Planet X – MoonBabies (2002)

planetx_moonbabies3.5 out of 5 Stars!

This second album from all-instrumental band Planet X should be quite the treat for anyone into frenetic Prog-Metal with the occasional jazzy and funky touches.

Impressive drummer Virgil Donati and the three guest bassists form both solid rhythms or tinker with odd-metered passages, while guitarist Tony MacAlphine and keyboardist Derek Sherinian especially shine throughout. The wild orchestrations are rich and diverse, and added with the intriguing keyboard sounds and guitar tones (both in the plush backgrounds, the frantic fills, and during the many spectacular solos) makes the whole package rather unique in my eyes.

Please note: The reason I didn’t rate this album higher overall is that, in general, I’m not an avid fan of all-instrumental albums. Without vocals, with no sing-along melodies to follow, I typically find little to remember on these types of releases, so instead I rated this particular album based on the general mood I felt after numerous hearings. And although the musicianship is first-class, there is little for me to actually remember days (or even hours) later…ie. no hummable parts that repeat in my head, nothing that would induce me to come back time and time again, but only when I’m in the mood for the occasional “instrumental fix.” Unfortunately, that’s the “nature of the beast” when it comes to purely instrumental groups, no matter how skillful the musicians involved.

Be that as it may, the band is enormously talented, there’s no denying that, and for the type of music on display here, the album is enjoyable. To me, Planet X is to today’s instrumental Prog-Metal music what Brand X was to the instrumental Prog-Rock music of the ’70s. Hmmm…Planet X? Brand X? It might be the “Xs” in the names that make both bands so special to their particular eras, huh? 🙂

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