TRANSATLANTIC reveal ‘The Absolute Universe’ 2022 Tour Dates for North America & UK/Europe!

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce tour dates for North America and UK/Europe to take place in 2022.  The tour will be in support of the group’s epic release ‘The Absolute Universe’ which was released earlier this year in multiple versions.  The North America dates kick off April 15th in Glenside, PA and concludes with performances at Morsefest 2022 and Cruise to the Edge.  Meanwhile, the Europe/UK dates take place in July beginning with the ARTmania festival in Romania.

Mike Portnoy had this to say about the upcoming tour:

“Between releasing our latest album in the middle of a worldwide pandemic & shutdown, and the already difficult task of trying to align our different schedules even in the most normal of circumstances, it was uncertain if Transatlantic would ever get to play any shows in support of The Absolute Universe. 

“But now with the world slowly re-opening and the band already committing to a few one-off appearances in 2022 (Cruise To The Edge, Morsefest and a Festival in Romania), we’re excited to announce we were able to wrangle up some headlining shows surrounding these one-offs! (April in North America and July in EU/UK) 

“These are the ONLY shows we will be doing in support of The Absolute Universe so if we can’t make it to your area, it may be worth traveling to come see us and share these special shows with us. While we wish we could do a full proper tour, getting to play ANY shows for this album is an unexpected treat that we weren’t sure would ever happen…so better late than never!” – Mike Portnoy. 

North America dates:

April 15th • Glenside, PA – Keswick Theater

https://www.axs.com/events/409822/an-evening-with-transatlantic-tickets

April 16th • Montclair, NJ – Wellmont Theater

https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/02005AFEFC0F7014

April 18th • Quebec City, Quebec – Palais Montcalm

https://palaismontcalm.tuxedobillet.com/main/transatlantic

April 19th • Montreal, Quebec – M Telus

https://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/31005B03CBCC1934?lang=en-ca&brand=mtelus

April 21st • St Charles, IL – Arcada Theater

https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4311193/transatlantic-stcharles-the-arcada-theatre?_ga=2.14751414.123937637.1628201559-79101957.1628201559

April 23rd • Los Angeles, CA – Belasco Theater

https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/09005B05AF17211D

April 24th • Berkeley, CA – UC Theatre

https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4360146/an-evening-with-transatlantic-berkeley-the-uc-theatre

April 29th & 30th • Cross Plains, TN – MorseFest 2022

May 2nd to 7th • Cruise To The Edge 2022

https://cruisetotheedge.com/book-now/

UK/Europe dates:

July 22nd – Sibiu, Romania – ARTmania Festival 

July 24th – Cologne, Germany – E Werk

https://www.myticket.de/de/transatlantic-the-absolute-universe-2022-tour-tickets

July 25th – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013

https://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/272933?CAMEFROM=013&brand=nl_013web

July 27th – London, England – O2 Forum Kentish Town

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/1F005AFE183A8DE7

July 28th – Paris, France – Olympia (ON SALE ON AUG 18TH)

www.olympiahall.com/evenements/transatlantic/

Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Available as:

Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album 

 ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’
Available as:
2CD Edition, 3LP+2CD Boxset, or Digital Album 

The full list of formats is below, and you can order now here: https://transatlantic.lnk.to/TheAbsoluteUniverse 

Watch the previously released video clips for the album below:

‘Looking For The Light’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvhvY-vUkLI

‘The World We Used To Know’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xULvfo6rpvE

‘Overture/Reaching For The Sky’: https://youtu.be/SP5HwWbCQvg   

‘The Absolute Interview’ series was also launched, which saw each member of Transatlantic interviewed by one of their musical peers, with Ross Jennings (Haken), Ted Leonard (Pattern-Seeking Animals, Spock’s Beard, Enchant), Nad Sylvan & John Mitchell (It Bites, Lonely Robot, Frost*) taking part. Watch the full series here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfMBXSLZAyyf9kipocjOullLWwQyRX8Cw

Watch a short snippet from the making of documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=964kfA1EX4s 

NMB – release video for “Do It All Again” the first single from the upcoming album ‘Innocence & Danger’

Pre-order starts today / Tour Dates revealed for US and Europe

NMB recently announced their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’, to be released on August 27th, 2021. Today, the band are sharing the first single and video from the album for the opening track “Do It All Again.”  

Watch the video for “Do It All Again,” created by Christian Rios:

Mike Portnoy says this about the track, “This was the first song we wrote when we reconvened for the sessions for this album. It rooted from an idea Bill Hubauer brought in and we built off it from there. Like most NMB songs, I love the sharing of lead vocals…Neal Morse on the verses, Bill on the B section and an amazingly catchy 3-part harmony chorus with Eric Gillette taking the lead.”

