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Planet X - MoonBabies CD (album) cover


Planet X

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars Moonbabies is shockingly good stuff which in some ways revisits and in others, completely departs from Universe. It is clear from the outset however, that Moonbabies presents a fully-realised and fully-unleashed Planet X. No previous recording delivers the compositional and production excellence evident on this album. The chemistry of the participants here makes for a definitive sound as members,guests and drum-demigod- producer (Simon Phillips) pull out all the stops in this fusion juggernaut. Practically every reasonable time signature is explored in some of the best individual pieces of music I've heard. The album is consistently potent across all ten tracks which, ironically, exposes perhaps the only weakness of the unit; the reluctance to throttle back and explore more atmospheric themes. It is understood however, that the mission of Planet X is not to deliver a broad sonic landscape but to be the "quote" sickest instrumental band in the world "unquote" and, to their credit, this kind of hyperbole would be absurd coming from pretty much any band other than Planet X. The playing is simply remarkable with Virgil Donati for example executing sublime solo chops over a 13/16 time signature (Interlude in Milan) without breaking a sweat. DS's board work is impressive, employing a vast array tastefully considered timbres from one piece to the next. His tight interplay with Tony MacAlpine's stunning guitar tracks sets entirely new standards for guitar/keyboard team- shredding. When playing at this level is injected into pieces that really are fabulously well- conceived and arranged, the result is a quintessential prog-fusion album that begs to be played often at medically dangerous volume levels. A wonderfully satisfying album from any perspective and that shade of purple used in the cover art?.........genius.
Report this review (#11120)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars When you hear at first time this album you could say, what hell am i hearing?Many high- speed parts are so incredible and exciting. Planet X in this album are so great but they are essential a live group where they can explain better their caractheristics of great tecnichal solos.I saw them last 28 october 2004 in Rome, with their new guitarist T.J. Helmerich and bassist Rufus Philpot. Incredible in live performance Derek Sherinian is a monster!
Report this review (#11121)
Posted Monday, November 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars when Derek Sherinian formed Planet X, he said that his goal was to form the "sickest instrumental band on the planet." after hearing this album, i think he's achieved that goal. this album is just insane. it may be confusing to people used to boring time signatures like 4/4. somehow, they manage to use ridiculous time signatures like 17/16 and 13/16. Virgil Donati is the greatest drummer of all time, and the only one who could use those time signatures flawlessly. Tony Macalpine is also amazing. although i did not like Derek Sherinian while he was in Dream Theater, i think that he has found a perfect fit with Planet X.
Report this review (#11122)
Posted Friday, December 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Want to hear some REAL prog metal? Get this album by Planet X. Most other bands in this genre are just metal bands trying to sound progressive, but never quite breaking out of the metal mold, including the 'sacred cow' of prog metal, Dream Theatre. I don't see what the hype is all about, they just sound like 80's metal band with very good chops - totally predictable. Prog music is not about lengthy songs and soloing at break-neck speed. It's more about structure, complex meters, sensitive and imaginative compositions, eclecticism. Planet X seem to have hit on the right mix of metal mayhem and progressive sophistication, and you'll never get bored listening to their music, because you just don't know what comes next. One reviewer wrote, "if you can tell the album's style in the first few minutes of listening, it is not prog". I agree. Planet X define progressive metal.
Report this review (#11123)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've discovered this band (formed by genial Virgil Donati and Derek Sherinian) thanks to a concert held in my city last (Taranto) year. So, a friend suggested me to buy this album: in this way I discovered an amazing music: soflty aggressive but never heavy or difficult to understand. the best tracks of the album are MOONBABIES, MICRONIESIA and IGNOTIUS PER IGNOTIUM. If you buy this album you will apprecieate it, but especially the technic of Sherinian and Donati
Report this review (#11124)
Posted Tuesday, February 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are very few albums which,in my mind, have completely changed how I percieve and even write music. Every song from moonbabies to ignotus per ignotium is perfect.

