Home > Music > Univers Zero – Uzed (1984)

Univers Zero – Uzed (1984)

More streamlined than this band’s possible magnum opus, and yet more diverse and adventurous in some ways. Uzed, basically being named after the band’s initials in a stylized fashion (since in many European countries, “Z” is pronounced “Zed”) was very possibly intended as a reboot of the band’s sound and approach. Mind you, my appraisal here is without adequate knowledge of Ceux Du Dehors, but what I’ve heard of that album seems to follow the band’s first two albums more closely than it does this album.

Anyways,  the most immediately striking change here is the increased presence of rock instrumentation – Univers Zero showcases a bit of electric guitar and synthesizer, and switches out some of the woodwinds for more pianos and strings. Rock music techniques have generally formed a part of UZ’s musical approach – coinciding with the increase in rock instrumentation, they are definitely more prevalent here as well. Interestingly, the lengths of the songs are comparable to a shuffled version of the debut (although one song that would be 3 minutes is here extended to 10). Compositions remain solidly in the field of classical-influenced progressive rock, in their use of extended development and occasional full-on thorough composing.

Uzed‘s main “honor”, it seems, is being the first Univers Zero album to really experiment with a wide variety of moods, in comparison to the overall negativity of the first three. Most of the tonality remains either in minor keys or dissonant progressions, but the compositions are more often in the melodic vein that one can hear on the second half of Heresie. Some of the tracks, like “Parade” even sound upbeat at times. Notably, each song varies in how much it develops over its length – short ones like “L’etrange mixture du Docteur Schwartz” are quite dynamic and varied, while longer ones like “Presage” rely more on repetition and atmospherics. Interestingly, this is the first album on which Daniel Denis wrote all of the material; the previous three albums by Univers Zero showcased significant contributions from other members of the band. Needless to say, with the frequent lineup changes this band had, it’s understandable that Denis might’ve tried to be all things to all people. Given the apparently slightly less “dark” approach that this band’s future material would take, and the existence of Denis’s solo recordings during the band’s long hiatus in the 1990s, it suggests that something happened between 1981 and 1984 that made the frontman much more prolific and (possibly) more ambitious as a composer. Uzed does share a great deal of its underlying DNA with the rest of the band’s discography, but one only has to change a small portion of a creature’s DNA to mutate it into something drastically different.

Highlights: “Presage”, “Celesta (for Chantal)”, “Emmanations”

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