The press release for this, the new album from Simon 'Son of Phil' Collins, and Dave Kerzner, AKA Sound Of Contact describes it as "...a concept album about a dimensional time and space traveler called Dimo who is on a mission to expand the boundaries of the human experience." Some of you may think "Yikes!", but hold on, for there is nothing wrong with a Big Idea.
There is too much trite music out there, so a little ambition is always welcome. It's better to create music that stimulates the mind and the heart, as well as entertain, than simply manufacture a mere 'product' designed to 'shift units'. Without ideas and ambition we would still be banging rocks together, and listening to One Direction.
Three years in the making, 'Dimensionaut' does not shy away from the aforementioned Big Idea, both musically and in the lyrics. The latter chart the progress and frustrations of Dimo as he/it attempts to take the human race to a higher level. I won't dwell on the story, except to say that it flows well enough, and does not get in the way of the music itself.
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The album opens in true prog style with the atmospheric sound effects driven title track, the sounds of static and radio waves creating a suitably outer space vibe, before fading into the instrumental 'Cosmic Distance Ladder'. This is where the album really kicks in, for it's a memorable guitar driven piece, which acts as an overture to prepare us for the story of Dimo.
The first vocal number is 'Pale Blue Dot', which certainly demonstrates that Collins junior is a definite chip off the old block. Vocally there is an obvious family resemblance, although Simon has a warmer tone to his voice, He's no slouch behind the drumkit either. The song is a study of Planet Earth, and man's arrogance towards it. Man sees himself as all important, but as the song points out he is a small being on an insignificant planet. A pale blue dot indeed.
As I mentioned, I won't spoil the story, and so what about the music? In a word, it's stunning. From the Beatle-isms of 'Not Coming Down' through to the psych 'Remote View' this album is packed with inventive, memorable tunes. Their is even a reggae tinge to parts of 'Beyond Illumination'! The dominant style on the album is, however, classic prog with the fascinating instrumental and melodic twists and turns that this genre is known for.
There's some lovely playing to be found here, and no one instrument dominates the music. Each song is arranged to enhance the mood and the melody, as opposed to the excesses of certain other acts, where the song is merely a platform for showing off the bands prowess. There is not a weak song to found here, although if pressed to choose a favourite I'd plump for 'Beyond Illumination', for it's beautiful melody and thrilling vocal interplay between Collins and guest vocalist Hannah Stobart, best known for her work with Rocket Moth, and Wishing Tree.
Their two contrasting voices working together brings to mind another great collaboration, that of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush on the wonderful 'Don't Give Up'. Hannah's pure voice is the perfect foil for the warmer tones of Simon Collins.
The quality of the music is enhanced by the production, which can only be described as sumptuous. The producers and engineers have given us a warm yet detailed sound, which recalls the classic analogue tones of the great albums of the 1970s, yet with 21st century fidelity. If stll worked in the Hi-Fi industry I'd be using 'Dimensionaut' to display the audio qualities of the equipment. That's all from an MP3. I can't wait to hear this musc in full CD quality.
If it's not already obvious, I love this album! In the first few months of this year, some excellent prog albums been released from Spocks Beard, Lifesigns and Cosmograf, amongst others. If you enjoyed any of those three, you deserve to get your ears around this one too. It mixes the thrilling sounds of the Spocks album, with the pop savvy of Lifesigns, all combined with the spacey sci-fi of Cosmograf. The release of 'Dimensionaut' has made choosing album of the year just that bit more difficult.
This one gets the full 5 pints, and that's 5 pints of Trooper, not your fizzy kiddy beer!
SOUND OF CONTACT – 'Dimensionaut'
01. Sound Of Contact (02:05)
02. Cosmic Distance Ladder (04:43)
03. Pale Blue Dot (04:44)
04. I Am Dimensionaut (06:24)
05. Not Coming Down (06:01)
06. Remote View (03:54)
07. Beyond Illumination (05:53)
08.Only Breathing Out (05:56)
09. Realm Of In-Organic Beings (02:52)
10. Closer To You (05:05)
11. Omega Point (06:29)
12. Möbius Sleep (19:35)
I – In The Difference Engine
II – Perihelion Continuum
III – Salvation Found
IV – All Worlds All Times
Simon Collins – Vocals, Drums
Dave Kerzner – Keyboards, Vocals
Additionial Studio Collaborators:
Kelly Nordstrom – Guitar, Bass
Matt Dorsey – Guitar, Bass
Hannah Stobart – Guest Vocalist