Plays the Music The Unireverse

  • SODEC

… a very analog, electronic setting with a psychedelic touch. Electronic Music World, Netherlands

… des fréquences sonores captées au beau milieu de l’espace interstellaire. Solénoïde, France

There are two kinds of people who will want this CD. First, there are those who are already familiar with The Unireverse. Those connoisseurs should only need to know that this, finally, is the band’s debut CD (following, true enough, a pristine pile of limited edition CD-Rs), that it contains four favourites from their numerous live performances as well as four unreleased jams, & that the whole thing sounds amazing, thanks to the band’s rich & meticulous production, complemented by Paul Dolden’s all-knobs-up mastering. Not to mention the priceless cover art by Montréal cartoonist Rupert Bottenberg.

As for those who don’t know The Unireverse… Well, are they in for a surprise. Imagine three guys who just wanted to infuse all the science-fiction they could muster into their music. Imagine that their instruments consisted in a bunch of analog synthetisers & some drum machines which they play in total fizzed-up/fuzzed-out fashion. And be warned: they like to make covers of famous songs. As well as ones you might have never heard of before. Not that they’re going to snub you if it happens to be the first time you hear that Brainticket song, for instance. (Though they’ll probably consider their mission accomplished if it makes you want to hunt down the original.)

With The Unireverse, past & future collide into a musical uchronia, the island of Montréal is towed away in the vicinity of Saturn, & in the process, the most wholesome stoner album we have heard in a long time is yours to behold. Trust me. These guys are for real. [dt, viii-05]

  • No Type
  • IMNT 0514 / 2005
  • UPC/EAN 771028051427
  • Total duration: 69:03

Plays the Music

The Unireverse

Brian Damage, Alex Moskos, Michael Caffrey

Some recommended items

In the press

  • Nicola Catalano, Blow Up, no. 98/99, July 1, 2006
  • Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no. 68, June 1, 2006
  • Karel Kouba, Unijazz, May 1, 2006
  • Stefan Koopmanschap, Electronic Music World, April 5, 2006
    … a very analog, electronic setting with a psychedelic touch.
  • Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy, no. 50, April 1, 2006
  • Solénoïde, no. 93, March 31, 2006
    … des fréquences sonores captées au beau milieu de l’espace interstellaire.
  • Jan Willem Broek, De Subjectivisten, March 17, 2006
  • Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 516, March 10, 2006
    Just simply great, witty and to cherish.
  • Bart Plantenga, wReck thiS MeSS, March 6, 2006
    Recommended but play with caution.
  • Hainey Kevin, Exclaim!, February 9, 2006
    … a spiced-up, modern, bass-heavy sound…
  • Steve Lalla, Hour, September 29, 2005
    … a portal into the collective mind madness of these sound technicians.
  • Lorraine Carpenter, Montreal Mirror, August 18, 2005
    Taking after classic Moog cover bands, The Unireverse are all about reusing and remodelling.

Recensione

Nicola Catalano, Blow Up, no. 98/99, July 1, 2006

Modellato, a partire dalla copertina di Rupert Bottenberg, sullo stile degli album per moog in voga tra anni ’60 e ’70, lo stravagante debutto del trio di Montréal The Unireverse paga dazio alla mania sempre più diffusa dell’impiego di tastiere analogiche vintage. Ne vien fuori una sorta di deforme space-music (in cabina di regia c’è Paul Dolden) tra originali selvaggiamente sgangherati e riletture umoristico-creative di composizioni altrui (un ventaglio quanto mai vario che parte dai The Beatles e arriva a Donna Summer, passando per Brainticket e The Red Krayola), summa di una lunga attività di giramanopole già espletata in oscure formazioni cittadine (Kubelka, Daydream Square, Phÿcus, Beautifuzz). (7/10)

Review

Stefan Koopmanschap, Electronic Music World, April 5, 2006

Plays the Music is the debut of a new collaborative project of Alex Moskos, Brian Damage and Michael Caffrey, three artists that have been active in various projects before (Kubelka, Phycus, Daydream Square, Beautifuzz). They now come together to form a trio that does electronic music. The debut album, Plays the Music, offers a variety of covers from well-known artists (The Beatles, Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder) and lesser known artists (The Red Krayola, Brainticket) combined with original songs, all in a very analog, electronic setting with a psychedelic touch.

