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Zen Rock And Roll - Undone CD (album) cover

UNDONE

Zen Rock And Roll

 

Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 21 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Undone' - Zen Rock And Roll (5/10)

With a mission statement similar to many in the modern progressive community, Zen Rock And Roll is a project driven by love of the music of the 70s, and old progressive legends. A one- man outing, this record does pay a fitting tribute in style to the music of that age, but in a different way than many others in prog today. Zen Rock And Roll skirts technical composition and complexity for a fairly pop-oriented style of prog that is reminiscent of some of the more commercially successful bands in the style. To a fair extent, it works.

Zen Rock And Roll is clearly influenced by a few different groups, being some of the typical draws (Yes, King Crimson) but also bands from a more classic rock base, such as The Who, and Journey. The love of The Who shines through on the first track, with power chords flailing under arena-style vocals. The songwriting is quite strong, and diverse at that- the project ranges from an AOR rocker to a handful of piano ballads and even a classically-based synth piece. Especially on the epic piece here, 'Concerto For The Original Sinners', there is a very tasteful sense of composition. Through the contrast in style on these tracks, Zen Rock And Roll manages to give a few different impressions within one course, although the most memorable aspect of the project is its retro arena rock.

The songwriting is quite good at reflecting the style it is imitating, but one thing that somewhat lacks is the performance itself. The instrumentation is solid and functional, but the vocals of Jonathan Saunders are best described as intermittent in their effectiveness. His vocals on the first two tracks (being the more rock oriented ones) are weak and sound quite thin, whereas on the mandatory piano ballad here ('Antiquated Love Song'), his Elton John-esque delivery is powerful. Zen Rock And Roll leaves a somewhat scattered impression, with some things sounding great, and others leaving me fairly underwhelmed. I would suggest that the project find a more focused sense of direction, but at that, the diversity here is one of the best things about 'Undone'. Here, the cheesy pop-rock and saccharine ballads may wear thin, but it is not long before something new comes up. It's just a little disappointing that not one of these styles is done particularly well.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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