"Armed with his MIDI and electro-acoustic guitars, Dwane continues to explore the mysterious cosmos with such instrumental tracks as 'Forbidden Archeology,' 'Underwater Stargates,' and 'Hyperdimensional.' With an ambient basis of drifting atmospherics drenched with astral sensibilities, Dwane adds sedate percussives and sultry baselines to enhance his unearthly guitar. The latter instrument acts as an interface for a plethora of sounds, eerily and pensively creating a wondrous skyscape of dreamy melodies that capture even the shallowest imagination. But fear not, the presence of guitar can be heard in its traditional format too, with delicate chords wafting through the electronic mists, adding a touch of western mystery to the cosmic enigmas. The versatility of Dwane's music is exhibited in the arabesque strains in 'Under the Sphinx' and the lazily-funky rhythms in 'Geoglyphs.' The common element throughout this tuneage is a sense-of-wonder directed at the unknowable dilemmas that permeate space and time. Avoiding typical 'spacey noises,' Dwane generates a celestial mood with airy tones and sustains that echo forever in the listener's mind. This music possesses the distinction of fusing ambience with a degree of pep that refuses to conquer the mix, preferring instead to nudge the tempo into lively-but-dreamlike passages. The result is an engaging sonic experience that entertains while stimula ting the intellect. Three of the songs on this 48 minute CD from 2001, feature lush vocals supplied by Michelle Nader." -- Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity
"While bearing some unmistakable familiar musical touches from his previous albums, midi-guitarist Mark Dwane also manages to stand his earlier recorded work somewhat on end with his latest release, Planetary Mysteries, which is also both his first collaborative effort and his first use of true vocals. Joining Mark on the CD is Michelle Nader who has an appropriately otherworldly (via an almost omnipresent echo effect) voice but also a sensuous one as well. Who knew spacemusic could be sexy and also rock the cosmic house? Well, on this CD, it does - and then some!
"Now, before long-time Dwane fans get their cosmic undies in a bundle, not every cut has vocals on it, but even the vocal tracks are way cool, in my opinion. As I stated, Michelle's in fine voice and her talents begin on the opening track, 'Forbidden Archeology,' although there are only wordless vocalizings on this song. The cut sounds a little like Robyn Miller's soundtrack to Riven, as Dwane blends cascading bell-trees, swirling lower register washes, and muted guitar buzz-sawings with Nader's haunting and soaring chants. It's way cool for an album beginning!
"Erupting with exotic percussive effects, snaky midi-synths, and patented Dwane synth-choral effects, 'Under the Sphinx,' is moody, mysterious, and rocking in a mid-tempo vein. Using his midi-guitar like a violin, the cut veers into a sensual Middle Eastern/Ancient Egyptian sonic landscape. The first out-and-out vocal cut is next up. 'Planetary Energy' has a percolating mid-tempo rhythm, clear-as-a cosmic bell guitar work, thumping bass, and Michelle's soaring voice, singing lyrics like 'Silent structures/Ruins of time/Web of power/Intricate design.' Part of the lyrics on this cut are 'spoken' instead of sung, which I didn't mind at all since the accompanying music fits the mood so well.
"Now, obviously, the lyrics on this album (all by Dwane) are gonna be somewhat new agey/SF-oriented - but if you have followed Mark's recording career so far, what would you expect? After all, his albums have titles like The Monuments of Mars, Angels, Aliens and Archetypes, and The Atlantis Factor. Will you 'buy into' these lyrics? I dunno. I do, but that's me. I've always been interested in the paranormal to some degree and I definitely am a believer in UFOs. But if it all strikes you as or weird, well, so what? There's great music on this CD - just tune out the words, man!
"As I wrote earlier, compared to some earlier releases, Planetary Mysteries has more of a 'rock' sound than previous Dwane efforts, owing both to the rhythms and the more overt guitar elements on some tracks. 'Underwater Stargates' is a good example. It's another straight-ahead vocal track, and another good one. Michelle's echoed voice has a haunting quality early on (later she really lets it fly!), while Mark's lush strings and his plaintive strummed electric guitar combine to make this a 'space ballad' of sorts. When the (very earthly sounding) drums and bass kick in, the song slides comfortably over to a variant of prog rock. Maybe not as spacy as some fans would like, but there are still cool synths flying hither and thither among the chords and drums.
