Dave “Squids” Kerzner of Sound of Contact is a deservedly respected artist and person in the progressive rock world, with a deeply impressive resume featuring giants of the modern rock world and it was a pleasure to be sent this EP, Hand Land Minds – The Eye, released in advance of the full album, now available on his Bandcamp page at https://sonicelements.bandcamp.com/album/heart-land-mines-vol-1 and it serves as a very strong taster for the main event which is a concept album based upon true events in Dave’s life, sometimes several years ago.
Eye of the Storm opens and is a thoughtful rocker reminiscent of Gilmour’s better solo work. I like the sense of anticipation created as Dave races towards the storm, especially the class guitar solo halfway through leading impressively mixed layers of guitars. When the storm itself hits, the bass rumbles menacingly and the mood is suitably dark before the track descends beautifully into a symphonic prog dive into the maelstrom. A very strong opener.
Dreaming in LA follows, a very catchy slab of Americana. I love the raw feel and sound of Kerzner’s voice here, which takes one back many years to the heyday of West Coast rock. Lyrically, I think this is clever. Every intelligent commentary I have read about the city tells me that for every starlet who makes it, there are 99 others consigned to a life of drabness if they are lucky, or porn, prostitution, drugs, and other assorted ills of modern society. Be careful what you wish for, the lucky ones packing up their dreams and fading away into blissful obscurity. This is a bright pop rock track.
Genevieve is up next. I have not read any interviews with Kerzner about this work yet, so I bring to the table (as is usually the case anyway) my own interpretation to the words, which here talk to me about an assignation with a wonderfully exotic lady from foreign climes over the ocean but who, ultimately, let him down. My take, anyway. Musically, this track to these ears has the feel of a mashup of 70’s influences, with the type of light blues rock Fleetwood Mac were releasing in that period just as Buckingham & Nicks joined, and the more pastoral moments of Led Zeppelin around album number three. None of this is derivative at all, it is simply a blending of styles into a very enjoyable number.
Worlds Apart is the longest number on the EP, weighing in at over six minutes. Thematically, very similar to those yearning, desperately sad and angry moments Waters had in The Wall calling his estranged wife whilst on tour, with her in bed humping her latest beau. I think you will agree with me that Kerzner pulls off a superior vocal performance with emotion wrung out of his words, rather moving, and featuring some very delicately understated keyboard work which alongside a wonderful rhythm section and a heartfelt guitar solo really draw you into the song. A personal highlight of 2023 for me.
Dirty Girl follows this. It is simply a wonderful slice of classic blues with a filthy keyboard, rasping guitars in an exposition of an encounter with an, ahem, rather liberated lady. The “all she wants is love” segment is wonderfully evocative of later dreamy Beatles works and is blindingly effective. Fantastically entertaining.
Too Far Gone closes the work (aside from a single edit of the opening track). When I hear this, it transports me to another age, a musical era populated by the geniuses of Paul Simon, David Crosby, Neil Young – you get the picture. The exceptional vocal performance reaches its apogee on this, a track which is deeply reflective on coming back from hurt and pain. The drums to the close are stunning alongside vibrant and feeling orchestration.
There is some very good music on this, a work which is a long way away from the type of science fiction fusion of New World but is rooted in real world experience and manages that desperately difficult trick of blending together classic influences without ever sounding anything other than wholly original. Very highly recommended.