Level 1 - Peace of Mind
Review by Gary Hill
We're all familiar with Christian rock bands, but American Zen is most likely the first Buddhist rock band you've ever heard. They may well be the only one in existence. Now that we've got that out of the way, what kind of music do they play? Well, this is a unique disc in many ways. Well get to the biggest part later, but for now, let's focus on the music. American Zen's sound is really pretty hard to classify. There are songs here that probably fit loosely into progressive rock, but most of the music is in a folk rock based alternative style. A lot of times these guys sound a lot like The Might Be Giants and Violent Femmes, but you can even hear a little Jethro Tull on this disc at times. The music is overall pretty darn good, but there are stronger tracks and weaker ones. The production values are a bit of a problem, though. While I have heard discs with far worse recording quality, this one definitely is not in the upper percentile range. Still, this isn't bad enough to take away from the listening enjoyment.
You might be asking, "so what is the biggest way that this CD is unique?" Well, there are 22 tracks on the CD, but those of you who are perceptive will notice there are only 11 tracks listed in the track by track review. The reason for this is that the last 11 slots on the disc are unaccompanied poetry readings. So, this aspect truly sets this disc apart. It is also why I didn't do a track by track of all the "songs".