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ZenLand — ZenLand
(Warped Records WR0002-2, 2015, CD/DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2015-08-19

ZenLand Cover art

ZenLand is the new group of Michael Zentner (electric violin), Tim Young (guitars), Doug Lunn (bass), Dean De Benedictis (keyboards), and Vonette Yanaginuma (harp). Their impeccable musical credentials (Zentner: The Muffins, Peter Blegvad, The Who, The Doors, Yes, Guns ‘n Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, Frank Zappa, and more; Young: Wayne Horvitz, David Sylvian, Beck, Bill Frisell, Rufus Wainwright, Fiona Apple, John Zorn, and so on; Lunn: Mark Isham, Bruce Springsteen, David Torn, Andy Summers, Terry Bozio, etc.; De Benedictis: Brand X, Ian Boddy, etc; and Yanaginuma: Nelly Furtado, Seal, Outlawz, Solomon Burke, etc.) do nothing to prepare you for the six tracks of post-New Age music on ZenLand. I must be missing something here because the music just does not come together for me. The song titles “Ong,” “Song,” “Vong,” “Zong,” and “Song Long” are very similar and so are the electronic violin dominated instrumentals. The bass, guitar, and synths are barely noticeable from track to track. It is only Vonette’s harp weaving in and out of Zentner’s violin noodling that adds any spice to the otherwise bland and boring tracks. It is as if the five of them sat down in the studio, turned on the recording equipment and just started improvising. There is a considerable amount of introspective and repetitive reverbed riffing. Zentner apprears to favor the same notes and timbres over the course of the six tracks, which lends to the relaxing nature of the work. I am reminded in places of Manuel Göttsching’s ground breaking Inventions for Electric Guitar, but ZenLand is not of the same caliber. However, if you enjoy gentle sleep inducing music, then ZenLand is just what the doctor ordered.

Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Michael Zentner (ZenLand)

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