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MATHEMATICAL MOTHER

Universal Totem Orchestra

Zeuhl


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Universal Totem Orchestra Mathematical Mother album cover
4.46 | 52 ratings | 5 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music


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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Terra Cava (14:06)
2. Codice Y16 (5:21)
3. Elogio Del Dubbio (7:54)
4. Architettura Dell'Acqua (11:27)
5. CittÓ Infinite (6:19)
6. Mare Verticale (7:38)

Total Time 52:56

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Ana Torres Fraile / vocals
- Antonio Fedeli / alto and tenor saxophone
- Daniele Valle / guitar
- Fabrzio Mattuzzi / keyboard, piano
- UTO G. Golin / drums
- Yanik Lorenzo Andreatta / bass

Guest Musicians:
- Adriano Vianini / vocals
- Alessandro Andreatta / guitar on "Architettura Dell'Acqua"
- Francesco Festi / vocals
- Gianni Nicolini / tabla on "Elogio Del Dubbio"
- Mirko Pedrotti / vibes on "CittÓ Infinite"
- Oscar Cordioli / vocals
- Samia Charbel - vocals on "Elogio Del Dubbio"

Releases information

Black Widow Records

Thanks to leopoldoghost for the addition
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UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA Mathematical Mother ratings distribution


4.46
(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
38%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
20%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)
10%

UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA Mathematical Mother reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars This is the third offering from Universal Totem Orchestra, a quixotic Italian band that gets criticized for not being pure zeuhl (nothing is really, besides Magma) and thus dividing Progland into outright fans and naysaying purists. Too bad really, as they never claimed to be devoted followers in the first place. Their debut "Rituale Alieno" as well the follow up "The Magus" are both, in my humble opinion, extraordinarily brilliant albums that deserve the loftiest progressive praise. There are some similarities with Magma and some huge differences. First the common elements, namely a furiously talented leader in drummer UTO G. Golin who simply pounds and sizzles throughout all their tracks, pushed along by the reptilian bass of Yanik Lorenzo Andreatta. Definitely near Vander/Top/Paga levels of quality. The arrangements hover from bombastic Wagnerian explosions to jazzier climes, again a Kobaian characteristic. The major difference is Ana Torres Fraile's booming voice that is beyond description, capable of a wide variety of tones, octaves and styles, but much closer to opera than anything else. Occasional forays into Arabic, Gothic and Gregorian leanings only accentuate her stunning brilliance. She is also extremely attractive. Furthermore, guitarist Daniele Valle and keyboardist Fabrizio Mattuzzi can hold their own with the very best the prog universe can suggest, technically hyper-proficient but loaded with gusto, bravado and oomph. Finally, saxophonist Antonio Fedeli adds the sultry instrument at the most appropriate of times, such as one the shining and eloquent "Architettura Dell'Acqua". UTO's style is way more expansive, playful, symphonic, jazzy, retro, bucolic and medieval than anything unleashed by the Destruktiw Kommandohs.

Kick off the Mathematical Mother opus with a 14 minute surge "Terra Cava", a whirlwind demonstration of the various talents at hand, a scat singing opener that quickly evolves into a complex and insistent polyrhythmic explosion with zooming bass, deft stick work, cool piano musings and a hard carving guitar rampage. Fraile's voice seduces immediately, her lung capacity is quite impressive to say the least, extended long series of notes and trembling invocations, a truly impressive diva. The ornamental piano takes over a great deal of the melodic arrangement, sumptuous and elegant as it should be, deepening the reflective emotions and enriching the pace. At the 8 minute mark, the rabidly intense bass guitar rumbles through like a freight train, the dynamic mood turning Saharan and the spirit utterly adventurous. The bass tone is trebly and extremely fluid, a sort of Squire/Entwhistle synthesis that will astound the fans of the mythical instrument. Guitarist Valle then goes on his flowery rant, egging Mattuzzi to take over and rise to the heavens. I find myself slammed right between the eyes by the sheer power of their demanding and virtuous music.

A blistering fury is set with the exalting "Codice Y16", a synth-blasted shorter piece that seeks to underline a kind of a Charlie Brown?like piano motif (you will get it when you hear it), a perfect platform for Mattuzzi's wild synthesizers to parallel Fraile's thrilling and athletic voice. The jazz elements are straight forward here, almost Canterbury-esque in many ways, again muscled along by that impulsion -fueled bass guitar, a joy to follow throughout this splendid disc.

The ebb and flow on "Elogio del Dubbio" will make your head spin, from misty serene to ethereal Gothic as well as out right bull in a china shop, the whole thing just spirals mightily into the celestial heavens. A blizzard of persevering notes, played at breakneck speed, then suddenly, an eerily Dead Can Dance like Arabic lamentation swoops in from the desert, assisted by some cool tablas , meandering into the labyrinths of the mind. Fraile wailing majestically once again, the scimitar-edged pace heightens as the ravaging guitar slashes mightily through the haze. Praise be to the Golin School of drumming, the man is a total beast.

The compelling "Architettura Dell'Acqua" is the masterpiece on this album, a simply incredible piece of music, incorporating the mellifluous soprano voice, lyrics in English and the sophisticated saxophone , unified in an idyllic initial setting, lush with heartbreaking fragility and purest design. Then the alternating themes begin their madcap ballet, the echoing piano treatment giving rise to some furious guitar pirouettes, as well as some dazzling turbo- charged flurries from the band, swift and adventurous. Back to the momentary calm before heading back to the fury. Tons of little details abound, like the squeaky synth wobbles, the heavy rock guitar showcase, the choir additions giving this a Orff-ian bombast that is hard to resist.