Moonbabies, is the opener of the cd and is one of the most complex songs on the cds. It gives a good overview on what is comming up and showcases everyones talent.10/10

The Noble Savage, starts off with a very impressive improvised solo by Tony Macalpine over Billy Sheehans bassline. Then the songs takes a turn to the heavier side becoming more melodic. Some of the most memorable melodies are played in this song.10/10

Ataraxia, This is were Planet X showcases there more fusion related side. A very memorable tune. 10/10

70 Vir, Starting off with a high energy opening riff and progresses to around the same side of ataraxia with a nice jazz/rock feel. The improvised solo and deul in the middle of this song is VERY impressive and knocked me on the floor the first time I heard it. 10/10

Micronesia, Beggins with a very nice sus2nd chord intro by derek and continues into the usual Planet X type of sound. 10/10

Interlude in Milan, A very uneasy feeling track thanks to the 13/16 meter and strange modes used. This song may take your ears a little time to adjust to but after a few listens you beggin to see the direction they wanted to take this song to. Very nice,heavy and fast solos by T Mac and Derek.10/10

Digital Vertigo, Your typical Planet X song but with a very interesting intro 9/10

Ground Zero, Is a tribute to 9/11 and is very well executed. This song was meant to give the listener of uneasyness and confusion AND IT DOES!!!! Virgil shines on this playing a 5/8 and 7/8 poly rythm and tony playing the whole tone scale for added effect. Breathtaking and amazing!!!!!!! 11/10

Midnight Bell, A song not too unlike digital vertigo but different in its own right. This contains one of the heaviest riffs on the cd and progresses to some nice tony and derek solos.

Ignotus Per Ignotium, For me is the highlight of the cd it is very complex but yet melodic. Tonys solo in my opinion is the most beutiful peices ever composed by anyone. 10/10

Overall I think this cd should have debued on the billboard #1 charts and still be there. Its that good. I urge EVERYONE WHO READS THIS BUY MOONBABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Report this review (#42287)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've only recently come across this site and Mr. Sherinian, so I could be accused of not being entirely up to speed, but "Moonbabies" has forced itself on to the CD player virtually everyday and I hadn't done that since 1978 listening to "Xanadu" by Rush! Never heard anything quite like it and I've heard a lot over the years.

I hadn't really listened to anything from Macalpine since "Eyes of the World" in 1990 and was pleasantly surprised to hear his style had changed a bit, with some distinctly Holdsworth type sounds and licks in there; no bad thing! So many guitarists sound exactly the same twenty years after you first heard them!

First track is great at setting the scene and getting you hooked. I couldn't really get past the first 3 tracks, feeling there was so much to try and pick out with the time signatures and enjoying some great lines, especially the opening of "Ataraxia". A bit of UK, Holdsworth and Chick Corea Elektric Band seem to jump out at you with first listening but eventually the songs form their own identity, with something special in every track. The opening of "Ground Zero" is terrific. I love the way you tune in to the keyboard part then when the drums come in it just knocks you for six and the huge chords in "Ignotus per Ignotium" get the hairs on the back of the neck up.

The annoying thing for me is I'm dying to get my hands on a score of the music just to see what's actually going on! Maybe that says something about me as a musician?! Are you sure that's not Holdsworth playing the solo in "Ground Zero"? I believe he's already recorded about 5 tracks for the next CD.

One downside which bothered me a bit, Dream Theater too, the feeling some of the time signatures were done for the wrong reasons and take away from some aspects of the music, I get a similar feeling here.

Anyway, it's a minor consideration and I thoroughly recommend a listen at least, as it challenges you on every level, great stuff! The production is great and it sounds like a group of musicians playing for each other, with the "band" being more important than the individual. Everybody loves that feeling of something coming out of the blue, grabbing your attention and making you laugh, in a good way, about how outrageous it is, well it did it for me.

p.s. I've noticed a review by Chris Jackson has given some time signatures, I'll go and have a listen!

