A labour of love for Simon Collins, the son of legendary Phil Collins, Dimensionaut is a concept album from newly formed band Sound of Contact, featuring Simon Collins on vocals and drums (a chip off the old block, eh?), with co-producer/co-writer and keyboardist Dave Kerzner (Sonic Reality, Kevin Gilbert) and the addition of such great co-writers and guitarists/bassists as Matt Dorsey and Kelly Nordstrom as well as Hannah Stobart (Rocket Moth, Wishing Tree) as a special guest in the studio. The live touring line up for Sound of Contact includes Simon Collins on vocals and drums, Dave Kerzner on keyboards, Matt Dorsey on bass, John Wesley (Porcupine Tree, Fish) on guitar and Jonathan Schang (District 97) on drums. With such a fantastic collaboration of talent, it’s hard to see how this album could misfire; luckily, it doesn’t.
Dimensionaut is effectively the story of dimensional time and space traveller called “Dimo” who is on a mission to expand the boundaries of the human experience. The album features a wide range of styles and dynamics from dark and mysterious progressive rock to nostalgic classic rock to high energy alternative to sci-fi film score-infused “space rock”. Sonically textured and rich, the Collins/Genesis lineage really shows here, but is far enough removed to have its own personality. With Collins’ vocals being fantastically reminiscent of his father at his peak, it’s hard not to feel a little 80’s nostalgia, especially with the electronic and synth sensibility this album possesses; this is by no means a bad thing.
This is an album of many highlights, including I Am Dimonsionaut, Only Breathing Out, and Closer to You; all of which showcase this album at its sublime best, and each seem to tip their hats to classic 80s/90s ballads, whilst still retaining their freshness and relevance. As the album progresses it becomes clearer that Collins is indeed a real ballad craftsman, these are the songs in which the music really breathes, and are the points at which the album is at its most harmonic and most emotive.
The stand out track, however, has to be Beyond Illumination which features Hannah Stobart giving a gloriously ethereal vocal performance, as well as gorgeously subtle musical nuances, including a seductive string motif. With an expansive orchestral sense this is perhaps the most recognisable track on the album. It somehow manages to encapsulate a variety of styles and moods, yet remains entirely coherent; this is where classic rock, progressive rock and “space rock” finally collide to reveal the core of the project, meaning that this song perhaps best sums up the feel of the entire album. Another highlight is Not Coming Down, which works perfectly as a by-the-numbers rock song, before it ups its game by moving into a fantastically subversive middle-eight, effectively turning the familiar style on its head, and delivering a song of unexpected intensity and interest.
The only real awkward part of Dimensionaut is on the epic final track Mobius Sleep (clocking in at nearly 20 minutes, and comprising of four sections), which suffers a little from overblown lyrics and heavy-handed arrangements; you feel a little as if the album is losing focus slightly, but even this track can boast some incredible moments.
Whilst imbuing albums with a cosmic ethos to explore the boundaries of sonic-surrealism is well trodden territory, you get the sense here that these are a bunch of professionals at their peak, creating beautiful sounds, enabling this album to deftly tread the tightrope between commercial rock, and niche avant guarde arrangements, allowing it to be both challenging and accessible. Basically you needn’t give yourself a headache trying to figure out the concept and just succumb to the majesty of the experience.
Lush and awe-inspiring, Dimensionaut is a surreal trip through the space-time continuum; majestic and otherworldly, but not so caught up in conceptual trappings that it can’t be enjoyed as simply a collection of brilliant tracks.