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ZENIT

Neo-Prog • Switzerland


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Zenit biography
Based in Switzerland, ZENIT was founded by ex-CLEPSYDRA bassist Andy Thommen together with keyboardist Ivo Bernasconi. Ivo toured with CLEPSYDRA in 1995 and is well-known for his active involvement in the music scene in South Switzerland and northern Italy. Joining the pair is drummer Gigio Pedruzzi. Also having toured with CLEPSYDRA in the past, he has worked with the Swiss band CHANGES, and more recently SHAKARY's Alya Project. Completing this line up is Italian Fusion/Rock guitarist Frank Di Sessa and vocalist Lorenzo Sonognini.

The debut album features 9 songs with both Italian and English lyrics. Entirely self-produced, "Pravritti" features an interesting mix of classic Progressive Rock together with dazzling elements of Fusion.

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ZENIT discography


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

3.17 | 11 ratings
Pavritti
2001
3.56 | 25 ratings
Surrender
2006
3.86 | 55 ratings
The Chandrasekhar Limit
2013

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ZENIT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Zenit spent the next few years on stage, playing live in several festivals, even if original guitarist Francesco Di Sessa left the band in 2003.He was replaced by Luigi Biamino.By mid-00's the time for a new album had come.Entering the Kotah Recording Studio in Tegna, Zenit created their sophomore effort ''Surrender'', released in 2006 on Shakary leader Paolo Scandella's SHK label.

This is propably the most GENESIS-sounding effort by the tightly connected trio of the related Shakary/Zenit/Clepsydra core.You shouldn't exactly forget about the Fusion touches and more intricate moments of Zenit's debut, but the new album is strongly rooted in the Neo Prog category with nostalgic MARILLION and even CLEPSYDRA influences, based on elaborate melodies, quirky instrumental parts and plenty of grandiose, semi-symphonic showering, as additionally all vocals are delivered in English.Especially the long tracks (three out the ten tracks are longer than 10 minutes) have a nice retro-feeding aura, despite the overly fresh approach of the group, with a kind of theatrical singing by Sonognini and different variations, connecting melodious textures with keyboard-based acrobatics.Synthesizers with vibes from organ and Mellotron is propably a good reason to link Zenit's sound with the 70's.The shorter pieces are more groovy and less intricate as expected, but far from boring or uninspired.Performed with energy and passion, these showcase Zenit's love for a more straightforward and catchy Neo Prog, where synth flashes and memorable lines are the basic elements.A couple of tracks contain echoes from sax, cello and flutes, still the sound remains quite GENESIS-influenced with impressive songwriting and well-executed instrumental parts.

While ''Pravritti'' was a more original work, the vintage Neo Prog style presented on ''Surrender'' is definitely what fits better to Zenit.Well-played, very enjoyable album with great arrangements and striking themes.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 The Chandrasekhar Limit by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.86 | 55 ratings

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The Chandrasekhar Limit
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars Zenit is a band from Switzerland that has been playing since 1998. The band was founded by Andy Thommen (formerly Clepsydra), Ivo Bernasconi and Gigio Pedruzzi. They've got 3 albums so far and The Chandrasekhar Limit (2013) is the newest one.

The Chandrasekhar Limit (2013) was released by Galileo Records in January and it's being distributed by Gonzo Multimidia that in the last few years has become a specialist in Prog Rock.

Before anything else, it's good to understand why such a weird name for their album. The Chandrasekhar Limit is a mathematical term. It was named after the Indian-American Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and defines if a white dwarf star remains a star or becomes a black hole. According to the band they felt the same way, not knowing if they were above or below The Chandrasekhar Limit (as a metaphor for their music).

The Chandrasekhar Limit (2013) is bold and try to emulate the old glory days of Prog without fall in the usual clichés that some bands use. We have six tracks, almost 70 minutes of good music. The album is based on long songs (12, 17 and 24 minutes long, for example), but there's no sign of getting bored with it. Sometimes long running time CDs tend to be boring at the end, not here.

'Awaken' starts the album and it's good to see some acoustic guitars. Actually, Lorenzo Sonognini is the vocalist and plays only the acoustic guitar, not on all the tracks, but it's nice to see acoustic guitars as a base instrument. Lorenzo voice is hard to get used to in the beginning, but as soon as the first verses go along, his voice suits the music well. 'Cub Lady' is more a snippet of an idea than a proper track and 'PiGreco' is an instant classic.

'Matrimandir' has Sanskrit lyrics and the sound follows the lyrics with a hypnotic riff. A curiosity is the Bossa Nova part in the middle, and then a 'progger' part follows, three musical fields that, supposedly, have nothing to do with each other. 'Pulsar' is like a Circus music, and it's a fun piece of music but really doesn't go anywhere.

