Reviews of Landfall
Just Offshore – ‘Landfall’ LP
* * * * * – 5 Star Review
By Emerson Golden
Just Offshore’s second album, proper, nine years on from the eponymously-titled debut CD, begins with a whooshing off of oneself to the labyrinthine keyboard maze just seconds away. The mastermind who is Just Offshore takes you through what sounds like banked stacks of old polyphonic Oberheim synths and massive Moogs and Mellotrons, with deft hands and a keening use of technology. After the first ten seconds, you are then transported to the sun, shining on maize in the cornfields under the hot Latin American sun, as whirling dervishes of musical oddities and entities are envisaged as the Battle of Puebla rages.
‘Landfall’ is an instrumental album, and like the composer of all these original compositions, it is content to be off-the-radar and on with the music. Rick Wakeman, keyboard protégé of Yes reknown, on the preposterously-titled but virtuostically played 1973 solo album, ‘The Six Wives Of Henry VIII’ is a well-deserved reference point to announce the Modern Classical Progressive Rock you will be treated to as the second Just Offshore journey sets sail.
‘Gray’ is the second number, and lays down an elastic groove. Shades of Deep Purple pop up, in amongst the searing bliss of electric guitar.’ Blarps’ and ‘blaps’ of cyclic keyboard figures keep the intensity at a high level. Even that percussive ‘I think a snake is about to strike’ sounding straight outta Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’ rears it’s reptilian head. I think you need the lights on the first time you listen to ‘Landfall’ as it’s most endearing quality is not being forewarned at what may jump out at you from the mix.
Now Prog fans will know that the third track on ‘Landfall’ is the title of the last track on the most keyboard-centric of all Rush albums; that being 1987’s ‘Hold Your Fire’.And the name of the tune and the tune itself, ‘High Water’, will resonate with fans of both camps.
Why? The bass line bores holes in the floor like something Rush bassist Geddy Lee has been known to do with his Taurus Pedals. The ability to awaken hibernating creatures from up deep within the Earth with the incessant rumbling is not the only highlight though. Absolutely new ground is broken as cymbals crash and winning note sequences glue this piece, like brain salad surgery, to the hapless listener’s inner cranium.
The ability to think and execute ideas that are outside of the safety zone of other mere mortals makes Just Offshore not an act to miss; ‘Landfall’ an album mosaic of deep-set musical landmines waiting to awaken your senses like smelling salts.
The departure from the self-titled ‘Just Offshore’ debut is pronounced as the music has risen above any Klaus Schulze stagnation.
‘Inside To Outside’ is the midpoint fourth number. Triumph’s ‘Magic Power’ hearkens itself to my memory banks as a harp-like mantra softly is flanging it’s way to make for the second best track from this splendiferous album. And then the gong, and then comes another gong splashing it’s way across the musical canvas. Then this great song on ‘Landfall’ transports us instantly on a magic carpet ride and the sparkle and the wave of a magic wand can be heard(!) as the lucky listener is transported to Bengal for a brisk Indian Sitar workout. Tribal ‘shakers’ lead the song out in a trance-like ritual pose. Hawkwind would do this kind of stuff at the very apex of their Space Rock capabilities. Yet on ‘Landfall’, transcendence and plenitude of rich, deep compositions is ascendant in each and every single song, which is a very satisfying resolution.
The eulogic epilude and best track on Just Offshore’s triumphant return is the fifth song of a total of seven, ‘Nothing Remains’. It is followed by ‘One To Eleven’: A deceptive Mozart-ish lilt opens what turns out to be a peppy Rock song, (following on sounding very much like the single ‘Demon Pomp’ which was released by Just Offshore, back in February 2013, with a few other Just Offshore nuggets). Jon Lord may be in heaven, and I for one, have a tear forming in my eye as a straightforward beat propels us merrily along to third place in the best tracks’ stakes on ‘Landfall’. One question though: Is ‘One To Eleven’ what I think it is — the time on the clock? If it is, then there is some serendipity going on in the mathematical area as 1+1+1=3; and though a reviewer’s opinion is highly subjective – ‘One To Eleven’ ends up being 3rd best overall.
Do you fault me for having fun?
Because for under 7 dollars you get from Mexico to India and beyond, just by listening.
Keyboard prodigies are to be appreciated and held in high esteem. That is what you get throughout this album. The work of a true mastermind.
If you listen carefully enough, you will be taken to a peaceful, zen-like terraformed islet, courtesy of the master composer’s rampant imagination. And no storm will consume you in this fortified mecca.
Track 7: ‘Sundown’ is a thoughtful, provocative ending piece. Foremost in my mind’s the 5th wife of Henry VIIIth, who is dramatically the subject of the ‘End Hymn’ – ‘The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended’ on, the aforementioned Rick Wakeman solo album. There is an exquisiteness that makes me draw the parallel between the two pieces.
Mike Oldfield, Thijs van Leer (Focus), Steve Walsh (Kansas) and the inventiveness of the band Rammstein, are all touchstones towards understanding the untouchable quality of Just Offshore.
The creator of ‘Landfall’ is an immense talent; a keyboard/computer whiz whose name is Russ Mate.
When this album concluded I thought of how Just Offshore transcends easy categorizing. You get as much futuretastic digital chicanery as you do a plethoric throwback to the greatest keyboard players who ever rocked this Earth.
The album cover is ‘dark’ in and of itself, but acts as a glimpse of a catastrophic cataclysm that will affect Earth, as shown at the time of it’s ‘event horizon’, made manifest.
Footnote: Landfall is defined in Wikipedia as the event of a storm moving over land after being over water. When a waterspout makes landfall it becomes a regular tornado, which can then cause damage inland. When a fair weather waterspout makes landfall it usually dissipates quickly as it loses the inflow of warm air into the vortex. Further on for ‘landfall’, Wikipedia tells us “A tropical cyclone is classified as making landfall when the center of the storm moves across the coast; in strong tropical cyclones this is when the eye moves over land… Still further on for ‘landfall’ Wikipedia talks about” Such effects include the peaking of the storm surge, the core of strong winds comes on shore, and heavy flooding rains.
So it’s either you buy this album or you get a surfboard!
This album gets 5 stars to steer by.
Reviews of the 2004 debut Just Offshore Release
“Eight stunning songs, which sound delightful to the ears, and also speak straight to the heart” – Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal Magazine
“Just Offshore is the best progressive techno album I have heard this year” – Trond Sætre – Tarkus Magazine
“Here’s a real “turn up the volume” recording! Russ Mate, an artist to keep an ear and eye out for, tears things up in grand fashion on Just Offshore” – Bill Binkelman – Wind & Wire
Mate shows off his keyboard chops with some dazzling melodies weaving through the menacing sequences and symphonic washes of synth – Jeff Fitzgerald – Aural-Innovations
“I thought for sure I was listening to Vangelis or Tangerine Dream. Very impressive work.” – Mudgie – The Riverbank
“What a fantastic example of instrumental rock at it’s most innovative… reminiscent somewhat of YES at their best… it’s pure ear candy!” – Colin Lynch – Besonic.com
“The music is first-rate 70’s/80’s-style electronics” – Kinesis CD
“The melodies Russ is creating on his keyboard are very impressive… this is a much-recommended CD” – Strutter Magazine
“A very good example of hypnotic electronic music… Full marks here!” – New Horizons
“Fresh and well thought out and often addictive” – The Hairless Heart Herald
“Mate has a nice touch – very professional” – ProgSheet
“Wow, this is good stuff! …you guys are masters of creating a mood.” – Michael – Electromancer.com
“Armed with progressive synth sweeps and titillating loops, Just Offshore prepare us for a 48-minute journey into the heart and the soul of our inner selves.” – Smother.net