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Richard Wright - ZEE: Identity CD (album) cover

ZEE: IDENTITY

Richard Wright

 

Crossover Prog

2.32 | 70 ratings

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ReactioninG
3 stars I have spent many, many hours listening to this work. I keep coming back to it... It often reaches 60 plus plays on my old Winamp player before the latter crashes and resets. The album is Richard Wright's first album after his expulsion from Pink Floyd during the Wall Sessions for (at least) chronic absenteeism. Here Wright helms a then cutting edge Fairlight CMI (computer musical instrument), a computerized synthesizer and sampler. All sounds are created by sampling, and the songs were usually constructed from a synth wash. The Fairlight was nearly ubiquitous on recordings in this era (1983-1985). It's rival was the similar sounding Synclavier, such as that used extensively by Frank Zappa. I love the Fairlight sound, which is warm and unique and cannot be duplicated by modern programming. Here it is put to good use, and Wright sounds surprisingly adept. I don't take him to be a compositional or instrumental genius. The album is a roughly New Wave album with some dark ambient touches and is a little proggy. Wright enlists Dave Harris, a New Wave artist, to write the lyrics and sing. Harris has what must have been an intentionally Wrightish quality to his voice, so much so that one could mistake the two, though Harris is a better singer overall. Wright imitated his style, as well, during his Broken China album, narrowing even further the difference in their voices. Wright is there somewhere in backing vocals, but is not wholly audible at any point. Just as well, Harris wrote all the lyrics, as Wright writes very poor lyrics, as demonstrated on his previous outing (Wet Dream). Curious, as he sometimes had something going in the early years of Floyd (Summer '68, for example?). Wright wrote all the backing tracks.

THE MUSIC

1. Confusion

This is a very listenable pop song with a driving rhythm, crashing synths, brass samples and passionate vocals. The lyrics are mainly meaningless, but quite good as a collage. I listen to this song all the time. The single version adds some heavy handed Owner of the Heartish embellishments.

2. Voices

A little plodding, not so different from something that might fit on Momentary Lapse of Reason. Synthesized rhythm section heavy with beautiful textures. Lyrics a little insipid. Reverted radio chatter here and there. Quite repetitive.

3. Private Person

Very Fairlight typical song, with funky little samples getting a little over the top. Wright keeps it entertaining with building hooks and some synth runs. Contemplative Harris vocals and lyrics well suited to the song. Pretty funky and compelling.

4. Strange Rhythm

Begins and continues intermittently with a near-obnoxious Fairlight loop from a voice sample. Gets a little discoey. Some funky guitar sounds from a real guitar, a buried solo amid brass samples. A weak track. Off kilter.

5. Cuts Like A Diamond

This is generally considered the best song on the album and is, with realistic sounding or at least realistically programmed drum samples/drum machine. A lot of good guitar work more up front this time. Sounds like a kind of throwaway Pink Floyd song. The fairlight is more subdued and its a very natural sounding song. The loud 80s drums are very effective here.

6. By Touching.

Begins with an annoying sample that reappears at times, not unlike Strange Rhythm. Getting more conventional here. Guitar makes another effective appearance. Goes for a funky vibe. Not as entertaining as most of the previous tracks.

7. How Do You Do It?

Perhaps most pop song so far. Has a twisted dance beat. Interesting bass sounds. What I imagine is an actual keyboard solo is great in the middle. Then a little guitar solo with some scat singing over it. Not altogether bad.

8. Seems We Were Dreaming

This is a little like Cuts Like A Diamond. Slow, with some brass samples prominent at the beginning. Starts to jam halfway with some Hammond like playing coming in. Then slows down again.

This album is patchy and the lyrics and vocals can wear on one. It is often repetitive. However, it is very entertaining and highly accessible. It is very much of its time however that makes it very unique. There are a lot of ambitious all-Fairlight albums conceived this way and none are as good as this one.

ReactioninG | 3/5 |

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