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Track List: 1. Burning Bridges 6:55 2. Karmakaze 5:11 3. Avalon Mists 8:58 4. Turn That Wave 11:54 5. Dear John 4:10 6. Magic Mile 3:16 7. Passion Play 9:27 8. Fare Thee Well 6:49 All music: by Duhig & Havard, except 8 - by: Duhig, Havard, & Imig. All lyrics: by Havard. Line-up: David Duhig - guitars; keyboards; electronic percussion Glyn Havard - bass guitars; vocals With: Dave Lewis - drums & acoustic percussion Brian Imig - hammer dulcimer (on 8) Allan Price - tablas (on 2 & 6) All tracks produced by: D. Duhig, except 2 & 6 - by: G. Havard & D. Lewis. Engineered by D. Duhig & D. Lewis. Recorded & mixed mainly at "Madeofale" studios, S-Wales.
Preamble. The "Off-Planet" album is the brainchild of two original members of Jade Warrior, David Duhig and Glyn Havard. Though in the line-up of this album, you can also see Allan Price who was the very first drummer for the same Jade Warrior.
The Album. Class and originality, minimalism and eclecticism, contrast and hypnotism: The confluence of these elements, most of which are at least seemingly incompatible, is the key aspect of the music that is presented on the debut Dogstar Poets album. Although "Off-Planet" can be regarded as the first post-Jade Warrior album, there is too little in common between the music of Jade Warrior and that of Dogstar Poets, which, above all, is quite heavy overall. The prevalent 'genre' feature of this output is a unique blend of Modern Art-Rock and Classic Symphonic Progressive with elements of Prog-Metal, and Burning Bridges (1) is the only track on the album where the number of light and heavy musical elements is equal. Nevertheless, heavy elements can be found everywhere in the periodical system of structures that "Off-Planet" consists of. (Indeed, varied structures periodically change each other in any work of progressive music!) With the exception of a couple of tracks: Avalon Mists and Dear John (3 & 5), the same words can be said about the flavors of music of the East, while the last track here, Fare Thee Well (8), is just filled with them. Furthermore, the arrangements that are typical for both of (a 7-tone) European and (5-tone) Eastern Classical Music are also present here and there on the album's closing track, which, in my honest opinion, is the best work of the "Off-Planet" album and is a real masterpiece. However, I regard as masterpieces (okay, as almost masterpieces) most of the songs that are present here. Apart from the said Fare Thee Well, these are Burning Bridges, Karmakaze, Avalon Mists, Turn That Wave, and Magic Mile (1, 2, 3, 4, & 6). The two remaining songs on the album (no instrumentals here), Dear John and Passion Play (5 & 7), are somewhat complex ballads, both of which are excellent and by all means. The solos and riffs of electric guitar, those of bass and percussion instruments, and solos and passages of various synthesizers, play a prominent role in the arrangements on this album. The rhythms and solos of acoustic guitar are really evident only on Karmakaze and Passion Play. The string-like passages of synthesizer (and most of them sound quite realistic, especially those of 'violin', including pizzicatos!) are featured on Burning Bridges, Karmakaze, Turn That Way, and Fare Thee Well. Though the latter of these songs is also rich in clavier- and even sitar-like solos.
Summary. It is really amazing to listen to all the parts of guitars and keyboards on the album, all of which were performed by David Duhig, and understand that after a number of years, he became a genuine multi-instrumentalist. Everything that David did on "Off-Planet" is marked with signs of mastery, and it's clear that it was he who painted most of the canvas that the musical palette of this album consists of. Although the music of Dogstar Poets isn't that complicated overall, it is just filled with magic. So I heartily recommend "Off-Planet" to anyone who agrees that a classy Modern Progressive and Classic Progressive are equally important, and especially - today, when the efforts of most progressive bands and performers are still directed to dig up some treasure from the other's, old and deserted lots.
VM: January 3, 2003
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