Zygon – Earth And Sky – Album Review
If there is anything I’ve learned throughout my years as a music-critic, it’s to write my intros last – because words cannot describe how truly fast things can change out there in our independent scene.
For example…when I first started listening to this new internet-based band revolving around the centerpiece of producer Paul Stewart only a short time ago, Zygon was putting out an album called Revelation with seven tunes on it according to the notes I had received along with the record. Perhaps you might have even heard about it on the most recent episode of the SBS Podcast that was put out back in February last month when I introduced you to Zygon, and talked about the song “Eclipse” from Revelation a little bit before playing the song “Redshift” on the show! Nothing like being ahead of the game in this world of independent music I tells ya…it just makes you feel good to know…that…wait…
…turns out I need to make some corrections on all that now. In fact I pretty much filled your heads with the wrong information…because that is truly how fast things can change. We now have an eight-song album by Zygon, and the title has changed as well – it’s no longer Revelation, it’s called Earth And Sky.
Six or one-half dozen of what you say there? Call it whatever the heck you like as far as I’m concerned folks – I just want the music to sound good; in that department, Zygon is all aces & 100% organized AF.
As you would have heard about on the SBS Podcast if you tuned in already – I’ve got a ton of love for this band and I absolutely LOVE how this record begins with the boldness of “Eclipse” – this is music that makes an impact on ya through powerful interesting & impressive musicianship, seriously well thought-out structuring, and straight-up all-star execution. I ain’t even lying to ya when I say that, if Paul Stewart is out there in this world and available to be hired for production, y’all should be looking into that ASAP. “Eclipse” literally and audibly has it ALL going on in all the right ways – it’s a spectacular gateway into a record to begin with, but beyond that, it’s truly got enough juice to convince a whole bunch of ears out there that Progressively-based music does not – repeat, does NOT – have to be some kind of a chore to listen to whatsoever. Keep in mind that’s not my personal opinion, that’s just the reality of the masses and how they react towards anything with a Progressive label attached to it – essentially it instantly implies you’re gonna have to do some thinkin’ of your own along the way, and people naturally rebel against that notion all the time when it comes to music and their desire to simply sing along. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. For the rest of us however…and there are legions of us out there…hearing music with multiple dimensions, directions, and genuine depth in the ideas makes all the difference in the world. Essentially, for Progressive fans the opposite is true – just seeing that label attached gets us interested & wanting to see what kind of exploratory sound can be found behind it. Zygon, as I’ve already claimed & stand behind proudly, will not disappoint ya in the slightest in that regard – in fact, I’d easily be inclined to say this is one of the most exciting instrumentally-based bands I’ve heard pop up in any corner of the independent scene in the past several years…”Eclipse” alone will have you agreeing. There’s high drama, intensity, gripping atmosphere, and stellar musicianship to keep you engaged from the lefts to the rights, start to finish – not only on this first song, but upon this entire record. I ain’t gonna lie to ya folks – 2021 has been off to a particularly incredible start in comparison to years of the most recent past…and every time I heard “Eclipse” come on again as I repeated my way through this new record Earth And Sky…all I could think to myself was that it’s bands like Zygon that are completely the reason why that is. This is music to genuinely be excited about! Listen to those bass-lines jiggle & rumble around the 2:30 mark! Listen to the incredible relationship between the synthesizers & guitar tones! Listen to the precision beats being pounded from the drums! And please, please, PLEASE do not allow yourself to ignore just how incredibly well balanced, crystal clear, and stunningly produced this is. The depth is straight-up awe-inspiring – I truly mean that – listening to moments like the sweetness of serenity in the piano-led breakdown, to the brilliant resurgence as “Eclipse” storms towards its finale…all of the louds, quiets, low-end beef and high-end frequencies, has all been tweaked to absolute perfection. If you’re a regular reader of these pages, you know full well I call it all as straight as I can – you can take it to the bank & cash it, Zygon is pumping out pure audio gold here that you CANNOT MISS.
While I ranted & raved on the show about loving “Eclipse” before playing “Redshift” – make no mistake, I would have been happy to play either of’em – or literally ANY cut from this record for that matter. “Redshift” is a fantastic introduction to the band and what they’re capable of – and by forty-five seconds or so into it, you’ll be more than convinced of them being the sonic force to be reckoned with, or which I both claim & stand behind Zygon to be. If you’re talking about sound that TRULY stands-out for all the right reasons and audibly leaps from your speakers in that neon 3D way we all love to hear but so rarely find – look no further folks, because Zygon radiates these qualities from every pore of their being. Right off the drop you get the steely grind of the guitars, the tribal beat pounding along with’em, and a whole bunch of pivotal moments along the way that continuously redefine the direction of “Redshift” – and ALL still coming out together into one remarkably cohesive tune. So in a sense, Zygon has nailed it hard by floating this track out there as a lead-single…it’s an excellent example of just how much they can accomplish in a short four-minute timeframe, and the incredible versatility they can pack into such a space. In that same distance, you’ll experience extremely bold melody, wild synth sounds comin’ atcha, a rhythm section that not only never quits, but completely contributes to the compelling results overall – and switches in transformation like you’ll hear around the three-minute mark that should drop your jaws in amazement while your hands reach for the volume to make sure you’re getting the maximum dose of this that you CAN. Zygon’s insanely high degree of universal appeal in the instrumental realm is what absolutely defies description here…that’s where it’s clear to me that nothing I could ever write or say would ever be enough…you have to hear it for yourself to realize just how much you’ll WANT to listen to this music, no matter what your regularly preferred genre or style may be normally. This is a band with the potential, power, material, and talent required to bring new fans to Progressive music.
Listen to the personality in the synths of “Vortex” will ya? Extraordinary. I grew up around keyboards, so believe me when I tell ya, you won’t JUST hear incredible tones and smart sound selection, you’ll hear authentic technique and tons of professionalism at work here between the moves you’ll find made on this tune and in the rest supplied by Henryk Lisowski throughout the record as well if you’re paying close attention or have that musician’s ear. The only thing you’ll find me conceding to ya here is that “Vortex” might not have quite made the same level of impact the first two cuts made…but let’s be real here, Zygon has already proven to be in a class of its own pretty much…at this point, we’re already comparing this band to itself. What you’ll hear on “Vortex” would still be an A-side on any other record, and this one just as much even still…I might not feel like it has the same degree of relentless magic on “Eclipse” or “Redshift” – but in what we’d all consider to be the main hooks and “chorus” of this instrumental tune, are absolutely a memorable highlight in every way. In addition to that, you get the aforementioned wildness between the bass & the keys…the drums and guitars almost choose to play a more secondary role here at the beginning as “Vortex” takes us down the rabbit-hole…but just so we’re all clear here – I am NOT complaining…not even remotely…I’m just tellin’ ya what I think most of you will hear. “Vortex” as far as I’m concerned, is still one massively enjoyable jam that’s got a stunning shift in the energy between its main parts that provides such an uplifting vibe on the way…and whenever that moment seems to pass, you get spots of genius-level clarity like how Zygon moves through the second minute of this cut in the rebuilding afterwards. By the time you’re on your way into that third minute, you’re more than ready for that explosion of colorful sound & style that bursts to life in the design of the chorus melody, and each time it comes up, Zygon delivers on that punch of refreshing energy you want to hear.
With the subtle intensity at the start of “Earth And Sky” and the bell ringing every so often in the background, it took me back to that feeling of Russell Crowe waiting for the clock to tick just prior to the bell tolling in the Quick And The Dead remake, knowing that if he times it all just right, he’ll shoot the winning shot in the duels of the ol’ western streets. It’s such a sensory type of experience where you know something is about to happen, you’re just not sure quite what it’ll be or what the outcome is either…anticipatory sound – is that a thing? That feels like what this is to me…so if that’s not a term yet, we’re coinin’ that one for ourselves today right here, right now. All-in-all, “Earth And Sky” definitely has a large, brooding sound building to its beginning through a slow & steady climb – and I think the break into a more serene moment afterwards will likely come as a surprise to most people listening out there; it’s just not the direction you’d expect it to twist. Soon enough, they fire this machine right back up again and get that level of intensity you were probably anticipating from the very get go – it was a clever move to jam that one small piece in there to lighten this up for just a second before plunging it into deeper & darker terrain…I’m not necessarily saying it always worked for me, but I am saying there’s a lot of value in the unexpected and keeping us guessing as listeners. Whereas tracks like the first three kind of supply you with upfront & quick reasons to love’em, “Earth And Sky” is the kind of track that’ll take a few more spins to absorb and appreciate for its ambitious design & stellar musicianship. There’s still hooks, there’s still a fantastic array of incredible sound in the performance and production to be found – it’s just a degree or two less accessible on a universal scale in comparison to the rest is all, so big deal. What’s got me curious at this point in knowing the Zygon story just a tiny bit more behind the scenes here, which I’ve shared with ya already – is what ended up being the clincher? What is it about “Earth And Sky” that somehow usurped Revelation as being the album’s title-track – and if Revelation was going to be replaced by a song on this record, what was it about this cut that made them choose this particular one over the rest? These are the kinds of questions that interviews were entirely created for – and I’m hoping someone savvy out there can help us all get to the bottom of this mystery one day. When it comes right down to it…hearing the absolutely outstanding clarity in the layers of instrumentation and how awesome the guitars, drums, and even that bell in the background contribute to the experience of listening to this song was a non-stop joy for me – I might like or love other tunes on this record a lil’ bit more by comparison, but make no mistake, I love’em all, and the production is A+, 100% of the time. If you’re a musician or an audiophile – or both – you should love everything about what Zygon is doing and what they’ve created in this lineup of songs. Listen to that guitar from Jasmin Misic around the 1:20-ish mark of “Earth And Sky” will ya? I could eat bowlfuls of that moment for breakfast every day.
If the smart drums on display from beat-master Vlad Leskovsky throughout “What Was That” don’t make you ask that very question in the title, I don’t know what else could! I listened to this track for the first time and that was ALL I could think – “What WAS That” – and HOW did it become THIS amazing? Look y’all…I know the realities of what it’s like to be in a band, and I get it – finding a drummer is not always going to be easy! The way I see it, if you’re one of the few out there lucky enough to secure someone that keep a 4/4 beat in-check from point-A to point-B you’re probably already a cut above the rest. If it gets more complex than that, gravy if they can keep up. Then there’s a whole other level…one where you’ll find bands like Zygon, where drummers like Vlad absolutely contribute to the experience in an essential way that’ll often have’em standing out just as much as any other instrument can, rather than simply sticking to the beat – you feel me? There’s innovative stuff happening on the kit here, and it’s never been better revealed than you’ll hear in the brilliant choices being made throughout “What Was That” or the unbreakable execution you’ll find in’em. You combine all that with the fact that you’ll hear some of the most lively bass-lines in “What Was That” and some of the best guitar solos you’ll find on this record as well…and hey folks…you know what? I think Zygon just might be onto something special here. Have you been picking that up already? The main hooks are riotously rambunctious and straight up killer to listen to – everything about Earth And Sky deserves maximum volume & an equal level of your attention – Zygon rocks my freakin’ world. I’m sorry…what’s that you say? Oh! You wanted something danceable. Well…I hate to break it to all you doubters out there, but they’ve even found a way to do THAT inside of “What Was That” – maybe THAT is what THAT was after all – it was Zygon supplying just another unexpected and wonderful twist.
MINCE MEAT…that’s what Paul Stewart & his crew will reduce ya to in listening to the mammoth sound of “Light Years” and the smorgasbord of audible awesomeness they’ve got in-store for ya here. Weighing-in at a modest 3:39 – again…note a HUGE difference right there alone that you can visually see, which runs rampantly throughout this record – it’s progressive yes, but not overindulgently so in the slightest of ways. There are no twelve-minute monstrosities here that make demands so far over the heads of an audience that they’ll never be able to catch onto them or stick it out for the ride – Zygon’s got everything cleverly dialed into lengths between three & a half to roughly five minutes-plus – and I ain’t even remotely kidding when I say this alone is a massive advantage when it comes to connecting with all the people out there listening. Could Zygon rock for twelve minutes straight? Please folks – they’d put 99.9% of the other bands that attempt that stuff straight into the dirt if they were inclined to throw their hat in the ring, it’s not a question of that. I have the feeling it’s just the organic way they write & play…not some kind of intentional part of the design that comes across forced. I think these songs you’ll hear say exactly what they need to say (without a word, of course) and do what they need to do, and leave you wanting for nothing more by the time they’re all said & done. All the details you wanna hear are there – they haven’t skimped on a solitary second of Earth And Sky, and they’ve maximized the potential of every song’s impact on YOU by keeping these cuts relatively short compared to just about everything else with a ‘Progressive’ tag attached to it in any way. What the real fans of the genre will be outright astounded by, is the fact that you’d never notice the shorter lengths of these songs if you were to simply measure out what’s in’em – pound for pound, Zygon’s still packing in the most sound; and like a sonic tattoo of sorts, they put it all in deep so that the memory never fades. “Light Years” is relentlessly impressive and a definite candidate I’d be looking at as a potential single to be putting out there if I was Zygon to help promote this record of theirs – everything about this song has the band roaring to life from every angle of the musicianship you’ll hear, as cleverly structured as ever. Fueled by savage guitars and all-encompassing drums – “Light Years” continuously gets better & better the deeper it goes…I get so amped-up listening to this track I could throw a chair across the studio from the pure adrenaline & excitement it provides me with. Be warned, Zygon goes completely nuclear here!
As the rhythm supplied by the stellar bass-lines from Paul, sparkling guitars from the essential axe-pert Jasmin, and atmospheric keyboards from Henryk begin to bounce around from the lefts to the rights as the longest track on the record starts up – to cite a Russell Crowe reference for the SECOND time in ONE review – ask yourselves – “Are you not entertained?” The rumble & groove you’ll find in this track’s second minute alone is worth the price of admission – but hearing this band break-loose when it comes time to amp things up to that next-level has led them to constant victories all throughout this entire record. Specifically, dig right into this tune…listen to how they ramp themselves up perfectly – but listen to the sheer fluidity as they transition back OUT of the chaos & mayhem into the most serene moments…like from that second-minute, by the time you’re about 3:10 into “Broken Windows” or later on at about the 4:35 mark prior to the end…honestly, I’m pretty much speechless. I know I write a ton and I tend to go on & on, but that’s the genuine truth here – they’ve got me searching for words on how to go about describing just how stellar the music of Zygon IS. Maybe that’s the key – CAPITAL LETTERS. ZYGON IS AT THE CAPITAL LETTERS LEVEL OF AWESOMENESS – I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS WHOLE REVIEW IN CAPS TO DO THEM SOME DAMN JUSTICE! “Broken Windows” is another exemplary reveal of just how much they’re capable of and the stunning level of focus you’ll find in every ticking second; I think I personally love this song the more spare it got – I really dig its most intense moments for sure & don’t think anyone out there could help but be amazed at the killer sound this crew can pump out at the peak of any given tune on this record – but there was always something about the subtle rumble & grind of “Broken Windows” that always seemed to somehow fire me up even more. It’s just fantastic to listen to folks, I don’t know what else to tell ya – Zygon puts on a clinic of powerful musicianship in this track. For the heights this song will climb to, and the impact that they make in doing so, to come out feeling like it was actually the subtlest moments that carried the most weight is an achievement in itself that no amount of capital letters could fully capture – it shows how successfully dynamic this band can be on multiple levels & completely proves that no matter what gear you find them in, they bring their A-game.
C’MON NOW! How on Earth And Sky are they gonna somehow raise the level of your interest even one iota further than they already have already, you ask? Ha. Right. I mean…I remember thinking that too. Then I heard “Transcend” and realized that somehow this band had still saved some of their best for last – in fact, I’d wager a bet that this final slice of audible awesomeness could verifiably be the favorite cut for a great many of you out there listening. You following all this folks? After EVERYTHING you’ve read already in praise of Zygon both in capital letters and regular-sized text – they are STILL raising the stakes right to the very end somehow? I mean…it’s clear they’re superhuman, that’s pretty much all there is to it and the only explanation that makes any kind of logical sense! As far as any track on this album goes, the high level of enticing sound on display at the start of this song is nothing short of single-worthy – the beginning ride through the first forty seconds is already incredible; to hear them drop into the thickest grooves known to mankind and rock out to the nth degree afterwards was the freakin’ icing on the cake. Astounding ideas, impeccable production, remarkable performance, and genius-level creativity – if this sounds like hyperbole, I assure you it’s not – it’s the sound of what “Transcend” is like to experience. Firing up the chorus-voice synth sounds, the drama and tension and intensity increases as they surge towards the final moments of their debut record…Zygon gives you zero reasons to ever stop listening to Earth And Sky, and every reason to repeat the entire album all over again the very minute it finishes.
I think you get it – I love, love, LOVE this band – it would take miracles to bump this record outta my top ten at the end of 2021. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya, it’s been an amazing year of music so far – I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying it’s unlikely to the nth degree – this album is beyond an A+ in every way from performance to production; and Zygon, a band fully capable of breaking ground in the genre.
It IS a Revelation to listen to – but it’s called Earth And Sky. 🙂
Find out more about Zygon at their official homepage at: https://www.zygonmusic.com
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