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Universal Totem Orchestra - Rituale Alieno CD (album) cover


Universal Totem Orchestra



4.09 | 86 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The infectious musical style known as zeuhl knows no boundaries. Although originating on Kobaia and infecting unspecting French musicians, the style has now spread to Italy with no signs of letting up and may it be so since RITUALE ALIENO, the debut album by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA is a pure delight from beginning to end. This band is the next step for Uto Giorgio Golin (drums) and Giuseppe Buttiglione (bass) after they departed another zeuhl band Runaway Totem. Unfortunately I have not heard any of those albums yet so I can only comment on the brilliance of this magnificent example of how to reinvent the zeuhl sound that came to us from a galaxy far away but not so overly long ago.

The album opens most unexpectedly. It is basically a hypnotic operatic piece that introduces the vocals of the angelic Ana Torres Fraile. No zeuhl to be found but a great introduction to the band's gift of incorporating medieval vocal operatic vocals and Gregorian chants to a nicely laid out rock n' zeuhl frenzy. The distinct styles are paced as not to compete with one another and the contrast between the sounds of yestercentury with contemporary progressive rock techniques is quite a trip with symphonic touches and a whole host of various additional instruments including lead guitar, viola, cello, sax and tabla.

As with pretty much all zeuhl this particular brand can be traced to Kobaia and for sure there are several parts that remind you of Magma insofar as the main rhythmic developments and vocal trade-offs but the choice of instrumentation, vocal styles and odd effects completely distinguish the overall mood of the pieces. Some of the operatic trade-offs between female and male vocal parts do bring MDK-ish zeuhl to mind but always in a distant cousin kind of way instead of a Siamese twin one. The album really doesn't leave any room for being bored or drifting one's attention away. This is a really brilliant album that might end up getting its rating elevated if it continues to grow on me.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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