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Zanov - Green Ray CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

4.10 | 57 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars ZANOV is the pseudonym of the Paris born musician and computer engineer Pierre Zalkazanov who learned to play piano at the tender age of six but was taught under the stern threat of harsh punishment if when he made unfortunate mistakes and therefore learned to loathe the instrument altogether and ultimately took up the guitar in his teen years. Despite the musical freedom associated with the popular six stringed instrument, ZANOV was bored by its limitations and sought out the musical means that would create the most expressive spectrum of sounds possible which led him to the wonderful world of electronica. While a late bloomer in the burgeoning field of the synthesizer rich world, he would soon find his first VCS3 in his hot little hands and nothing would ever be the same.

While only purchasing his new love in 1975, he rushed home and immediately started cranking out ideas for his debut album GREEN RAY that would emerge the very next year. After realizing the complexities of recording such music, he dived in head first and submerged himself until he mastered the learning curve. The music on GREEN RAY is a logical successor to the Berlin School sound so popular in Germany by this time. A rhythmic dance of electronic pulses in the vein of Tangerine Dream sprawled out into the three lengthy tracks that make up this debut album but in the end GREEN RAY was entirely composed on his newly purchased VCS3 with no help from others. ZANOV quickly learned that he had to master the techniques so that they would become second nature and allow the emotional drive to dictate the musical outpourings.

While the French scene was hot on the heels of the Berlin School world of Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream and Edgar Froese, most of the early pioneers eschewed the blatant copycatting and instead created more visceral and surreal electronic offerings. Heldon, Jean Michel Jarre, artists from the Pôle label and others such as Lard Free and Igor Wakhévitch put France on the map for the world of progressive electronic but very few followed in their German contemporary's footsteps in terms of style. ZANOV on the other hand dives head first into a complete Berlin School immersion where his Tangerine Dream fetish is on full display. Perhaps even subliminally hinted upon by a bright tangerine colored album cover and the final track sporting the last word "Dream."

GREEN RAY contains three tracks. The first two hover around the ten minute mark whereas the third almost makes a twenty minute hypnotic space wandering head trip. The tracks are fairly repetitive and consist of lengthy parades into mini sequenced pulsations of sound that find counterpoints erupting like fractals all around them. The musical output is subtle as it consists of a rhythmic percussive drive and an atmospheric swoosh and swirl effect that adds other elements that emerge from beneath the surface unexpectedly. The drive mostly plods on mid-tempo and the spaced out atmospheric runs find soft and sensual gurgles build into more intense pockets of fully fueled freakery duking it out for domination. Each track takes it time to reach some sort of crescendo with the closer "Running Beyond A Dream" taking its sweet time to endlessly build the tension before the closing array of juxtaposed electronic effects.

ZANOV was quite unique for the time as a Frenchman for imitating the German scene but others such as Didier Bocquet would follow and thus ZANOV started a sort of cross-pollination of the two nations that would continue to blur as time went on but as far as this debut GREEN RAY is concerned, if you didn't know any better you could swear that this was just another Tangerine Dream album as there are really no identifiable features to give any hint that this was a Parisian newbie who had fallen for his VCS3 synthesizer and spent the next several months in a love affair. While ZANOV proves he could master this puppy like the best of the German crowd, what he fails to display is any sort of creative avenues that take the listener to totally new electronic soundscapes that had never been experienced before. The template is basically what had been going on for several years at this point. Nevertheless, ZANOV cranked out a pleasant enough debut that fits right into the Berlin School style of the era and for that reason he should be remembered for his contributions, it's just that i'm not as blown away by this release as many seem to be.

3.5 but rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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