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Univers Zéro — Lueur
(Bandcamp Sub Rosa SR555, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-01-11

Lueur Cover art

It’s been nine years since the last album from Univers Zero, and I don’t want to say it’s been worth the wait for such a great album as Lueur — which would be great even if so much time hadn’t passed, and I am always happy to hear more from Daniel Denis and company. Long-time fans of the band certainly have nothing to worry about, as this is a continuation of UZ’s tradition of dark chamber rock. The personnel list is trimmed down a bit from Phosphorescent Dreams (2014): Daniel Denis (drums, keyboards, percussion), Kurt Budé (clarinet, bass clarinet), Nicolas Dechêne (guitar), Nicolas Denis (bass, percussion, vocals), and no guests performers. But that’s not to say the sound is stripped down — far from it. This is richly arranged, densely composed music that ranges from creepy atmospheric sounds to pounding energetic rhythms. The presence of vocals is unusual for the band, as is the brevity of the tracks: all but two of the eleven are under six minutes in length. There may be a greater reliance on keyboards this time out, but both guitars and woodwinds add plenty of depth and variety to the sound. Daniel Denis is responsible for all the compositions, and his distinctive stamp is readily apparent, with sophisticated melodies and fascinating structures. While the mood is generally on the dark side, there are some relatively bright moments, as on “Cloportes,” with its accordion and bass clarinet, and “La Tête à l'Envers,” which has a really fun drum part. On the darker side, “Migration vers le Bas” and “Axe 117” are built from spooky sounds, ominous synthesizers, and indistinct chanting. All in all, Lueur is a superb album, and a worthy addition to the discography of one of the bands that has defined modern avant-rock.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Univers Zéro, Daniel Denis

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