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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Planet P Project


Review by Josh Turner

Prepare yourself for some bold statements… This unknown commodity is one of my highlights from 2004 and deserves to be in any Top Ten Prog Album List for that year. Not to mention, it is probably the best album on the Prog Rock Label at the time of this writing. To give credit where credit is due, the label continues to add remarkable acts, so this may be the start of something great. This album is absolutely brilliant, and it totally blew me away. It was much more than I expected.

OSI and Chroma Key are some of the elements that come to the surface. It's a surprise that Kevin Moore hasn't had his hand in this project. There are also aspects of Pink Floyd and U2 in the mix. The music even reminds me of some of the alternative acts from the eighties: Morissey, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Depeche Mode, Information Society, and Erasure to name a few. As a whole, there are a lot of influences in here, and it seems to cross the decades. While the topic of this album predates its release by 75 years, the focus is primarily on the year 1931. However, the instrumentals behind the music have modern leanings. Green Day wins a Grammy while Planet P Project goes completely unnoticed. That's totally unfair and just goes to show how out of whack the music industry has become these days. This album is absolutely equipped for the airwaves when you consider all the popular influences it draws in.

The theme is part of a trilogy of albums prefaced with the title "Go Out Dancing". This is part one, and it centers entirely on the thirties. The albums to follow will focus on later eras. This one, in particular, gets into the hate and propaganda found during World War II, hence the title of the album. It studies and scrutinizes the public policy, the media, and the ethics of the time. The concept is very intriguing, yet it literally never loses a beat in its efforts to adhere to the lyrics. This demonstrates fine craftsmanship and timing as the format is never formulaic. The listener is neither lost nor overwhelmed. The composer, Tony Carey, utilizes some fantastic harmonies that fall somewhere between the borders of sense and sensibility. Planet P Project should be added to your list of new discoveries. It's an essential part of any prog rock aficionado's collection. The sequels should also be on everybody's wish list. I know they're certainly on mine.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
My Radio Talks To Me
Going by the first couple minutes, you'd think this would be a Pink Floyd affair. We get a monologue, and then a funky beat. While sound bytes are nothing new, the propaganda playing over the radio is a profound way to start an album. It's both a strange and ingenious mix of ideas. Just as Neal Morse can tell a story in pop, Planet P Project tells the story with dance music. When you think you have the genre gauged, it ends on a jazzy note. This song is a good litmus test of whether or not you will like the remainder of album. If this one connects, the rest is sure to have longevity with the listener. If you're in it for the long haul, the tracks to follow will take a hypnotic hold on you. While Tony writes almost all the material on this album, this one is co-written with the help of Tom Leonardt who also does some of the guitars on this album.
Join the Parade
The story continues seamlessly as we move into the next song. The outline and flow is a great strength of the album. This one is like the pistons pumping in an engine. It has more vigor and vitality than the last. The harmony and beat are really quite engaging. This rhythm reminds me of some of Mostly Autumn's work; however, the vocals are different in the sense that they sound significantly more digital in nature. What works well is that each song is short and succinct. Just when they begin to grab you, it's already moved on, keeping the music fresh for the duration.
Good Little Soldiers
This one slows down the momentum. The change in inertia makes it appear weightless. It feels lighter than air as if floating effortlessly through space. This is closest to Pink Floyd's dreamy, but still down-to-earth sequences.
Work (Will Make You Free)
Every song seems to ask a question, point out warped politics, or provide sarcastic social commentary. This is no exception. The backs of the oppressed workers are sadistically slapped while their leaders tell them it's good for them. In a sense, we are all slaves to some master in this complex rat race. This song causes one to ponder their place in this patronizing world. Each song expresses a mix of emotion. You will be complacent in your memories before awakening to some kind of unexpected enlightenment. This one (along with "Believe It", which is found later on) is written exclusively by Koen Van Baal who also provides what he calls "Kool Keys."
The Judge and the Jury
The song opens with a scratchy and spooky adaptation of "This Land is Your Land". Soon after, it takes us through the ringer. What washes out is a tie-dyed Technicolor t-shirt. This might be the most creative and complex piece of music on the album. The guitar solos and synths are merely extra gravy in a dish that's already appetizing. 
The Other Side of the Mountain
A weird narration overlays the music in much the same manner as Vincent Price's monologue in Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Ms. Pac Man eats the pellets over the catchiest of beats. This is a video game come to life.
Waiting For the Winter
The narration continues as it echoes over chasm walls. The situation is bleak and the lyrics only confirm the worst. The music is similar to the industrial and edgy edition of Genesis when it was fronted by Phil Collins. While there are gloomy undertones, the pipes and guitars pick the music up off the floor and help carry it along. This song is statically charged with electrons full of emotion.
Believe It
Tony impersonates Bob Dylan in the intro. The beat picks up and a swarm of symphonic notes permeate the surrounding air. Here we get mention of the year 1931 at a high frequency. The verses are awfully catchy. Tony even raps some of these lines. This is the summit of the storm. Here we experience the concept's crowning moments. With cracks from the keyboard, I can't help from thinking, "Clap your hands everybody, and everybody clap your hands! We're Lambda Lambda Lambda and... Omega Mu." Lamar, Louis, and Gilbert would be pleased, yet there is nothing nerdy at all about this song.
The Things They Never Told Me
Bittersweet drippings lace this luscious number. It's happy and lively, but disgruntled and nervous at the same time. Either way, this angst-ridden cut is good clean fun.
Where Does It Go?
This album is totally re-playable and there is no track that is significantly weaker than the rest. It's resilient through and through and quite possibly ends on the strongest of all tracks. When it's over, I find myself yearning for more. The compositions are very well-written, the music is totally riveting, and the engineering is nothing short of superb. This album didn't just knock my socks off, it vaporized them. How's that for a positive review?
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