Exposé Online banner

Various Artists — Unsettled Scores
(Cuneiform Rune 75/76, 1995, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:

Unsettled Scores Cover art

How often is it that one can find a double-CD set where every song is a winner? Most various artist sets will typically have some good, and some not-so-hot stuff, but this long awaited compilation of Cuneiform artists covering other Cuneiform artists defies all those usual rules. Indeed, both discs – clocking in at over an hour each, offer solid performances from beginning to end. Nearly all of the Cuneiform stable is represented here, and then some, either as players or writers, or both. Perhaps it works so well because the material being covered is, in many cases, a powerful influence over the artists who perform it; take, for example, Happy Family's cover of Daniel Denis' "Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dance," or Phil Miller's cover of Hugh Hopper's "Meccano Pelorus," both are natural pairings in the composer / performer sense. Similarly, when Kit and Coco cover a Muffins tune, or Forrest Fang covers Piero Milesi, the resulting interpretation comes off more like a fusion of the styles of both artists. There are exceptions, though: Virgil Moorefield's cover of a grungy Henry Kaiser number, or Philharmonie's version of "Transsiberien" originally by Miriodor are things one might not expect, yet both work remarkably well. There are some real nice surprises here too: Doctor Zero (a lineup featuring members of Doctor Nerve, Univers Zero, and Rascal Reporters) doing "Onde Crepseculaire," a Univers Zero track never recorded or performed, but given new life here. It won't surprise me a bit if this turns up on a lot of people's 'best of '95' list. This may, in fact, be one of the best compilation albums ever recorded.


by Dan Casey, 1996-03-01:

Various artists compilations don't get much better than this. From what started as a joke four years ago, comes the long-awaited double disc release of Cuneiform artists covering other Cuneiform artists. Kit Watkins does The Muffins, Happy Family does Daniel Denis, Miriodor does a Univers Zero medley, Djam Karet (not technically even a Cuneiform artist) does Pinhas, just two name a few. A whopping 25 tracks appear and almost every single one is a gem. The arrangements differ significantly from the originals, sometimes even changing the moods of the pieces. An old partially-recorded Univers Zero track has been appended with recently recorded parts from Doctor Nerve, resulting in one of the album's most unusual and fascinating tracks. The entire project exemplifies the excellent variety and cutting-edge music of the Cuneiform label as a whole. With each disc topping the one-hour mark, there is so much music here that everyone will certainly have different favorites, but there is undoubtedly something for everyone (unless all you are interested in is symphonic or neo- prog). A remarkable achievement, kudos to Steve Feigenbaum for undetaking what must have been a massive effort. The rewards are evident, and this aptly-titled release speaks for itself. Perhaps the finest various artists compilation of new music to ever hit the scene. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a contribution from Daniel Denis.


by Mike McLatchey, 1996-03-01:

Five good reasons to buy Unsettled Scores. 1) Doctor Zero, a combination of Univers Zero and Doctor Nerve musicians and their version of "Onde Crepseculaire." Originally penned by Guy Segers for Univers Zero but not released, the track is a testament to the fact that even Univers Zero's rejects were still phenomenal compositions. 2) Remember when Djam Karet were a rock group? Yeah, it has been a while, and this track, recorded just before Chuck Oken left the group, reminds me of how great they were in their heyday. Their cover of Richard Pinhas' "Dedicated to K.C." is every bit as good as the original. 3) Miriodor's "Promenade sous Zéro," not really a "cover" but a medley of Present's "Promenade au Fond d'un Canal" and Univers Zero's "Combat" and "Heatwave." A brilliant little medley played by superb musicians, Miriodor show why they're one of Cuneiform's best. 4) Kit Watkins and Coco Roussel's modern version of the Muffin's "Hobart Got Burned" has at least as much energy as the original and the duo do major justice to an already great piece of music. 5) Happy Family's ripping cover of Daniel Denis "Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dance." Sounds more like Univers Zero than the original did and shows why this may be Cuneiform's best new band of the year. Actually there are 21 other reasons but we didnt't want to dedicate an entire Exposé to what may be one of the most inventive original concept compilations ever released. Bravo, Mr. Feigenbaum!


Filed under: Archives , Issue 9 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Forrest Fang, Hugh Hopper, The Muffins, Djam Karet, Mike Henderson, Dave Kerman, Phil Miller, Chuck Oken, PFS, Richard Pinhas, Present, Happy Family, Coco Roussel, Kit Watkins, Gayle Ellett, Jim O'Rourke, Virgil Moorefield, Forever Einstein, Miriodor, Philharmonie, U Totem, Doctor Nerve, Peter Frohmader / Nekropolis, Bernard Falaise, Henry Kaiser, Various Artists, C.W. Vrtacek (Charles O'Meara), Marc Wagnon, Dave Newhouse (Manna / Mirage), Paul Sears, Nick Didkovsky, Frédéric l'Épée

More info
http://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/unsettled-scores

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Thomas & Foreigners - Bay City – Starting with his tenure in the seminal art-punk outfit Pere Ubu, David Thomas has shown himself to be a lyricist of great talent and singer of acquired taste. For this outing he teams up with a trio...  (2001) » Read more

Tempest - Live at the Philadelphia Folk Festival – It’s about time that these Bay Area Celtic rockers released a live CD! Impressive as Tempest’s studio releases have been, they’ve never come close to the essence of the band’s...  (2001) » Read more

Nicholas D'Amato's Royal Society - Nullius in Verba – Bassist Nicholas D’Amato took the title of his Royal Society’s debut album Nullius in Verba (Latin for “On the words of no one”) from the adopted motto of The Royal Society of...  (2006) » Read more

Cipher - No Ordinary Man – Ambient music, like any other genre, has many sounds, from purely electronic soundscapes, to cut-and-paste pointillism, to environmental collage. Cipher presents a jazzy take on the quiet side of...  (2000) » Read more

Jan Akkerman - 10,000 Clowns on a Rainy Day – Word is out that Thijs Van Leer has reformed golden age prog band Focus with a flashy new lead guitarist. Clearly, where would Focus be without original shredmeister Jan Akkerman, who earned 70s AM...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues