The Other Planets
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The Other Planets

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"Eugene Chadbourne review of Discrete Manipulations for All Music Guide"

The Other Planets, an ensemble from New Orleans that released this debut effort in 2005, has been compared to big avant-garde guns such as Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. While there are certain similarities, the New Orleans combo is less obnoxious and much more willing to risk blending into the background, sometimes letting seemingly trivial details of interaction simmer until the unexpected comes seeping out, a process right out of the Big Easy cooking school. There are swaggering rockers such as the opening musical question, "Will You Adhere?," complete with a distorted vocal in the manner of "21st Century Schizoid Man" and some chord changes that indeed smack of Zappa's mustache hair. Elsewhere, vibraphonist Matt McClimon enters like the long lost roommate, dumping owed piles of gold coins onto a long ornamental piece of display fabric. Other instruments including low-end saxophones are folded into a mix in which there are often several layers of percussion bubbling away, sometimes chanting as well. Political humor in several tracks, some arranged like tape collage, add a relevant bite to the proceedings. - All Music Guide

"Offbeat Magazine Review of "Holiday For Vacationers"" on Holiday for Vacationers:

What could be more enticing than an electric carnival spanning the dimensions of space rock and progressive jazz? On their third album, Holiday for Vacationers! (Everything Awesome All the Time), local, interstellar ringmasters the Other Planets blur genres and contort harmonious conventions in search of such a musical destination.

While they’ve always drawn upon an uncanny ability to open resonant portals amidst apparent bedlam and dissonant chaos, the Other Planets have come together on Holiday for Vacationers! to add a point of emphasis onto their bizarro idiosyncrasies. And for the intrepid listener, this venture may yet divulge an even more enlightening axiom.

The twisted jamboree gets underway with “Paranoia,” a prog rock opus whose grandiose arrangements bond its lullaby chorus to distorted verses and clamoring marches. Throughout the album, instrumental interludes set the tone for ensuing lyric-based numbers. The avant-garde melee, “How’s McClimon Doing?” scribbles its way into the lounging, Ween-like tomfoolery of “Happy Time at the Mall.” The street beats, vocal samples, and ominous grooves of “You Killed Him, Too,” drop atop the beautifully absurd lyrics, aching harmonies, and retro hooks of “Teeth and Dreams.”

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Video Game” is a frantic breakdown that bears the signature of founder Anthony Cuccia. Holiday for Vacationers! provides a vivid canvas for Cuccia to display his lyrical development, and he evokes a flash of Stephen Malkmus on “The Business of Losing Sleep.” Fellow planetary conspirator Dr. Jimbo Walsh lends his compositional wizardry to several of Holiday’s key tracks, but two instrumental gems bear solely his imprint: the winding, rising, and pulsating “Lengua” and the murky, warp-zone trip, “The Hidden Level,” complete with pitfalls and power-ups.

At 17 tracks, Holiday for Vacationers! runs a tad long, and few songs, though sonically fulfilling, could be better fitted to a future extravaganza. Yet, while fairweather tourists may debate if everything is, in reality, awesome all the time, the inclined vacationers know that the holiday doesn’t being until they’ve strapped on a pair of headphones.
-- Aaron Lafont - Offbeat Magazine

"Planets take listeners on an 'Awesome Holiday' on new record. NOLA.COM INTERVIEW."

On their third album, Holiday For Vacationers: Everything Awesome All The Time, The Other Planets take listeners on a futuristic thrill ride full of "Novacaine" and "Linoleum Nights."

The album opens with random synthesizer sounds that blends into a smooth drum melody with lead singer and multi-instrumentalist, Anthony Cuccia, crooning the title track "Paranoia" faintly in the background.

So what does "Paranoia" have to do with holidays and awesomeness? Apparently, it was made for all the substance tolerant people in the world.

"It's a beautiful vacation. Listen to it...put on your headphones, imbibe your favorite substances, and it's a vacation. It's everything awesome all the time," joked piano/guitarist/bassist/and accordion aficionado Jimbo Walsh.

The band, who currently consist of Cuccia, Walsh, Matthew Golombisky (bass), Quin Kirchner (drums), Eric Klerks (guitar), Tim McFatter (organ/sax), and Daniel Oestreicher (sax/synthesizer) formed in 2003, and have always heavily relied on their eclectic note arrangements and improvisations to drive the chaotic structure of their first two releases.

But thanks to Big Bad Katrina, The Other Planets' Holiday has developed a newer "edge" grounded in a fresh exploratory songwriting tradition.

"We initially all evacuated to Lafayette where we played four shows in the first few weeks of the storm," Cuccia recalls. "And from those shows on, we developed a much harder edge. And I'm not talking about a heavy metal sound, just like a much harder, aggressive energy from everyone. We were frustrated."

"But we've also developed more of an interest in writing as the years have gone on," Cuccia added.

And more writing they've done. Even though there is still an instrumental interlude between every lyric driven song, the band has included new harmonies and expressive lyrics on the steady electric guitar song, "Where This Is."

The drastically different upbeat and repetitive dance tune, "Jerry Lee Lewis: The Video Game" thrives as pure fun with an excited trumpet and saxophone leading the Super Mario-esque computer game sound breaks. Listeners could almost see good ole' Jerry leaping over turtles and using giant mushrooms along his journey to save his young bride.

Each song leads with a different instrument highlighted and could be used as the background for any futuristic jam jazz lounge complete with synthesizers, laser lights, and electric basses and guitars.

But audiences will love the Planets' freedom to explore any sound from any genre they decide to play, even if they can't always sing along to Walsh and Cuccia's melodically instrumental engineering.

"We never have any idea where our stuff is gonna go," Walsh said. "It's sort of a free form thing. We just let it roll."

"We're just going by the theory now that if you build it, they will come," Cuccia said of their fans. "We're trying to just make the best possible thing we can imagine for ourselves."

You can hear The Other Planets this Sunday at 10 p.m. for free at The Dragon's Den to celebrate the release of their new CD, and you can pick up Holiday For Vacationers: Everything Awesome All The Time as well as their previous albums, Eightballs in AngLola and Discreet Manipulations at CD Baby and Louisiana Music Factory, as well as iTunes.

And expect new music from their upcoming album Strong and Wrong by this year's end or early 2009.

"Gambit Weekly Review for Holiday For Vacationers"

[The] Other Planets are at the end of a three-month-long residency at the Dragon's Den. This final night in the series will serve as ... a release party for the Planets' third album, Holiday for Vacationers, which is possibly its best mashup of weird wizardry yet. The combo melds psych-rock and space-jazz into a smoking, burbling cocktail of delicious poison that's heavy with Frank Zappa influences, plus equal parts Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson and a smidge of Camper van Beethoven. Its horns can soar like Alvin Batiste at his most cosmonautical or lilt sloppily like Sgt. Pepper. Tracks like the bitingly creepy
"Happy Time at the Mall" burrow into your brain as hypnotically as a Zappa opus.
-- Allison Fensterstock - Gambit Weekly

"Offbeat Magazine Review of "Eightballs in Angola""

Mixing forward-looking sounds and studio wizardry, the new CD from the New Orleans collective the Other Planets, led by percussionist and sampler Anthony Cuccia, strikes an eclectic chord. This record, Eightballs in Angola, has 10 tracks of gonzo speed-blowing, seemingly random notes and sounds, and an enthusiastic attitude. The band seems to have a lot of fun playing with each other and playing these songs, and that vibe permeates every selection on this CD. The record recalls Frank Zappa’s stop-on-a-dime-and-switch arrangements, with fast vibraphone runs courtesy of Matt McLimon and sarcastic lyrics in tunes such as “Rock and Roll Ain’t Easy.”

Other songs possess a touch of the gravelly avant-blues and honking stomp of Captain Beefheart. In the same way that Beefheart’s music continually surprises the listener, this recording has the similar songs that contain the opposite of the conventional, hypnotic grooves that are the basis of funk and techno. There are also tunes such as “Who’s at the Dragon’s Den.” with the mystical space synthesizers of Sun Ra’s Arkestra.

Each song sounds different, and the band plays around with the studio to add computerized and processed sounds or vocals which gives the CD a futuristic feel. One of Sun Ra’s maxims was, “If you’re not prepared for the future, then you’re probably not ready for the present, either.” The Other Planets and Eightballs in Angola have both covered. -- David Kunian

- Offbeat Magazine

"Offbeat Magazine Review of "Discrete Manipulations""

The Other Planets' song "Hector Detector" may become the anthem of every New Orleans musician who doesn't play funk, jazz or lead a brass band. Pinging electronic percussion kicks off the track, then a crunchy bass saxophone creates a seesaw groove that even a head banger could appreciate. Anthony Cuccia, the leader of the group, sings the progressive musician's blues: "Frenchmen Street and nobody cares / The Dragon's Den has got such excellent players / They play a million notes and everybody just stares."

