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Richard Wright - ZEE: Identity CD (album) cover

ZEE: IDENTITY

Richard Wright

Crossover Prog


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Cluster One
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Quite possibly the worst album in my entire music collection, Rick Wright's collaborative effort with Dave Harris (formerly of the band FASHION), "ZEE: Identity" is tediously painful to listen to. Released in 1984 at the height of the 80's synth-sound and drum machine craze, much of this album belongs on a cheap B-movie soundtrack of that same decade. This album is heavy on the keyboards and Fairlight synthesizers, and has very haunting (if at times laughable) sonic themes.

Although billed as primarily a Rick Wright Project (for sales purposes at least), Rick was only responsible for co-writing the music. The lyrics and vocals are the responsibility of Dave Harris alone, and they are easily the weakest part(s). Heavily reliant on the studio, the music seems sparse at times, but maybe that is because there are only two members at work here.

Musically, on the Fairlight and keyboards "Identity" is not a complete washout. Rick Wright himself describes this project album as "...a failed experiment." But I beg to differ! At least Rick had got back on the proverbial 'horse' and attempted to write music again (something he hadn't done since 1978's "Wet Dream"). And as mentioned above, he can't be faulted for the poor lyrics and the vocal performance. Wright/Harris also dabble in electronica on the track 'Strange Rhythm'.

The tracks 'Voices', 'Cuts Like a Diamond' and 'Seems Like We Were Dreaming' hark back to the slow, melodic tunes that we normally associate with Wright (think of 'The Violent Sequence' and 'Great Gig in the Sky'), but definitely lack the refinement and beauty of said pieces.

A rare album, that sounds quite unlike anything Rick Wright (or Pink Floyd for that matter) ever recorded. It was never officially released on CD, for good reason. 1/5 stars

Report this review (#41767)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I've decided to give my LP of this another go and pay more attention to it's better parts, rather than focus on the weaker elements which dominate the album. In my 'personal pages' I rate this as a 3, but, given the broad scope of this site, I can only say it is for collectors/fans only. Firstly, if you are a Floyd die-hard, then you would have this and find it less than satisfying, maybe even disappointing. For sure, I was taken aback when I heard the 'adult dance/mature 80's pop' sound emanating from the speakers. However, I was quite happy to part with 5 bucks when I found it in a crate of 'New Arrivals - 80's' at a local secondhand shop in the mid-90's. Not what I'd expected for something graced by Wright. However, I can agree that 3 tracks (mentioned by a previous reviewer) are quite listenable ; Voices, Cut's Like a Diamond and Seems We Were Dreaming. They all generate an atmosphere which is familiar to us prog lovers, though the album has very little to do with prog. Wright is credited with backing vox, although I'd swear it's him taking the lead on Seems We Were Dreaming. Dave Harris' vox sound quite similar to Rick's. Equipment-wise, both members are credited with Keys but I'm not a big fan of the Fairlight CMI as it tends to generate very synthetic and cold sounds, which I gather this album is soaked in, but I can hear Wright's Hammond peep through in the mix occasionally. Album opener (and single, I believe) 'Confusion' sounds fine in it's daggy, 80's way, but 'By Touching' and 'How Do You Do It ?' are the album's low points. So, hard to recommend it really, but then again.....
Report this review (#83191)
Posted Saturday, July 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As far as I am aware this album is only available in LP format. Due to lack of success in the sales dept. it also unfortunately received unfavourable reviews from critics and apparently Rick Wright himself. Let's put the album in perspective however. 1984, Rick Wright and David Harris ( of Fashion ) got together to form Zee. A one album wonder? - yes. A desert island classic? -no. But it is IMO the perfect combination of the new romantic 80's sound and Rick Wright's indellible Pink Floyd sound. Although a large part of the keyboard work is synth driven, Wright and Harris combine ably in the vocal dept too and create a rare example of progressive and pop cultures meeting. The album starts with the grooving ' Confusion'. A good way to describe the sound is that is like an upbeat Japan album or slightly less commercial sounding early Talk Talk record. Both artists contribute to the electronic percussion with solid rhythms throughout.' Voices' is dreamlike and poignant yet sounds more like Pink Floyd than any other song here. One of the strongest tracks on Identity. ' Private person' and ' Strange Rhythm' are not the best songs but the latter does show some great atmospheres to close out side one.

' Cuts Like a Diamond' is probably the most accessible and commercial song on Identity. Great guitar work from David Harris. ' By Touching' and ' How Do You Do It' again not brilliant but explore the more funky side to the album. ' Seems We Were Dreaming' closes the album off and is a slow ballad like song with RW and DH providing some nice dreamy vocals. The casette release had ' Eyes of a Gipsy' as a bonus track. In summary this album is a rare nuggett of a bygone era. Not as bad as everyone makes out. Definitely has the 80's sound to it but shows quality musicianship from start to finish. A worthy 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#176896)
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This album has really nothing to be compared with Rick's prior and debut solo album. The music displayed here is just a collection of electro-beats with little flavours.

In terms of his partnership with Dave Harris, I really wonder why Rick did this choice. I just can say that he was rather poor in terms of input. IMHHO, he was just not the guy to go along with Rick (even in 1984).