Tomorrow Never Knows is a cover of a Beatles song, and reminds me a lot of The Chemical Brothers for some reason. The only thing missing is the beats that The Chemical Brothers bring, but aside from that, it sounds very similar to a few Chemical Brothers tracks, mostly the latter “clones” Tom and Ed did of The Private Psychedelic Reel, those tracks that tried to get that same feeling but never fully succeeded. Tomorrow Never Knows really works well, better than most of the previously mentioned “clones”. The very full, solid sound, quite possible there thanks to the mastering by Paul Dolden, definitely adds to the overwhelming effect this track has.

The first original track on this album is SuperGravity, a ballad if you could call it that. Very down tempo and laid back, Supergravity has a very nice deep bass sound. The track is very repetitive though, which may or may not work well, depending on your own mood mostly. I’ve found myself dream away to the track, losing myself in the music, but at other times, I was just sitting, listening, waiting for something to happen. Something less subtle does happen, but not until well into the track. At that point, when not in the right mood, it has already taken too long. But, as mentioned, when in the right mood, the track can completely engulf you, and you can lose yourself in the subtleties of the track.

I Feel Love is one of my favorite tracks of all time, I was thrilled when I found a copy of the long version of this Donna Summer track on vinyl finally after years of looking for it. The version that The Unireverse brings on this album mostly makes me smile and laugh. To me personally, this seems more like a parody than a true cover. But again, I’m speaking here as a lover of the original, a complete addict. And I can’t say this version is badly executed, however the style in which it is being done just sounds like a parody to me.

Daemon Bubbles is the next original track, which sounds very, very fat. It starts with a quite weird, experimental intro that takes about one minute and is very chaotic. What follows is no less experimental, but maybe slightly less chaotic at least. This track will probably be most interesting for those who like old experimental synthesizer music. Even when the rhythm is introduced, I am having a hard time of really getting into this track.

The longest track on the album, even longer than U Feel Love (aka “I Feel Love”), is Transparent Radiation, another cover. This track is a cover of a track unknown to me by The Red Krayola. It is usually quite hard to entertain people for over 18 (!) minutes. As with SuperGravity, this track also is driven mostly by subtle changes, with less subtle changes far apart. It’s a nice track, but shouldn’t need to last for 18 minutes in my opinion.

20 Rats At Once is the third original track, a very experimental soundscape-ish piece with percussive rhythms joining the fray. The track has a very hypnotic effect. The track is very short, but because it is so intense and overwhelming, that is probably good. This lets the track keep it’s power.

With just two tracks to go on the album, we encounter Brainticket, a cover of the band with the same name. A very rock-influenced track, the loops used definitely are well-chosen and well-cut, however, even after about 1 minute in the track, you except big beats to come in, breaks to give rhythm to the whole track, and that doesn’t happen. The track would most probably be much more powerful and effective if these rhythms were there. At about 3.5 minutes into the track, some more rhythmic elements do join, but there’s no big beats, not breaks. Of course, The Unireverse is not the band to introduce Chemical Brothers-like breaks, but anything slightly more into the mainstream would’ve been very powerful indeed.

The title track has been kept for the last, Plays the Music is an industrial-ish track. The shortest track on the album but no less powerful, this track definitely keeps your interest. The track builds and builds a wall of sound, removing the rhythm and leaving you first with noise, and then with sobering bells.

The Unireverse’s Plays the Music is an album that is for those interested in experimental, sometimes noisy stuff. Definitely with repetition, not everything is to my personal liking. However, obviously, this is just the opinion of one person. The album is very solid though, and there are many interesting moments.

… a very analog, electronic setting with a psychedelic touch.

Kritik

Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy, no. 50, April 1, 2006

Noch heißer als Brooklyn kommt mir mittlerweile Montréal vor. Dazu tragen nun auch Alex Moskos (ex-Kubelka), Brain, sorry, Brian Damage (ex-Phycus) & Michael Caffrey (Daydream Square & ex-Beautifuzz) ihren Teil bei, als Moog-Trio, das Psychedelic, Kraut- und Space-Rock und was sonst noch je zwischen Mother Mallard, The Spoils of War und White Noise vom geraden Kurs abgekommen war, auf seine Essenzen hin ausquetscht und als Treibstoff für seine 21st-Century-Schizoid-Tunes einfüllt. Abgedrehte Versionen von Tomorrow Never Knows, Giorgio Moroders Trip U Feel Love (aka “I Feel Love”), dem mit 18 Minuten noch ausgedehnteren Red-Krayola-Flug Transparent Radiation und von Brainticket, dem (vielver)sprechenden LSD-Test vom 71er Cottonwoodhill-Debut der Mannen um Joel Vandroogenbroeck (sic!) mischen sich nahtlos mit vier geistesverwandten Eigenkreationen zu einer abartigen Zeitreise vorwärts in die Vergangenheit. Gemastert hat kein Geringerer als Paul Dolden. Der Drumroboter darf nach der Tour de Force mit Donna Summer bei Daemon Bubbles erst mal verschnaufen, um im letzten Viertel dann doch wieder zu kicken zu den teuflischem Backgroundlockrufen von Josée B. Wer mit dem Moog ins Bett geht, wacht mit 20 Rats At Once auf, SuperGravity im rauchenden Schädel und einem kosmischen Kribbeln in allen möglichen Phantomtentakeln. I am the eggman They are the crackmen I am the walrus.