Discrete Manipulations is an unexpected mix of electronic beats, pop melodies, saxophones and samples. While there is nothing radio-friendly about the Other Planets, the group's music sounds more hyperactive than dissonant. "Will You Adhere?" is almost a sing-along, except that the lyrics are barely intelligible. "How's McFatter Doing?" might be the background music at a swank lounge in the next century. The first few bars of "Living in Harmony" start with a buzz-saw funk riff, but the song quickly exchanges the surging beat for spacey atmospheric noise. The unusual instrumentation -- synthesizers, guitars, drums, bass saxophone and vibraphone -- lets the Other Planets jump between genres without ever getting stuck in a single one.

Experimental groups often sound self-indulgent. A healthy dose of humor, however, keeps Discrete Manipulations from ever feeling like a chore. While lamenting the fate of New Orleans musicians, Cuccia raps, "To sell a record here you have to dance a f--king jig." The Other Planets won't be dancing for their fans, but this strange album certainly deserves some buyers. -- Todd A. Price

- Offbeat Magazine

"Gambit Weekly Hot Pick for Eightballs in Angola CD Release"

New Orleans' strangest and funkiest new contemporary jazz combo takes more than a page from the interplanetary logbook of famous space traveler Sun Ra....the Planets occasionally play off of old Sun Ra charts. The combo takes as much influence from punk rock as from funk and cosmic jazz, though. They've been around since 2003, but their recent performances and their spanking-new record, Eightballs in Angola, trades heavy horns for fuzzy guitars, electronic noises and wild percussion for a unique sound that they themselves describe accurately as "eclectic gonzo freak-rock," also drawing from other genre-defying mad scientists like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. Combine soaring avant-jazz trajectories with a sax player/singer's Iggy Pop-style ranting and writhing, psychedelic light shows, costumes and occasional go-go dancing and you have an interstellar musical experience of the most cosmic sort. Tickets $5.--Alison Fensterstock

- Gambit Weekly

"Gambit Weekly Interview on Post-Katrina Life"

The Other Planets "I'm very proud of this band," says The Other Planets' vocalist/percussionist Anthony Cuccia. "I don't know any band around here like us." The group's experimental space-jazz takes cues from genre-defying visionaries like Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and Sun Ra, combining funk, punk and cosmic jazz sounds, plus an increasingly spectacular stage show complete with live video art and costumed dancers. The Other Planets push the envelope to the limits of the galaxy and beyond.

The sextet has been playing together since 2003, with Cuccia and guitarist Jimbo Walsh, formerly Sun Ra sideman Michael Ray's Cosmic Krewe, at its core. Cuccia says the period following the storm has been the most intensely creative and in the band's history. "The past year and the six months before the storm have been our biggest developmental periods, which explains why it sounds like we surfaced just recently," he says. During that time, the band went through several drummers before gelling with Quin Kirchner, though after the storm he and vibraphonist Matt McClimon moved to Chicago, where the band recently traveled to play a week's worth of gigs. The two traveled back and forth, though, to a woodshed at Walsh's new house in Henderson, La., where they recorded Eightballs In Angola, which will be released this week.

"We started off as more of a jazz ensemble, doing Frank Zappa covers," Cuccia says. "Now it's like a punk-jazz thing with a Butthole Surfers influence. It's kind of a noise band, but with a lot of highly organized composition-based pieces as well as improvisation, with rock instrumentation. Everyone in the band is a trained improviser. Several are classical musicians. And we've all played party music, funk, blues and rock 'n' roll, so that element is there. Everyone in the band can do a lot of things musically, so it makes sense to explore different genres."

If the band was starting to kick into gear in the months before Katrina, in many ways the shock of the storm helped the current concept come together, with new and surprising elements emerging as a result of the cataclysm.

"The band evacuated to Lafayette, and we played a month's worth of shows there that were extremely punk. There was a lot of aggression in those shows, especially vocally. Dan [Oestricher, vocalist and bass/baritone sax player] has a new persona that developed as a direct result of the hurricane."

"The emergence of myself as a vocalist at all was the result of the storm," adds Oestreicher. "We had gigs while there was still water in New Orleans. There were 15 of us living in a two-bedroom house with four dogs, sleeping in shifts. So an easy way to deal with it was to get up onstage and yell at everyone. And when we got around to making decisions from a musical place instead of an emotional sense, it evolved."--Alison Fensterstock

- Gambit Weekly

"Antigravity Review of Eightballs in Angola"

The Other Planets
The following article is featured in the December issue of Antigravity Magazine by Leo McGovern. Visit the Antigravity website for more information or to download the latest issue.

