Dave Kerzner: New World

The former Sound Of Contact man returns with an inspired collection.

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Dave Kerzner’s departure from Sound Of Contact a year ago was an immense frustration given the potential demonstrated on their superb debut.

And although his former bandmates are continuing without him, it’s clear from listening to this mesmerising album that Kerzner’s craftsmanship will be missed.

With such a tumultuous backdrop, you might envisage that his solo debut might merely be an exercise in stabilisation, speedily releasing an album to gradually rebuild his profile. Instead he’s recorded something of such immeasurable quality that it legitimately outstrips anything he has recorded before.

Kerzner possesses a skilful knack of augmenting his wide-ranging influences with his own modern, distinctive style, giving the music an original twist. Admittedly, it would be ludicrous to overlook bands such as Pink Floyd, ELO, Genesis and The Beatles, whose nuances appear throughout New World. There have been many acts who have attempted to emulate and recycle Floyd, but they’re mostly poor counterfeits. It’s some achievement that Kerzner manages to come very close to equalling (and in some cases surpassing) the triumphs of such acts. Nowhere is that more apparent than on opener Stranded (Parts 1-5). With a luxuriant Floydian intro and Gilmour-esque vocal phrasings, it’s an obvious antidote for those who found The Endless River disappointing.

Kerzner has raided his expansive contact book to rope in a startling list of guest musicians. Critically, they’ve been recruited as contributors rather than core writers, which ensures musical consistency: the likes of Steve Hackett, Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin, Keith Emerson and Francis Dunnery have only enhanced the material.

Indeed, it’s that coherence that’s the other striking aspect of New World. From the lilting Into The Sun through to the glorious fusion of Abacab-era Genesis and ELO on Nothing, it’s an unremitting journey. My Old Friend is dedicated to the memory of the late Kevin Gilbert, with whom Kerzner worked in the mid-90s. Along with the title track, it provides a welcome emotional interlude.

Yet it’s the formidable 17-minute finale of Redemption that encapsulates the album’s sophisticated, restrained indulgence. Mixing grandiose, vulnerable segments with the duelling guitars of Hackett and Dunnery, it is a captivating, career-defining moment. New World is

a spellbinding modern progressive rock collection that proves Kerzner’s a solo artist to reckon with.