Report this review (#46875)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Too purposive prog music for me. They are very skilled, but there´s not so many songs which i'll remeber tomorrow. And guitar´s sound is something what i don't like. BUT the drummer is fabulous!!! I´ve heard so much better pieces... Sorry, fans!
Report this review (#63710)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Planet X's second release, "Moonbabies", is one of the best jazz-rock/metal fusion albums, I've ever heard. I love Jazz, no doubt, but this is even a step higher. It is more complex and demanding and is very exciting. Imagine some of the Tony MacAlpine solo stuff and add Virgil Donati's incredible drum playing and Derek Sherinian's idiosyncratic synthesizer (in a positive way) and of course Billy Sheehan, the bass god. The music is build up mainly with the guitar leading the whole ensemble, playing heavy riffs/chords or solo guitar passages, some synths, soft and supporting in the background or playing own solos, bass and drums accompanying.

Don't expect something easy to listen! Through its complexity, several hearings are necessary to come to grips with this album, but it's worth it.

If you liked Derek Sherinian's "Inertia" or other Jazz-Rock-Fusion-Bands like BRAND X or MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA this CD might please you!

Report this review (#64053)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Planet X's MoonBabies is among the most technically proficient albums of all-time. Virtuosos Derek Sherinian (keyboards), Tony MacAlpine (guitars), Virgil Donati (drums) team up with a few bass masters (as they did not have a permanent at the time) to perform their unique, highly demanding and complex jazz-metal fusion.

The compositions here are mind-boggling. Filled with bizarre beats, odd times/polyrhythms galore (Sherinian once said "Our most exotic time signature is four"), virtuosic guitar and keyboard work, atmospheric syth backdrops, and more. For a musician, it doesn't get more difficult than this. Some critics say Sherinian is doing this to one up Dream Theater in the technical department. Don't mind such criticism; it really is inconsequential. Furthermore, as I read the linear notes, Donati is the prime writer here. Out of spite or not, Sherinian proves his excellence. MacAlpine's soaring leads and magical solos are very prominent, and hardly ever can be considered "mindless shredding." The melodies and solos from all instruments are very inspired and enthralling. Everyone holds their own here, as is mandatory for such music.

Their debut effort, Universe, was rather bland and also much less technical throughout. MoonBabies is more varied, unique and accomplished. All of the tracks are on the same level of quality. There is more focus on theory and atmospheres than melody. The melodies are there, but they are sometimes hidden by the foreground activity (there is a lot to take in on this album). As a result the listener may feel an emotional void, or may lose interest towards the end. Call it complex for the sake of being complex if you wish, but I see much more.

Report this review (#77776)
Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars MoonBabies

Ahh, my first fusion band album. To be honest, this album is not my favorite, since I don't really like fusion or jazz rock but I decided to make this review. The album was released in 2002, along with another album, Universe.

In the making of MoonBabies, there were three main people in the band, Virgil Donati (drums) which was in Steve Vai's band, as well as Tony McAlpine (guitars), which now still in Steve Vai band. Another member is Derek Sherinian (keyboards), former Dream Theater keyboardist in two of their albums, A Change of Season and Awake. There were three bassist involved in the making of this album, Billy Sheehan, Tom Kennedy and Jimmy Johnson. So by looking at these names, you can predict what the style of the band is. Derek Sherinian, was more into progressive metal with Dream Theater. Tony McAlpine was very into rock and roll and jazz just like Virgil Donati. Billy Sheehan was absolutely the best rock and roll bass player.

For me, I consider this album more into progressive metal rather than jazz rock/fusion because of the songs are heavier than fusion songs. However, there are still some jazz elements in the song.

Well I am not very familiar with many fusion songs, but I think the songs here is really good, also really progressive. Means that a lot of odd time signature changes, also, the most noticeable time signature changes are from the drum sections. This point can also showcases every member of the band that you all know playing a song with lots of different time signature is not easy whatsoever. The techniques of each personnel are also amazing, great guitar solos and rhythms, strange awesome keyboard synths and solos and ultimate crazy beat changes of drum sections.

My favorite song in the album is Ignotus Per Ignotium. The song really represents the skills and techniques of each member, really an amazing song. Another thing to notice is, the last song, The Noble Savage, is really a pure jazz song, deep jazz guitar style along with groovy drum riffs, really great.

I give four stars to this album. I wish I could give five, but it such a shame that I don't really familiar with fusion songs. However, just by listen to the songs in this album, I really could appreciate fusion even more, really amazing techniques and feeling throughout the album.

Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

Report this review (#80272)
Posted Sunday, June 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars just perfect! is a "journey" was a new experiencie for my...i didn´t know this kind of fusion music....the trio is simply the most incredible that i ear in my life...i listen one and another time and ever i find some new! macalpine fly in his guitar with exelents melodies, riffs and amazing solos, sherinian makes the armonys and the atmospheric ambient & donati rules !

Report this review (#83320)
Posted Monday, July 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars An extraordinary album that highlights the skill of in my opinion, the most critcally underappreciated drummer of modern time. To me, what lacks in this album and in this band is the distinguishability of the 3 instruments/personas, that make the songs more difficult to focus on. Donati is amazing, but there's got to be more substance for me.

Techinically, it's very stunning, but they won't be the first to be stunning and won't be the last. I don't feel you should set out to write in certain time signatures, rather you should write music and find what fits best. Sometimes I get the feeling that a song is written in 13/8 just to be written in 13/8. Many good and amazing moments here, but the album never reall has "clicked" with me and I find it shallow and dull in some spots.

Report this review (#84782)
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. There is no questioning the talent of these three guys, and for me as a guitar fan the work of Tony MacAlpine is truly the highlight of this record. Tony is a talent as he plays the keyboards (not on this record) and has done so on a couple of Vinnie Moore records and also on three of the G3 releases, he's also produced albums in the past. The first two songs are amazing along with the final three, but with the other five songs being so-so in my opinion so I just can't reward this with 4 stars.There is a definite Fusion flavour to this album but it's the heavier songs that I like the best.

Highlights for me are "Moonbabies" with some good atmosphere early before it kicks into gear. A nice heavy sound here. Complexity rules after 2 minutes then back to the main melody 3 1/2 minutes in. Nice bass a minute later. "The Noble Savage" begins with a jazzy feel that leads to some intricate guitar and drum patterns.The guitar soars before 3 minutes and themes are repeated.

"Ataraxia" boasts lots of time changes, while "Micronesia" begins with spacey keys which is the best part of the song for me. "Ground Zero" begins with drums as the guitar comes in making some noise. I like when the song settles. "Midnight Bell" becomes pretty heavy with a powerful ending. "Ignotum Per Ignotius" features some scorching guitar and heaviness, the perfect way to end this ride.

Certainly an enjoyable album for me at times just not consistantly.

Report this review (#94080)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A spectacular dreadnought of a band, these three gifted men have created some of the best heavy fusion on the planet - perhaps *the* best - and it behooves you to look into this record. Like some mutant child of Colosseum II and Liquid Tension Experiment, this band will take on all comers and rip them a new one with amazing polymeters, facility, drama and chops of awe. I suppose if you prefer either straight ahead fusion or prog metal you may be let down but for those with a craving for something new and astounding in jazz-metal, look no further. The word is that Holdsworth will be replacing MacAlpine on their third studio release...and that's O.K. with me.
Report this review (#95890)
Posted Friday, October 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Moonbabies is a great Jazz/metal CD. Although they are categorized as jazz/fusion, they could easily be enjoyed by any progressive metal fan.

All of the musicians on this album do a great job, but of course one of the easiest to notice is Virgil Donati on drums. He does better than anyone I've ever heard with complicated time signatures. Of course all of the other guys do great jobs. I really like the solos of Tony and Derek. The only thing I kind of don't like is that I don't know really what bass player plays which song. I could go look it up, but I never really took the time to go see.