Radiobalisages

Solénoïde, no. 93, March 31, 2006

Plays the Music développe des spirales tourbillonnantes et des lueurs floues sur des fréquences sonores captées au beau milieu de l’espace interstellaire. Un disque qui ne laisse planer aucun doute sur la volonté de ce groupe montréalais de défier votre imagination.

… des fréquences sonores captées au beau milieu de l’espace interstellaire.

Caleidoscoop

Jan Willem Broek, De Subjectivisten, March 17, 2006

De wereld op zijn kop, de wereld teruggespoeld en weer opnieuw afgedraaid, zoiets is The Unireverse. Op hun cd Plays the Music laat het trio bestaande uit Brian Damage, Alex Moskos en Michael Caffrey naast 4 eigen nummers ook 4 bewerkingen horen van The Beatles (Tomorrow Never Knows), Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder (U Feel Love (aka “I Feel Love”)), The Red Krayola (Transparent Radiation) en Brainticket. En dat voornamelijk op de Moog en andere elektronische apparatuur. Hiervoor hebben ze ook al muziek van Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hawkwind en Silver Apples gecoverd op onder meer de Moog. Vooral die laatste twee passen goed in het krautrock-straatje van het prettig gestoorde trio. De smaakvolle beats vormen de lijm in het soms totaal psychedelische geheel vol Moog-geluiden en spacerock. Het roept herinneringen op aan Kraftwerk, Sun Ra en Hawkwind, maar dan uitgevoerd door!!!, Criterion en Jason Forrest. De productie is in stevige handen van elektro-akoestisch componist Paul Dolden, die de luistertrip helemaal de moeite waard maakt. Speel deze muziek gestoord vaak!

Review

Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 516, March 10, 2006

And oh yes, I do like popmusic. People sometimes ask if I do play ‘normal’ music, and I state that all music is normal, but that by some definition I also like regular popmusic. So, yes, I do like The Unireverse, an all Moog trio of Alex Moskos (ex member of the experimental rock band Kubelka), Brian Damage (ex member of Phÿcus) and Michael Caffrey (of Daydream Square and ex member of Beautifuzz), and they are from Canada, in case these band names don’t mean a thing. They play way-out strange covers of popmusic. I did recognize U Feel Love (aka “I Feel Love”), but Tomorrow Never Knows is really something different than the highly respected original. Retro is written all over this release. The Unireverse play four covers in total, besides the two already mentioned, also Transparent Radiation (Red Krayola) and the infamous Brainticket by Brainticket (and perhaps better known as the cover that Nurse With Wound did as Brained By Fallen Masonry). The originals are hidden in there, but The Unireverse stretch things out to incredible length, moving the pieces into different areas, a large space jam. In between they have short compositions of their own making, which are great bridges between the tracks. My favorites are the Donna Summer and Brainticket ones. Prog-rock is written all over, but it has surely a nice twist all around. Excellent stuff to scare off those who sanctify the originals and impress new friends with something entirely ‘new and exciting’. Just simply great, witty and to cherish.

Just simply great, witty and to cherish.

Review

Bart Plantenga, wReck thiS MeSS, March 6, 2006

This Canadian trio vaguely resemble Suicide in their insistent mesmerizing rhythms and almost retro simplicity. But The Unireverse goes further back into kitsch and the past by appropriating disco in a prog rock sort of wink-wink manner. Think psychedelic meets retro-isturmentation meets disco meets avant twists as they cover Donna Summer, The Beatles and Red Krayola. Even their own numbers hint at songs never written by groups from long ago. Recommended but play with caution.

Recommended but play with caution.

