern), they have forged a distinctive sound that has received widespread critical acclaim, as well as influencing a vast number of contemporary avant-garde bands and ensembles.

Hailing from Belgium, the band was formed in 1973 by drummer Daniel DENIS and trumpeter Claude Deron, with the original name of Necronomicon - though this was changed to UNIVERS ZERO (after a book by Belgian novelist Jacques Sternberg) in 1974. At the time, their music was strongly influenced by electric jazz, though this changed when Michel Berckmans (reeds) joined the band. Their self-titled debut album (also known as "1313"), composed by DENIS and guitarist Roger Trigaux, was released in 1977 as a limited edition, and soon afterwards reissued by Atem, a label specialized in avant-garde music. The following year, UNIVERS ZERO joined four other groups from different countries (HENRY COW, STORMY SIX, ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN and SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA) to set up the movement known as "Rock in Opposition" (RIO).

Shortly after the release of their second album, "Heresie" (1979), Trigaux left UNIVERS ZERO to form his own band, PRESENT. Then keyboardist Andy Kirk joined the band, and began to contribute his own compositions. The new line-up soon embarked on a tour of France, Yugoslavia, Switzerland and the Netherlands. After the recording of their third album, "Ceux du Dehors" (1981), which featured only a portion of the material the band had composed in that period of time, UNIVERS ZERO ground to a temporary halt because of financial problems, and only resumed their touring activity after several months, with a revamped line-up (including Dirk Descheemaeker on clarinet, and Alan Ward on violin). Their heavy touring schedule in 1981-82, as well as other stresses, led to Kirk's leaving the band in 1983, and yet another line-up change, with Jean-Luc Plouvier (keyboards) and André Mergenthaler (cello) joining, as well as the return of bassist Christian Genet. This version of UNIVERS ZERO played concerts in France, Germany and Belgium, prior to the release of their fifth studio album, "UZED" (1984), considered by many as their masterpiece.

After that, more line-up changes occurred, with Mergenthaler leaving to join French outfit ART ZOYD, and former members Andy Kirk and Patrick Hanappier (violin) returning to the fold, together with a new guitarist, Michel Delory. UNIVERS ZERO; now a seven-piece, participated in a number of prestigious events in 1985 and 1986 (notably the Frankfurt Jazz Festival), performing DENIS' newest compositions, as well as several unrecorded material written by Kirk in 1981-83. In the summer of 1986, this line-up went into the studio to record the band's sixth album, "Heatwave", released in the early months of the following year by US-based label Cuneiform Records. However, in spite of the positive feedback received by the disc, DENIS had already decided to dissolve the band, frustrated by the minimal sales and the lack of opportunities for live performances. The two final line-ups of UNIVERS ZERO's early years are documented by the live album "Relaps", released by Cuneiform in 2009.

After the band's demise, Daniel DENIS worked as a solo artist, releasing two albums of new compositions, "Sirius and the Ghost" (1991) and "Les Eaux Troubles" (1993) on the Cuneiform label, which also began to reissue UNIVERS ZERO's entire back catalogue. He also joined ART ZOYD for a period of seven years. However, the worldwide success of those reissues convinced DENIS to resurrect the band, both as a live and a recording project, at the end of the 1990s. At first UNIVERS ZERO got back together to play a one-off concert at the Festival des Musiques Actuelles at Victoriaville (Canada) in 1997 - with a line-up that included Andy Kirk and Guy Segers. Then, the following year, DENIS and Michel Berckmans reunited, and, with the help of a number of guest musicians (including some former band members), produced four studio albums: "The Hard Quest" (1999), "Rhythmix" (2002), "Implosion" (2004), and "Clivages" (2009), all released on Cuneiform - as well as a live album, "Live!" (2006), and the above-mentioned "Relaps", featuring previously-unreleased archival material.

Raffaella Berry (Raff) - March 2010

>> source: article sur Progarchives

Univers Zero - myspace

Univers Zero - BigBangMag

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