This CD is full of a bunch of rockin' songs, insane time signatures, and great musicianship. After a few listens, you can really get a feel for the time switches coming up, making the album even more fun to listen to. An excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#115665)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What to say about such an album. Super from the first note to the last. Is very hard today to bring something new in jazz-fusuion after some fabulous bands in the '70 who rule the jazz scene, i'm talking about Brand X, Bruford, Return to Forever, Dixie Dregs, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Al DiMeola, Jean Luc Ponty, to name the greatest of the '70. After all Planet X did a great job, finding the right signature and perfect mood for each piece, creatind a magic album not only in jazz, in fact is not really a jazz album is more prog metal with jazz elements. With such musicians is clear that we have a great album. I recommend this one not only for fusion fans but to whole fans of instrumental albums and to all who hear good music. Forte tracks, all , but , Moonbabie and Ataraxia i find the best, the rest is obvious good. 4 star to this one. Recommended.
Report this review (#125248)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just as they put warning labels for parents in stores just to attract the spoiled, musicaly uneducated and overall pretty unsophisticated generation to listen more crap, MoonBabies should display a label "For true lovers of total music only"....

All the other reviewers pretty much said all the good/not so good about this phenomenal output of first-class musicians; I just wanna put my five cents in because I truly admire each and every member of this unit and what they have created here. What amazes me the most is with what ease and clarity the music here is performed. I have seen Tony MacAlpine and Billy Sheehan in action with Steve Vai and I am well aware what these two are capable of; I haven't had a chance to see Virgil and Derek live although Iam big a fan of both. But even knowing how great and gifted musicians they all are did not prepared me for this amazing array of spectacular melodies, rhytms/time signatures and virtually 4-D music. The ease with which Sherinian and MacAlpine can change musical colors without breaking a sweat and still give each song it's own personality just astounds me. Virgil Donati is master of his instrument, tying everything together in like perfectly formed spider web. If there is a weak spot on this album, I can't find it. About the time signatures played here: I actually think that they put their heads together and said 'hey, can we actually make a song with this and that time signature which is going to sound flawless and great to whoever listens to it?' To me these time signatures are in perfect synchronicity with their hearts as the music pumps like one. I'm sorry but this stuff makes me move, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, ladies, too - my women friend has become a Planet X fanatic.

Very complex, yet very pleasant to ear at any level, loud or low. Very well produced sound, clarity at this stage of skills is absolutely essential for a positive feedback. Sounds great with headphones on, too! Top notch production which deserves nothing but five stars.

Report this review (#133699)
Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars When Derek Sherinian formed this band he stated that he wanted to be the sickest instrumental band on the planet, and it is apparent on the Planet X releases that he is attempting to do so, whether successfully or not so is up to the listener. Moonbabies, though in the jazz/fusion sub genre, seems to lean a lot towards progressive metal, with jazz elements such as odd chord changes being used. The only moment it really seems like they are playing true jazz is the intro to The Noble Savage. Musically, this is an extremely technical instrumental album, with lots of time changes and shredding type solos. Each musician is one of the best in their field, and they bring a variety of sounds to the band. Sherinian likes to do atmospheric parts and his solos are often in the fashion of a guitar, Tony MacAlpine is one of the best guitar shredders out there, and has a unique neoclassical/jazz type style, and Virgil Donati is just a monster behind the drum kit, making so many of these odd times sound natural. All of the songs are solid, although I don't know if any really stands out as a top track for me (if I had to pick it would probably be Ignotius Per Ignotium), and there's not too much variation between the songs in terms of style, and because of that I'm only giving it four stars.
Report this review (#160027)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars some one need to invent a new word to describe this album, becouse the words amazing, brilliant, and beautiful are not enough!

each one of the band members broth something from himself to this album. Tony MacAlpine, Virgil Donati and Derek Sherinian are true virtuosoes, and i love each one of them separately, but when you put them all in one band.. well lets just say that i can die happy! (if you dont know who they are, then my guess is that you been hiding in a cave for the lest 50 years ;)

beside this 3 virtuosos, there were 3 amazing bass players that worked on this album, the reason there were 3 and not just one, is becouse they didn't really had a bass player back then. the bass players are Jimmy Johnson, Tom Kennedy(all so played on universe), and the absolutely amazing billy sheehan (steve vai, mr big, explorers club and more).

