If you’re into rock operas and sci-fi, well, today is your lucky day – Planet and Sky the new “cosmic love story” and a “scientific expedition to a small barren planet and the revelation of a mysterious story told as a creation myth” is the latest album from the Max Wyvern Band. Hailing from Montara, California this full band consists of: Melissa Olsen on vocals, keyboards, Wyvern on vocals and bass, Byron Bellamy on vocals and sound engineering, Darryl Dardenne on drums, Lance Taber on guitars and Rebecca Rust on cello. Joel McKinnon is the creative mind behind the words and music. The band’s music influences range from jazz, blues and reggae. Conceptually, the album is broken into three acts: Discovery (songs 1-3) Romance (songs 4-6) and Tragedy (songs 7-9).
The opening track “Something is Dreaming” is what the band calls “the prologue to the opera” and sets the conceptual tone. It’s a great start to the album and if you like the musical styles of Pink Floyd, Moody Blues and early Genesis (when Peter Gabriel fronted the band), not to mention sci-fi references, you’ll probably like what you hear. “Round” starts off with a solid drum beat, funky bass and piano. The story to this song is that ‘Sky’ seduces ‘Planet’ and as she successfully gets hold of him, they begin a long journey of creating a world together. Wyvern sings duet with Melissa Olsen as they belt out amid the funk pop, “We’re round / So round / Solid round.”
“Travelers” begins with a great jazz drum style and piano and both instruments take center stage with some additional guitar. Another duet is sung here between Byron Bellamy and Melissa Olsen and Wyvern joining in as well. The overall feel to this one I’d say was light, airy and contemporary. Lyrically, the song is about three travelers, (aka microscopic life forms), who journey into deep space. “Eons of Joy” finds the two lovers ‘Planet’ and ‘Sky’ celebrating their newfound love but also, they weigh the good and bad of being in a relationship and how simple it was to be an individual. This tune has an old school blues-rock vibe to it, like something from Meatloaf from the ‘70s.
“Such is Love” is an upbeat but mellow reggae-styled love song where ‘Planet’ sings of his love to ‘Sky’ with some nice keyboard action. Towards the end, the music tears up the tempo faster. “Beautiful Life” finds the planet in the story rapidly cooling and the travelers pondering over their lives amongst the stars – “First we were favored. Now it grows colder. We do what we must to exist in a changing world.” The music is somber and understandably so, as the lyrics suggest time, or what we know about it, is not always on our side.
“Planet My Love” is the climatic part of the love between ‘Planet’ and ‘Sky’ as Sky tells Planet of a terrible thing that has happened – they are both dying and drifting apart from each other. With that said, the lyrics are indeed sad and made me think of my own mortality, not to mention Earth’s and the lasting value of love. Rebecca Rust accompanies on cello and Melissa Olsen on keys – both perform here beautifully. The story behind “Empty World” is just what you might expect the title to suggest – loss of life on the planet and the atmosphere as desolation takes over. The music starts off slow and sad and then picks up halfway with a faster tempo with full guitar, keys, drums and bass.
The last song “Wake Up!” finds the scientists returning from their trip and they begin to launch a “colossal bioengineering project.” Whoa. The travelers awaken from their dormant slumber and the two lovers Planet and Sky rekindle their romance by singing a duet. Musically, this one has a jamming’ laid back feel during some parts, while other times it gets pretty rocking – it reminded me of something from the musical Hair. In fact, I thought much of the concept and musical arrangements within Planet and Sky seems very fitting for a theatrical adaptation as well as being quite imaginative. Food for thought as the Max Wyvern Band peers forth into their next great adventure.
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