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Listening to the latest offering from super-prog group “Liquid Tension Experiment” is similar to viewing a major motion picture filled with lots of action and suspense. From the opening seconds of “Acid Rain” we may find it difficult to remain seated, as the band fire off complex, rapidly moving unison lines yet draw a well defined line between pyrotechnics and good tunesmithing. The intensity and firepower displayed throughout this recording contains the impact and amazement of a high-speed train or perhaps witnessing motorcyclist-daredevil Evil Knievel hurl himself over the Grand Canyon. “Biaxident” opens with a pretty melody in conjunction with well-constructed themes and quick tempered, soulful performances from keyboardist Jordan Rudess along with bountiful twists and turns and choruses which speak “triumph or jubilation”. Here, King Crimson’s bassist, Chapman stick expert and all world session ace, Tony Levin along with “Dream Theatre” drummer, Mike Portnoy supply the rhythmic force as Levin utilizes his fretless bass alongside Portnoy’s pounding yet deft drumming. The 20 minute epic, “When The Water Breaks” is loads of fun as the band take you through various themes, hard-edged backbeats and shifting time signatures with all the grace of a deer loping through the woods yet the intensity level rivals that of a hungry animal stalking it’s prey! The ensemble work here is staggering yet meaningful from a compositional standpoint. “Chewbacca” is one of several improvised pieces which as in the first Liquid Tension Experiment CD, could be viewed upon as being well-constructed compositions, which in itself warrants praise for the band’s synergy and intuitiveness. Mid way, the band alter the pace while engaging in some lovely dreamscapes which sets the stage for climactic tension, while the almost superhuman rhythm section proceed as if they were Wild West gunslingers in pursuit of the bad guy! Here, “Dream Theater” guitarist John Petrucci soars skyward with fleet-fingered soloing which encompasse
Liquid Tension Experiment perform with such verve, concentration and drive, --- perhaps only rivaled by those fusion gods of yesteryear—“Mahavishnu Orchestra”. The music is challenging yet most assuredly palatable, especially for us prog-rock and fusion fans.......On “Liquid Dreams”, Rudess and Petrucci lay down some laid-back funk/soul grooves highlighted by Levin’s expansive yet supremely punctual bass lines. Rudess is a connoisseur at providing tonal color as he employs a marimba like midi patch on his keys which counters the fierce climate along with Petrucci’s interesting computer generated guitar tones which should excite some of the techie folks out there! The final track, “Hourglass” serves as the lone acoustic piece of the project, as we dwell on what we have just heard or take a much-needed breath along with the band........as if the band thanks you for listening while trusting you’ll be back soon!
While some are prone to criticize prog-rock and fusion for some of it’s inherent bombast, “Liquid Tension Experiment” are a band of pros who come from similar yet at times disparate backgrounds. This band filters out the muck and negatives or perhaps the calamities of the past, while producing comprehensive and well-conceived compositions along with captivating improvisations and jolting solos as they portray a sense of well being and positive vibes..... Without a doubt they reside in a class paralleled by none as “Liquid Tension Experiment” along with other performers on Magna Carta’s impressive roster of talent, have renewed hope within prog-rock circles as they re-write the book on a genre which has seen it’s ups and downs. Liquid Tension Experiment 2 is an exasperating experience, one which you are not liable to forget! * * * * *
Tony Levin; Chapman stick & Bass Guitars: John Petrucci; Guitars: Mike Portnoy; Drums & Percussion: Jordan Rudess; Keyboards.