Spot Light: Zenit – The Chandrasekhar Limit
(2013 Galileo Records)
From Switzerland hails a Prog band that I’m just becoming aware of. They are going by the name Zenit, and they just came out with a new CD entitled The Chandrasekhar Limit. Their third release according to their official website.
So, a friend who knows I like Prog Rock (an understatement), snail-mailed Zenit’s,The Chandrasekhar Limit, to me. Worse thing that can happen is that I use it for a drink coaster, right? After spending more then a week listening to the almost 70 minute disc, giving the CD numerous repeated spins, I conclude it’s a solid Prog rock CD inside (the music) and out (artwork).
The first track on a CD can sometimes be a make-it or break-it thing. Start off with a luke-warm song and expectations from the listener, also called consumer, in some instances, can immediately start declining. Flip side, come out of the gate with a kick-ass number, and that same listener now expects the consistency to last throughout the playing of the disc. Now we're talking, a perfect album. How hard is that to make? I imagine that’s the intention of every musician who reserves time in a recording studio. The Chandrasekhar Limit starts off with voice and acoustic guitar. The simple beginnings of a masterpiece.
Being old school, every time I played this Zenit recording I could not help but hear old school Prog influences such as early Genesis, Jon Anderson-era Yes, Spock’s Beard (especially on the first composition Awaken), and early Pink Floyd. You get the picture. And as much as I like rocking out I was pleased when I heard a Ted Nugent, Stranglehold era vibe. Made me want to turn up the volume to eleven. More bands and musicians from Prog's past come to mind actually. The idea here in regards to writing this review, is in part pass on through the written word what something sounds like. Zenit is guilty of hovering over the old school Prog Hall of Fame, but at the same time the group maintains via solid musicianship abilities for creating tight and memorable musical compositions, that are clearly all their own. Experience shows, by knowing and understanding song structure and as a solid unit knowing how to get the job done, gets the end results one is looking for. Here it is maintaining the ability to write a memorable composition. This is a huge step up from the formulated rock/prog bands I see dominating the current playing field. For I see 21st century rock prog bands as being even better than their predecessors. To sound like them is one thing, but to create uniqueness that far exceed expectations and live in people’s mind their entire life, is soon to happen when fresh blood is introduced. Zenit represents to me in the year 2013, what a current Prog rock band should sound like. No shit !! Like when I first heard Spock’s Beard, back in the mid to late 90’s. There was an excitement in the air coming out of my home speakers as I played their magnificent debut album, The Light. I’m receiving the same vibe with Zenit’s, The Chandrasekhar Limit. It’s a good feeling.
So what are Uncle G’s absolute favorite tracks on this stellar release? On first listen, what caught my attention most was the instrumental song "Pulsar". Then the Jethro Tull sounding harmonies got me into the song "Cub Lady". A few more listens of "Matrimandir" and I caught a Jon Anderson aura filling my home office. And then the most obvious, the first track they call "Awaken". I really dig the various grooves coming from the bass of Andy Thommen. His work sounds awesome on Sennheiser headphones (those preferred by Uncle G but not necessarily his associates). I imagine via any speaker, he comes in loud and clear. Within the twelve minute first track, all members demonstrate what they bring to the table.
Vocals come to mind with the song "PiGreco". The bands lead vocalist; Lorenzo Sonognini. It’s here where I really dug how voice and musical presentation come together. In Prog tradition, this piece of music changes streams a few times and comes in at right under eight minutes. Presented as well as the ones I just previously mentioned.
Following other Prog rock traditions, the CD closes with an almost twenty-five minute grand opus called "The Daydream Suite". It has a mellow vibe in the beginning then kicks in after the two minute mark with some awesome synths and harmonies. Then this classic Genesis vibe fills the room. Seriously infectious drum and bass work with a standout Tony Banks feel coming from the magic keys of Ivo Bernasconi. Why am I reminded for a moment of the keyboard work found on ELO’s Discovery? Or that funky groove sometimes found on Flower King recordings? It’s all good !!! These are group compositions, with lyrics mostly by Sonognini. In the credits all band members receive full acknowledgements (song writing). Smart move when considering their are business aspects to this.
Zenit’s 2013 release of The Chandrasekhar Limit is a simple breath of fresh air for me, the decades old progressive rock music connoisseur that I am. Zenit is a fine example of what I would define as a 21st century Prog band. I'm comfortable enough to say that The Chandrasekhar Limit is so far the BEST new studio CD or original Prog rock music that I heard come out this year.
Uncle G’s Rating: Odds are I gave myself away by the first paragraph of this review. Out of five stars; FIVE SOLID STARS !!! Now I want to know EVERYTHING about this band. Way cool !! Zenit rules !! Nice job to all involved. Thanks for keeping things on the prog side. From Space City, a mere five thousand miles away, I'm finally hearing you loud and clear.
American Correspondent for Classic Rock Radio Dot EU
PS: "In the end, it’s only music" – Zenit 2013