‘Innocence & Danger’, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic), will be available as:

• Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary)

• Standard 2CD Jewelcase

• Digital Album

• 3LP+ 2CD Boxset

And is available for pre-order now here:

https://thenealmorseband.lnk.to/InnocenceAndDanger

NMB are also happy to announce tour dates for ‘An Evening of Innocence & Danger’ across US and Europe. 

USA 2021 

Oct 8th & 9th – Cross Plains, TN – Morsefest 2021 – www.radiantrecords.com  

Oct 12th – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door – https://tickets.thetripledoor.net/eventperformances.asp?evt=1830

Oct 14th – St Charles, IL – The Arcada – https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/12589

Oct 15th – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot Ballroom – https://www.ticketweb.com/event/the-neal-morse-band-the-crofoot-ballroom-tickets/11136425?pl=crofoot

Oct 16th – Ft Wayne, IN – Pieres – https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/18520/pieres-entertainment-center

Oct 17th – Cleveland, OH – The Beachland Ballroom – https://www.ticketweb.com/event/the-neal-morse-band-an-beachland-ballroom-tickets/11128265?pl=beachland

Oct 19th – Glenside, PA – The Keswick Theater – https://www.axs.com/events/405348/the-neal-morse-band-tickets

Oct 20th – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage – https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/15005ACE0DA1334C 

Oct 21st – Boston, MA – The Sinclair – https://www.axs.com/events/405764/the-neal-morse-band-tickets?skin=sinclair

Oct 22nd – New York City, NY – The Sony Theater – https://www.ticketmaster.com/sony-hall-tickets-new-york/venue/1475

Europe 2022

May 28th – Madrid, Spain – Teatro Kapital

https://www.madnesslive.es/es/inicio/726-neal-morse-band-featuring-mike-portnoy-madrid.html

May 29th – Barcelona, Spain – Apolo

https://www.madnesslive.es/es/inicio/727-neal-morse-band-featuring-mike-portnoy-barcelona.html

May 30th – Milan, Italy – Live Club

http://www.vertigo.co.it/it/neal-morse-band

May 31st – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7

http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1908

June 2nd – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013

https://shop.eventix.io/1d82d0a4-563c-44ca-96c9-302a843e7abc/tickets

June 3rd – London, England – Shepherds Bush Empire

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/1F005AD083C7358E

June 4th – Paris, France – Trianon

https://www.letrianon.fr/fr/programme/the-neal-morse-band

June 5th – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg – Rockhal – https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/6465213/neal-morse-band-eschalzette-rockhal-luxembourg

June 7th – Cologne, Germany – Live Music Hall

https://www.myticket.de/de/hank-von-hell-live-2022-tickets/

June 9th – Brno, Czech Republic – Sono

https://goout.net/cs/an-evening-of-innocence-and-danger-2022-the-neal-morse-band/szrjjlr/

June 10th – Krakow, Poland – Studio Club

https://rockserwis.pl/products/215847

June 11th – Warsaw, Poland – Progresja

https://sklep.knockoutprod.net/pl/eventinfo/399/neal-morse-band

June 13th – Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle

https://www.myticket.de/de/hank-von-hell-live-2022-tickets/

June 15th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio

https://www.ticketmaster.dk/event/AMA1506A?language=da-dk

June 16th – Gothenburg, Sweden – Pustervik

https://www.tickster.com/sv/events/wyvkch5k9kl4hcb

June 17th – Oslo, Norway – Cosmopolite

https://hurumrock.no/konserter.html

June 18th – Stockholm, Sweden – Lilla Cirkus

https://www.ticketmaster.se/event/595757?

*** 

With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”

Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”

In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”

There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realize that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realize that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.” 

NMB (Neal Morse Band) is 

Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars) 

Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals)

Randy George (bass)

Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals)

Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals)

Neal Morse Band – announce fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’ for release this August

Neal Morse Band are pleased to announce the release of their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’ on the 27th August 2021. 

With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”

Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”

In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”

There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realise that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realise that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”

The album will be released as a Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary), 3LP+2CD Boxset, Standard 2CD Jewelcase & Digital Album, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic). Pre-orders start on the 18th June, and the full track-listing is below:

CD 1 (Innocence):

1.    Do It All Again 08:55

2.    Bird On A Wire 07:22

3.    Your Place In The Sun 04:12

4.    Another Story To Tell 04:50

5.    The Way It Had To Be 07:14

6.    Emergence 03:12

7.    Not Afraid Pt. 1 04:53

8.    Bridge Over Troubled Water 08:08 

CD 2 (Danger):

1.    Not Afraid Pt. 2 19:32

2.    Beyond The Years 31:22

The Neal Morse Band (now NMB) was formed in 2012, featuring long-time collaborators Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) and Randy George (bass), as well as Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals) and Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals). The band’s first album, The Grand Experiment, showed both a freshness and maturity that was further developed in 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream, 2019’s The Great Adventure and 2021’s Innocence & Danger.

