Please note: I recently had a conversation with Dave Kerzner (keys, guitars). When this album released, so many reviewers assumed that Simon Collins was the brains behind this operation. It was probably the idea of Phil Collins’ son making prog music that sullied our minds. From Dave’s perspective, this album is mostly his own. He wrote many of the songs on his own, co-wrote others, and adjusted songs that Simon had written himself. The lyrics and story, while Simon had the seed of an idea, were mostly written by Dave, as well. I have corrected this spotlight, as a result, to remove Collins’ name as the writer, electing to put “band” instead of specific names.
1. Sound of Contact
Sound of Contact’s “Dimensionaut” is a story of love, depth, and hope. It’s a story with grounded humanity, despite its lofty sci-fi themes. In fact, I believe this album seeks to show us our own humanity more clearly than ever.
This introductory track is called “Sound of Contact”. “Some when some how/ Earthshine, sunlight/ It’s all the same/ Daydream, take flight.” This track introduces us to our dimensionaut; the traveler of time, space, and dimensions. He has mighty power to travel, perhaps using his mind, I suppose. That’s one tricky thing about this album: much of the lyrical content could be interpreted on a purely symbolic basis. Perhaps this dimensionaut is merely a drugged up soul that experiences an epiphany, or maybe we’re actually talking about a real traveller of dimensions. I think it can be interpreted either way. As Dave pointed out to me recently, perhaps he is a drugged up soul struggling to come to grips with his very real power. There are many perspectives here.
Anyways, the dimensionaut sees planets and stars alien to Earth’s solar system. He sees the wonders of the universe. Yes, he soars to the mind’s edge; finding, searching, and seeing. Is there anything this man – this consciousness – hasn’t experienced?
2. Cosmic Distance Ladder
The second track on “Dimensionaut” is especially tricky, even though it is almost entirely an instrumental track. There are some lyrics, however, that shed light onto what is happening. “We’re unstoppable/ As we step into/ The cosmic distance ladder”.
The cosmic distance what? The cosmic distance ladder is basically a group of methods that scientists use to measure distances in space. No one method works for every selection of distances, so there is a succession of methods that has been dubbed a “ladder”. The infinity symbol on the front of “Dimensionaut” is the band’s visualization of the cosmic distance ladder. It’s basically his time machine.
And, yet, as I said before, there is more to this then the idea of a system of measurement or some type of ship. Perhaps it’s referring to something even deeper, such as the personal cost accrued through a group of experiences necessary to reach certain epiphanies. Again, it can be both, depending on your perspective. I’m convinced this is the band’s purpose in the first place. One of the most important aspects of my spotlight feature is commentary and my own interpretations, so bear with me here.
3. Pale Blue Dot
“I’m feeding love/ feeling pain and the in-organics/ I, I am not afraid to try and understand it”. We finally arrive to the first “normal” song on “Dimensionaut”. This song, “Pale Blue Dot”, shows the band’s love for Carl Sagan and his illustration of the earth as a pale blue dot within a vast universe. However, it is also the beginning of the story.
Our dimensionuat has landed on earth. He’s a nobody, but only because he’s been freed from that kind of struggle. And he’s here to help. He’s here to free others, but he’s searching for something, also. In specific, he has a message that he wants the inhabitants of earth to understand: “No matter how hard we try/ We still can’t deny/ We’re a pale blue dot”.
But what does this mean? Well, when man first photographed the earth from space, it changed people’s concepts of mankind and what we mean in the grand scheme of things. All of a sudden, our lives were put in perspective. We are tiny beings on a tiny planet in the middle of an enormous universe. Do our problems, squabbles, and issues really matter? Do we even really matter?
You see, the band sees this as freedom: When we put our lives in true perspective, we can begin to prioritize. Money? War? That argument you just had with your spouse? Our problems seem enormous, and we pretend like we are the center of the universe. But are we really? Are we really that important? And, if we aren’t that important, how petty does that make our problems? More on that later, though.
4. I Am Dimensionaut
In the fourth track on Sound of Contact’s debut album, we begin to get to know this dimensionaut a little more. “I’m not inhuman/ But I have lost all sense of self/ I pray for resilience/ Disguised as someone else”. Indeed, he is not some kind of superior being, god, or alien. He’s a man. He’s a man that is searching and somewhat lost in the chaos of this world.
“Swallow all ’til ruin/ Then I wonder why I ache/ I’m not the only one/ Many fall from their mistakes”. He’s a man that has been so focused on everything else that he’s forgotten what it means to be human. And, as he visits his home planet once again, a spark of humanity ignites in his soul. He sees the sorrow, heartache, and pain. He sees the abuse, the murder, and the depression. And he wants to do something about it.