Review

Hainey Kevin, Exclaim!, February 9, 2006

The Unireverse are three Montréal cats who can be seen as the modern equivalent to Dick Hyman, Claude Denjean or any other old-school Moog-twiddling dude who did an album of cover versions back in the day. Of course, The Unireverse have a spiced-up, modern, bass-heavy sound comparable to, say, LCD Soundsystem, but their synths are all old and rickety, and the choice of covers is just that — choice. This, their third album, opens with a nearly ten-minute rendition of The BeatlesTomorrow Never Knows that burns down any speculation that these guys might suck or be more of a gimmick than a worthy project. The group also do originals, and those are quality tunes, too, but part of The Unireverse’s expert pastiche are those excellent covers — their version of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love lasts 14 minutes, the Red Krayola’s Transparent Radiation is 18 minutes, and for extra obscurity bonus points, they even cover Krautrock legends Brainticket’s Brainticket. The Unireverse’s Plays the Music is an entirely engrossing and elaborately constructed affair that could be little more than a gimmick, if it wasn’t so damned good.

… a spiced-up, modern, bass-heavy sound…

Spins

Steve Lalla, Hour, September 29, 2005

Plays the Music continues the long-standing “pick a cover, destroy, reconstruct” tradition set by our own space cowboys, The Unireverse, on their string of hand-made/recorded CD-R opuses highlighting the works of godspeed and Hawkwind among others. This drop is their first for like-minded No Type Records, featuring four original U tunes coupled with unrecognizable electrofied offerings by The Beatles, Red Krayola, Donna Summer and super-obscura freaks Brainticket. The Moogs battle the beats on this insta-classic, a portal into the collective mind madness of these sound technicians.

… a portal into the collective mind madness of these sound technicians.

Green Machine

Lorraine Carpenter, Montreal Mirror, August 18, 2005

“Our keyboard stands are all medical walkers and supports that I pulled out of the garbage,” says The Unireverse’s man in Ottawa, Michael Caffrey. “I love producing electronic music, and my goal in life is to not use other people’s resources in anything I do.”

Taking after classic Moog cover bands, The Unireverse are all about reusing and remodelling. Ever since Montréal’s Brian Damage and Alex Moskos founded the band in 1999, they’ve crafted astral electronic music with antique analog synths, samples, canned beats and other people’s songs, spinning familiar and obscure tunes way out into the stratosphere. Not surprisingly, there’s often a fine line between the trio’s tangents in covers and original The Unireverse material.

“Sometimes a new song sort of materializes from a cover,” Damage explains. “Other times, when we’re doing warm-up jams in rehearsals, just getting loose and taking it out a bit, Michael will throw down a beat and we’ll all get in on that and see where it leads. Sometimes it goes in pretty interesting directions, and sometimes we even remember how to reproduce it later.”

Plays the Music is the band’s new CD, their debut with local label No Type following a series of ultra-indie CDRs. Although the disc features several original tracks alongside covers of The Beatles, Donna Summer et al., The Unireverse’s production methods remain greener than thou.

A wheelchair technician by day, Caffrey is the band’s go-to guy for discarded goods and modified gear, but his freegan finds aren’t limited to the medical industry.

“Car audio is such a fashion,” says Caffrey, describing vanity items like decorative wiring and plexi-glass plates used to show off name-brand speakers. “Really absurd stuff, but it runs well on batteries, batteries that will no longer [power] really elaborate medical chairs. I’ve been using them in our soundsystem, so we can set it up absolutely anywhere. Soon we’ll be able to play in the middle of the woods in a blackout.”

Moskos shares Caffrey’s love of plundered gadgets, like a device he used on Daemon Bubbles, a track from the new CD. The “toy,” as he calls it, attaches to clips that grip your fingers, allowing the user to create “corny” hip hop sounds by wiggling their digits. Just add loops to make it bubbly, stir in slowed-down samples from a decrepit recording of The War of the Worlds (“It sounds like a demon MC,” Moskos says), record a cheesy chorus for R&B flavour, and voilà, Daemon Bubbles.

There’s no shortage of original incidental sounds on Plays the Music - such as power tools and the band members’ approximations of barnyard animals - but 20 Rats At Once has its roots in old sound effects records.

“One of them was ‘Rats,’“ says Moskos, “and as we were listening to it, we were like, ‘Uh, there’s more than two rats there.’ We kept saying, ‘Ugh, that’s like 20 rats at once!’ A lot of this stuff comes out of our weird sense of humour - Brian and I both have mice at home, so there are some vermin issues. Basically, I think we spend too much time together.”

Taking after classic Moog cover bands, The Unireverse are all about reusing and remodelling.

Blog

  • Just a few days after the passing of Robert Moog, Montréal’s cult band The Unireverse (a trio fueled by the analog sounds of the Moog synthesizers) unveils their first “real” album, the surprising and psychedelic Plays the Music. On this al…

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005 / New releases

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