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Zanov - Green Ray CD (album) cover

GREEN RAY

Zanov

 

Progressive Electronic

4.11 | 56 ratings

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Replayer
5 stars Green Ray is the debut album of French electronic music pioneer Zanov. It stands out as prime example of cosmic music and experimentation in analog synthesis. Recording the album at his home studio solely on an EMS VCS 3 and a TEAC 4-track recorder, Zanov takes full advantage of the renowned synthesizer's capabilities. Indeed, it is at sound synthesis that Zanov truly excels, aided by his engineering background. The range of sounds he extracts from the diminutive VCS 3 is astounding, considering that other musicians treated the little synth as an electronic effects unit due to its instability.

In a recent interview, Zanov stated that he always tried to avoid imitating other musicians' styles. He mentioned that back then his two favorite albums were Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and Tangerine Dream's Ricochet, both released in 1975. Both bands used EMS synthesizers such as the VCS 3 or the Synthi AKS. This may have influenced his choice, though the VSC 3's affordability, compared to an expensive Moog modular system, played a role as well.

Interestingly, the title track is the shortest of the three, but is also the best one in my opinion. Green Ray starts with wind effects and a dark ambient atmosphere. In classic Berlin school fashion, the sequencer kicks in after a few minutes and though the rhythm is simple, it is also hypnotic and enhanced with numerous sonic effects and solo passages. A green ray or green flash is the name given to the optical effect seen at sunrise or sunset where the light briefly turns green due to atmospheric conditions.

Machine Desperation, as the title suggests, sounds both mechanical and bleak. The title and bassline are evocative of Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine. This time around, the beat starts from the very beginning, adorned with plaintive organ like-passages and electronic effects. The mechanical rhythm changes to a heartbeat like sound, which is then buried in another, drum-like heavier sequence. Slightly longer than the title track, it is also more monotonous.

The side-long Running Beyond A Dream starts in a much more ethereal manner, reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's Rubycon. Swirling electronic lines, dripping loops, bubbling noises, bee-like buzzing and echo effects give it a dreamy quality. A mechanical beat, evocative of a robotic caterpillar or an assembly line, starts after a couple of minutes, but fades away. The track seems to stop around the halfway point, but it gradually becomes more ominous, with pulsing deep bass runs, before reverting to the original mellow mood. I'd love to watch the aurora while listening to this track.

I recommend this album to fans of Berlin school electronic music. Despite the overall mood of the album being somewhat dark and bleak, the music is not depressing. Rather, it has a melancholy feel. Imagine the soundtrack to a theoretical 1970s French sci-fi noir film. Green Ray is a compelling combination of mechanical rhythms and organic soundscapes and remains one of my favorite progressive electronic albums.

Replayer | 5/5 |

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