Each Farpoint record is a substantial development on its predecessor, and
Cold Star Quiet Star moves the band into a new level of sophistication. Pity
it took so long for the band to release this record ... pity the record is so
The new album is very melodic, a pleasing listen, approachable but with a
degree of sophistication you'd never expect from Farpoint two or three records
ago. The musicianship is good, but you're more likely to appreciate the
songwriting. Cold Star Quiet Star is nicely layered and the arrangements
flow easily from section to section, through well managed tempo shifts,
delivering satisfying melodies and well constructed progressive art rock. You
won't number it among the most imaginative pieces of music you've heard, but you
might well file it among your more enjoyable albums.
Star is characterized by the contrast of acoustic and electric
guitars, male and female vocals, strong bass lines and lush keys, and flute and
mandolin. The result is best described as sophisticated, symphonic, and
pastoral. No two songs sound quite the same, yet a consistency permeates the
whole piece - which is characterized by good but rare vocals, and long
instrumental passages. Dean Hallal's restrained singing is clear, delivered in
laid back tones, often backed by effective over dubbing and by Jennifer Meeks'
rich but soft female vocals. Listen for Meeks's excellent delivery in "Cold
Star". Rick Walker's drumming shows less 'intensity', and a more refined
approach than on prior albums, and in several passages, the percussion is at the
heart of the arrangement.
Special mention must be made of David Frain's excellent artwork. Like his
previous illustrations for Farpoint, each picture is a the same subject shown in
various phases - this time it's a ring of doric columns supporting a circlular
lintel. It's perfect in one picture, ruined in another, overgrown in another -
and in each image, the spacey background changes. It's best viewed on the band's
web site, and it supports the album's loosely sci-fi theme which explores
aspects like honor, faith, loneliness, conflict, acceptance and redemption.
"Epilogue: Machine Symphony" is a spacey piece that never changes tone yet
never loses your interest, and is a dark, introspective way to close the record.
"Solar Wind" is a brief 3 minutes of instrumental buildup - and it isn't the
only instrumental. In fact the vocals probably cover less than a fifth of
the music. Ten-plus minute "Red Shift (Alone)" is characterized by flute played
against rich synths, big swings in tempo, some of the more melodic moments on
the album and ends in a nice instrumental buildup. Probably the most
Farpoint briefly disbanded in 2005, but quickly reformed with a modified
lineup. The new personnel definitely lack the ballsy vocals-orientation of the
past, but it's replaced by a mostly-instrumental, more elegant, well rounded
Don't expect this album to set your world alight - it's a cold star, a quiet
star, and it's a relaxing, refined place to spend 49 short minutes. You probably
wouldn't play this at the gym. But you'd probably play it again and again while
wearing your old slippers, tilted back in your favorite recliner, sipping slowly
on a good single malt.
It's that kind of music.
1 Prologue: Call to Arms
2 Solar Wind
3 Red Shift (Alone)
4 Cold Star
6 Quiet Star
7 Blue Shift (Home)
8 Epilogue: Machine Symphony