This is the debut release from Riley Popham (aka Seven Zen) and features four original tracks of dark distorted indie rock. Not only did he program the drums and play every instrument on this release, but also recorded and produced it. A true solo project.
Preventative Measures drives along with a combination of distorted bass, fuzz guitar and organ, giving the listener an almost nostalgic experience referencing 1960’s garage rock. The lyrics don’t pull any punches and address the subject of school shootings fearlessly.
We Are The People has a dreamy feel with a tastefully applied solo guitar used as the seasoning over a song that drifts along, politely nodding its head to Pink Floyd and early Nick Cave.
Red Sky At Dawn uses a 6/8 feel to give more bounce than the others, and a clever mix of organ and bass create a Spencer Davis-like groove, the exposed vocals assisting the storytelling nature of the lyrics. Organ and guitar are again relied upon to drive Escapees, this time with more space in the verses for Popham to explore his more intimate vocal range, a contrast to the chorus which kicks in with a crescendo of distorted guitar.
Lyrically, the common thread throughout looks at various aspects of personal freedom (or the lack of it), and this ties the four tracks together nicely into an EP with some substance. This is a powerful lo-fi experience and a decent debut that has real honesty to it.
All the more remarkable when you find out Popham / Seven Zen is a 14-year old student at Mahurangi College. He’s doing the rounds on Youtube and has already done a live session on Radio NZ (he had to take the day off school).
If you’re interested in seeing how the next generation of Kiwi musicians develop, keep this one on your radar.