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Zanov - Green Ray CD (album) cover

GREEN RAY

Zanov

Progressive Electronic


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philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Green Ray is an exceptional and top class kosmische electronic album in the vein of the most vibrating synthesized soundscapes written by Klaus Schulze during his late 70's classic era (Moondown, Mirage, Body Love...) Zanov is an electronic artist and keyboarder from France. With Didier Bocquet he represents the french answer to seventies German kosmsiche music (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Adelbert Von Deyen, Robert Schroeder...) Green Ray is without any doubts the most achieved work from Zanov. The alchemic, looped and slow moving opening theme (Green Ray) is almost more amazing than spacey, proto-new agey stuffs from Schulze. With the help of analog synthesizers and sound effects this composition delivers a mesmeric, dense and emulating electronic piece that physically transports you in deep astral space. The sequenced hypno-minimal patterns are sustained by catchy, sci-fi epic melodies. It also reminds me Tim Blake's extended synthscapes in Crystal Machine. The second piece Machine Desperation is a more moody / claustrophobic electronic soundscape featuring ultimately dark hypno synth pulsations and haunted, glacial, otherworldy sounds. This fascinating composition is among my favourites from Zanov and from vintage space synthesized analog music in general. Green Ray is constantly brilliant and impressive. Among the very best 70's kosmische electronic albums from France with Eclipse (Didier Bocquet), Prophecy (Bernard Xolotl) and a few others.
Report this review (#189570)
Posted Monday, November 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Think of Zanov (and particularly here on Green Ray) as the dark counter-earth twin of Jean- Michel Jarre. If Jarre is poppy, impressionistic, romantic, melodic and accessible, then Zanov is moody, expressive, gothic, atonal and thoroughly uncompromising. His expansive soundscapes reverberate with the horrors of mechanization, as clanking robotic percussion and massive synthetic drones engulf the listener in waves of floating electrons. Here one is exiled to the isolation tank of pure electronic sound devoid of either rhythm or harmony. The title track "Green Ray" and "Machine Desperation" are elegiac in their stately movement toward harmonic deprivation. And the side long track "Running beyond a Dream" even rivals Klaus Schulze's sense of the cosmic, if not his command of the possibilities of the synthesizer itself. For fans of hardcore sound synthesis.
Report this review (#278491)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's funny the amount of electronic acts that went past my radar scope for all these years. Case in point: Pierre Zalkazanov, French electronic musician who goes by the name of Zanov. It blows me away how this was never reissued on CD, because this stuff simply blew me away. and ever be glad I own a turntable and able to play LPs, because it's stuff like this, along with Patrick Vian and the Swedish duo Anna Själv Tredje, that you're only able to get on vinyl, and not easy to come by. 1976's Green Ray is Zanov's debut and it just simply blows me away. He uses the ARP 2600 and EMS VCS-3 with a nice spacy '70s feel to go with it. He's been frequently compared with Jarre, Schulze, and TD, but really has his own approach. Title track features some nice themes and pulsing synths, "Machine Desperation", unsurprisingly, has a more mechanical feel to it, while "Running Beyond a Dream" at times sounds a bit like a more mechanical Tim Blake. I frequently hear synth effects that are almost Blake-like. This cut is packed with really trippy synth effects. Perhaps the synth timbres might seem a bit dated for many listeners and that's why his music is now completely forgotten, but I love this stuff and 70s electronic music buffs should seek out his LPs.
Report this review (#845359)
Posted Friday, October 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1475605)
Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
3 stars Having read other reviews of this album it is amazing to consider the equipment used to create Green Ray. The music is simplistic but undeniably accessible, hypnotic, and spacey--and it sounds good! Where it lacks a little is in the fact that it does sound like a solo--or like a very polished version of one of those live in-the-store demonstrations of what a new piece of technology can do. Still, the recording, stereophonic effects and are all high quality.

1 "Green Ray" (9:48) not the best piece of electronic music I've ever heard but a good one with nice floating, flanging synth leads over a solid and sustained rhythm track coming from the lower register. This one is more Berlin School "sequencer" style than the others--thoug, again, a kind of solo demo (or recital). (9/10)

2. "Machine Desperation" (10:25) my wife says this one sounds like her digestive track after a meal of cheese curds (a Wisconsin staple, even for the lactose intolerant). I say it is like TANGERINE DREAM sound experiments (weather and ghost/horror imitations) with KRAFTWERK/PINK FLOYD "On the Run" rhythms. (7.5/10)

3. "Running Beyond a Dream" (19:46) Using a lot of echo and delay, this song opens as a surprisingly melodic if obviously experimentational 'étude' of Pierre's chosen instrument. By the second half it begins to sound a lot more like a variation on the 'running' section of PINK FLOYD's aforementioned song from Dark Side of The Moon, "On The Run." (8/10)

While I admire the high quality sound production herein and the dexterity and control of Pierre's performances here, I cannot say that this is much more than interesting displays of some of the potentialities of a particular synthesizer from the mid-1970s.

Report this review (#1667552)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2016 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This was love at first listen. ZANOV was the project of one Pierre Zalkazanov out of France and this was his debut from 1976. This is one of those Electronic albums that ticks all the right boxes for me. I really like the melancholic mood throughout and how darn spacey it is. We do get sequencers too at times but man this is just the perfect Electronic album for me. It's interesting how I have never been able to get into the more famous French Electronic artist in Jean- Michel Jarre, I find his music is light and poppy in comparison to this dark beauty, and I'm not surprised Jarre is more popular because of this.

"Green Ray" certainly starts off on the right foot with those spacey winds blowing over top of the other synths that form a base here. Sequencers kick in at 3 minutes giving this a different vibe for sure as the spacey winds die down. This is still really good though and those spacey winds do return.

"Machine Desperation" has this electronic beat with some incredible spacey sounds over top. That beat becomes more of the focus 3 minutes in as the spacey sounds continue over top. This is dramatic, then the loud beats calm down a minute later. I really like those spacey winds but as I listen closely I dig how it continually changes slightly over it's 10 minute length.

"Running Beyond The Dream" is the almost 20 minute side long closer. Distant sounds pulse, twitter and drift as it builds. It settles back but then turns louder after 4 minutes. After 5 1/2 minutes it's quiet, too quiet, but this song continues to evolve and change. Another quiet section 10 1/2 minutes in then it's louder at 15 minutes. I love how spacey it gets 17 minutes in.

This ranks right up there with some of my favourite RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL albums, it's that good.

Report this review (#1765873)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 | Review Permalink

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