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Uninspired solo-fests - 54%

The_Ghoul, November 20th, 2008

I give credit to Sherinian, he has thought up some interesting bits, and managed to shore himself quite a career working with several key musicians (Alice Cooper, Dream Theater, Malmsteen, etc...). But as good a doppelganger Sherinian is, he is quite terrible at producing consistent material.

Quantum, Planet X's latest in a series of efforts to one-up Dream Theater, is a noticable step down from their MacAlpine-era stuff, as the heavy-footed neoclassical shredder's darkened influence is missing from this. As a general rule, these songs will impress you upon first listen due to their technicality. The thing is, upon more and more listens, with the exception of perhaps Space Foam, there's no lasting impression created in your psyche. While extensive use of odd time signatures is in play, they aren't used very well, almost as if Sherinian just wanted to put them in there to show that his band can play in 12321321/512421321. Whatever the reason, the music comes off as disjointed and fragmented. You can listen to this a thousand times and still not remember a good part of the album.

Again, like the band Sherinian was trying to one up with Planet X, I am not doubting the talent of the involved musicians. Quite the opposite, I am doubting the ability of Sherinian to use all this talent appropriately and tastefully. Several songs make extensive use of such modern prog-metal cliche's such as making 1/2 step chord progressions along 2-2-3 or 2-2-3-3 or 3-3-3-4 times (7/8, 10/8, and 13/16 respectively) as well as decaying into what sounds like elevator music on mescaline. Sure, it's interesting at first, but that doesn't change the fact that there is a real lack of metal-inspired aggression here, as well as something that is central to progressive music -- progression. Each song is little more than a foil for the solos, and as a result the songs meander, have a solo break, meander more, have another solo break, then close the song with no real conclusion, no real progression of ideas, just a foil for wankery.

Remember kids, just because you can play a lot of notes in a row in an odd configuration doesn't necessarily mean there will be people around who enjoy hearing a lot of notes played in a row in an odd configuration. Talent, skill, and technicality are tools to create music, not the music itself. I can't recommend anybody to buy this, because it's simply not entertaining enough to even warrant the cheap price that you could get from Itunes or Rhapsody. I'd just recommend to torrent this for the song Space Foam, and so you could skim the rest of the songs. However, you'd be much better off getting Live From Oz or Moonbabies. Those have something Quantum thoroughly lacks, and that is dynamics, variation, and actual songs, instead of wankfests.

More guitar! - 75%

chaxster, November 21st, 2007

Just because you like the previous work of all the members in a supergroup is no guarantee that you'll come to regard the group in as brilliant a light. That was my experience with Moonbabies by Planet X. On paper, it was almost immaculate. Underrated neoclassical shredder Tony Macalpine, skinsman extraordinaire Virgil Donati and finally Derek Sherinian, a keys player with a long history of healthy symbiosis with bandmates that like stealing the limelight every now and then. Plus, performances by a string of bassists including Billy Sheehan and Tom Kennedy. Impressive. On a hit or miss scale, though, it was the kind of musical output that clipped me on the shoulder but never really knocked me out of whack.

Why I got around to checking their latest album, Quantum, was primarily the news that aussie six-string wonder Brett Garsed and guitar guru Allan Holdsworth were contributing. Don't ask me why I'm making up cutesy adjectives for everyone. Anyway, I'm enough a fan of their work to have given Quantum a spin on their merit alone. I know, as stated before, that's no assurance of anything, but one can hope.

The hope wasn't that far misplaced, to tell the truth. I really like what Garsed and Holdsworth have brought to the table. The former's tasteful yet mercurial style of playing, coupled with the latter's renowned mind-boggling alien sound push this band's dynamics to the next level. When this clicks, the results are great. Rhythms get played around with, quirky melodies become infectious, and there's plenty of showcasing for the considerable skills involved here. Unfortunately, we're also hit with this genre's tendency to wantonly throw in atonal parts out of the blue. I hate it when a sweet spot is interrupted by an atonal lick, which is then repeated a few times and then doubled in dissonant harmony! Bah.

Despite that, this is easily the best album they've done. This is still jazz-rock that leans more towards jazz, with just about enough other elements to keep me appeased. I'd have appreciated if Sherinian followed the trend from his solo albums and toned down on the keys to give the guitars more room, but it's primarily his band, so I guess it wasn't entirely unexpected. Overall, while not as kickass as a similar act like Ohm, it's still recommended to all those who have a forgiving attitude towards the atonal.