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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Planet X


Review by Gary Hill

Building on styles started on the first Planet X disc, this is a strong prog outing that includes a jazzy sort of texture. This one comes across a bit more hard rocking than the previous. It is almost all instrumental. The lineup on this disc is Derek Sherinian, Virgil Donati and Tony MacAlpine.

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Track by Track Review
Screaming in with a hard-edged rocking sound, as the keys enter, the cut takes on a more jazzy retro sound. The mode keeps alternating between these two styles for a time. Then comes a screaming fusionish guitar dominated segment that leads us back into the jazzier modes. This fusionish element is added into the alternating pattern, and the cut continues. Next the number changes gear drastically into a smoother, more melodic fusion segment in the mode of such artists as Al Dimeola. This leads to a more hard-edged and frantic sort of fusion mode, then the cut returns to the original alternating format.
Her Animal
This is another that starts in a hard-edged way. This one stays in that tone for a time, with some overlaid keys being the only jazzish texture for a time. At about one minute in, the track really cuts loose, first in a frantic jam, then by building in interesting meandering ways on the original theme. After about another 30 seconds, the cut changes to a Yesish mode, then breaks loose into another frantic hard-edged jam. This one just keeps building from there. It features a definitely wonderful screaming fast segment toward its midpoint.
Dog Boots
Fast paced drumming begins this number. As the other instruments join in, the piece drops a bit. The composition quickly becomes a very strong prog rock groove. This is one of the best numbers on the disc. It is really musically all over the place while still maintaining a coherent texture.
A potent hard rock guitar dominated segment begins this number. It begins to take on more progish modes as it evolves, but still within that hard-edged rock format. It does become a bit ELPish at times, and really scorches at some points.
King of the Universe
Beginning with a (tongue-in-cheek) spoken word intro that really showcases how pompous and overblown prog can get, when the music takes over, it is in a strong prog/fusion style. This is another that really covers a lot of musical territory and is definitely a prog tour-de-force, building to soaring power, then dropping back to a balladic sort of elegance and beauty. It gradually builds back up from there, eventually screaming back out.
Inside Black
Another metallic intro kicks this one off. The cut takes on fusion oriented textures as it continues.
Jazzish prog modes start this one. It changes modes quite a bit, presenting a very strong prog/jazz sort of approach that really soars at times. It gets quite ELPish occasionally.
War Finger
Ambient, processed sounds begin this cut. It then switches direction to become a very solid groove in a hard rocking progish fusion oriented mode. It jumps out of that groove into a more adventurous sort of jam that surprises and thrills. This one really cooks. It drops into a nice bass jam at one point, and from there builds in strong prog directions.
Starting in a killer groove that really feels like a musical representation of the whole chocolate experience (dark, rich and creamy), this cut builds on that mode, running many musical formats to be one of the strongest compositions on the disc.
Pods of Trance
This is mostly fast paced hard-edged prog that really rocks. It does include a nice Dimeolaish freeform jam.
Starting with keys dominated by a strong piano melody, this one quickly turns into a fluid and melodic progressive rock arrangement, still firmly focused on the keyboards. About two minutes in, the cut shifts gear, becoming much more guitar oriented. It is a jazzy sort of jam with tasty classical influences. The cut then shifts modes again, into a slower tempoed, jazz oriented style. Then it returns to earlier textures, building a bit on them to end the cut.
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