Recplay [Release date 10.11.17]
The second solo album from Miami-based keyboard maestro and co-founder of Sound Of Contact (Kernzer/Simon Collins) is creating something of a stir in prog circles. Perhaps, of little surprise given the heavyweight guest appearances of Steve Hackett, Durga McBroom (Floyd), Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train) and Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), alongside Sound Of Contact bandmate Matt Dorsey (bass), guitarists Fernando Perdomo and Randy McStine, and drummer Derek Cintron.
The shadow of Floyd permeates proceedings – not just from McBroom’s distinctive backing vocals, but from Nick Mason’s sampled drums on the excellent title track, and in notable elements of Kerzner’s vocal phasing (which also share strong Jeff Lynne tones).
But Static is a far more densely woven piece of prog fabric – one that takes repeated unravelling to reveal riches which combine elements of Kerzner’s favourite rock and classic prog albums blended into a contemporary melodrama.
It’s interesting. Modern day ‘prog’ has come a long way from the rudimentary origins of the genre. In the formative days of Crimson, Yes, and to a lesser degree Genesis, it was what a handful of musicians could throw at a limited number of tape recorder tracks. The infinite possibilities of digital recording and the opportunities (?) that brings, in an obtuse way, almost stymies the creativity that the limitations of the analogue age invoked.
And, for me. that’s the rub with Static. While it may be packed with more time changes than you can shake a stick at, glorious melodies and hooks, not to mention some marvellous playing, like so much contemporary ‘prog’ it’s not that innovative, but basks in the glory of the forerunners of the genre who had no such reference points.
But that shouldn’t diminish from the lure of this ambitious, 78 minute concept album which in many ways charts a parallel course to Steve Hackett’s most recent releases, and, for me, perhaps surpasses them, albeit by not much more than a photo finish.
A hugely accomplished piece of work, both Static and Kerzner’s previous 2014 release New World (which is very much, a ‘companion piece’), can be explored on bandcamp.com. Check them out. If contemporary prog features on your radar, you won’t be disappointed. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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