The Other Planets certainly aren't the first artists to take jazz, toss in some rock riffs and off-the-wall instrumentation and make some racket, but since they're based in New Orleans, the land where traditional jazz rules, they earn automatic points for their balls alone. When you factor in the fact that they're actually good? Well, that makes for interesting listening. Eightballs In Anglola, the Planets' first studio album in nearly two years, picks up where '05's Discrete Manipulations left off, namely with tightly written jazz songs accentuated by xylophone play, noisemaking and some hooks thrown in for good measure. Think Frank Zappa mixed with Drums & Tuba and an upbeat Chef Menteur. Eightballs is an amazingly even album in terms of quality, which is an accomplishment considering its tracks move between the styles of more traditional jazz, funk and electronica, and that attribute is both good and bad. What's good is no track is worse than another, but that consistency comes at a price—there's no standout track, like "Will You Adhere?" was to Manipulations. Sure, traditional jazz will always be around, but it's nice to know that groups like the Other Planets are playing with the concept and making an interesting, well-conceived mess of it.
ANTIGRAVITY sat down with the Planet who has the most instruments to his name, Anthony Cuccia, to talk Eightballs.
ANTIGRAVITY: How long have you guys been around and how'd you get together?
Anthony Cuccia: The Other Planets began as The Planets, which was started by Tim McFatter, Jeff Hebert, and myself in the early part of 2003. We wrote a few tunes, the first one being "Living In Harmony With Fuel Efficient Machinery," which ended up on our first record. I heard Jimbo Walsh playing piano backstage at a Naked Orchestra show (he's the conductor), and we started talking about music and I asked him to join the band. We rehearsed a lot and wrote more tunes and started taking it more and more seriously. Then one day, I read in the paper that this band from the UK was getting sued by the estate of John Cage for using silence in one of their pieces. They were called "The Planets." So, we became "The Other Planets."
AG: Eightballs In Anglola has been a long time in the making—how long has it been in the works, exactly, and why'd it take so long to finish?
AC: We started some of the basic tracks for this record about a month after we finished our first album, Discrete Manipulations, in 2005. So, it's been in the works for about a year and a half. Part of the problem with finishing it up was the hurricane. Our drummer, Quin Kirchner, our sometimes bassist Matt Golambisky, and our vibraphonist Matt McClimon moved to Chicago about a month after the storm. Some of the sessions were done at "Big Brown," our studio in Henderson, La. Some of the tracks were done in Chicago, with a few sessions up there and a lot down here at our place. Aside from that, we really just took our time because we wanted to add a lot of different instruments and textures. Like, on "Oranges and Bananas," we used organ, synth, acoustic guitar, electric slide, electric bass, keyboard bass, tuba, tenor sax, three baritone saxes, bass sax, congas, glockenspeil, samplers, tambourines, and drums. It was a big project and took a while to fully realize.

AG: You guys actually have another album in the works—Is that one Eightballs, Part II, or a different concept?
AC: The new record is not at all like Eightballs In Anglola. It's called Music from Big Brown, and it is entirely improvisational. It was recorded live at Big Brown with an eight-piece version of the band and featured all of the Chicago faction plus Will A. Thompson IV in keyboards. The full instrumentation is drums, percussion, electric guitar, bass sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, vibraphone, sampler, electric bass, and two keyboards. So, there is full group improvisation, duos, trios, and everything in between. It has a lot of electronics on it and and also a lot of acoustic instruments. It goes everywhere from mellow textural improvisations to full blown nuclear death noise to syncopated groove sections. I'm pretty happy with it. It's recorded and mixed, and it probably won't be long before its out now, that Eightballs is done.
AG: Many long-time residents of Mid-City would recognize the amplified voice at the beginning of the album. Tell us a bit about the voice's owner and why you used it.
AC: The voice is that of Arthur Robertson, the mobile fruit vendor in Mid-City with a loud speaker. My friend Doug recorded that sample with his cell phone while outside of Fair Grinds on Ponce de Leon, in May of 2005, I think. He'd play it off of his phone in bars and coffee shops and stuff, because he had it set as his cell phone ring. So, that's where we got it. When Katrina hit, everyone from The Other Planets was staying in Lafayette, Doug kept playing that sample from his phone, and it would always shake up the room and cause some sparks. Arthur Robertson was actually featured in an article in the last issue of the Time Picayune before the hurricane, so he was definately on our minds. We were all wondering, and still are, what happened to him and where he is (even though I've never met him). We recorded this song in October of '05 at Jimbo's new house in Henderson, La, and it became an important piece for us, because it was meant as kind of a dreamy dirge about the flood. The sound of the fruit vendor gave the song a literal connection to New Orleans.

