Following up on his acclaimed debut album “New World”, Dave Kerzner once again captivates listeners with his 2017 studio release “Static.” Through his concept progressive rock album he navigates the distractions, chaos and clutter in everyday life removing the Static to find clarity and happiness.
Featuring Kerzner on vocals, keyboards and guitars, he is joined by other top musicians including former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Fernando Perdomo of Jakob Dylan, DC3’s Derek Cintron, drummer Nick D'Virgilio of Big Big Train, Randy McStine of The Fringe, Sound of Contact guitarist Matt Dorsey, singer Durga McBroom of Pink Floyd, drummer Alex Cromarty from the band Mostly Autumn, the Sea Horses bassist Stuart Fletcher, bassist Colin Edwin of the dormant band Porcupine Tree, among other fabulous musicians.
The 74+ minute rock opera was primarily recorded at SR Studios in North Miami and mixed in a few places around the world. Produced, mixed and mastered by Kerzner and now released as a stereo 24 bit / 96kHz download from his BandCamp page. Also available on CD, but the hi-res version is reviewed below.
In a wash full of synths Kerzner layers a palette of sonic elements that spread across the soundstage. He builds a wall of sound with bass sinking into the center and drums hitting across the space from left to right. Keyboards stretch to the outer edges with effects swirling across the stereo image.
After the brief “Prelude” where Kerzner’s sultry piano fades into a distorted distant realm, it is overcome by a shearing wind effect which leads into the powerful song titled “Hypocrites.” Jagged guitars strike out the rhythm while multiple vocals drill out the melody. Guitar riffs sink behind the drums and bass with synth solos soaring from the center.
Sparkling acoustic guitars take the left and right channels with Kerzners vocals richly placed closely in the middle on the track “Reckless.” Bass bumps out at the low end with a pleasurable snap to the drums and zing across the cymbals. I always look for well balanced music as a measure of a high quality mix, and Static delivers wonderfully here.
Without a CD copy on hand, I can’t speak to the difference in audio quality for the classic digital medium. However, I can assure readers that the high resolution download, which is available as Wave, FLAC, or Apple Lossless carries a nice dynamic range along with a clarity that one would expect from a 96kHz codec.
Although one would generally classify Static as progressive rock, there are distinct blends of art rock, alt rock, nostalgic rock and atmospheric pieces. Not that this is a bad thing, but one can hear slight differences in the treatment of mixes across the album, most likely a creative choice that presents each song on its own aural canvas.
A standout piece on Static is “Dirty Soap Box” which uniquely sets its self apart with the searing guitar work by Hackett and systematic drum work of Nick D'Virgilio. The timbre and depth of the mix even take a new turn with greater edge given to the upper range and additional space for the guitar to fall into the soundscape. Kerzner’s keyboards are strung from the left to right channels, percolating and swelling along side the rhythm.
Alternating guitars cut through from opposite channels on “Millennium Man,” with a driving drum and punchy bass part. Holding faithful to a delightful aural experience, Kerzner allows for space among the parts perfectly pushing his vocals out from the center.
Closing out the album before the two bonus tracks is his magnum opus “The Carnival of Modern Life,” clocking in at just under 17 minutes. Blurring the lines of prog into other genres, the song moves seamlessly among sections elevating and falling as the story unfolds. The dark thwack of the snare and crystal clear stick hitting the cymbal once again cement my passion for hi-res music. Obviously my readers would agree that a surround mix would take Static to another sonic level by fully immersing the listener in the music. Of course having a 24bit / 96kHz stereo option is absolutely the next best thing, with audio quality that is far beyond many other recordings in the progressive rock world. I seek out gems like this, and find myself returning to listen to well crafted and well recorded music more often.
A must have for progressive rock fans, audiophiles with a passion toward high resolution rock recordings, and music enthusiasts who enjoy great sounding releases.