California based keyboard expert Derek Sherinian has performed with diverse artists such as glam rock superstars Kiss and Alice Cooper while also being a member of the prog-metal band, Dream Theater. Recently, Sherinian offered his highly adept talents to the markedly successful Emerson, Lake & Palmer tribute disc, which was also released on the Magna Carta label. Here, on Planet X, Sherinian along with seasoned session aces, guitarist Brett Garsed, bassist Tony Franklin and -new kid on the block-, drumming wunderkind Virgil Donati add another commendable edition to Magna Carta’s ever evolving prog-rock catalogue.
The opener a three-part suite titled, “Atlantis” offers complex, odd meter and pulsating rhythmic development along with crunching guitar work by Garsed. Ahh... guilty pleasures! Although, some of this may seem slightly bombastic, (a prog-rocker’s dream?) Sherinian and Donati exhibit strong compositional and arranging skills and know when to slow things down a bit as on the lovely piano interlude on Part 2 – “Sea of Antiquity”. Despite the cavalcade of electronics and high-octane ensemble work, Sherinian displays a layered, well-conceived approach while making effective use of his vast arsenal of keyboards. Sherinian’s loud and unabashed Hammond B-3 work would make Deep Purple’s Jon Lord proud !!!
The song titled, “Crab Nebulae” sounds more like a robotic doomsday machine, perhaps from Planet X as Sherinian and co. capture the visual aspects of one’s imagination through accelerated tempo changes coupled with melodic intervals and crafty soloing....”Money Shot” features the pounding and extremely quick double bass drumming of Virgil Donati as Sherinian demonstrates fluid soloing on his synths atop the monstrous pulse.. “Space Martini” may be the piece that gets some airplay on the college or prog-rock radio circuit. The closer, “Brunei Babylon” features Sherinian’s polytonal utilization of synths while creating a glowing halo over the perpetually moving rhythm section.
Planet X must be a hip place to hang.........This is prog-rock heaven with a few –fusion- bites thrown in for good measure as this band often get to the point in an assertive if not expeditious manner. - A highly entertaining effort featuring some almost superhuman ensemble work which should also satisfy the needs of the curious and those who strive to be progressive rock stars when they grow up...!!! * * * *
All songs composed by Sherinian/Donati except Brunei Babylon composed by Sherinian/Donati & Garsed
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