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PLANET X

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Planet X biography
Founded in USA in 2000 - Disbanded in 2012

PLANET X started as a solo project of keyboardist Derek SHERINIAN, who left DREAM THEATER in 1999 after recording one album with the band. He immediately started to work in a solo album, in which he invited talented drummer Virgil DONATI as a guest musician. The result was so satisfying that the couple decided to make a new project and build up a formal band.

The band took the name of that first solo album of SHERINIAN, PLANET X, and invited legendary guitar player and studio musician Tony MACALPINE to join the band. The mixture of these different styles gave for result an instrumental rock band with tendencies to jazz/fusion, Hard rock and progressive. The chemistry of the three talented musicians brought an impressive level of skills, time signature changes, heavy riffing and back to back soloing in which the band shows a huge level of musicianship.

They published their first album "Universe" in 2000. The success and acceptance of the album, especially between prog metal fans and instrumental followers made possible a tour in 2002. During this tour, the band recorded a live album called "Live From Oz". Soon after the tour, the band rejoined in the studio to bring out their most acclaimed album: "Moonbabies". Keeping the spirit of the first album, now improved and better oriented their second album it's their own masterpiece, very popular and successful.

The different compromises of the players made them stay in hiatus until 2007, when the band decided to release their third album, now having talented jazz guitar man Allan HOLDSWORTH and Brett GARSED replacing MACALPINE. The name of the album was "Quantum".

Later, in April of 2009, MACALPINE announced his comeback to the band but there's, as of yet, no official information of the next release of the band.

PLANET X has participated with other great guest musicians such as: Billy SHEEHAN, Tom KENNEDY, Jimmy JOHNSON, Brett GARSED and Rufus PHILPOT.

Bio by jampa17

See also: HERE

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PLANET X discography


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PLANET X top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 106 ratings
Universe
2000
3.98 | 159 ratings
MoonBabies
2002
4.07 | 187 ratings
Quantum
2007

PLANET X Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 42 ratings
Live from Oz
2002

PLANET X Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PLANET X Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PLANET X Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

PLANET X Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Universe by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.69 | 106 ratings

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Universe
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars I quote my earliest, "first impressions", upon receiving this awesome release,

". . . Oh baby, this rocks heavy like U.K. meets Prong! Derek Sherinian on keys, Virgil Donati on skins, Tony MacAlpine on axe and Tom Kennedy guests on bass. Highly recommended, heavy fusionoid rock with a King's X, low-end punch and an ELP "Barbarian"/"Knife Edge" noir-rock, fear/dread/threat groove. This stuff be PHAT!! Syncopated, thumpin', pumpin', and crunchin'. MacAlpine devastates all time-space continuums with his solos. Sherinian transports you into caverns of Pluto and buries your head in ice. Dorati pummels your aorta and cerebrum into submission whilst Tom Kennedy's bass lines would make Tony Levin or John Wetton drool. Jens Johansson has met his match with Derek Sherinian! If you dug Mastermind's EXCELSIOR! or just grabbed their new live PROG, FUSION, METAL, LEATHER and SWEAT, (conveniently named after a quote from my write-up of their NEARfest 1999 gig where the CD was recorded), you will REALLY dig the heavy fusion-rock of Planet X!! Dig it!! BUY THIS CD!! KILLER!! KILLER!! Etc, etc. . . ."

Months later, after sometimes playing this CD 10 � 15 times a week, I have yet to tire of its huge, dense, gut-punch. There are so many excellent prog metal, metal fusion, prog rock, rocky jazz fusionoid, and just plain butt-kicking rock things happening here. Sherinian and crew have broken the record for most riffs, solos, intricate unison lines, notes per minute, bars per song, and cool songs per CD. These guys are smokin'!

The music is intelligent, hard-hitting, in-your-face, and massive. There's little room to breathe, little time to get bored, and believe me � turn down your bass response on your CD player. I killed two car speaker woofers on this baby. I didn't care because the total devastation of my brain and my speakers was a fair price to experience this amazing onslaught of sound.

Some folks have whined in newsgroups as to Donati overdoing it on his endless double bass drum pummelings. I say, "Ah shaddap, and see if you can do that work of ceaseless power! He's amazing!" Man, just listen to all the effects and runs Sherinian is pulling out of his keyboard array. It is maddening! Kennedy is superb on bass, everywhere a threat of near perfection. Just listen to that great jazz solo breakdown on "Warfinger". MacAlpine plays exactly the way each song's moment needs. His interpretation of this fusion rock is powerfully poised. No flash, no sham, no weakness ? just raw superior power and finesse! Good grief ? he even does Holdsworthian riffs that actually rock your socks off! Must I go on? Of course.

