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

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Die Knödel - Panorama – Well I thought the RIO movement was going trad. on us when L'Ensmeble Rayé's last CD hit the shelves, but now they really have gone and done it. Here is something you would expect to...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues