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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Capital Zen

Capital Zen

Review by Gary Hill

A lot progressive rock purists are very specific about what types of sounds can be merged with rock to produce music called “progressive rock.” Classical is great, so is jazz and even funk. To their minds, though, things like heavy metal, reggae and funk are off-limits. Well, they probably won’t consider this progressive rock, then. Reggae does show up here, but the key element is funk. I’d say this ties closest to music like Primus, Frank Zappa and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I also make out some RIO at times and Pentwater here and there. All in all, this is a highly original and entertaining disc, and I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Big Brother

Fusion meets jazz in this killer arrangement that reminds me a lot of Frank Zappa. They take us out into some more traditional prog territory for a while, then power into some RIO like music and turn into screamo for a time before moving it into trippy space. We get returned into the funk beyond that, but they keep adding little odd angles here and there as they continue.

Toast to Life
They start this with an almost reggae funk. Then it moves to metallic modern prog. From there, though, it shifts to reggae like jamming again. These contrasting elements are interspersed here and there throughout as this cut continues. At times I’m reminded of Pentwater here, while other things make me think of Frank Zappa.
The Same Mistake
Mix some serious funk with Primus and Frank Zappa. Now you are pretty close to this cool, but odd, cut.
The Working Song
This starts off with the sound of someone sleeping and an alarm going off. The whole waking up process is captured along with some serious funk. From there they fire out into a killer jam that’s equal parts funk, fusion and progressive rock. They include a little graduation music in this later and there’s some killer slap bass on display in this piece.
I Wanna Be on TV
Although the melodic verse might come close, this killer jam is probably not really prog rock at all. That said, it’s still a cool funky rocker that’s quite original and fun.
Taking it Back
While there are plenty of the musical modes heard on the rest of the disc, this is more decidedly progressive rock oriented.
In the News
A hard rocker, the only real progressive rock influences here are the Frank Zappa ones. It also reminds me a lot of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There is a real prog oriented instrumental break, but it’s short.
Control Z
This is perhaps the strangest cut on show here. It veers here and there between funky near punk, fusion and more standard modern progressive rock. I also make out some Pentwater here and there on this.
Turn Your Light On
Here is a frantic cut that’s mostly tied to Red Hot Chili Peppers. This one definitely earns itself a parental warning for the lyrics. There are some proggy moments later in a killer jam. There is also a killer melodic rock jam further down this musical road. 
A harder rocker, this is perhaps less progressive rock on this than some of the others. Certainly Primus is a link here, as are The Chili Peppers. This is still a smoking hot rocker and the bass work is incredible.
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