Planet X
Universe
13/06/2000
On their fourth studio album “Quantum”, Planet X make quite an impression with a breathtaking mixture of instrumental rock, metal and fusion. Apart from the founding members, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Virgil Donati, the album features of host of guest musicians including the inimitable Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, UK).

When asked what makes Planet X so special, keyboard player Derek Sherinian quickly describes it as being the “craziest instrumental band in the world” and getting straight to the point, he refers to the music of the new album “Quantum” as “metal fusion on steroids!” Sherinian’s words may be said half jokingly but they actually aren’t far from the truth, for this furious mix of hard rock, heavy metal and jazz fusion unleashes a torrent of energy both in the musicians as well as the fans.

The technical skills harnessed by each of the album’s collaborators together with the compositional talent of Sherinian and his partner Virgil Donati (drums), who wrote eight of the nine songs on this new album, have intrigued both critics and fans since the band’s inception. “Quantum” is a gripping instrumental album that enthrals the listener right from the first note. “With each new album we want to expand our musical boundaries, both harmonically as well as rhythmically,” says Sherinian about the intention of the new record. He goes on to add, “No-one plays music as complex as Planet X”.

Sherinian and Donati very carefully chose the musicians who would be on board this time around. With bassist Jimmy Johnson and Rufus Philpot (Al Di Meola) and guitarist Brett Garsed, Planet X has surrounded themselves with true masters of their trade. “Jimmy is an incredibly good bassist who brought a lot of groove into the arrangements,” Sherinian explains. “Rufus, who plays live with us, did a great job too. Guitarist Brett Garsed, who played on my first solo album, has a really cool legato style. He also has this strong rock feel and provides a real heaviness that we had hoped for”.

Sherinian and Donati were particularly pleased about convincing friend and colleague, Allan Holdsworth to collaborate on “Quantum”. A former member of Soft Machine and UK, Holdsworth has played with acts such as Gong, Stanley Clarke, Jack Bruce and Bill Bruford. He is rightly regarded as one of the most innovative guitarists in the history of rock and fusion. “Allan is our favourite guitarist”, says Sherinian. “He is a master of improvisation with a truly unique style. Originally, we wanted him play on the whole album but scheduling commitments only allowed him to contribute to the tracks “Desert Girl” and “The Thinking Stone” but his parts on these songs are wonderful”.

Planet X was founded back in 1999. Before that time, Derek Sherinian had been a session musician for Alice Cooper and Kiss as well as a permanent member of Dream Theater. Donati has worked with numerous artists including Steve Vai and Steve Walsh (Kansas). Just before leaving Dream Theater, Sherinian prepared his first solo album “Planet X” in collaboration with Donati. By working on that project, they discovered that they had a lot of musical things in common. “Virgil is a stellar drummer”, says Sherinian in praise of his musical partner. “He just gets better each day and is a source of inspiration for everybody who works with him”. As a result, Planet X became a fully fledged band even before the release of the first record. “This all happened literally a day after I was given my pink slip by Dream Theater”, says Sherinian. The band has since gone on to release four studio albums and a live album. Not a bad track record for a band that started out as a one-off project!