the album is highly technical, and its mostly prog metal with allot of weird time signature's, and some jazz influence. but its like nothing i ever heard before, its one of the most original albums i ever heard. the intro to the noble savage is pure great jazz, and i all so have to say that this is my favorite song from this album. tony macalpine is known for his jazz influence and his high use of chromatic scale, Tmac all ways had this dirty sound to his music, and for my surprise on this album he sounds great (well at least better). Derek Sherinian have this special feeling to his music, i cant really explain it with words, its something you need to listing to, Micronesia, Ignotum Per Ignotius and Ataraxia are good examples. as for donati, he sounds amazing on every song (not to munching that he wrote all most every song). donati is defiantly one of the bast drummers of our time, the technique of this guy is not of this world.its my favorite album from planet x, actually its one of my favorite albums ever.

the problem with this album/planet x(well its not really a problem), is that its so technical that probably only musicians will truly enjoy it. but hey its fusion, what did you expect?

its not just a good album, its a masterpiece!

Report this review (#167613)
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ever heard the song Tumeni Notes?

Well, it doesn't matter, I was referring more to the title anyways. The play on words of too~many~notes is exactly what I think whenever I listen to this project. Brimming with talent, Planet X is the (moon)baby of ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian and Tony MacAlpine on guitar - and they really wanted to do something complex here. In fact, that was the actual mission statement of the band going into the recording studio, they wanted to make something monstrously complex. Call it self indulgent or call it pretentious, (the prog world certainly has heard those words enough that hearing it again isn't going to bring tears to the eyes of the artist) it really doesn't matter because if there's one thing you can't take away from these boys is that they really know how to play. If there's one thing that you can't deny when listening to this album it's the skill behind the instruments, and that is something very respectful indeed.

The music on the album is very well planned as well. It really is a crazy mix of prog metal and jazz fusion with a hint of Dream Theater thrown in there for good measure. The songs are all fairly short, the longest being around 6 and a half -ish, meaning that there's no winding epics for the artists to go on, so in that respect they've (*gasp*) restricted themselves. To compare them to anything I'd have to say, ''it's like Weather Report meets Liquid Tension Experiment in space''. These guys know structure, and they're heavy as hell. Anyone who likes a dominant keyboard and a strong lead guitar will find themselves drawn towards this one.

And yet, there's something about it which never demands more. Listening to the album there's an overwhelming feeling of the evil 'wall of sound' that so many albums fall victim to. After a while it becomes hard to pick out one song from another until about the sixth of seventh listen when they start to become different tracks. Really, the album turns into one nice big slush of progressive jazz metal.

Still, it has its ups again. Much like other virtuosos in the field of instrumental albums these guys know where to put the hooks and the catchy bits to make you bob your head along. This one is ultimately very good, but it will find more fans among those who really like their music overly and purposefully complex. 3 moons out of 5 - recommended, but more for people who really like instrumental virtuosos showing what they can do.

Report this review (#176137)
Posted Saturday, July 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Two Stars, For collectors and fans only.

I'm obviously a collector/fan of Dream Theater and Derek Sherinian, so I collect anything related, which is why I have this album, and the only real reason.

I found this album extremely boring... I mean, it's mildly entertaining, when you hear all that psychedelic noodling stuff, but... that's ALL the album is. None of the songs have any meaning... they never really make you think about anything. Well, I'll admit, a few of them made me think I was floating in some spacecraft above a moon/planet, but that's about it.

Most of the album is basically instrumental jamming with a jazz rock/metal fusion feel to it. But to be progressive, you have to really have an art to it... that is, it should make meaning. It should be epic. It should be memorable and creative. Right here, this is just 56 minutes worth of jamming, really. Don't get me wrong, the musicians are great musicians... obviously, Derek Sherinian, etc. But there's nothing you'll really remember... nothing memorable at all. I was quite bored for the entire time. Occasionally I said oh hey, this part sounds pretty cool, but then they kind've ruined it by going from a cool part to just a jam thing full of instruments playing random notes. I mean, there's good to come out of this psychedelic noodling because it's a pretty cool thing to do... such as the instrumental part of Dream Theater's Octavarium about 3/4 of the way in, the middle of Dream Theater's Dark Eternal Night, and several things on Derek Sherinian's solo albums. But this album... it's ALL that. Nothing but that psychedelic noodling, and it gets very old very fast.

