plastic planetsPlastic Planets is a superstar side-project, infectious and not without hooks, yet far from a conventional pop record...


Plastic Planets
Artist: Plastic Planets
Time: 10 tracks / 38:27

Plastic Planets, the self-titled side-project of MuteMath's Roy Mitchell-Cardenas (guitar), Blue Man Group's Jeffrey Alan Wright (drums) and Social Ghost's Eric Van Lugo (bass and vocals) is an excitingly fresh experiment combining the angst of indy, the headiness of alternative, and the basic drive of classic rock.

In just under 39 minutes Plastic Planets delivers basic three-man rock and roll songs, tight and concise, flirting with electronica and (on "Me Go") even touching the edge of prog (Van Lugo's vocals on this one recall Jon Anderson of Yes).

The sound is appropriately raw and the tracks are cleverly assembled, often featuring loops, samples, and the occasional keyboard to create texture under the basic sound. The result is infectious and not without hooks, although this is far from a conventional pop record.

If all of the above sounds like it could be referring to MuteMath it shouldn't be surprising. With Roy Mitchell-Cardenes making up one-third of the trio – the real surprise just might be how much of the MuteMath sound can be attributed to him, especially in light of MuteMath's Odd Soul album (of course, this could be the MuteMath sound rubbing off on Roy). Wright's drum style, less manic than Darren King's, is still spirited, dynamic, and integral to Plastic Planets' sound, while Van Lugo's vocal phrasing is similar at times to Paul Meany's (the lead track, "No Regrets," is a good example). This, combined with the slightly progressive leanings of both Social Ghost and the boys from Louisianan, makes for a slightly heavier sound and some delightful deviations within the songs.

The lyrics are sometimes socially conscious but more often of the soul-searching variety – more apt to ask questions rather than answer them. "Leave a message on my wall / So the world can see it all," sings Van Lugo, in an apparent reference to our obsession with social networking in the opening track. He concludes, " Doesn't anybody talk? Conversation has been lost." On a darker and more intimate note, "Sunshine" contains the less-than sun-shiny lines: "A lack of hope and no Remorse for misdirection/ How does one deal with all These instances of life?  ...A smile, a joke, a kiss, A toke of inspiration / But something's wrong - I don't belong."

Van Lugo's melodic, sturdy bass playing streams through the entire project and his vocals are inviting and emotional without becoming self-indulgent. Wright's drums are powerful and explosive with a nice bottom-end to the way they're produced. Mitchell-Cardenas displays a uniquely spare but stinging guitar style, at once funky, compact and efficient – the acoustic solo in the more progressive "Me Go" is a special treat.
The album ends with the atmospheric "Little Star" - a song for Mitchell-Cardenas' daughter, the track is virtually instrumental except for the barely discernible vocals: "Little Star / Stay with me a while
Welcome to this world / Me and you forever new / Little Star, Little Star / Welcome / Little Star, Little Star /All love, love / Forever me and you..."

Self -produced and group-written, Plastic Planets is an interesting album on many levels, but the bottom line is that there's good music here from divergent creative forces finding a common musical ground.

-Bert Saraco