The Planet The - "Physical Angel"
(54040' or Flight! 2003, POLK020)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: December 2003
The Planet The are a Portland, Oregon based trio that play one of the most refreshing brands of progressive rock I've heard this year. The band consists of Charles Salas Humara on guitar & vocals, Dave Huebner on keyboards and Charles Francis Matze III on drums. There is a LOT happening on this disc, despite the fact that its 9 tracks total less than a half hour and most of the songs don't even hit the 3 minute mark.
Listening to Physical Angel I imagine that the members of The Planet The must have been raised on equally healthy diets of 70's progressive rock along the lines of King Crimson, Yes and Magma, avant-prog/RIO bands like Etron Fou LeLoublon, and 80's New Wave and synth-pop, and were determined to bring all these influences together to create their music. Sound strange? Well intentional or not that's exactly what these guys do, and the results are very cool, not to mention pretty damn interesting.
The CD opens with the title track, which begins as a quirky Devo-ish 80's synth pop dancey number, but quickly transitions to a dreamy Pink Floyd sequence, before switching back to the original theme. Wow... that was weird. Give me more. "Toledo River" features more Devo sounds, this time á la "Whip It", but The Planet The's heavy rockin avant-prog and oddball new wave elements are much in evidence too, making this one of the more difficult to describe albums I've reviewed in a while. And therein lies the magic of The Planet The. These guys do an impressive job of glomming various styles into a cohesive and freshly exciting melting pot. There's more of the 80's new wavey/synth-poppy influences to be heard on songs like "Arty Movie" and "Marc Arty", the latter having vocals that sound like David Byrne.
But The Planet The is at its best when embroiled in frenzied heavy rockin prog constructions. The bands quirkiness is much in evidence on songs like "Man Called Wife" and "Body Youth Lip", the music being deep in a punky prog rock realm that smacks of King Crimson, with a potent new wavey Magma-esque bass, Etron Fou LeLoublon organ, freaky vocals and all sorts of assorted fun. Very cool. "Side Pipe" is a wild instrumental that blazes through a complex but power prog rockin workout. This was one of my favorites, with the band on fire and really demonstrating what excellent and imaginative players they are. Finally, at over 6 minutes "High School Hands" is by far the longest track of the set, though for me it doesn't really justify its length. Oh it's got some of the bands most killer playing to be sure. But it starts off with a song section that doesn't rally jibe with the monstrous rocker that the song ultimately becomes. So perhaps The Planet The excel at more concise 2-3 minute statements, though I'll be eager to hear them try again on future releases. Progressive rock fans who would like a fresh take on the genre would do well to check out The Planet The. You'll hear the sounds and styles you love, but not in the way you expect to hear them.
For more information you can visit The Planet The web site at: http://www.theplanetthe.com.
Physical Angel is distributed by 54040' or Fight! You can visit their web site at: http://www.fiftyfourfortyorfight.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz