Last year the first solo-cd from ex Dream Theater keyboardplayer Derek Sherinian was released. On this album, entitled “Planet X”, he was assisted by drumsensation Virgil Donati, guitarplayer Brett Garsed and bassplayer Tony Franklin.

“Universe” is his second, fully instrumental piece of work, that’s released under the projectname “Planet X”. Again, this time it’s Virgil Donati, who assists the keyboardplayer, but Sherinian has now made virtuoso guitarist Tony MacAlpine enthusiastic for his project. The only thing you can expect from a supertrio like this, is that they release an album that’s musically perfect.

Like the last solo project, we hear a combination of fusion and progressive rock. Of course the songs are now, with the arrival of MacAlpine, far more guitar oriented, and that’s the most important difference between the two albums.

The elusive guitarsolo’s are completed with the well known, complicated breaks, changes in rhythm, and melodic patterns. The instruments are perfectly balanced. “Clonus” and “Chocalate” are my personal winners, because of the catchy melodies, but you can’t speak of losers on this album either. These three musicians don’t just control their instruments perfectly, they are gifted. And we are able to profit, thanks to “Universe”.

Overall rating – 85/100

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