'The Daydream Suite' is the epic of the album. Over 24 minutes long and it's good to hear the acoustic guitars again. It's a fine musical journey that you can take with your eyes closed. Andy Thommen used to play on Clepsydra back in the 90's and it's good to hear such a good bass player that cares for clever parts and cares for the bass sound. Much of the bass players nowadays plays Prog with 5 strings bass and forget the mid-high frequencies. Ivo Bernasconi is subtle with the keyboards, but precise. Gabriele Schira has a good drum sound and Luigi Biamino at a first glance doesn't appear at all with the guitars, but that's where the trick lies. His sound builds up the atmosphere the band needs to get a good sound!

The Chandrasekhar Limit (2013) is a proof that Prog can still be refreshing with good musicians on the instruments. I'm not talking about technically good musicians, I'm talking about intelligent musicians that work for the song and Zenit definitely has it.

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 The Chandrasekhar Limit by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.86 | 55 ratings

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The Chandrasekhar Limit
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by Ursa Minor

4 stars This is a really fine album by a band originating from Ticino in the Italian speaking region of Switzerland. This is the bands first album for seven years, since 2006's "Surrender". They are a group of experienced musicians including former Clepsydra bassist Andy Thommen and Keyboard whiz Ivo Bernasconi. The albums title refers to an astronomical term associated with white dwarf stars, there is also a track called "Pulsar" so the band seem to have a bit of an fascination with astronomy. The music is thoughtful and clever with catchy riffs and excellent musicianship. The album starts with "Awaken" which after 15 seconds of vocals over acoustic guitar launches into a memorable and soaring guitar and keyboard riff which sets the tone for the whole album, there is a nice laid back guitar break in the middle of this 12 minute song which is complemented by the excellent bass work of Thommen. "Cub Lady" at just under three minutes is a very nice short ballad featuring vocals and acoustic guitar. The strangely titled PigReco starts with a simple but captivating electric piano melody before moving into progressive territory with very nice guitar behind the vocalist and some saxophone thrown in for good measure. The 17 minute "Matrimandir" brings in a taste of the Indian sub-continent with Sanskrit lyrics and Indian sounding instrumentation, however the song has jazz interludes within a song which I presume is about the temple in the Indian town of Auroville. "Pulsar" is an instrumental which starts simply with a melody on bass and piano before developing into something quite stylish. The 24 minute final track "The Daydream Suite" gives the band chance to explore the full spectrum and show off their talents in a song which seems to be about the repetition and recall of dreams as vocalist Lorenzo Sonognini laments "I wanna play it back, I wanna live that dream again". An excellent album with the odd nod in style towards Genesis but really there are a number of techniques and styles involved here as well as fine instrumentation with a mention in despatches for guitarist Luigi Biamino, the vocals are pretty good too. Highly recommended.

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 Pavritti by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.17 | 11 ratings

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Pavritti
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ZENIT were formed in 1998,when bassist Andy Thommen left CLEPSYDRA to find his own way in the world of music.Thommen found the band along with drummer Luigi Pedruzzi (ex-CHANGES and SHAKARY) and keyboardist Ivo Bernasconi.After a few live performances ZENIT recorded their debut album ''Pavritti'' in 2001.This is not your typical neo-prog band.In this album you will find tons of changing styles,moods and tempos.Of course echoes of CLEPSYDRA are evident in almost all of the songs,mainly due to the atmospheric use of keyboards.Additionally there are also traces from the 70's prog bands like GENESIS and KING CRIMSON,but the important point of this album is the addition of heavy fusion doses,especially on guitars and drums.So,I could say that ZENIT sound like a neo-prog band,where the extensive atmospheric solos have been replaced often by some fusion-tending guitar work.Though ''Pavritti'' seems strange-sounding,it is a quite accesible work,that you definitely should check out.A very original record!

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 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

2 stars There are a number of reasons why I just can't get into this record ( and trust me i've listened to this at least 8 painful times). It's partly the accent on the vocals, partly the lack of flow in this record, partly the lack of melody , and lastly there is something that is either missing or maybe it's a combination of the above complaints, but I just can't get into this album at all. So there i've said it, and believe me I don't say this often when it comes to prog.

The one song I do like is "Devil's Siesta" which opens with cello and features fragile vocals and keyboards, and has interesting lyrics.

I'm in the minority with these opinions and thoughts so take them with a grain of salt.

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 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars What would you do if you listen to the music from the band that you never heard before? Expect that they're gonna sound like the bands you have been familiar before - and use them as reference to compare with the new band the music you are listening to? Or expect new experience that you never heard before - and try to explore your listening horizon to accept that new sound that might be weird? Or just listen to the music openly - let it flow naturally and then you associate the music in new reference? Well, I guess each individual has their own style on "reacting" on new band and penning some words of opinion.

Initially, it was tough to digest ...

As for my case with Zenit "Surrender" I have combined all of the above together at the same time. The reason is pretty simple: I just want to give my fair opinion without having to know what the net say about this album. I even did not know that the band was featured at this site. I don't know the band at all - in fact, I thought that the name of the band was Surrender and the album was Zenit. I did not really care at first spin, I just put the CD at my player and I did not even want to take a closer look of the sleeve notes and credits (the who's and who the band members). I did not want to be influenced by any sleeve note of the "strange" band to my knowledge (hmm .. How can I be classified as "Special Collaborator" if I cannot differentiate band name from album title? It's a pity, isn't it? That's fact man .). I let my mind accept whatever sounds the CD produced for my ears.

At first spin, I did not find any interesting pieces that I can easily memorize as a song - say the power of melody. I did not even think that the music flow naturally. In fact, I thought that the music was like "being forced" to sound like this. There are variations but I don't think they give enough enjoyment as a song. My first reaction was the lead vocalist who sounds like Cyrus of Citizen Cain - or Peter Gabriel of Genesis (was). Nevermind, I had to move on with this strange band. I removed all preconceived ideas about "the kind of music of .." thing and really digest the music "as-is". Having done so, it helped me release some blockages I had. I kept spinning the CD and by the time I write this review, I have listened to this album for at least three (3) times in its entirety.

The strong point about this album is its composition and richness of textures. On composition, the band put extra efforts to compose such a good album. On textures, I can only say that this album uses many types of instruments from standard guitar-bass-drum-keyboard-vocal. On non-musical thing, I have to put two thumbs up for the sonic quality of the CD - awesome! While on weakness point, I think this album is a bit less in musical density where in some parts sound a bit empty - e.g. they only contain dry sound of bass guitar augmented with soft guitar fills. The other point is in handling transition pieces - most of them don't sound quite natural to my ears. This might become okay with repeated spins of the CD as people will get used to it. I remember vividly the first time I enjoyed YES "The Ancient" of Tales From Topographic Ocean when I was a child - it was a nightmare as it did not sound naturally for my ears. But now the song has become legendary and I always enjoy it when I spin the CD. This is just a matter of comparison on "the way I feel" (like the title of Cuby + Blizzard's song, do you know? Well, sometime you need blues music man, I tell you .) about a song.

I don't want to write long review on track by track basis. But I think it's worth to mention some tracks as reference. "Yin And Yang" (10:47) is a completely a neo prog composition with some parts with relatively low musical density and sounds a bit empty. Even though the composition is good, this track is not melodic as a song. "The City" (4:25) is pop music outfit with a bit of prog touches here and there. It reminds me to Kayak music. "Devil' Siesta" (3:59) - starts with excellent cello work backed with acoustic guitar. This song reminds me to Cyrus of Citizen Cain in terms of singing style. "The Cathedral" (4:18) has its style similar to ELP with Gabriel-like vocal.

Conclusion: You may need to connect the dots ...

If I can list down the influences to Zenit, they are coming from: Marillion (especially on music flow and style of neo prog), Genesis (especially on singing style), Citizen Cain (especially on singing style), ELP (some keyboard textures), IQ (on music flow and a bit of singing style), and YES (on music flow).

Overall - it's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. It's a quite difficult to digest this album at first spin but it will grow with number of spins. You might find the melody is difficult to digest - even though not as tough as YES "The Ancient" - and the music sound like disconnected. But, I am sure at the end that you would be able to "connect the dots". That's the challenge in progressive music . Happy listening. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars There must be something in the water in Southern Switzerland (the Italian speaking part) , home to prog stalwarts Clepsydra, Shakary and Zenit, the last 2 offshoots of the first. Headquartered out of Ascona (a lovely little town on the lake) , Locarno (even lovelier) and Lugano (the loveliest), the scenic alpine/palm tree panoramas are conducive to some great prog. Musicianship was never an issue, as Clepsydra's Lele Hoffmann and replacement Marco Cerulli are first rate guitarists, only the vocals were a tad troublesome , Italians just can't sing in English, the accent is too heavy, so stick to the native tongue or Latin (like Alberto Piras of Deus Ex Machina). Ivo Bernasconi (not to be confused with Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-PM/Duce of Italy) knows how to "Banks" , as his style is very reminiscent of the Genesis master. The guitar parts are also worthy of mention, slippery, effect-laden and expressive. Andy Thommen, leader, bassist and ex-Clepsydra, is a dexterous 4 string manipulator who keeps things alert and interesting. Most neo drummers are rather dull time keepers but this one is slicker than most. The vocals are way better than most because the singer outgabriels Peter Gabriel , a bit like a less frantic Simone Rossetti of the Watch. Where there is room for criticism is the disproportion of quality between the epic, 10 minute plus tracks that are first-rate and the rather sipid shorter tracks. Now, size and length don't matter (we are talking compositions, ladies!!!) because prog can deliver the goods in short or extended form with often stupendous results. The title track, the exuberent "Yin & Yang" and "news1c" are three top notch prog roller coaster rides of the finest caliber, with all the usual ingredients: twists & turns, passion and expectation , led by the inventive bass lines of our head cheese. This is a band worthy of keeping tabs on because their next opus mat contain 6 x 10 minute compositions which just may elevate them to the prog Zenith. Definitely worth recommending. 4.5 alpine sunsets

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 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is a Swiss five piece band with additional musicians on flute, saxophone, cello and even a child-choir. The bass player was in Clepsydra

1. Promenade (Part I - Om) (1:28) : A short opener that sounds very atmospheric.

2. Yin And Yang (10:47) : Lots of varietation in this long composition, from dreamy with piano and warm vocals and a piece that sounds like a sound-collage (including ticking Swiss clocks) to swinging with expressive vocals, a slow rhythm with a buzzing bass and a sumptuous final part with biting wah-wah guitar and floods of Hammond organ. It all sounds very elaboborate and flowing and there is lot of tension and dynamics.

3. The City (4:25) : Again lots of varietation, from catchy piano work to a fluent rhythm with fiery guitar and the cynical sounding vocals, really an extra dimension on this CD!

4. Devil' Siesta (3:59) : First a wailing cello sound, then a dreamy atmosphere with Peter Gabriel-like vocals and tasteful keyboards.

5. The Cathedral (4:18) : This song rocks: a catchy rhythm, a lush Hammond sound, fat synthesizer flights and a fine break and bombastic grand finale.

6. New1c (12:43) : It starts with a slow rhythm that contains dreamy saxophone, then an accelllaration with organ and fiery wah-wah guitar, followed by an intricate piece with violin-Mellotron and propulsive guitar riffs, very captivating! The final part delivers a dreamy climate with flute, saxophne and twanging guitars.

7. Promenade (Part II - On Stage) (4:30) : An instrumental song with a tight beat, base dupon tasteful interplay between guitar and keyboards.

8. I Ching (6:31) : First a Chinese inspired atmosphere with swinging bass and modern sounding keyboards, then an ominous climate with theatrical vocals, followed by bombastic guitar and keyboards, great interplay! Finally we can enjoy a lush bombastic grand finale with sparkling keyboards,propulsive guitar riffs and inspired vocals.

9. Promenade (Part III - Underground) (1:14) : A short instrumental with the sound of streaming water and fragile work on the slide- guitar.

10. Surrender (14:08) : The final composition is the longest and layered with strong musical ideas and varietion. I am delighted about the middle part that sounds like a tribute to the middle-part of Supper's Ready by Genesis: a dynamic organ solo, in an exciting way blended with sensational synthesizer flights, sensitive guitar and warm vocals, very compelling!

Zenit their sound is between 'classical symphonic progressive rock' like Genesis and Art-rock with bands that blend rock with surprising musical ideas and several styles. Highly recommended!



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 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by akira

4 stars Surrender is very full of changes in moods sounds and ambiances. I have to listen many times to discover every detail, and there are a lot. Devil' Siesta is a very beautiful song, the violin in the beginning is wonderful and the song becomes very emotional. Surrender (the track) is also a very beautiful song (Flowerkings-Genesis like); the main theme is coming from the heart, and the final with children singing you wish it never ends. The Cathedral is Marillion like but more power and fast. All a very sensible record, very timeless. I hope to see Zenit live in Japan. Akira

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 Surrender by ZENIT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.56 | 25 ratings

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Surrender
Zenit Neo-Prog

Review by w.woorher

4 stars I got Surrender one week ago, and it is still running in my cd player. The vocals are outstanding, not the usual neo-prog melancholic pudding! Tracks like "I Ching" or "The Cathedral" simply have something that is really new, never heard before. The recording/production quality is AAA-grade. Every time i listen to it, I discover some new detail. Drums are crystal clear, guitars are straight and heart touching, the keyboard sound are so modern but still *real* progressive rock sounds. The Long tracks ("Surrender", "New1c" and Yin & Yang") are very close being masterpieces of contemporary progressive rock. They slip from jazzy ambiances to very 80's IQ-ish prog. Sure the guitar player must be a Spock's Beard lover, but still he always finds something original from his own to play! The variety of moods and sounds make this album also suitable to non-prog' listeners. "The City" and "Devil's Siesta" are simply good rock songs. The sounds are not classic, but still it IS pure progressive rock.

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