20 Jun 2018
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Seven Zen - EP Review: Dark As Life

23 May 2018 // A review by Corinner
Seven Zen (AKA Riley Popham), is a 14-year-old college student at Mahurangi College in Warkworth. Barely in his teens, he already has a couple of years under his belt as a talented multi-instrumentalist and has been performing covers to impressed audience both live and on YouTube (he can play more than 200 to be exact). This is his debut EP titled Dark As Life. Original material that he composed, arranged, played and produced. 


“The 4 tracks on Dark As Life critically examine the concept of freedom and some of the more dysfunctional developments in our society from the perspective of a Kiwi teen”.

Don’t let his tender age fool you; this is one very talented young man. He has written songs which are thoughtful and thought provoking. There is a serious message in his songs accompanied by a sound that far outweighs his years. I would describe his guitar playing as moody, a perfect accompaniment to his lyrics and vocals.

This is taking the teenage poetry writing of my youth to an extra level. Seven Zen has taken deep thinking and soul searching to another elevation, launching straight into killings in American schools. A song he has written about the gun laws called Preventative Measures. There is no candy floss on this album. It is real and dark. 

The distorted guitar sound, which resonates in places particularly on track 4 Escapees, actually compliments the mood of the EP. Not bad at all for someone who has only been playing the guitar for three years.

Drawn to dark and gritty music, you can hear the musician’s which influence Seven Zen in this album. David Bowie, Nick Cave, The Doors and Pink Floyd, just to name a few. And as teenagers have done for many years, he loves to rummage through his parent's records. This could explain his somewhat sophisticated taste in music.

I am impressed by the maturity and insightful nature of this EP coming from someone so youthful. He is already a skilful songwriter and musician. This is another reason why we should be excited about the future of NZ music. And there are so many of them.

“Dark poetry at the speed of life.”

★★★★ (4 stars)


Review written by Corinne Rutherford

About Seven Zen

After impressing live and YouTube audiences with his extensive selection of live looping covers for a couple of years, talented multi-instrumentalist Seven Zen has now composed, arranged, played and produced his debut release of original material.

A critical examination of the concept of freedom and some of the more dysfunctional developments in our society from the perspective of a Kiwi teen.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Seven Zen

Releases

Dark as Life
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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