Horst - "The Planets As Interpreted By Joe and Jo" (Szum Music 2000, ORBIT 1)

From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)

Oh yes... a space concept album. According to the CD's liner notes Joe and Jo are Psychonauts Extrodinaire and this is "a musical story of two travelers treking among the 5 planets of their solar system". The disc consists of one continuous 43-minute track, but the story on the back leads us through the separate chapters of the story from lift-off, to the Planet of the Gnomes, Veggietopia, The Most Beautiful World in the World Planet, and other wild and whacky places. Joe and Jo clearly have a sense of humor which is often reflected in the music itself.

This is actually pretty cool exploratory space music and I'd guess one of the Jo(e)s is playing guitar and the other keyboards and effects. The music doesn't sit still for a moment, evolving through multiple passages that are alternately searing and serene, but forever changing. For one extended track that is so busy and full of various sounds and themes I'd say they overall do an admirable job of developing the music smoothly though there are more than a few parts that tend to stumble around a bit. But I'm sure each changing theme is supposed to represent each of the planets they visit.

Part of the fun is the guitar takes as much responsibility for creating themes and atmosphere as the keyboards do, utilizing slide, fuzz, and all manner of effects. Early in the disc I remember hearing a strange efx'd voice that sounded like Curly of the Three Stooges and soon after heard a wild spaced "Hey Moe!". Fun with samples. Actually much of this reminded me of early Residents and I'd be interested to know if they were an influence. One carnival themed part sounded like the theme to The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. Another part sounded like a thunderous symphony. You're probably getting the idea there's a lot happening here.

Overall this is a fun disc and despite the unevenness of the piece as a whole I give the Jo(e)s a firm thumbs up for creativity and would definitely like to hear more from them. Lots of potential here.

The Planets As Interpreted By Joe and Jo is distributed by Szum Music. You can email them at gmaniac@nr.infi.net.
Contact via snail mail at 4970 Randleman Rd; Greensboro, NC 27406.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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