Belgium’s Univers Zero were RIO stalwarts, inherently defiant of the musical fashions of the mid-70s. Co-founder Roger Trigaux left the band after their landmark 1979 second album Heresie and founded Present, a unit whose music – a heavy, heady synthesis of classical, rock and jazz – was and remains a function of Trigaux’s uncompromising vision.
Time’s been kind to 1980 debut Triskaidekaphobie. Long-form opener Promenade Au Fond D’un Canal sees the four-piece explore insistent lines drawing on minimalism and the avant-garde.
Their chamber rock setting comprises piano, electric guitar, bass and razor-sharp drumming from Univers’ own Daniel Denis. The multi-sectioned Quatre-Vingt Douze casts its own discomfiting hex, and the bonus tracks – live takes of Univers pieces Dense and Vous Le Saurez En Temps Voulu – prove Present could (and still do) cut it outside the studio.
Follow-up Le Poison Qui Rend Fou - here with rare video extras – is just as tight and demanding, balancing primal and logical aspects with giddy aplomb.
Lavishly packaged, both albums are enhanced by insightful liner notes and original engineer Udi Koomran’s expert remastering job.