There are hardly any great track here. The worse is probably Strange Rhythm and the most bearable one Cut Like A Diamond. Thanks to a fine and spacey intro, the listener is finally brought to some better music. My fave from this album, but to be honest it was not difficult.

If you really want to experience the awful electro-beats from By Touching, then you have to listen to this album. I was wrong about Strange Rhythm. The worse of all is this one (sorry Rick).

It was maybe not a great idea to review this work under the known circumstances, but since I decided to review Rick's work I can't help providing my view about it. The result is not very famous, I'm afraid.

I am amazed to see that one reviewer (with no comment) considered this album as a masterpiece! I would be more on a classic rating as far as this album is concerned. Unfortunately it is one star.

Report this review (#183493)
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars First of all, it's NOT a Richard Wright's solo album. Dave Harris did a lot of composing, however some ideas coming from this album can be found with a bit of attention on Broken China. I would have expected to find it under ZEE. This is a very dated album. It's from the 80s and lacks of originality as a lot of its contemporary. It was an era during which the choice of sounds seemed to be the most appealing factor, so many artists did their best, or their worse to appear very "80s". I just want to mention Camel's Stationary Traveller or Mike Rutherford's Acting very strange as examples. Another must of the period was the Fairlight: it dominated the 80s sound toghether with the Yamaha DX7 and the Rolands, and does it in this album as well. All the percussions are electronic and mainly based on disco rhythms. "Confusion" could be played in a disco also today, but it's not so bad as it could seem. It's not worse than other more appreciated songs of that period, but of course one could expect more than this from Richard Wright. "Voices" is a dark track. It's where Broken China is from. Totally electronic, but don't forget that Richard is a keyboardist. "Private person" is back into commercial, but not properly disco. I don't think that dancing on this rhythm is possible. Not the best track of the album in any case. "Strange Rhythm" is what its title says: strange. Personally I like it. The voice is similar to Bryan Ferry with a touch of David Bowie, so very in line with the era. Not worse than some electronic songs of the white Duke. "Cut like a diamond" is the only Floydian track. The intro is typical from Wright. The sounds is different, but the chord's sequence comes directly from Wet Dreams. The guitar riff could have been played by Gilmour if only he was used to play one octave lower than usual. "By touching" is the track i liked less when I bought the album, however listening to it now, I can recognise the link to Broken China "How do you do it" is the weakest track of the album. Put Michael Jackson's voice on it and you'll have a perfect soft-disco track. Skip it. "Seems we were dreaming" is the most melodic song of the album. A chill out song, very relaxing, even if totally in the 80s as well.

What to say of this album at the end? It's between 2 and 3 stars. A true Pink Floyd fan must have it. It's non-essential for sure. Some tracks are good enough, but some are very weak. I go for 3 stars in memory of Rick and because of the link to Broken China. If you have enjoyed it, you can give a try to this album. If you didn't like Broken China, there's no chance to like this one.

Report this review (#277876)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Richard Wright disappoints with his refusal to take on lyrical and vocal duties, leaving those to the less familiar voice and pen of Dave Harris. The lyrics by Harris are pointless, what happened to Rick's Skill with Summer 68? Beside that the album is middle of the road, with some of the most interesting 80s soundscapes you will hear and a great brooding atmosphere. The music is unmuddled and sparse, which makes it easy to follow. The Fairlight is unique and the percussion is electric but heavy. The album is dark and Floydian and sometimes gets to the creepy heights one would associate with Floyd, like on the track "Cuts Like A Diamond." Other favorites are "Confusion" which you will come back for, and Private Person. The album has some very weak parts, but the worst is the boringness which comes with playing the album through, as the tracks seem variations on some robot's self-same theme. Overall a nice little album that sounds different and a good talisman from the 80s to have, even if it seems unnecessarily purged of Rick's presence.

My theory is that the key tickler was on drugs in the late 70s and early 80s. It messed up his career big time. Gilmour didn't even really want him back at first but learned to love him by the time of Division Bell. He conquered his demons, or so it would seem. Zee may have been an early attempt to do so.

Report this review (#359937)
Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Identity" is just one of those albums that appeal to me personally, as I have a strange approach to the criticism of music. It is an electronic/crossover prog album by the short-lived supergroup "Zee", a partnership between Richard Wright (Pink Floyd) and Dave Harris (Fashion). The album has a very electronic sound, as most of the sounds used were from the Fairlight CMI, a synthesiser that was popular in the 1980s. Rick Wright stated some time after the release that he felt that the album was an "experimental mistake", and that it should never have been released. The album has received much criticism, with fans of Richard Wright left disappointed by the lack of PInk Floyd-eque reminiscence that is evident in his other albums. However, the album is entirely entertaining and does (in my opinion) contain quite a few of the musical aspects that we know and love from Richard Wright.

♪ "Confusion" is a little disappointing. It is a little dry and has a cheesy disco feel.

♪ "Voices" is a great song. Very ambient and pleasant. It is one of the best tracks on the album.

♪ "Private Person" is another dance-like 80's tune, but I like this song much more than "Confusion". It has a more unique style.

♪ "Strange Rhythm" brings out the more progressive side of this album and is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's later material. The guitar solo towards the end of the song is great.

♪ "Cuts Like a Diamond" is a nice track, and has a more garagey feel than the other tracks.

♪ "By Touching" resembles something off David Bowie's "Let's Dance". It is one of my personal favourites off this album.

♪ "How Do You Do It" is a funky track. The guitar riff resembles Robert Fripp's 80's guitar work. The lead synth sounds rather like "Daft Punk"

♪ "Seems We Were Dreaming" is another favourite of mine. It is one of the more ballad-like tunes on this album.

The key tracks here are: ♫ Strange Rhythm ♫ By Touching ♫ Seems We Were Dreaming

This album may not appeal to the everyday listener, but I am a personal fan. I give this album a personal rating of 3 stars. ☮ Peace ☮

Report this review (#910882)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Well. This album is not as bad as I expected it to be. This is a short- lived collaboration by Dave Harris, a singer and musician from a band called FASHION (a Neo-Romantic band which I have never listened to) who in 1983 recorded this album (which was released in 1984) under the band`s name ZEE with Richard Wright. I think that this album sounds more influenced by the Neo- Romantic musical style from the 80s than from Wright`s sound from PINK FLOYD. Sometimes it sounds more like an album from the early TEARS FOR FEARS band. In fact, the recording engineer and co- producer of this album (Tim Palmer) worked a lot with TEARS FOR FEARS during several years. I have to say that I liked TEARS FOR FEARS when they released their very good album titled "The Seeds of Love" in 1989 (and it was after I liked this album that I later "tolerated" to listen to their previous music and I even still liked some of it). But before that, I really didn`t like their music and much less their looks which reflected very well the fashions dictated by the Neo-Romantic and Synth -Pop musical styles which were very successful fads in those years (sorry, but it is the truth; I never liked the music , the looks and the fashions from some bands from the eighties). Anyway, by using the Fairlight CMI a lot in this album,this album reflects all the "ingredients" which made it a very typical album from the eighties, with now very dated synth sounds and programmed drums. Maybe the best moments in this album are the few ones on which one really can listen a bit from Wright`s musical influences (like in "Voices", which maybe is the best song in this album) and in other slow and "dark" songs like "Cuts Like a Diamond", a song which even includes a good lead guitar part played by Harris which sounds a bit like it was played by David Gilmour. "Voices" particularly sounds a bit inluenced by CAMEL, a band which at that time released their "Stationary Traveller" album, which, despite being a good album, also has some of the "ingredients" from a very typical 80s album, with similar keyboard sounds and programmed drums. I don`t know why Wright recorded this album. Maybe it was only to fill his previous recording contract with PINK FLOYD`s record label, or maybe because he needed the job for financial reasons. Anyway, Wright in later years considered this album as a "experimental mistake", and he even did not mention it in an interview done in 1994 by the now-defunct "Vox" magazine in the U.K. (done at the time PINK FLOYD was on their "The Division Bell" tour), when Wright was asked what he did before re-joining the band in 1986-87. This album is not as bad as I expected it to be...but it is more for collectors / fans only.So, it is more a "rarity" now which fortunately I could listen to thanks to someone who uploaded it in youtube. An album which sounds and looks (in some publicity photos by Harris and Wright) like Wright was very much "out of place" in a band and an album like this.

A last note: I found in the web that this album was released on CD in the Netherlands, and it seems that it never was released in the U.S. in any format.

Report this review (#1113098)
Posted Sunday, January 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Progressive rock reached a peak during the 70's, where experimentation was part of what people listened to over and over in previous and emerging bands. Those bands made a living out of it; and the introduction of the synthetizer, disco music, and of course, punk music forced many bands to modify their style and experiment in a different and modern way. The end of the 70's and the early 80's saw the rise of the new wave. A style which concentrated most of their sound on the ones produced by the synthetiser and supporting that sound with softer voices, electric drums and, less important guitars. Progressive had "died" long ago as mainstream music; new wave was the way to survive.

I lived my childhood in the 80's, so I was very used to the mainstream sounds; I enjoyed listening to Depeche Mode, Level 42, Kajagoogoo, U2, Duran Duran, OMD, etc. Yet, amidst those bands I discovered Pink Floyd, Yes, Camel, Moody Blues ... of course, with their 80's productions. Thanks to it I became interested in their music which was, in a certain way, a bit different to the others; little by little, I started to discover at a very young age what Progressive music was.

I don't blame Richard Wright for attempting this experiment with former Fashion's singer and guitarist Dee Harris. It was a way to survive in that period. The album per se, is not bad at all. On the contrary (thanks to what I mention above), I really enjoyed the album from beginning to end, it reminded me of so many bands like Talking Heads, King Crimson, Japan and Camel, all of them progressive, all of them with similar productions in the 80's.

Ok, ok ... it is not a progressive album, but it is a wonderful new wave album created by a classic progressive musician (Richard Wright) and a post-punk, new romantic one (Dee Harris), that's what I call experimentation.

Report this review (#1546911)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2016 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1891574)
Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2018 | Review Permalink

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