Dogstar Poets - Off-Planet

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Aftermath/Hi-Note
Catalog Number: AFT1011
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:40:00

Dogstar Poets are David Duhig on guitars, keyboards, secret sounds and electronic percussion, Glyn Havard on vocals and bass guitar, Dave Lewis on drums and acoustic percussion with guests Allan Price on tablas for "Karmakaze" and "Magic Mile," and Brian Imig on hammer dulcimer on "Fare The Well." As a some prog fans might recognize, Duhig, Havard and Price are all former members of Jade Warrior.

On the one hand Off-Planet is a mild mannered release ? there is a laid-back easiness with which this album reveals itself (and perhaps too laidback). On the other hand, there are those frenetic and fiery guitar leads that are anything but staid. The sound here is very much a mix of things, and I thought of bands like Kraan, though Dogstar Poets aren't as jazzy, and of latter day Camel. Mention of these two bands, brings with it this thought. There is something that comes with age. And musicians who reach a certain age - chronologically or experience-wise - tend to do more with less, leaving behind the flashy, showy pyrotechnics of youth for the slower burning fires of maturity. And if the artist views the results of their labors as art - and I mean art in a traditional sense, something sculpted, painted, chiseled, designed, built, etc., something I don't see a lot of modern pop being really? oh, lets say "high art" - then attention to subtlety and nuance becomes an important element in crafting the sound. All this can be heard in Off-Planet. You will find something in the quiet (and not so quiet) repose of these pieces, from the simmering "Burning Bridges" to the hazy atmospheres of "Avalon Mists" to the muted shimmering of "Dear John" to the at once ambient and dark, angular, march-like textures of "Turn That Wave." Actually, this latter track is interesting? and has what I can only describe as a "classic" guitar sound? just a shimmering fluttery sound that recalls the 70s? and Hendrix in a way, I suppose (who Duhig admits has been an influence).

It is during the guitar solo of "Turn That Wave," with Duhig playing a flurry of notes, bending and grinding the sound with such passion (hot damn that guy can play, you find yourself saying), that you realize that you wish the sound production was a little more lively. That it didn't have this hazy laid-back feel ? drowsy, in a way. That is, everything is so laid back, even the production, that these hot leads are set at a distance. You do want to hear them a little more up front, a little more the focal point... A punchier mix I suppose. The energetic "Magic Mile" loses something in its muted sound, a rocker that you know could shine (and does in terms of groove and energy and performance) if only the sound production were a little more polished.

The album closes with the not quite Celtic "Fare The Well," but you can hear an old-world influence in the hammered strings of the dulcimer, and a? ahem? poetic sensibility in Havard's lyrics. Those lyrics cover many topics, from the religious (but not preachy) "Passion Play" (about Christ, his crucifixion, Judas, etc.), to "Karmakaze," a song that presages the 9/11 tragedy in many ways, though there isn't any kind of direct connection (or strange prescience about it). In fact, the band note that it was written in 1999. "Avalon Mists" does, of course, evoke the land of King Arthur, as metaphor for something lost? of direction lost (and I see Avalon utilized this way often, given it's role in myth as appearing and vanishing? in the mists).

While lies beneath the haze is quite wonderful, and if you love guitar and guitarscapes and fiery leads and all that good stuff, then this is worth checking out ? and turning the volume up on so those elements come through. Not to say the rest of the instrumentation isn't also worth the attention, but it seems to fare better in the mix for some reason?

2007: The Aftermath/Hi-Note no longer seems to exist, but copies seem to still be out there (e.g., CDUniverse)

Burning Bridges (6:55) / Karmakaze (5:11) / Avalon Mists (8:58) / Turn That Wave (11:54) / Dear John (4:10) / Magic Mile (3:16) / Passion Play (9:27) / Fare Thee Well (6:49)

David Duhig - guitars; keyboards; electronic percussion
Glyn Havard - bass guitars; vocals


Dave Lewis - drums & acoustic percussion
Brian Imig - hammer dulcimer
Allan Price ? tables

Off-Planet (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 8th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 961
Language: english


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