Platypus - Ice Cycles

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Inside Out
Catalog Number: IOMCD056/SPV 085-31962CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:19:00

The fact that all the members of Dream Theater are also involved in various projects sort of means that they can not fully contribute to the band itself, that there are always bits and pieces that don't really fit into the big Dream Theater puzzle. Not only does this refer to DT but also to King's X, Planet X and Dixie Dregs, because next to John Myung, Ty Tabor, Derek Sherinian and Rod Morgenstein are also back in full force.

As a sequel to the acclaimed When Pus Comes To Shove, my first reaction is that the various members have concentrated more on a group sound than before. However, when I listened to the album a second time it became apparent that this isn't the case with all of the tracks here. Especially in the beginning it's more of a band, with a very laid-back Rod Morgenstein and more emphasis on harmonies and melody, rather than showing off their individual skills. Things change from the second part of the album onwards as really all the various influences start cooking in order to deliver some "Dregs Theater on Planet Kings!"

Opener "Oh God" is very subtle, with a repetitive Sherinian in the intro before some heavy guitar riffs rip open your spine in order to reveal a sudden void. In fact, I can hear some White Album-era Beatles throughout, especially when the vocals sway from one speaker to the other before being ripped apart by a grinding guitar solo. What an opener! I have also always felt that John Myung is rather restricted within the confinements of Dream Theater and that within Platypus he gets the chance to step forward. Listen to the Deep Purple like (great Hammond!) "Better Left Unsaid" for some of the Myung highlights before the song ends in military fashion.

High class rock 'n' roll during "The Tower," again with some stunning Lord-like Hammond strolls from Sherinian, and some ace guitar parts from Ty Tabor, getting close to Blackmore. An accessible chorus alternates with a dark edged rhythm in "Cry" where, once again, the emphasis lies in Myung's outstanding bass playing, before the entire band finally sets off into one big cacophony of rock.

The poppy "I Need You" reminds me slightly of Phish, which means hit potential is never far away. Sherinian's synth in the intro for "25" directly sits on the same wavelength as his own Planet X, and due to the interaction between synth and guitar, this instrumental gem can be situated between Brand X, Return to Forever and Dixie Dregs. I also note some outstanding drumming from Morgenstein here.

"Gone" sets off in true ambient fashion, so we can catch our breath after such a load of rocking material. However, Sherinian's soundscapes are not there for long before being swept away by some brilliant guitar playing courtesy of Tabor. Once again it's Myung's underlying bass chords which keep it all tight together, whilst superb harmonies cascade throughout the song.

The final song, "Partial To The Bean" (a tragic American epic), consists of seven short musical ideas all linked together, which are very much the work and talent of Derek Sherinian. It sounds very progressive indeed, very colourful and complex. And who knows, maybe this sort of instrumental can be what we might expect on the forthcoming Planet X album Universe? I also like the play with words such as "Yoko Ono", "Yoko Two-no," "Yoko Three-no." Finally some humour in prog! Tabor's guitar playing here reminds me somewhat of the great Alan Holdsworth, which certainly is a very positive statement!

Ice Cycles is ten times more mature and better sounding than When Pus Comes To Shove and already that one was a killer. Knowing that Liquid Tension Experiment performed a couple of times in the States, and that Portnoy's other project Transatlantic is headlining the coming edition of NEARfest, it should be made possible for Platypus to play a couple of dates as well. But for the time being go out and buy yourself a copy of Ice Cycles or to end in pure Yoko Ono tradition: "BAG ONE" today!

Oh God (4:16) / Better Left Unsaid (5:24) / The Tower (3:30) / Cry (6:15) / I Need You (4:17) / 25 (5:09) / Gone (6:42) / Partial To The Bean (10:33) A) Intro Pompatous (0:21) B) Yoko Ono (1:27) C) Yoko Two-No (1:01) D) Yoko Three-No (2:13) E) Platmosis (1:16) F) Yoko Againo (2:08) G) Yoko Outro (2:07)

Ty Tabor - vocals, guitars
John Myung - bass
Derek Sherinian - keyboards
Rod Morgenstein - drums

When Pus Comes To Shove (1999)
Ice Cycles (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 20th 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Hits: 840
Language: english


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