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Zen Carnival: Bardo

Some may remember the debut album Inheritance from Massachusetts' Zen Carnival back in 1999. This contemporary progressive rock band are finally back with their follow-up release, titled Bardo. The music of Zen Carnival has a certain British prog flair to it, somewhat along the lines of IQ, Marillion, Pendragon, and Genesis, but with a strong American jazz influence as well. The line-up for Bardo is Ken Pfeifer (vocals, keyboards), Bill Denison (guitar, bass, production), Mike James (keyboards), and Carl Puglisi (drums, percussion), and the end result created by this four-piece is a pleasant progressive rock experience.

The first thing you notice is the exceptional vocals of Pfeifer, who sounds quite a bit like IQ's Peter Nichols and even Marillion's Steve Hogarth at times, and the lush, symphonic keyboards of Mike James. Tunes like "In This World" and "Blindness" are epic in scope, very melodic, with plenty of room for musical interplay, which the band participates in quite well. Guitarist Denison throws in the occasional crunchy riff, but mostly contributes some searing, legato solos as well as intricate bass lines. His wonderful tone comes through on the emotional "Half Awake", as he drifts through the mix with a gutsy sound that has bits of jazz, Steve Hackett, and Eric Johnson. If you like your prog a little more aggressive, check out "Shadows Speak", the Return to Forever-ish instrumental "The Gate" (featuring some nimble drumming from Puglisi and soaring guitar & keyboard interplay), and the bombastic "Zeitgeist", another fusion oriented instrumental. One of my favorites though is the symphonic epic "Pins and Needles", a real prog rock gem with no shortage of vintage sounding keys, tasty guitar passages, and Pfeifer's strong vocals.Through many twists and turns this one takes the listener, and it's an adventurous ride all the way.

American prog is still alive and well folks, and if you don't believe it, check out this latest from Zen Carnival. It took a while for them to get Bardo out, but it was worth the wait.

Track Listing
1. Solar Circles
2. In This World
3. Blindness
4. Coax
5. Half Awake
6. Shadows Speak
7. The Gate
8. Pins and Needles
9. Beneath White
10. Zeitgeist
11. Evening of Our Days
12. Coda

Added: December 7th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Zen Carnival Website
Hits: 4068
Language: english

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