However, one of the most important things to remember about this whole album is that this dimensionaut doesn’t have the answer. He doesn’t. Not yet. He can give some perspective (“Pale Blue Dot”), but he doesn’t have the answer for all the problems in the world. And his own heart aches because of it, as he can sense those problems within him, too.
5. Not Coming Down
“In a cloud, take a look around/ You’re so high you’re not coming down/ Broke the reins, fading away/ You’re so high, you’re not coming down.” In this next track on “Dimensionaut”, the title character is searching for something to answer humanity’s problems. “Not Coming Down” reflects something he notices: the way humans try to escape their current realities.
“So clever you don’t have a clue/ What is real and what is half of the deal”. Indeed, this song is about humans getting high and becoming nothing useful or valuable to society. The music video for this track is actually quite in tune with the lyrics, as we see a man spiraling out of control in his relationships due to his drug addiction. When you devote so much time to cheating reality, how can you expect to flourish in any way? As Dave mentioned to me recently, perhaps this man is lost in his own addiction because he is trying to ignore the power within him. He has the power to change the world, as we all do, but chooses to stay in his cage.
Instead of seeking answers, the man wallows in his own confusion. Instead of loving, the man barely knows there are people around him. He is lost. Indeed, this is not the answer the dimensionaut is seeking. In the video, it almost seems as if the dimensionaut is the addict himself. Seeing himself from the outside, he calls out to himself in shame because he knows that this is not the answer. There is something else. Something transcendent.
6. Remote View
“The further I go/ The more it shows/ And all that we know/ Everything is always”. As we continue the spotlight of Sound of Contact’s “Dimensionaut”, we arrive at “Remote View”, a song that might confirm my suspicions about the protagonist.
This track involves the dimensionaut directly after being disappointed by how humans try to escape reality rather than understand it, which he finds in himself most of all. He digs deeper and deeper to find meaning and to find the source of humanity’s problems. “Floating above/ Blinding starlight/ You’re never alone or out of sight/ I’m flowing in and flowing out/ Constant motion all about”.
In the mind’s eye, he floats above the world, seeing things in perspective. He can see the eternity of the universe—the eternity of Being. He can see what a small thing sorrow is in relation to the rest of creation. Additionally, I think this track confirms the idea that the dimensionaut is merely a drug addled man that is beginning to see the light. He dives into drugs to avoid the noise and chaos of this sorry world, but his inner self is crying out for fulfillment and true purpose. This ethereal track, then, is the beginning of the dimensionaut’s enlightenment on the human condition.
7. Beyond Illumination
“All this time and out of place/ Some when some how/ Beyond illumination/ And I still see your face”. The answer was so obvious. The answer was always in front of his face. Somewhere in the distant past, this dimensionaut had loved. He had loved and lost. How could he not remember himself?
There was a woman, a woman with such splendor and warmth. But she’s gone, and he’d forgotten himself and forgotten how to feel. This illuminating moment that he has in his ethereal journey simply knocks the wind out of him. How could he have forgotten?
“No, don’t leave me now/ This world belongs to you and I/ No, don’t leave me now/ I’ll come back a better man”. Or maybe he left her? His memory is so fuzzy. He wanted to be a better man for her, but lost himself in the process. What to do? This feeling – this love: Is this what he has been searching for throughout the universe? Is this the answer to the problems plaguing humanity? Is this the end of the journey?
The drugged philosopher is beginning to see what he has done to himself. His mental journey has come all the way back around to the people in his own life. The grand answer to all of humanity’s problems lies right within reach, but often unrecognized. In the haze, the dimensionaut can still see his love one’s face.
8. Only Breathing Out
“Only Breathing Out”, a truly wonderful track, gets us closer to the end of this cosmic inner journey. Besides being beautiful, this track is also so relatable and so emotive. “I don’t know what I’m gonna face/ Looking down and inside/ A soul lost without a trace”. Our dimensionaut came to Earth to share his perspective; but by observing the people, he came to understand his own humanity, his own frailty, and his own emptiness. He feels as if he is only breathing out, never breathing in the breath of life or the freshness of continuity. He feels desolate.
But why? His love is gone, but she’s really still there. He remembers the feeling of being with her, and thinks that it will never return. What can he do? Embroiled in the troubles of life, he’s forgotten who he is. Obsessed with his problems, he feels like his body is not his own. He thought he could fix this world, but he must start that journey by fixing himself first.
