Year of Release: 2003
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Total Time: 45:13:00
The seventies are alive and kicking! Zen Rock & Roll takes you back to the early 70s on what I can only call a mellow trip, which gave me the same feelings as the early Genesis albums gave me. Zen Rock & Roll is a one man project by Jonathan Saunders and End Of The Age is his debut album. Saunders started to write music at the age of 4(!) and studied the piano until the age of 15 when he started to become serious with his composing and playing. He played in several cover bands, like No Drag Revelation who played covers of the likes of Marillion, Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd. After that he played in Dazed and Confused, a Led Zeppelin cover band, where Saunders played keyboards. Now finally he has released his own compositions under the name Zen Rock & Roll.
As people who influenced him, he mentions, besides Tony Banks, King Crimson and Yes, several late romantic as well as contemporary composers, such as Maurice Ravel, Peter Strauss and George Gershwin, and this is evident in the music. The three songs are built up as classical pieces. The accompanying press release states it as follows: The music is for people who like sounds, thoughtful melodies, colourful harmonies, and artfully composed pieces that strive beyond the narrow forms and subjects of current American pop music. Though possessing obvious intellectual components, it is, in the tradition of rock music, vibrant, Dionysian, and meant to stir the emotions. The music is very hard to describe as there is an incredible amount to explore. The first track, "Copernican Principle," is mainly keyboard orientated, with superb but subtle keyboard arrangements, although besides the keyboard the flute plays an important role, although I have the feeling it is a sampled flute. Nevertheless, it gives a sort of romantic touch to the music. The flute is also present in "From Melting Made," a track which features some more prominent percussion. "End Of The Age" is more guitar orientated, although there is some mellotron added.
End Of The Age is divided into three tracks, but you should listen to it as a whole and then you will discover its beauty. The lyrics are worth your attention and will keep you busy, as there are a lot of theories and questions in them. The artwork adds to the 70s feel. The booklet contains three images, corresponding with the three tracks, with a lot of symbolism in it. A great album, that brings back that feeling you get when you play old Genesis or Yes albums. Thank you, Jonathan Saunders, for keeping this music alive and for bringing us an album we can enjoy for ever!
Similar Bands: Genesis (Peter Gabriel / Steve Hackett years)
[This review originally appeared November 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Copernican Principle (18:23) / From Melting Made (10:30)/ End Of The Age (16:20)
Jonathan Saunders - all instruments
End Of The Age (2003)
Genre: Progressive Rock