May 2000 Vol. 4, No. 5
PLATYPUS - Ice Cycles
Platypus, a progressive supergroup born from Dream Theater, avoids the sophomore jinx with Ice Cycles, an extremely cohesive album that remains thematically consistent from start to finish. And surprise, surprise they unleash some inspiring performances along the way.
As good as their first release, When Pus Comes to Shove, was Platypus tops themselves by making a great album this time rather than just a collection of good songs. Here, each track compliments the next, fitting into the dark, introspective theme of the complete work. The band, which consists of members of Dream Theater, Kings X and Dixie Dregs, focuses on setting the proper mood for each composition while experimenting with effects and style. Lyrically, Ice Cycles examines introspection ("Oh God"), miscommunication ("Better Left Unsaid"), depression ("Cry") and yearning ("I Need You").
As with the debut album, guitarist Ty Tabor leaves his mark all over this work. His distinctive vocals capture emotion so perfectly -- although it is strange to hear the voice of Kings X with out the trademark harmonies.
But don't be fooled by Tabor's influence; this is a group effort. The instrumental "25" demonstrates Platypus' ability to set mood and texture in a song. It would be interesting to see them use their considerable skills to score a movie. While they keep the overindulgent, selfish playing in check for much of the album, unlike their counterpart supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment, they still stretch their wings in the appropriate places. They just know how to pick their spots. Of course, they still include a 10 minute showcase, "Partial to the Bean," just to prove that they still have the music chops when necessary.