Back to jazzier horizons on "Citta Infinite", another perfect platform for Ana Torres Fraile to shine, a mesmerizing vocal display. This is semi-mellow stuff but it does include a snippet from UTO's masterful epic "De Astrologia" off the Magus album, which remains in my humble opinion, a classic prog tour de force. The vibraphone solo from Mirko Pedrotti is eyebrow raising to say the least. Wow! The final track "Mare Verticale" borrows again the disorienting and pounding rhythmic style that is their claim to fame, aided by a devilish bass and drum assault and adorned by some technically astute voice work that never ceases to amaze. I can listen to this a thousand times and still be impressed by the brilliant playing and the technical savvy by each band member.

In recap, this is an album that one can listen to as a whole, then go through it again just listening to one instrument, one at a time. That for me is the inherent attraction of any prog album. To the 19% who labelled this poor and only for completionists , you have my deepest condolences.

5 Measured mammas

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Is there such a thing as electronic zeuhl? Apparently, the answer is "yes", and Universal Totem Orchestra's Mathematical Mother delivers a great steaming slab of it. Keyboardist Fabrzio Mattuzzi is the star player on this one, unleashing gibbering synthesisers on an unsuspecting listener. A substantial improvement over the previous The Magus, which I found a bit uninspiring, Mathematical Mother is Universal Totem Orchestra's most successful union of zeuhl, symphonic, and other prog styles yet, creating a thoroughly original sound which any fan of avant-prog will find a joy to digest. Ana Torres Fraile is backed by a range of supporting vocalists to provide crucial additional texture.
Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When the band is categorized as Zeuhl, it seems to trigger a lot of debate and criticism. "Quixotic" is a word used in the band bio here. U. T. O. from Italy started out as an offshoot of a Zeuhl band Runaway Totem. Personally I knew nothing about this group or its origins in advance, when I was asked to review their latest (third) album. I recognize notable similarities with MAGMA - which has been a hard bone for me but which I have learned to appreaciate thanks to my prog friends. But I daresay this music sounds more eclectic and flexible in all its extreme complexity, and perhaps more impressive, than Magma averagely. The excellently produced sound features both eletcricity and acoustic approach (piano, saxophone, percussions), being occasionally slightly jazzy. The bass playing of Yanik Lorenzo Andreatta is marvelous.

The main vocalist Ana Torres Fraile is amazingly talented. She uses her strong and clear voice masterfully, from the operatic and Gothic soprano wailing to more intimate singing. The lyrics are in Italian; I have no idea about the textual contents. Occasionally there are also choir-like male backing vocals, but this music is not vocal-oriented, at least not in the common sense of the word. As with Magma's use of Koba´an language, the voice is pretty much like another instrument, and there are plenty of more or less pure instrumental sections too. The epic opener 'Terra Cava' (14:06) is a good example of that. It is truly gorgeous, actually so beautiful and perfectionistic piece of complex-and-yet-naturally-flowing prog that the expectations for the whole album are dangerously high. 'Codice Y16' attempts to pack a lot of things within 5 min 21 sec, sounding quite restless.

'Elogio del Dubbio' shifts from Gentle Giant-ish funkiness to ethereal Dead Can Dance -resemblance with Oriental flavour (tabla). Well, if there is a problem with this album, for me personally I mean, it's the occasional thought of overblown eclectic complexity. but then I'm disarmed once again by the serene and acoustic beauty in the beginning of 'Architettura dell'Acqua', the second longest track (11:27) that rivals the magnificent opener. 'Citta Infinite' has jazziness, operatic/Gothic flavour and instrumental excellence, for example in the form of a vibe solo by one of the guest musicians. Perhaps the closing track is a bit too restless (especially for the rhythmic complexity), as is the album in general, for my personal taste, but I certainly recognize highly original prog excellence when I hear it. In a word, this album is amazing. If you like complexity, operatic female vocals, superb use of instruments and bands as varied as GENTLE GIANT, MAGMA and DEAD CAN DANCE, you'll love this one.

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Prog Team
5 stars

This band was originally formed as an offshoot of Runaway Totem, which probably goes some way to explaining why they released their debut in 1999, their follow-up in 2008, and this their third in 2016. They are often described as Zeuhl within the prog world, but I'm not convinced myself that the term has a great deal of merit outside of Magma, so let's instead keep this simple. However one wants to classify this album, or whatever sub-genre one wants to put it in, it can all be said in one little word, "beautiful".

Whether it is the soaring classical vocals, the perfect piano accompaniment, the amazing bass, or the move between jazz, fusion, funk, classical, Arabian and progressive styles, it really is the only word that matters. This is a delicate album with instrumental passages that are dynamic and powerful, with vocals that can be strident or fragile, with everything always working together in perfect harmony. Some of the guitar on opener "Terra Cava" is sublime, and it shows that even proggers can shred when they wish to, it's just that they often don't want to. At fourteen minutes long, this is an epic song in so many ways, not just in length, but in the sheer complexity and the way that all the passages make sense individually and come together to create a whole that is breathtaking both in its complexity and melody.

'Mathematical Mother' is a very special album, one that is incredibly complex and intricate, yet also very easy to listen to, and totally enjoyable the very first time it is played. Let's hope we don't have to wait quite so long for the next one.

Latest members reviews

5 stars KICK-A-- TRANSCENDENT MUSIC! I highly enjoyed Universal Totem Orchestra's first two albums! And although I never critiqued them and it's been a while since I've listened to them (man's time is so finite) they would both have been in the 4 to 4.5 range. Both ... (read more)

Report this review (#1740803) | Posted by HarmonyDissonan | Tuesday, July 4, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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