New World Deluxe by Dave Kerzner
By Alan Dawes. Rating 10/10
The standard version of New World was released last December, even though it was released so last in the year it had enough impact to finish in the top 10 albums for 2014 in Prog magazine readers poll.
The deluxe version of this incredible album has just been released and I truly believe it should top the readers poll this year. It would be an amazing achievement as it faces tough competition from Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett and David Gilmour.
For those of you unfamiliar with Mr Kerzner and this project, here is a brief history lesson.
Dave Kerzner first came to peoples notice as a member of Thud and then Giraffe which were both projects by the late, great Kevin Gilbert. After Kevin’s untimely death, Dave continued to write songs but mainly spent his time working at his Sonic Reality company recording sound samples for keyboard software so if you want Nick Mason, Neil Peart, Keith Emerson and many others playing on your own material it is possible with SR software.
A meeting with Simon Collins led the pair working together and eventually to the formation of Sound of Contact with Kelly Nordstrom and Matt Dorsey. The band recorded Dimensionaut , which was released to critical acclaim and the band went on to receive the best newcomer at last years prog awards. Upon returning home after The Night Of The Prog festival in Germany, Dave set about writing new material. It didn’t really come as a major surprise when it was revealed that he had left SoC.
After spending a few months writing and recording demo’s it was time to put a band together and set about creating his debut solo album. A kickstarter campaign was created on 27th June to try any raise $17.000 to fund the album by 6th August. The backers responded and nearly double the required amount was raised in the required time.
Dave recruited his old Thud bandmate Nick D’Virgilio on Drums and another friend Fernando “The Fretmeister”Perdomo on guitars. They were soon joined by several guest artists.
New World is a concept album that follows the story of “The Traveller” a man stranded in a vast desert after his ship has crashed and his journey to safety. I won’t go into the full details of how this journey progresses. I think if you gave the story outline to a dozen sci-fi authors, you would end up with twelve completely different books. So listen to the music, look at the artwork and write your own story.
So why should I buy the deluxe version instead of the standard? Well unlike most deluxe versions of albums this isn’t just the basic album with an extra cd thrown in with a few out takes and rough demos.
The deluxe version is an extension of the standard, the original 11 tracks are spread across the 2 CDs and another 12 tracks were added. As a follower of the kickstarter campaign I know that 3 of these tracks were originally meant to be on the standard release. The extra tracks have enhanced what was already a superb album.
I think to get the best from this album, put on some headphones, crank the volume and enjoy this incredible cinematic masterpiece.
New World opens with an extended version of Stranded a five part epic that sets the scene for the album. If this was a movie it would be shown as a series of flashbacks as The Traveller makes his way to safety. This track features A brilliant guitar solo from Steve Hackett and has backing vocals from Ana Cristina, Durga McBroom from Pink Floyd and Jason Scheff from Chicago. I must mention part five The Darkness, the vocal work on this part is amazing.
The recording sessions were still in progress when Dave was contacted by Keith Emerson to say that he was doing a radio show in the UK and that he wanted to play something from New World. As Stranded was the song closest to being finished, Dave did a quick mix and the whole song was played on Planet Rock Radio. After Dave’s initial mix he then took Stranded to Tom Lord-Alge to be re-mixed for the single release.
Next up is Into The Sun, once again extended from the standard release. Colin Edwin plays fretless bass on this track and the wonderful Heather Findlay provides backing vocals. The track builds in intensity throughout its nine minutes until Fernando Perdomo takes centre stage and unleashes a killer combination of solo and bass line. The original plan was to finish with a keyboard solo, but the guitar work was just too good to ignore.
The Lie is the first track on the album that I think could appeal to mainstream radio. At just over five minutes and with a really catchy chorus it isn’t too long. This song features the core band of Kerzner, Perdomo and D’Vigilio
The Traveller is the first of the new tracks and features Dave on keyboards while Heather recites some lines from Into The Sun.
The Secret was originally pencilled in for the standard release. It must have been an extremely hard decision to leave this out. Songs this beautiful are a rarity. Once again the song starts out calmly and builds in power throughout. The slide guitar on this is stunning.
Reflection is another short piece which could compete with any chill out album you care to mention. Really nice orchestration on this track which leads into Under Control which is very powerful. Both of these tracks are just Dave on his own playing all the instruments. This one is perfect for all the paranoid people out there.
Premonition Suite is mainly instrumental. The five parts link different parts of the album. Dave shares the writing credits on this track with Francis Dunnery who provides killer guitar on part two Resilience 1. It’s Dave’s turn for a solo on part four Altered State, sheer brilliance.
In The Garden is another work of art, beautifully written and performed. I love the acoustic guitar on this track and the vocals from Durga McBroom are superb.
The same can be said for the last two tracks on CD1, The Way Out and Recurring Dream are both excellent and could quite easily have been chosen for the standard release. The vocal work on the last track is incredible.
CD2 opens with Biodome which is a short into track with David Longdon reciting part of New World. This leads straight into the instrumental masterpiece Crossing Of Fates.
When Dave was recording Keith Emerson’s modular Moog for Sonic Reality, Keith played a solo part which Dave built this piece around. This is keyboard heaven as Dave and Keith take turns to show their skills. The rhythm section on this track is a change from the rest of the album. Billy Sherwood was recruited on bass and drums are provided by Simon Phillips.
Theta is another instrumental with backing vocals by Durga and Maryam Tollar who has an amazing voice. Also on board for this track is another musician from the days of Thud. Satnam Ramgotra plays tabla which gives the track it’s mystical feel. This leads into My Old Friend which is dedicated to Kevin Gilbert. Once again Maryam provides stunning vocals. Russ Parrish from Steel Panther sheds his Satchel persona to reunite with his Thud band mates and provide a blistering solo.
Ocean Of Stars wasn’t originally meant to be on the standard album but it couldn’t not be. Everything about this track is perfect. If the Grammy’s or Brits handed out awards for songwriting instead of just being a popularity contest between record companies, this would take some beating.
Solitude is vocal heaven. They are provided by the beautiful songbirds from Aussie Floyd. Lorelei McBroom, Lara Smiles and Emily Lynn join the band for this chilled track. Drums are by Nick Mason via Sonic Reality.
Nothing is another song that could be played on mainstream radio. Co-written with Fernando this has an ELO feel to it and I think it could be a big hit. It features great solo’s from Dave and Fernando.
Erased is a short cinematic instrumental which leads into Realign. Both this and the following instrumental Nexus were originally meant to be on the standard release.
The next track is New World and this is another contender for the songwriting awards. The lyrics are sheer bloody poetry. Francis Dunnery plays lead guitar and David Longdon does an excellent job with the backing vocals.
The album closes with Redemption (Stranded parts 6-10) another five part epic clocking in at over twenty minutes. Francis plays lead guitar and gets co-writer credit for Resilience 2 and Steve Hackett plays on the last two sections Mirage Of The Machines and To The Light. The album closes with Hackett solo which is a great way to finish any album.
I must mention part eight. High On The Dunes is destined to become a concert highlight on par with Dave Gilmour on top of the wall or Genesis playing Afterglow, the section is spine tingling. It is so powerful that it is bought back as a secret track at the end of the album.
I asked the question, why should I buy this instead of the standard. Simply put you would be mad not to.
This is different to a lot of recent releases from progressive groups, we don’t get fifteen time changes within the first two minutes, strange off tempo drumming that sounds like he’s completely forgotten what song he’s playing or solo’s that seem to be nothing more than someone trying to tune their new 37 string bass guitar.
What you do get is a collection of well crafted music. Every track plays it’s part in the story, there is nothing that can be regarded as filler. The musicianship is first class as is the production and packaging.
The brilliant artwork was done by Christine Leakey, who also provides vocals on Ocean Of Stars and Premonition Suite and this is a good reason you should buy the CD instead of download.
Albums this good are as rare as hens teeth. For me this is the best album I’ve heard in a very long time. I know when it comes to handing out the awards at the end on the year, Steven Wilson will sweep the boards but in my opinion there is not a single track on Hand.Cannot.Erase that is anywhere near as good as anything on New World.