My favorite tracks: "Europa", "Clonus", "Bitch", (IMHO: offensive song name guys, really), "Chocalate" and "2116".

My least favorite moment: The theatrically pompous and overly bombastic monologue/scene-setting intro on "King of the Universe" totally demolished the power and glory "flow" of the disc. It was 100% cheesy and its flaccidly flawed attempt to generate some sci-fi fantasy aura to the song fell flat on its face. I kept muttering to myself, "Oh please, get on with it. This guy's pseudo Shakespeare doth wound me so deeply."

Other than that small soliloquy snafu to be forgiven quickly, I highly regard and recommend this release as one of the best heavy progressive rock works of 2000. You weenies complaining about Donati's drums or MacAlpine's riffs need to try to do what they accomplish yourself. No way.

Update: The track I disliked, according to Derek, was intentionally supposed to be a "dig" at the pompousness of some progressive rock out there.

 MoonBabies by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 159 ratings

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MoonBabies
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars In response to someone saying things sounded "disjointed", I think/assume/feel I know where he is coming from. Between Donati's much more complex drum modes, Sherinian's incredibly dense compositions of angular, stop-n-go-stop-go-go-stop-break-GO! frenetics of one onslaught after another, (which my neurons have adapted to long ago), a first listen or melody-inclined listen might make one feel as if their head was in a faulty food processor upon hearing Moon Babies.

This CD represents a new, polymosaic of fusion in micro-evolution! I kept thinking of new coin-able phrases, buzz-words to hold this sound.

For example: dense fusion, black-hole fusion, aggressive fusion, cyber-warrior-caste fusion, angularly heavy fusion, Godzilla fusion . . . I think I like Godzilla fusion best. Why?

Derek, Virgil, and Tony are serving up way heavy, monstrous, dense, challenging, threatening, and excellently powerful fusion rock. There are some slow and flowingly easy moments but those are quickly devoured by whirlwind of notes, polyrhythmic rage, immense bass, and doomer speed-crunch axe. This is a warping, wall of fusion "noise" that requires cranking your brain up 4 or 5 notches to near 78rpm listening. Between Derek and Tony going insane in hyperdrive, fractal overload, unison lines and conversational soloing -- my bet is many folks will feel "disjointed" or pummeled into submission.

What keeps it all very organized is Donati's drums and the guest bassists providing a very interesting fusion rock groove throughout, a groove that provides a perfectly NON-disjointed foundation for all Derek and Tony's rail-gunnery and seek-and-destroy sonic ambushes.

I am gonna give this release a solid 9.3 out of 10 and that's only because I felt Tony needed to wail on fusion axe solos moreso and fills at least 10-15% more per track or at least be more present in the mix versus blended into much of Derek's superb synthwork. (I am an axe guy - so be it.)

After a good listen I have to disagree with any "disjointed" call. "Dense" is a much more accurate description.

Lastly, is this music or madness? It's a bit of both and that's exactly how I like it.

 MoonBabies by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 159 ratings

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MoonBabies
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Squire Jaco

2 stars Heh heh, look - these guys are undeniably good musicians who can really rip, and I can certainly appreciate that. When I find myself getting temporarily bored with the typical prog and fusion played in the 1970's style, I'll turn to the likes of Finneus Gauge, Satriani, Hellborg, Syzygy, Rush or even Boud Deun or Ozone Quartet for a more aggressive, psyched-up testosterone fest. These groups all play fast and furious, with melody and cleverness.....without the metal.

And I just don't like the metal.

I know it's only a matter of personal taste, but I wish that virtuosos like Sherinian, MacAlpine and Donati didn't waste their awesome talents on this type of music. I was hoping that they could excite me without venturing into metal territory, and many of the reviews I've read about Moonbabies and Planet X in general implied as much. I was misled; while there truly are some moments of inventiveness and excitement on this cd, the group ultimately relies too much on dumbing it down to prog metal cliches and shred, and too little on feeling.

I will just never understand why great musicians think that they have to play mind-bogglingly fast, up and down the classical scales, just to show that they can do it in odd time signatures at hyper-speed. I mean, I LOVE odd time signatures too, but show me that you also possess the creativity to invent a melody or unique rhythm figure at the same time (or different time, as the case may be!).

Here's a little analogy: If you're shivering outside at a winter carnival watching a chainsaw artist carve perfect geometric shapes (triangles, obelisks, polygons, etc...) out of blocks of ice in less than five minutes, you're initially impressed with his skill....but still left feeling cold. If that same guy took fifteen minutes longer to carve and shave the likeness of a swan or a Greek goddess, you'd feel warm inside at knowing that you had just witnessed the creation of something beautiful through the synthesis of great skill AND the expression of emotion...and I believe we call that "art". It's a subtle difference, but a critical aspect that's missing here on this cd.

