Planet X

MoonBabies

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Just a few months after Live From Oz, Planet X unleashed its second studio album, MoonBabies. Here, Virgil Donati, Tony MacAlpine, and Derek Sherinian push the jazz-rock envelope farther into progressive rock territory. Most tracks feature oblique melodic lines and complex time signatures (in the press release, Sherinian is quoted saying, "Our most exotic time signature is four"). The pretty straightforward "Ignotus Per Ignotium," previewed on Live From Oz, lied about the group's direction. The hard rocker finds itself isolated at the end of the album. The other tracks rock hard, but in much more challenging ways. MacAlpine is a magician, often stealing the show with his inspired solos and soaring lead lines -- recalling Allan Holdsworth in his prime. In "The Noble Savage," he briefly showcases his jazz tendencies (much more obvious in his solo albums). Prog fans can spend a few hours deciphering the action in "Ataraxia," "Micronesia," and "Digital Vertigo." The music occasionally falls into the culprit of "complex for complexity's sake," but in general the guys keep things rolling thanks to a strong rhythm section. Guests Tom Kennedy, Jimmy Johnson, and Billy Sheehan take care of bass guitar duties. MoonBabies is more varied and overall accomplished than 2000's Universe, a good sign.

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