Friday, June 10, 2011

Dagö “Plaan Delta” by Kristiina Viinapuu

Dagö is the name of a band that every Estonian knows or, at least, has heard of. Two and a half years ago they went on a well-deserved break after having released 5 albums and a concert dvd+cd and performed on numerous festivals and summer tours in the past 10 years. But now they are back with new members expect for the backbones of the band - Lauri Saatpalu and Peeter Rebane. The fresh formation has brought with itself a fresh Dagö, which seems well rested and eager to show another side of their music without forgetting their beloved hits. The music seems to differ from the previous Dagö mainly because of different musicians playing it. Although, Saatpalu and Rebane are the same, the changes in the rest of the group have had a great influence on them. There have been constant changes in the members of the band and co-operated with other musicians like Kristiina Piperal from the Superstar Show and actresses Hele Kõrve and Eveling Pang, in the past. But what distinguishes Dagö from the others, is the duo Saatpalu-Rebane and the rest of the band contribute to their talent. Dagö at its best is by themselves doing their own thing and that is what can be found from their latest album Plaan Delta.

The album was released in the spring of 2011 but the new songs were already tested on their audience almost six months before with concerts in Tartu, Tallinn and Viljandi. I was lucky enough to see them in Tallinn, six meters underground in Hell Theatre – a venue of Tallinn City Theatre – and with those few months they have come a long way, as in December it was clear that they had been only in the studio for quite a while and their performance was greatly affected by it, especially when they started to play the older songs. But by April the new members had learned all the necessary pieces and perfected themselves to a point where the performance was complete.

The 12 tracks on Plaan Delta are all separate pieces that have blended into one unity, which makes listening to it a time well spent. I would rather to start with my least favourite track – Migreen – it is just one of those songs I have a hard time relating to. Most probably it is because I do not suffer under horrific migraines and therefore, I do not know if you do feel as if “a punch of guys trample on the attic of my asylum and they shout me into a corner, me inside my own head”. But like many songs by Dagö, this one also ends up focusing on social problems – the migraine of our society where everyone and everything seems sick from certain angles.

The title song of the album captured my attention with the masculine background vocals. It is something I have not noticed about them before, but I guess this is the first time they realised to skilfully use their musicians’ voices. The same is done in a few other songs, such as Klaipeda and Veneetsia. The focus on different geographical places is something new in comparison to the ‘old Dagö’. In addition to connecting their music to Klaipeda and Venice, they introduce Corfu and Estonia in songs Korfu and Minu Eesti. The latter seems to be influenced by the patriotism that has widely spread in the last few years. But all these place-related songs deal actually with the human nature and the different aspects of it. It is something very characteristic of Dagö, but as mentioned before they express it somewhat differently than before. Of course it would not be Dagö if they did not manage to connect the individual to the society and they find that connection by observing other people in their songs.

The most socially critical song seems to be Kultuuripealinn, which clearly refers to Tallinn being the European Capital of Culture for 2011 and it lively describes how the culture is only on the outside so that everyone can see how cultural we are. In my point of view this song justifies itself, as a great deal of this has been blown out of proposition. Festival is another critical song that is approached from a rather sarcastic angle. It is a situation that they have found themselves in for several times and likely will find again. But among all the sarcasm, there is sweetness introduced by a young girl in the front row. She is the one who lightly sways to the music and cannot take her dazzled eyes of the lead singer – a scene I have witnessed during most concerts I have been to.

The most memorable song on the album is Hakkaja as it truly binds together the masterful guitar skills of Rebane and the simple but meaningful lyrics of Saatpalu. At first hearing it at a live concert, it impressed me so much that it stayed with me for months and luckily the studio version did not disappoint at all.

Dagö – an island from where the Sun raises aka Hiiumaa. And truly the Sun has risen again with Dagö and brought new light to them. Although much seems different, it is still quite the same, but it is delivered in a different package. The album Plaan Delta clearly shows that they have not been twiddling their thumbs for the past two years, but have added new values to their renowned quality. It is interesting to see how they will continue from this point on and the first opportunity to compare the new and the old is this July when they go on the tour Plaan D with Bonzo and Tõun.

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