So this review is just a warning for any other progressive music lovers out there who might think that this cd could be a nice diversion into jazz fusion or fast prog - it's not. This is for prog METAL enthusiasts only who are looking for something that leans into the jazz realm; it is modern, prog metal/fusion with little soul, scant melody, and no warmth. Personally, I just don't need it. "2-1/2 stars" for non-metal prog lovers.

Now, for a quick fix, I'm gonna listen to Rush's "Where's My Thing?"...

 Live from Oz by PLANET X album cover Live, 2002
3.72 | 42 ratings

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Live from Oz
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars I'm writing this as part of my "penance" for my scathing Moonbabies review ...which I still agree with, by the way. But even as I was criticizing that cd for its jazz metal tendencies, I was lavishing praise on the musical talents and great potential for all the members of Planet X. I was hoping that I would eventually find one of their other albums that didn't turn me away with its metal predisposition, and instead turn me on to the band's greatness.

I found that album in "Live From Oz".

Whoa... Not only is this impressive stuff, but it's performed live at breakneck speed. I love the song selections for this set; they showcase Sherinian's compositional skill, and still manage to allow the band members to strut their talents. This is high energy, complex and thought-provoking. You'll spend a lot of time nodding your head to keep up with the odd meters... and shaking your head at the virtuosity of the players. Every one of them.

This is the album I've always hoped this group would produce. Other-worldly...

 Quantum by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.07 | 187 ratings

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Quantum
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. When Derek Sherinian left DREAM THEATER he had two projects on the go in PLANET X and the other under his own name. I much prefer the music under his own name as he seems to let the guests have the spotlight. I'm just not big on keyboard driven Metal as PLANET X is, although of the three studio albums PLANET X released the debut at least was much heavier and just more the style of music I prefer. "Quantum" is the third studio album and I'm guessing final album by the band since it's been 11 years from when we last heard of them. The first two albums featured the trio of Sherinian, Donati and MacAlpine with some guest bass players helping out. This final record saw MacAlpine gone and Brett Garsed taking his place although we get two guitar solos from Alan Holdsworth. I like this better than "Moonbabies" the previous album where they did some mellow tunes but the debut "Universe" is my favourite and I'm very much in the minority with those feelings. By the way Donati's drum work steals the show on all three albums in my opinion.

The downfall for this album for me is the first half of the album where the keyboards dominate at times with those synth-like sounds. I'm just not into them at all but starting with "Poland"( which I hope is a nod to Chris Poland) to the end I'm pretty impressed and that's the reason it's 3.5 stars and not just 3 stars. Holdsworth solos on track 2 and 4 and both are excellent of course, in fact "Desert Girl" the second tune is right there with the songs on the second half. "Poland" is my favourite track on here but the next three songs are right there with it.

Donati again shows why he one of the premier drummers on the planet, I'm so glad to have some of his solo work. The music on this album is complex but the synth-like keyboards leave me cold much of the time, I'm just not into them but when Derek creates atmosphere with those spacey sounds or when playing the piano I'm impressed big time. So a matter of tastes all the way and I'll stick with "Universe" which I played today for a comparison because I hadn't heard it in such a long time and thought maybe my tastes had simply changed since I last spent some time with it. Most by far feel "Quantum" is PLANET X's best album, I have to disagree.

 Quantum by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.07 | 187 ratings

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Quantum
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by marcobrusa

4 stars I am travelling through space. Go listen to this intergalactic combo i promise: if you like heavy guitars and modern spacey-fusion synths along with huge drums that make the most insanely complex patterns this album is for you. It's like the soundtrack of a sci-fi metal adventure. I can close my eyes and feel the void when i listen to this weird combination of 7 (i think) string guitars, immense drumset, super low planet shaking bass and spectacular synth sounds. One of the most unique "jazz-rock/fusion" (?) albums i've ever heard. Really it doesn't fit in this genre though... maybe see it as a prog metal album that doesn't masturbate with stereotypical lyrics and quick predictable musical phrases stolen from Dream Theater. This doesn't want to be anything, it's just what it is: a planet made of solid compositions (a little repetitive sometimes) and a perfect aesthetic (the synth tones, the low bass and guitar, the vast drums, the holdswothesque soloing). Only one thing about the production tho: too much bass drum. 4.2/5 specially for polyrythm lovers.
 MoonBabies by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 159 ratings

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MoonBabies
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Well you really can't get any more nerdy or tech-oriented in the music world than the kind of progressive jazz-metal fusion that PLANET X delivers. With founder, keyboardist and ex-Dream Theater participant Derek Sherinian in cahoots with animalistic drum machine extraordinaire Virgil Donati and Tony MacAlpine ripping on the guitars, we are guaranteed a jazz-fusion feast of complexity beyond all expectations.

