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

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Bass Gang - Evasioni, Fughe & La Contrabbassatta – Alberto Pocini is a double-bass player from Italy who's played extensively in his homeland as well as with the London Symphony Orchestra. Pocini's After Genesis project attests to his varied musical...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues