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Crossover Prog • United States

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Zen Carnival biography
In 1994 the American band EOS was formed, envisioning a combination of "unique arrangements, strong melodic and chord structures, and improvisation in one cohesive style". The four-piece was renamed SOL in 1997 and then ZEN CARNIVAL a year later. The band's musical flavor had evolved rapidly, and the addition of keyboard player Mike James finally completed a cycle in this outfit's musical history. By this point, the songs from the album Inheritance were written and arranged. Although the band was gaining recognition and writing lots of material, changes in musical style came quickly. After the release of the album Inheritance in 1999, Jeff Park and Ken Pfeifer took some time off to pursue other musical projects. Despite the loss, Bill Denison, Chris Geihe and James continued to work tremendously, exploring more of the jazz elements and free improv in their compositions.

The band worked with vocalist Jonathan Brody on some of this new material. In 2001, Pfeifer rejoined James and Denison and the three members started recording a new album, exploring the common areas of interest in their unique musical friendship. Carl Puglisi joined ZEN CARNIVAL in 2002, playing drums and percussion for the new album Bardo, which was released in 2006.

Significant for this album is the variety of colors including Symphonic, Canterbury, Neoprog and Avant elements with much thoroughness and perfectionism. You should also check out the band's podcasts at with interesting interviews and song snippets.

Rivertree (Uwe Zickel)

Why this artist must be listed in :
ZEN CARNIVAL offers a unique coming together of a nu-symphonic sound with the bold playfulness of avant garde.

Inheritence, studio album (1999)
Bardo, studio album (2006)

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ZEN CARNIVAL discography

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ZEN CARNIVAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 9 ratings
3.56 | 14 ratings
3.14 | 7 ratings
Lucid Dreamer

ZEN CARNIVAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ZEN CARNIVAL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ZEN CARNIVAL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ZEN CARNIVAL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bardo by ZEN CARNIVAL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 14 ratings

Zen Carnival Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Carnival of styles ...

This current release of ZEN CARNIVAL is worth it listening to for every minute. The music of 'Bardo' consists of great variety - mainly neoprog, canterbury and symphonic inspired. The nasal vocals are attracting attention, often reminding of Steve Hogarth. Listening to this album you cannot ignore that the band has made great efforts to reach perfectionism. So it took over 6 years before this release was finally published. All the songs are in a different way - with references to the 70s Prog but also new, fresh and innovative - with an amazing result in its entirety.

The beginning of 'Bardo' is very Canterbury influenced. Synthy keys are opening Solar Circles but then a nice bass groove by Bill Denison gets the control accompanied by a guitar solo and piano - by no means a promising opener. In this World remembers me at the early CARAVAN, cheerful, nonchalant and relaxed in a very special way. Blindness is mainly symphonic and very melancholic. First of all the song convinces with beautiful simultaneous piano and vocals at the beginning and then developes to an excellent song full of variety. Coax is a great fusion jam - grooving, with some mystic avant keyboards - fantastic!

With Half awake we can listen to a slowtempo and very melodic/sentimental song dominated by the keys and vocals. Shadows Peak on the other hand is under strong neoprog influence, a bit more aggressive and rocking but has also some psychedelic moments. The Gate is a short piece which first of all reminds me of CAMEL because of the guitar playing similar to Andy Latimer. Pins and Needles is the longest track and probably the best with some surprising turns and tempo changes including sitar alike guitar playing.

Then we have Beneath White - a ballad which starts as a TALK TALK cover and then immediately developes into a floydy space rocker at the end (and unfortunately finishs too early!) - wonderful! And from now on we are getting a little bit eclectic. Zeitgeist is an interesting avant/fusion peace with some sampled voices and Evening of our days and Coda are atmospheric ambient slow tempo songs closing this exciting production.

In summary a big highlight in 2006. Actually ZEN CARNIVAL still seems to be a quit tip. They are writing on a new album and I'm very curious about it. I recommend to keep an eye on this band - one eye at the minimum! 4.5 stars

 Bardo by ZEN CARNIVAL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 14 ratings

Zen Carnival Crossover Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This USA progrock band is rooted in 1994 and first named EOS, then renamed into SOL in 1997 and finally Zen Carnival a year later. The name is a blend of two opposite worlds: Zen points at the meditation of the Boedhistic world and Carnival at making fun with dance and music and a few things more during the annual Latin American carnival, hot hot hot! The prime mover and musical brainchild is multi-instrumentalist Bill Denison (guitars, keyboards, vocals and flute). The compositions on this album sound strong and varied with lots of exciting soli on guitar and keyboards. It's hard to put Zen Carnival in a category, some examples: first Grand piano with dreamy vocals, then compelling and bombastic and finally pure symphonic prog with sensitive electric guitar and sumptuous keyboards in Blindness, melancholical vocals, intense piano play, a swinging break and fat synthesizer sounds in Pins And Needles and swinging fusion with great work on guitar and keyboards in Zeitgeist. If you are in the mood to discover adventurous prog, Bardo by Zen Carnival is an interesting album to check out! My rating: 3,5 stars.

Thanks to Atavachron for the artist addition.

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