MOON BABIES is the second release by PLANET X and continues the high velocity virtuosic venomous bite that will leave you gasping for air. While Sherinian and Donati are the official members of this band, on this release we get no fewer than three guest bassists including Billy Sheehan (Talas, Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr Big, Niacin, The Winery Dogs), Jimmy Johnson (James Taylor, Allan Holdsworth, Flim & the BB's) and Tom Kennedy.

The music experienced here is an instrumental sonic frenzy and is the epitome of complex music for complexity's sake but that doesn't mean it is devoid of moods, emotional triggers or atmospheres, it's just that those are not the primary focus. I personally am a fan of this kind of music if it is well constructed, well recorded and breathes some creativity into its lightning fast wankery. Generally speaking the bass is the grounding force for all the loose wires on board here. The general gist is to set up a musical platform for the guitar and keyboards to trade off ridiculously fast runs but Donati's rhythmic drumming can become as fast and complex as anything else on board here.

The first time i heard this i wasn't in the right mood and was put off by it but after a few spins and in the right frame of mind i was blown away and find this music exciting and energizing. Jazz-fusion of the highest quality here where Tony MacAlpine's lead guitar can range from placid Allan Holdsworth to the frenetic Steve Vai and back in a nanosecond. Good job guys. Gotta check out the other albums.

 Quantum by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.07 | 187 ratings

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Quantum
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Planet X third album and so far their latest one from 2007 named Quantum is another worthy journey in prog jazz fusion world with blistering keyboards, drums, guitars and all. Featuring among Sherinian of course and Donati on drums some respected jazz fusion guitarists as legendary Holdsworth and Brett Garsed, both done an excellent work here, while Rufus Philpot is responsable for bass lines together with Jimmy Johnson. Well, this is a fantastic release, full of top notch muscianship just right from the start of the album with Alien Hip-Hop who sets the mood for the rest to come. The jazz fusion elements are melted in a very convinceing way with more edgy parts goint towards prog metal in places, but without sounding like a prog metal band in the end. Some spacey moments apear, quite technical most of the time, this instrumental album desearves recognition for sure. Competent musicins, great ideas and overall crystal sound. A very rewarding band this Planet X, is one of my fav from let's say newer generations of instrumental prog jazz fusion. Quantum is a 4 star album no less no more, even I like little more Moonbabies who is my fav Planet X album and among the top jazz fuison/prog metal album ever made, Quantum has everything to become classic in the years to come. Again a very good art work, CD comes in digipak format from Insideout label..
 Quantum by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.07 | 187 ratings

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Quantum
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Dream Theater side projects and spin-offs are thick on the ground, and I personally find them rather hit and miss, but Derek Sherinian has really landed on his feet with this Planet X deal. What makes Quantum such a joyful listen is its seamless blending of progressive rock subgenres you wouldn't have otherwise expected to work so well together. There's a jazz fusion underpinning to affairs which reminds me a lot of UK - indeed, UK's own Allan Holdsworth guests on a couple of tracks - and the guitar performances tend to be metal-oriented, but the overall aesthetic of the compositions, especially when Derek's keyboard textures come into play, remind me of nothing less than space rock in the Ozric Tentacles mode. On the whole, it's a highly competent album which will appeal to anyone in the market for spacey, technically complex instrumental prog.
 MoonBabies by PLANET X album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 159 ratings

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MoonBabies
Planet X Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Moonbabies' was again produced by drumming legend Simon Phillips, who apparently is quite a fan. Utilising three guest bassists (Tom Kennedy, Jimmy Johnson and Billy Sheehan), this album took fifteen months to write and record and it isn't a joke when Derek Sherinian states that their most exotic time signature is four/four. The band is trying to make music that no-one else can emulate, and with this album they must be pretty close to achieving it. A completely instrumental album, sometimes it just drifts along while at others it is dramatically in your face.

I kept trying to think if they remind me of anyone, but the closest I can come is Steve Vai crossed with Pat Metheny along with some awesome drumming and keyboards. Fave cut is "The Noble Savage" where some noodlings give way to a music that is dark and dynamic, with a locked in style for Tony and Derek.

This is music that is brings together progressive and jazz (while banging just lightly on the door of hard rock) in a way that is complex and complicated and in a fashion that can never be described as background. This is an acquired taste, and will definitely not be for everyone but twenty years after punk the dinosaurs are stirring again.

Originally appeared in Feedback #69, Aug 02

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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