I got this album because of Derek Sherinian, and because of good reviews... but I was disappointed to tell the truth. I'm not saying it's a bad album, I'm just saying it was incredibly boring to me. The main thing it reminded me of is putting a big disorganized mixure of sounds into a melting pot, and adding a spacey theme and jazz fusion type stuff. The guitar was kinda meh... It was heavy, but too much jazz/psychedelic noodling stuff to be considered heavy metal... I don't know what to call it.

Anyway, the instrument playing of this album is magnificent, all of it is done with great skill... it's just that this isn't very... what's the word... memorable. Progressive rock is often very creative, artistic, eclectic, and epic. This is very creative... not that artistic... I'll admit it's wonderfully eclectic mixing jazz fusion with heavy metal with progressive rock with space rock. And this album is NOT epic or memorable at all... I forget what any of the songs sound like! Then again, I only listened to it once... but it's going to be hard to listen to it a second time, I'll tell you that. The fact that there's no words makes it worse. It's not that I don't mind instrumentals, but when the instrumentation is so incredibly boring that you forget what you listened to, adding words is interesting. That's why I like Liquid Tension Experiment, it's a very fun album, full of life, and different interesting experimental parts. LTE has psychedelic noodling as well, but way less than Moonbabies, and played in a much more interesting way. Moonbabies... that's all it is, is boring jam sessions of instruments playing almost improvisational stuff. It sounded like they just came up with it out of the blue, and I'd be surprised if they actually wrote it carefully and all that stuff, seeing as the random nature of it. It sounds as if 4 guys walked into a studio, just recorded whatever in a day, and then walked out.

I dunno... some of you can appreciate this, but I can't, it's boring to me. I don't consider it progressive rock, rather, I consider it just jam session rock, along with jazz fusion and metal. A good album to listen to in the background when you've got something else to put your mind on... say while you're working. Anything to take your attention off it, because if you do pay attention to it, you won't remember anymore than if it was just background music in your workshop.

2 stars out of 5.

Report this review (#202977)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Top class of music... somekind of overlooked here...

I wonder always what makes Liquid Tension Experiment so loved between the prog fans and this project, Planet X, is not with the same success... really... sure Portnoy, Petrucci and Rudess don't have rivals on their particular instrument... but Planet X manages to make more tight and well constructed songs... They do not just play extremist solos, the fastest, the heavier, the toughest... they just play good on what the music needs... that's why I loved this album...

Comparissons aside... the album has tight composition, great solos, good mood through the whole piece... great sounds for Sherinian, who prubes once again he's capable to play good, not just soloing... and when he does it... my God... is great... full of energy and very heavy for a keyboard player... I like more his style than Rudess... guess we can't stop comparing them... Rudess is faster and maybe better in every technic department... but just try too hard to be over the top... here Derek shows that sound and soul matters... besides, Macalpine and Donnatti manages to make and incredible journey...

Guess the difficult thing here is that the album is quite complete, that you cannot point at one particular song or solo and say "This is the best"... no... the complete album is great so you have to diggest the complete piece and some maybe doesn't feel so comfortable with so jazzy sound...

Well... at the end, this is a heavy production, with great production and sound quility at it's very best... tight composition... not a single mistake I found... just that is no so prog and more fussion and that's why so many people are missing out these guys... give it a try.. you should like it... four stars... great addition to any prog collection... for sure...!!!

Report this review (#237172)
Posted Friday, September 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have many fond memories of listening to this album while developing pictures in a darkroom, and what a perfect place to listen to music like this - in the odd glow of the red light. This band defies categorization - if someone asked me what style they played I'd have to say it's some sort of Progressive Jazz/Metal Fusion, but whatever it is, it is unique. The team-up between Derek Sherinian, Tony Macalpine, and Virgil Donati is amazing - with the insanely complex poly-rhythms between Donati and Sherinian over-layed by Macalpine's masterful sense of melody, it is a perfect pairing. Macalpine seems to make sense of the odd rhythms of the rest of the band with his melodic guitar and the effect astounds.
Report this review (#752347)
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
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

Report this review (#978043)
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
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.

Report this review (#1394553)
Posted Sunday, April 5, 2015 | Review Permalink

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