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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Planet X

Live From Oz

Review by Gary Hill

Oz in this case is Australia, not the land of that fabled wizard or the prison show. The album was recorded live on June 13th, 2001 at the Corner Hotel, Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Most of the material is from the Universe album, although there are a few exceptions. The disc certainly shows that this band (Derek Sherinian, Tony MacAlpine and Virgil Donati) can reproduce their sound quite well live. Dave Larue of Steve Morse/Dixie Dregs fame holds down the bass line in a guest capacity.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ignotus Per Ignotum
A funky groove with a great meaty texture starts this one off. The track, through its various fusion-oriented segments, serves as a way for Planet X to introduce the members of the band through solos. This gets rather dark and foreboding at times. It really covers a lot of musical forms and styles. 
Inside Black
The rhythmic pattern to this one is quite cool, and the overall groove of the song is a great fusion jam. It moves along very organic lines, creating new melodies within the framework until a very tasty keyboard sound takes it far a time. Then a new energy hits. It carries on for a time, then all the instruments stop and the guitar scorches out alone for a couple measures. When the other instruments rejoin, the piece has a harder edge. A new, slightly off-kilter segment enters late to take the piece to its outro. This number originally appeared on the Universe album.
Dog Boots
Percussion begins this one, a frantic fast paced piece that for some reason I can't place makes me think of the theme for The Munsters. It doesn't really sound like it, yet the early segments consistently make me think of that song. It moves through several changes, each member of the band getting his chance to shine. This is another from Universe.
Atlantis Part 1-Apocalypse 1470 BC
Meaty hard-edged fusion, this one breaks down to a frantic off-kilter jam for a time. This one feels a bit like UK at times. It, like the rest of the Atlantis trilogy, was first heard on Sherinian's Planet X album.
Atlantis Part 2-Sea of Antiquity
Ominous tones start this, then an intricate, pretty segment emerges. The cut is a solid fusion number.
Atlantis Part 3-Lost Island
This one somehow feels a bit like both the Flower Kings and Nektar. Other sounds touched on here are King Crimson and Yes. It gets a bit dark, but is a killer prog jam.
Derek Sherinian Solo
The first true solo of the CD, Sherinian starts it off with atmospheric tones. He brings in some off-kilter fast-paced segments, but eventually the original tone returns. The final surge of sound comes in the form of a jam that feels a bit more like guitar than keyboards.
War Finger
Another that is originally from the Universe album, this one comes in with weird sounding waves. A chunky guitar line takes the piece into metallic territory. Then the keys enter, and the cut becomes all fusion. As if to tell us that that is the case, an all new "no question - it's fusion" movement enters later.
Virgil Donati Solo
This solo comes mid-song. I personally am not a big fan of drum solos, but Donati mixes it up quite a bit to make it interesting.
War Finger Reprise
More fusion continues the piece and takes it through to its conclusion.
Tony MacAlpine Solo
This is a guitar solo that has both speed and substance, although not necessarily at the same time. The coolest segment comes when he brings it down for the jazzy contemplative segment that includes minor keyboard accompaniment.
Her Animal
Another that comes from Universe, this one has a very hard-edged intro. The remainder of the composition is more fusion and traditional prog related.
Europa
This one comes across as a dynamic, frantic, hard-edged fusion cut.
Pods of Trance
The closing number, as the previous few, was originally presented on the Universe disc. It is quite a good prog jam that includes some guitar work that at times gets a bit bluesy.
 
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