Sound of Contact – Dimensionaut – Album Review
|Fans Of:||Genesis, Porcupine Tree|
|Download This:||Möbius Slip|
About three minutes into the song I Am Dimensionaut there is some drumkit cleverness. I mention this because if you listen to Duke’s Travels by Genesis you might notice some very similar cleverness. This is no coincidence – Sound Of Contact is the new band featuring Simon Collins, son of Phil. I won’t labour this point because I want to discuss this band and this album, not the music of the drummer’s dad, but there is no denying the Genesis influence here – it comes at you in spades. On top of this Simon drums and sings spookily like his father. I’m not complaining – Phil is one of my great heroes as a musician; without him and his work with Genesis and Brand X I’d probably never have started drumming myself. So, as far as I’m concerned, this is all just spiffing. I will now discuss this no further.
With that out of the way then, what do we actually have here? Well, we have a 71 minute long science fiction progressive concept album about a dimension-jumping space pioneer. Somewhat brave for a fledgling band’s debut disc don’t you think? This was a question I put to Simon and his partner-in-cryme Dave Kerzner during a phone interview they were kind enough to let me inflict upon them, but you’ll have to wait to find out what they said because there isn’t space here. Sorry! Suffice to say, releasing an album such as this would have been commercial suicide just a few years ago. But today? Maybe not… maybe the musical climate is shifting a bit thanks to the likes of Muse, so maybe it stands a chance.
When I first heard that a Collins was drumming on a science fiction themed album I could barely believe my luck – InsideOut Records seemed to have conjured up a record tailor-made specifically for me. Brilliant, eh? However, as is the way with things that sound too good to be true, I assumed it would be too good to be true. But you know what? It isn’t too good to be true. It’s blinkin’ brilliant.
There is so much to enjoy on this album I don’t know where to start. ‘Not Coming Down’ and ‘Closer To You’ are wonderfully catchy tunes that you’ll never get out of your head, ‘Möbius Strip’ (or Slip or Sleep as it is variously named in my press pack) is a full-on twenty-minute progressive suite, ‘I Am Dimensionaut’ is a rocking slice of tricksy prog, ‘Only Breathing Out’ is a modern alt-rock anthem, ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is a bit like latter-period Peter Gabriel, ‘Realm Of In-Organic Beings’ is a spacey Floyd-like soundscape… the list goes on. And through it all, a sense of isolation and wonder is maintained by carefully-chosen soundtrack-like sounds and moods. Progressive, tuneful, exciting, emotional… it’s all here. It even has some computery bleeps.
[As an aside, Dimensionaut reminds me at times of Marscape, the sci-fi prog-fusion epic recorded by Collins senior in the seventies - but you won't have heard that because it's so rare, so I don't know why I mentioned it really...]
To be honest, I’m not sure how they pulled this off – subject matter like this almost always comes across as insincere and overblown when set to music, but here it just doesn’t. It sounds like they made the album they always wanted to. It could also have been a horrid parody of everything Genesis et. al. stood for yet it only ever pays respectful homage to the great bands of yesteryear. Yes, parts of ‘Möbius’ are clearly inspired by Watcher Of The Skies but the differences are great enough that you couldn’t convincingly put forward any claims of plagiarism here. Where ideas from the past are deployed they are given a modern rock sound, keeping this album rooted in the music of today and not of the seventies.
A special mention must also go to the supporting musicians who do a sterling job – although I would actually like for Sound Of Contact to become a fully equal band, rather than ‘Simon and Dave plus assorted others’. As it is, it perhaps runs the risk of being mislabelled as some kind of Simon Collins side project, and I hope not for this band should have a long future ahead of it.
Finally, you might recall from the start of this review that I was fortunate enough to interview Simon and Dave recently. When I return from holiday I’ll type that up. It’ll give you a nice insight into the inner dynamics of Sound Of Contact and into the making of their excellent debut.
Laters (as they say these days).
1. Sound Of Contact
2. Cosmic Distance Ladder
3. Pale Blue Dot
4. I Am Dimensionaut
5. Not Coming Down
6. Remote View
7. Beyond Illumination Feat. Hannah Stobart
8. Only Breathing Out
9. Realm Of In-Organic Beings
10. Closer To You
11. Omega Point
12. Möbius Slip