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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Richard Zeier

Phenomenation

Review by Tim Jones

Richard Zeier, in his first solo album Phenomenation, does a fantastic job of creating intelligent guitar music. He uses a wide variety of influences (including classical and electronic) to fuel his guitars. Most of the songs are 3 or 4 minutes long, and every piece has its own unique flavor. This would make great soundtrack music. It would also function great as background music. It doesn’t insist on your attention like most progressive music does, but if you feel like listening, it can often captivate. It's great for listening to when non-prog fans are around.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rainbow Nebula
This track begins with keyboards, and then moves to acoustic and electric guitars. The rhythm is infectious.
Phenomenation
This is one of the few songs on the album that features vocals. Zeier does some of them himself. The words are sung clearly, but are overshadowed by the guitars, and can be difficult to understand. Still, it’s a good song.
The Journey
This starts out slowly. Drums provide a strong backbone, and acoustic and electric guitars play around that support. There is a definite blues feel here.
Q Blaze
Jazzy, the trumpet and sax help create the feel. This adds some fun variety to the album. The best part, though, is the electric guitar.
First Light
This is the most new age sounding track. Zeier again features sax. He also includes some flute here. Guitar music isn’t quite as prominent.
Sweet
Acoustic guitars dominate here. Some Latin influence shines through. This is pleasant music.
Shanghai
A very moody song with some great orchestration, a trumpet plays a small role here. Again, the guitar isn’t as noticeable, but this is still a great track.
Z Factor
This features the most prominent bass on the album. The electric guitars are a lot of fun. The climax here is first rate, and includes some wordless vocals.
Who You Are
Acoustic guitars and piano provide a more new age feel. This one is very mild.
Cloud Painter
Electric guitar dominates during the first part - great stuff. Acoustic guitars take over later on, and isn't nearly as exciting. Still, this is one of my favorites.
Rites of Passage
There is lots of orchestral influences here. Fans of progressive rock should enjoy this one. There’s a brief period with wordless vocals. The biggest criticism? The song’s just 3 minutes long.
New World
This one’s twice as long the other songs on the album and includes more wordless vocals. This is very pleasant, with some very moving and moody parts. It has some nice orchestration, and much that a progressive rock fan will enjoy. This also includes the hardest and most intense parts of the album.
Shiloh
The CD closes nicely with some more orchestration. It's perfect to set a mood.
 
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