Planet X - Moon Babies

Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD 106
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:02:00

What's that up in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's Planet X! Shreds faster than a speeding bullet! Able to leap complex time signatures in a single bar! Ok, I was lying about the up in the sky bit. But flying is just about the only thing prog wizards Derek Sherinian (keyboards), Virgil Donati (drums) and Tony MacAlpine (guitar) can't do. MoonBabies, the experimental trio's second studio release, is nearly an hour of mind-blowing technicality that showcases some truly great talent. Also featured in guest spots are legendary bassists Tom Kennedy, Jimmy Johnson and Billy Sheehan, the icing on an already fairly tasty cake.

If I may, I will paraphrase another of the genre's other great instrumental outfits, Liquid Tension Experiment - this is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of extreme self-indulgence. If this is you, buying this CD may be a waste of your time. If, however, you want to hear some musical masters letting their hair down and going for it, it's hard to go past MoonBabies.

Karyn's tip of the day: When listening to Planet X at work, remember that trying to type in time with Mr. Donati will cause you to make many, many mistakes.

Probably my favourite track is "Ataraxia," which has some fantastic solos ? about halfway through, listen for MacAlpine's guitar passage; this is followed by a sparsely orchestrated section that allows Donati to shine, with a blistering Sherinian run to bring the song to its close. "Interlude In Milan" is another of my highlights, with a slightly more laid-back tempo and complex arpeggistic passages (Sherinian does strange and terrible things with innocent arpeggios for much of the disc). I also particularly enjoy "Ground Zero," a choppy, syncopated piece that has some lovely dark bassy passages in it as well. The closer, "Ignotus Per Ignotium," is somewhat heavier than the rest, ending the album with a crash. The two minutes of silence at the end does hold a very short hidden track, but I'll leave that for you to find.

Normal time signatures are thrown joyfully out the window and traditional chord patterns stomped into the dust by Sherinian's unorthodox writing skills. My only complaint with MoonBabies ? and I'll usually say this about any pure instrumental ? is that I find it hard to stay into the album for its entire length. That's ok; it's well suited to being mixed into a larger playlist of several discs, to break up the flow and provide some variety, rather than listened to on its own. While the production is perhaps a little sparse, I feel this adds to the abstractness of the music rather than detracting from its quality. Making the balance more fleshy would be like putting capital letters in e.e.cummings' poetry. It just wouldn't be the same.

May Planet X long continue to produce their delicious bizarreties, and may arpeggios everywhere beware.

Similar to: Liquid Tension Experiment, King Crimson

Also released by InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2039-2)

[This review originally appeared June 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Moonbabies (5:37) / The Noble Savage (6:12) / Ataraxia (6:15) / Tonaz/70 VIR*(4:00) / Boy With A Flute (5:56) / Interlude In Milan (4:38) / Digital Vertigo (4.22) / Ground Zero (6:00) / Midnight Bell (3:54) / Ignotus Per Ignotium (9:28)

*listed as 'Tonaz' on the InsideOut sites, but as '70 VIR' on the Planet X site.

Derek Sherinian - keyboards
Virgil Donati - drums
Tony MacAlpine - guitars
Billy Sheehan - bass
Tom Kennedy - bass
Jimmy Johnson - bass

Planet X (1998)
Universe (1999)
Live From Oz (2002)
Moon Babies (2002)
Quantum (2007)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin VA

Added: January 17th 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 1065
Language: english


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