by Keavin Wiggins
Tired of the primal screams of nu-metal?
Had enough of the monotony of rap-core? Sick of hearing the same drop-d
tuned guitar riffs played ad nausium? If you answered yes to any of these
questions, than Planet X may just be what the doctor ordered.
Progressive rock has a long and impressive
history. From the virtuoso styling of Yes in the 70's to the power and
melody of Rush in the 80's and then the explosive sounds of Dream Theater
in the 90's. Progressive rock has provided a venue for exceptional musicians
to strut their stuff.
It's now 2000 and fans are craving something
new from the progressive rock circles. In walks Derek Sherinian to save
the day. Derek's resume reads like a who's who of legendary rock n rollers.
He played keyboards for KISS and Alice Cooper and joined the ranks of Dream
Theater in 1994. While many music fans may be giving in to the temptation
to yawn right about now, let us assure you that Derek's style and playing
is nothing to fall asleep over. He has a rare cultivated style and talent
that has paved the way for keyboards as a lead instrument in progressive
rock. That's right, he holds his own and often outshines the lead guitarist
when given the opportunity to showcase what he is capable of.
Last year after leaving Dream Theater,
Derek set out to create a band all his own, "after 10 years of playing
in other people's bands, it's a pleasure to be playing my own music." That
creation was the instrumental band Planet X.
With Planet X, Derek wanted to bring together
a band that features the crème de la crème of progressive
rock musicians. He didn't have to look far. Legendary axeman Tony MacAlpine provides
the virtuoso guitar needed for this progressive rock outfit. The final
ingredient needed to round out this potent recipe was a world class drummer.
So Derek found Virgil Donati. A man who is renowned as one the best technical
drummers in music today. Together they created a masterpiece of modern
music with their debut album, "Universe".
While it may appear that Planet X is the
Derek Sherinian solo project, he states clearly that this is a working
band not a mere project. All three of the groups core musicians are essential
to it's powerful sound. MacAlpine reflects "All of us are composers. This
band is a vital entity for today's music lovers and enthusiasts. It's quite
original." Indeed it is! As we witnessed at a recent show at the legendary
Whiskey Ago Go in West Hollywood.
To hear the Planet X album on your CD player
is one thing, but seeing them in action at a live performance is quite
another. At the outset the listener is treated to some of the world's most
technical, yet melodic music. Tony MacAlpine shines
as expected, laying out solo's and leads like he was born with a guitar
in his hands. All the while Virgil Donati's drumming makes it virtually
impossible to sit through another inane drum solo from a mediocre drummer
again, because after seeing Donati play you can hear and see what is possible
from what many consider a mere background instrument.
Sherinian's performance is one of the many
high points of Planet X's live shows. When listening to the album, many
of the explosive leads you think are coming from MacAlpine's guitar are
actually coming from the ebony and ivory at Derek's finger tips. When playing
live, Derek sets up his keyboard at an angle facing away from him and towards
the crowd, so it is hard to miss his lightning fast fingers as they dance
across the keys creating some of the most
incredible musical magic this reviewer has ever heard.
Planet X is an instrumental band, after
hearing and seeing them live it is easy to understand why. No vocalist
in his right mind would try to outshine these musicians. That is just as
well, because the music quite simply, speaks for itself!
out for yourself!
You can catch Planet X on the road this
summer and fall as they perform a series of dates with Fates Warning and
several appearances on their own.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, you
will have the opportunity to attend a very special birthday
bash for Derek on Aug. 25th at the Baked Potato in Hollywood. After Planet
X performs, Derek will be joined by some of his well known friends in an
Details on the tour, news, sound samples,
photos and more are available at the Planet
X Official Site, or Derek's
Official home on the web.
You can order your copy of Universe
right now online and discover what all the fuss is about. Wait there
is more, the band is selling a
number of signed copies of the CD from their web site.