Cherry Red [Release date: 22.11.19]
Dave Kerzner is a deservedly celebrated musician and producer who has had a long and varied career both as a solo artist and as a member of a number of excellent bands.
Starting out with the almost post-punk Thud (with Kevin Gilbert) he has subsequently made his career in progressive rock with the likes of Lo-Fi Resistance, Sound Of Contact (with Simon Collins), Mantra Vega (with Heather Findlay) and, most recently, with the outstanding In Continuum (with Randy McStine and Marco Minnemann).
And as testament to his musical status, progressive rock luminaries such as Steve Hackett, Francis Dunnery, Nick D’Virgilio and Dave Kilminster all rock up to lend a hand.
‘Breakdown’ is a compilation of tracks from all the aforementioned bands plus Kerzner’s solo output – though it doesn’t follow the well-trodden path of these things as many tracks are either live, alternative or instrumental versions.
Now this might be an issue for Kerzner’s fans as it’s a moot point as to whether these versions outdo the originals, but anyone new to him cannot fail to be impressed with the diversity and sheer musicality of what’s on offer here.
Spread over two discs, Disc One draws heavily on Kerzner’s ‘New World’ and ‘Static – Live’ albums whilst Disc Two is more diverse with Lo-Fi Resistance, Mantra Vega, In Continuum and Sound Of Contact all making an appearance.
Disc One kicks off with the classic progressive rock of ‘The Lie’ which, with its great riff and nice guitaring from long-term band member Fernando Perdomo, sets in train a very enjoyable and varied ride.
From the dreamy ‘Ocean Of Stars’ to the ELO-like ‘Nothing’, the emotional ‘Static’ to the Beatlesesque ‘New World’ (featuring Francis Dunnery) and the middle-Eastern vibe of ‘My Old Friend’ (a tribute to Kevin Gilbert) to the Floydian tropes of ‘Into The Sun’ the interest rarely dims and the musicianship is exceptional.
The only bum-custard-interface-scenario is with the rather atypical ‘Reckless’ which grates somewhat.
Disc Two rocks in with the drums-high-in-the-mix (always a good thing (!)) classic prog of Paranoia – the backing vocals of the McBroom sisters (of Pink Floyd fame) confirm that this is the point where IQ, Pink Floyd and Yes intersect.
‘Scavengers’ is a fast-paced rocker with spacey vocals courtesy of Yes’s Jon Davison which is salved by the ghostly intro and quintessential instrumental prog of ‘No Readmission’.
The pulsing riff and cascading keys of ‘Crash Landing’ is enhanced with an unmistakeable Steve Hackett solo -though the Mantra Vega track ‘Every Corner’ is an instrumental, thus denying us the golden warble of Heather Findlay.
The pounding riff of ‘All That Is’ (an InContinuum track) with Jon Davison again on vocals is so Yes and things come to a sublime finish with a trio of tracks from Kerzner’s time in Sound Of Contact – ‘Only Breathing Out’, ‘Omega Point’ and especially ‘Not Coming Down’ being album highlights.
Kerzner certainly deserves to be better known, but it’s a real tribute to him that he can call on so many of the great and good within progressive rock to contribute to this excellent compilation – and here is as good a place as any to begin to explore his rich musical history. ****
Review by Alan Jones
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