AG: Do you get any feedback from listeners of "traditional" jazz? What do they think about The Other Planets?
AC: Jazz musicians like us, I think. I don't know, I guess I really don't care how a traditional musician or an avant-garde musician or classical or rock musician or this critic or that critic views our music. Fuck that. We create sounds that we want to hear for our own pleasure and personal evolution. Besides, every member of this band should be considered a "player of traditional jazz." Everyone in this group plays gigs like that on the side. Dan "The Diesel Rocket" Oestreicher, who is by far the most insane and raucus member of the band on stage, plays with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. So, I don't know...
AG: Is the feedback you guys get in other parts of the country different than what you get in New Orleans?
AC: Well, we did some gigs in Chicago twice this year, and got a really good reaction. That scene is really open to experimentation. Sometimes, New Orleans isn't. We're going back there again for some gigs in December. We're performing at the Eyes & Ears Festival on the 16th. Matt Golambisky's Tomorrow Music Orchestra is performing our music with us, so it will be a twenty-one-piece version of The Other Planets. People up there dig us. Recently, though, we've been getting a really good reaction from crowds in New Orleans. Our recent shows at King Bolden's and The Dragon's Den have been well-attended on the basis of word of mouth, so things are looking better at home.
AG: Any particular thing you're looking forward to doing once the record is officially released?
AC: We've got a batch of new songs that are ready to record. When we go up to Chicago we're going to do a session and get started on what will be the fourth Other Planets record. Also, just playing lots of live shows and trying to get on the road. We've incorporated dancers into our show now. They'll be with us at Republic. And Zack Smith is going to be doing some more projection for us, which is exciting. He did a video for "Walking Porno Zombie Pt. 2" and I'm hoping that we're going to do more videos with him. Just keep it going and try to pull more compositions and improvisations out of the air. When the first record came out, Jimbo and I agreed that we would try to put out at least one record a year as The Other Planets until 2010. So, that's the plan.
- Antigravity Magazine


2005: Discrete Manipulations. Our first full length LP.
2006: Eightballs in Anglola. Our second full lentgh LP.
2008: Holiday for Vacationers: Everything Awesome All the Time. Our third LP. (This is a Double LP)
2009: (We are working on our fourth LP entitled "Hello Beams."
We are regularly played on WWOZ 90.7 FM and WTUL 91.5 FM in New Orleans and on WNUR 89.3FM in Chicago (at which they have performed live). Some of our music has also been heard streaming on several UK progressive internet radio stations and podcasts.



The Other Planets was formed in 2003 by Anthony Cuccia, Tim McFatter, and Dr. Jimbo Walsh. The band's first album, "Discrete Manipulations," was released four months before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and was given a shining revue by Eugene Chadbourne for the All Music Guide. Following this event, the group moved into a large country home in Henderson, Louisiana which has become known as "Big Brown." This is where the band spent the six months after the hurricane rehearsing and recording their second album, "Eightballs in Angola." The next year and a half saw the group playing locally in New Orleans at venues such as Tipitina's, The House of Blues, D.B.A., The Dragon's Den, The Saturn Bar, and One Eyed Jack's. This time also included tour up to Chicago for shows at The Empty Bottle and Subterranean as well as one offs at The Hotel Utah Saloon in San Francisco and The Knitting Factory in New York. They recorded their third album, "Holiday For Vacationers (Everything Awesome All The Time)" during all of this at recording studios in New Orleans Henderson, and Lafayette, Louisiana, as well as in Chicago in lofts, hotel rooms, and bedrooms. This record featured three distinct sounds: an electronic/outer space portion, an instrumental experimental rock portion, and a psychedelic pop portion with vocal harmonies and lush arranging and instrumentation. This third style is the sole focus of the band's current effort, "Hello Beams." This album will feature thirteen original songs by Anthony Cuccia and Dr. Jimbo Walsh and produced by Mark Bingham is sure to be a classic.