Exposé Online banner

Universal Totem Orchestra — Mathematical Mother
(Black Widow BWR 198, 2016, CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-07-14

Mathematical Mother Cover art

Universal Totem Orchestra was a side project of Italian band Runaway Totem, which over the years since their formation in 1998 and two albums is now a full fledged zeuhl band. Their third and latest album is Mathematical Mother. Today the band is Ana Torres Fraile (vocals), Antonio Fedeli (saxophone), Daniele Valle (guitar), Fabrizio Mattuzzi (keyboards), UTO G. Golin (drums), and Yanik Lorenzo Andreatta (bass guitar). They are also joined by guest vocalists Adriano Vannini, Francesco Festi, Oscar Cordioli, and Samia Charbel, as well as musicians Alessandro Andreatta (guitar), Gianni Nicolini (tabla), and Mirko Pedrotti (vibes) on different individual tracks. The music is a fantastic blend of zeuhl and other musical elements. The opening track, “Terra Cava,” is 14 minutes of zeuhl bliss that begins with female scat singing, vibraphone, and guitar trading the melody line back and forth. Ana’s beautiful operatic soprano adds a wonderful touch that is absent from zeuhl meister Magma. Yanik’s bass then takes over and the track ends with a Turkish mid-Eastern theme. “Codice Y16” more closely resembles Magma with its vocal harmonies and percussive interlude. On the third track, “Eligio del Dubbio,” the band takes zeuhl to new dimensions, again with beautiful operatic vocals, an ambient interlude, eventually integrating African and Arabic themes. “Architettura dell’Acqua” then takes you on a dizzying dance of jazzy piano, drums, keyboards, and guitar alternating with quiet and beautiful vocal passages. “Città Infinite” is another prog jazz / zeuhl hybrid that also adds some Goblin Suspiria touches. The album closes with “Mare Verticale,” a more dissonant King Crimson influenced track than the rest of the album. You can listen to this whole album in one sitting, or listen to individual tracks, without losing any of the enjoyment. If you want to hear an evolution of zeuhl music, then Mathematical Mother is for you.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Universal Totem Orchestra

Latest news

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nobukazu Takemura - Hoshi no Koe – After working in fields as diverse as minimalism (on the Reich Remixed album), jazz, and techno, Nobukazu Takemura presents an album of music that fuses a wide range of styles into something all his...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues