Kerzner, Dave - Breakdown: A Compilation 1999-2019

Kev Rowland

Keyboard player and singer Dave Kerzner first came to prominence when he was working with Kevin Gilbert at the time of the ‘Thud’ album and was also involved with Giraffe. As well as founding a sound production company, he has stayed active in the music scene, notably forming Sound of Contact with Simon Collins and co-writing and producing the album ‘Dimensionaut.’ Since then, as well as releasing albums under his own name, he formed In Continuum featuring special guests Steve Hackett of Genesis and more, Mantra Vega, a transatlantic project with former Mostly Autumn singer Heather Findlay, Lo-Fi Resistance with Randy McStine and star-studded tribute albums with his side project Sonic Elements. “Because a lot of my songs have ended up on albums from different bands and projects, as opposed to being easily found on my solo albums, I thought it would be nice to bring a taste of each together in one double CD package at an attractive price to introduce a body of my work to new listeners,” says Kerzner. “While doing this compilation, I also wanted to include previously unreleased outtakes, alternate studio tracks and live versions of songs from these albums so this collection would appeal to those who already have my albums and want more.”

I only have a digital promotional copy, so do hope there are full details in the booklet of where each song originally appeared, as although this is a compilation it is mostly made up of previously unreleased songs, alternate versions or live cuts. For example, “Acceleration Theory Part 2: Annihilation,” features vocalist Jon Davison of Yes, yet was actually co-written by Kerzner and Yes co-founder Jon Anderson (now that does strike me as somewhat strange). He even goes back as far as Gilbert’s ‘Thud’ to provide us with a live version of “Joytown”. As to the personnel on these tracks, it is namedrop after namedrop as not only is there Jon Davidson but Steve Hackett (Genesis), Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Durga McBroom (Pink Floyd), Lorelei McBroom (Pink Floyd), Fernando Perdomo, Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson & The Aristocrats), Nick D'Virgilio (Big Big Train), Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Heather Findlay (Mantra Vega and Mostly Autumn) and many others.

But even though this is a compilation of songs from a twenty year period, they have all been re-recorded, mostly with Kerzner on lead vocals, and the result is an album which is far more consistent than one might imagine. This is gentle Americanised crossover prog which is rarely bombastic, but is far more smooth than many may imagine. One song gently drifts into another, polished and serene. There will be quite a few people who are not aware of Kerzner given the way he is more often associated with bands than his solo work, and I am sure this release will raise his own profile in the way he wishes. It is a great introduction not only to him, but also to some of the bands with which he has been involved over the years, as we get alternate versions such as LoFi Reistance’s “Chalk Lines” and Mantra Vega’s “The Illusion’s Reckoning”. There will also still be plenty of people who have not previously come across Kevin Gilbert, his solo albums or Giraffe (although plenty will have come across some of the songs he had written given that his girlfriend at one time was Sheryl Crow), so to hear “Joytown” being performed live is wonderful – one wonders what Gilbert would be doing today if he hadn’t passed away so tragically in 1996. I don’t know if that is one of the tracks featuring D’ Virgilio but it would be nice if it was, bringing it back full circle. 21 songs, nearly two hours in length, this is a great introduction to Kerzner and his music and is certainly worthy of investigation.

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