"Of the final three cuts, two more are instrumental and I like them both a lot. 'Geoglyphs' has a loping relaxed rhythm along with traditional sounding guitar as well as quavering synth choruses and other spacy textures, while 'Memory Alpha' is probably the closest to what most fans would consider 'true' spacemusic. Jeff Pearce-like guitar washes and midi-piano make this track the most serene one on the CD (maybe the only song that could truly be labeled as such, actually).
"I don't honestly know how Planetary Mysteries will play out with Mark Dwane's fans. Spacemusic and ambient fans can be notoriously fickle and some of them just hate vocals. Personally, I gotta congratulate Mark for striking out in some new directions. The more I play this album, the more I like it. At first when I heard it, I thought, 'What the hell?' But by the third listen, I started digging the abundant energy, catchy melodies, myriad cool midi-effects, and spotless production/engineering (this baby sounds FINE). Michelle and Mark make a great team and if this isn't what most would label as 'spacemusic' - well, whatever you call it, it sounds pretty damn good to me." -- Bill Binkelman / WIND and WIRE
"Planetary Mysteries is a set of mysterious deep space music from MIDI-guitarist Mark Dwane. Mark stepped up the ante on this disc. In addition to his customary guitar synthesizers, he uses 'electro-acoustic' guitars. And, an incredible female vocalist - Michelle Nader - adds some wide atmospheres to the proceedings. Her vocal stylings add another instrument to Mark's repertoire. It is crisp and almost staccato and the perfect accompaniment to Mark's deep spacescapes. Some of the vocals are wordless and others are terse poetry. Michelle's energy adds style and grace.
"Of course, it is not as if Mark needed more style and grace. His compositions have always teemed with both. But this set has exponential qualities. Michelle's energy energized Mark. His extra energy took Michelle up a notch. That, in turn, raised Mark to the next level, and so on. It became an infinite loop of emotion, Karma and tantric and holistic vibes. Mark's intuitive ability to compose and perform sci-fi mysteries and spacescapes has never been sharper. This is essential space ambience!" -- Jim Brenholts / Ambient Visions
"This is the first album of brand new music by Mark Dwane since 1998's limited edition CD The Nefilim. As with all of Mark's releases, he bases his inspiration on such esoteric subjects as possible alien life on Mars, the ever-mystical kingdom of Atlantis, and other thought provoking mysteries of planet Earth and beyond. Planetary Mysteries is no different and with such song titles as 'Under The Sphinx' and 'Planetary Energy' helping to engage the listener in a mystical sound environment that is both thrilling and reflective at the same time. A first for a Mark Dwane album is that there are some female vocals by Michelle Nader that appear on some of the tracks who happens to possess a distinct and powerful voice which adds a nice contrast to the album.
"'Forbidden Archeology' opens the album in a typical scene setting fashion, Michelle Nader's voice adding an atmospheric chanting overlaid with Mark's underlying MIDI guitar electronics which he lets bubble under the surface before the album gets into its stride, before 'Under The Sphinx' takes the center stage. A rhythmic sequence is immediately established before an Egyptian sounding melody is played along with the more upbeat and sharp electronics.
"Now 'Planetary Energy' could be described as the single of this album and showcases Michelle Nader's vocal talents to the fore. A very melodic collage of dynamic electronics combined with a song that is both catchy and memorable. This is a song that showcases Mark's deft ear for a strong melodic composition that appeals very much. Following this we have 'Underwater Stargates' and judging by the cover notes a Stargate is a UFO guiding place, a bit like a beacon if you like. In some ways this track is a bit like the previous but maybe a bit more laid back but none the less still a good track. 'Geoglyphs' is a mid-tempo piece of classic Dwane music, very melodic and relaxed.
"Things pick up-tempo slightly with 'Hyperdimensional' and the vocals are back, to entice the listener once more. Mark's use of his main instrumentation -- the MIDI guitar -- is generally well known. For those who do not know, there are no keyboards used on his electronic releases at all; it is all done with MIDI guitar, and very impressive and formidable the results are. It is not all electronic though as Mark includes in his palette of sounds some electro-acoustic guitars, which gives an added presence of interest. The last track 'Memory Alpha' brings the album to a close in a sedate relaxed way. Space piano type sounds mix with gliding mellow electronic refrains that bring the listener down from the power of what has gone before.
"Planetary Mysteries combines the best elements of Mark Dwanes music as well as his interests in all things mysterious that involve planet Earth. These interests show themselves admirably through his music and once you hear Planetary Mysteries, you will feel like you have really gone somewhere. Highly recommended." -- Gary Andrews / Ambient Visions