He calls out to his love. He needs her back with him. “Hear me now, hear me now/ So alone, no returning, so alone”. But she had never gone anywhere. She was there the whole time, waiting for him to come down from his cloud.
9. Realm of the In-organic Beings
We now come to a short instrumental track called “Realm of the In-organic Beings”. This track is very interesting, as it pays obvious tribute to Pink Floyd. However, the sense of glory and enlightenment is truly palpable here. If you look up the lyrics for this track (though there are none, really), Sound of Contact does list some.
“Another earth or another you?/ Shadows thrive where the spirits fly/ From boy to man to beyond the cell/ Embrace the power from the planet’s eye”. In this song, then, I see the dimensionaut ending his cosmic journey. He’s found the answers he seeks, and now he’s ready to act. He comes down from his high to become a completely different person, so much so that the world feels like a different place. He’s matured. He’s learned. He’s loved. And now, he’s ready to embrace what he should have accepted all those years ago.
10. Closer to You
“Closer to you/ Closer to me/ Eroding with time/ Like shells in the sea/ A heart overflowing/ The thought of just knowing/ I throw you a line/ And you set me free”. Freedom, sweet freedom. The dimensionaut has travelled through time and space to find that his starting place is where he should have been the whole time. He was so busy looking for some magical truth or some epiphany of peace that he missed the essence of life right before his eyes: love. Love is the answer.
“Closer to you”. He won’t ever leave now. He’s found, or rediscovered, that life’s problems are solved through love. Depression, war, and everything else: If the world would just love itself! His journey has brought him closer to her than ever, though.
“I tear down the walls/ to be back with you”. He won’t ever give up what he has found. He’s seen all there is to see, and yet his greatest treasure is his love. He will fight for her. He will relish her forever. And, honestly, this dimensionaut has finally found his peace and his home.
11. Omega Point
“They cannot break us down/ I’ll erase the pain somehow/ There’s a way to save us now”. Falling and flying quickly through the in-between worlds has taken its toll on the dimensionaut. He’s been ripped apart in soul, and shredded in spirit. Yet, here he is, and he’s found himself again.
“Discover who you are/ All of who you are/ Remember who you are”. He admonishes us: Discover yourself. He deems that this is the way to save us all. It is the way to end the problems that humanity faces. If we discover who we as human beings really are, any logical person would be changed to the very core.
Indeed, the band is begging us to find the Omega Point, the maximum level of consciousness and complexity towards which we are evolving. This requires that we dig into places that we might want to leave alone. It requires that we flesh out and talk about problems that most would leave covered. This state of being, this Omega Point, would theoretically be a utopia as human beings would have perfect understanding. Can this really exist? In order to find out, we have to face ourselves first and foremost.
12. Mobius Slip
This final track on “Dimensionaut” is called “Mobius Slip”. This epic would require several chapters of a book to cover, but I think the most important concept to understand is what a Mobius Slip really is. It seems to be a group learning solution, wherein the human race can grow and change.
“Programmed believers/ Chase the dragon of salvation/ In search of the Garden Of Eden”. This album isn’t really about a traveler of time, space, and dimensions. It’s not about a nomad of the in-between places. This cosmic journey is an allegory for the life and enlightenment of the human soul. He, like his fellow humans, was chasing utopia through what other people say to do. He was a drone, constantly searching for a place or a thing that would grant true freedom and hope, and he was searching through all the most popular channels. The chains of this compliance, as well as the horrors of what men do to each other, had broken him completely.
He never found this place of hope at first, because “No such place is found/ Nor was it ever a place but a way/ A combination of actions”. In other words, hope and purpose isn’t a place, but something that we created through our actions. It wasn’t a place. It wasn’t a thing. Heaven, utopia, or nirvana were all found in living like we were created to live. In loving our collective self, and thus, loving our fellow human beings. Man lost this so long ago; and this affected the dimensionaut through a life that was spinning out of control as he pursued happiness through drugs, sex, and solitude.
“I have traveled all this time/ I recognize who I was and what I am”. Understanding the meaning and purpose of life is more valuable than anything else in this life. Our “dimensionaut”, I believe, is nothing but a weary soul with an active, introspective mind. He’s been thinking and exploring, searching and searching. And here he’s finally found it: love and, thus, purpose. The most basic human response, or what should be, anyways. So, he gives up his habits. He gives up his life of moving from place to place. “Now I feel I can’t go on/ Without you in this life/ And all the love inside”. Love satisfies. Love ends the strife, stress, and pain. Love is what we are built to express and receive. At the journey’s end, happiness and unity await.