Look for NMB on tour in North America in October 2021 and in Europe throughout May/June 2022. Tour dates coming soon!

Review – Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3 – by John Wenlock-Smith

This is the long awaited (and long time in coming!) third album from Dream Theater spin-off fusionists Liquid Tension Experiment. A band formed out of the prog metal legends and who recorded 2 albums with the nucleus of Mike Portnoy (drums) Jordan Rudess (keyboards) and John  Petrucci (guitar), aided by Tony Levin (bass and chapman stick). Although, to be honest, Jordan only actually joined Dream Theater after the second LTE album and then, as we all know, Mike left in 2010 and further LTE activity looked decidedly unlikely. Well that was the case but two things happened that led to the resumption of activities, these were the worldwide covid virus and the cessation of all touring activities and the other was Mike drumming for John’s latest solo album, ‘Terminal Velocity’. This led to a window of opportunity opening to reconvene LTE once again and cut some new music together. Same crew, same members, just 21 years later…

How wonderful to hear from these folks once again, welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, as ELP once sang.

There is one major change though, the album receives its release through Sony/InsideOut rather than Magna Carta, the label that hosted the first two Liquid Tension Experiment albums in 1998 and 1999 respectively. And, of course, Mike left Dream Theater in 2010, moving onto pastures new. The desire for all to reconvene and record together never really went away, these four musicians have exceedingly high regard for each other’s abilities and enjoy the freedom to make a different type of music together.

Well, that is the backstory to the album let us have a listen to what you can expect from this third instalment of LTE.

The album has a run time of just over 61 minutes, although there is another 50 odd minutes of music on the deluxe  CD version. I have not heard that yet, so I can comment, except to propose that this will probably be in a similar vein to the main album, just with longer tracks allowing even more musical virtuosity.

The album opens in rip roaring fashion with Hypersonic coming off the grid like a supercharged Bugatti Veyron firing on all cylinders. The band certainly show that they mean business with bass, drums and guitar spearheading a three pronged sonic attack. The track fair thunders along with barely room for breath, aside from a few keyboard interjections from Jordan, who layers his synths across the maelstrom the other three are creating. It really is an highly impressive opener indeed although you could say it’s a bit of a marmite piece, if you like it, you’ll want to stick around for the rest of the disc however, if it is not to your taste then that’s fine, go and listen to something else and leave the rest of us here in musical ecstasy. That said, after three minutes 15 seconds of this ultra-fast beat, they take a breath and slow things down intensity wise and allow John some room to play a solo passage along with some subtle bass from Tony and support from Mike, Jordan’s stabbing keyboards also providing some great dynamics to the piece. Jordan plays some flowery synth lines in the closing minutes before John and Tony play a dual passage line together preceding the resumption of the frenetic opening first passage. This piece is simply awesome and a great song to start with.

The second song is called Beating The Odds and opens with some furious riffing from John before Jordan lays down some fabulous synth lines. There is a very strong groove to this track which opens out with some very fluid guitar before a punishing riff is played over which Jordan solo’s wildly using his keyboards to stage his own aural assault on the senses. Everything is flawlessly backed by the inventive and impressive rhythm section yet, even in all the mayhem, there is still an extraordinarily strong melodic element here at play. This is all impressive stuff musically.

Liquid Evolution follows, which is basically a duet between bass and keyboards. This piece lays off the bombast and urgency of the earlier tracks to create a different, and more chilled, vibe to it. After the energy of the first two pieces you welcome the change of pace and the chance to both catch your breath and also to pick your jaw up from the floor where the opening salvo of the first two tracks have probably put it! It makes it far subtler in both pace and tone but still packs an impressive groove.

Then it is back to the overkill and surging power with fourth track The Passage of Time, with its sinewy riff snaking outwards. This one gives Mike some space to show off his impeccable timing and chops whilst Jordan adds some excellent piano parts. It really rocks out for sure, although its brutality is tempered by melodic sensibilities making it an impressive calling card, only made better by John’s atypical solo. That guitar riff is so brutal and powerful though that it almost melts your face off, were it not for Jordan’s interjections to anchor the track in melody. Again, the more I listen to this, the more I hear the interplay of the instruments and the overall melody that the track offers.

Track 5 sees the return of Chris and Kevin in Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey, a duet between Tony and Mike, giving a chance for Tony’s bass to take centre stage on par with the pounding drums of Mr. Portnoy once again. This is a shorter track but is still worthy of the space afforded to it, it is a joy to hear the fine bass playing of Tony Levin so lucidly.      

Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue is next, but probably not in a format that you are familiar with. Basically, it gets the full LTE kitchen sink experience and gives ‘over the top’ a new meaning. The track is shamelessly overblown and all the better for it too! there are some fantastic sections to this performance making it probably my favourite on the whole album. The song is long too at 13:16 however, there is not an ounce of excess fat on this piece, it is all killer no filler (as it were).It really belongs to Jordan whose keyboards glide effortlessly through the song, retaining its melody amidst all the grandiloquence of the track, utterly fabulous stuff.

Shades of Hope is totally different and far more chilled, opening with piano and a floating guitar line, played very fluidly here. This piece bleeds emotion for its complete duration, an exceptionally fine track indeed.

Key To The Imagination closes out the album, it has a recurrent heavy guitar riff running throughout against which Jordan is playing some great synth fills and orchestral voicings along with John’s sweet guitar lines. Tony holds down the bottom end in his usual eloquent manner whilst Mike’s drum hold this mix together. It really is really very good indeed and gives equal room for each player to shine in their respective field and brings things to a great end with its almost middle eastern sounding tone, it really impresses.           

Well, that 61 minutes went by fast and I was sure impressed by all that I heard. I urge you to give it space in your listening as here we have four maestros all playing at the very top of their game, taking chances and making some utterly fabulous music.

Miss this one at your peril!

Released 16th April, 2021.

Order from Burning Shed here:

LTE3 (burningshed.com)



Review – John Petrucci – Terminal Velocity – by John Wenlock-Smith

This is the second solo album from Dream Theater’s stalwart original member, and guitarist, John Petrucci. It arrived after a brief time delay of merely fifteen years or so after his first solo album, ‘Suspended Animation’, released way back in 2005.

Mind you, a lot has happened in John’s world since then, firstly a major change occurred when his buddy and drum legend Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater (the band he had formed with John in their Berklee College of Music days in the 1980’s).

This was a major upheaval and change, although it was one that all parties survived and consequently flourished. Mike got involved in Neal Morse’s musical career (after Neal himself left Spock’s Beard). He also joined Flying Colors, successfully created several albums and concert videos with the outfit. Latterly Mike formed a new band, Sons of Apollo, with whom he has recorded two studio albums and one live set.

Well, it has been nearly two decades since that initial split but this album sees John, and Mike reuniting, with Mike providing the thunderous drumming that accompanies this album. Mike reached out to John during lockdown and they convened at Dream Theater HQ to track and record this all-instrumental shred fest with John on guitars , Mike on drums and Dave La Rue of Flying Colors and G3 providing the bass support for the album.

So, what is it like you may reasonably ask? Firstly, it is all instrumental, playing out as a guitarist’s dream and the album is, as Jordan Rudess told me, all heavily focused on the tonal qualities of John’s guitar,

All the songs are succinct and brief apart from two tracks that are over 7 minutes in length and each piece of music balances John’s searing guitar work with some fine melody. Some of the tracks are rather heavy but melody is not forgotten, John can certainly play, and is not shy on that score either, the playing is showy when required but it the song that matters most here.

John is playing as well as I have ever heard him play, he bends, taps and plays flurries of notes at will on these pieces, all ably supported by the superior rhythm section of Mike and Dave who are revelling in this music that they are a part of. I think there is a good mix to the styles being used and a good use of dynamics, light and shade that really makes the guitar tones stand out clearly, as most of the tones used are clean with sporadic use of effects.

Happy Song, for instance, opens with a very joyous bounce to it, with John doubling guitar parts making this song very Satriani-esque at times but it echoes Joe’s use of styles well. This track is a total winner to these ears and is aptly named as it is a very happy piece of music indeed. It is possibly my favorite track on the album as it is so upbeat and excellently executed, John showing just how fluid he is as a player.

Gemini opens strongly as well with a flurry of notes dancing across the fretboard and great rhythm support in a harder edged piece that has some fine guitar with delay used to great effect. The song branches out with an acoustic Flamenco part in which Johns show some real skill before the electric guitar once again takes centre stage to deliver a blistering guitar solo. There are some strong techniques used that sound utterly fabulous.

The bluesy sounding Out of the Blue is superb, John getting the chance to lay back and play with some real feeling and tap into the blues to prove just how versatile he is in that arena too.  The first of the longer tracks is The Way Things Fall, which is, again, a rollicking little number that fair pulses along on a good bass line with John laying down a very melodic guitar line. Snake In My Boot has a great riff to it, all accompanied by some utterly mesmerising guitar playing.

The final track, Temple of Ciradia, has even more fine fiery playing at hand with some very Ritchie Blackmore like tones being used to great effect. The playing is fast and flawless towards the end of the piece and ends on an excellent drum beat from Mike.

This collaboration has been a winner all round, whether it leads to any further activities has yet to be seen but, it is a first step in restoring a relationship that was fractured if not fully broken. The fact that they used Lockdown and this virus to make it happen is remarkable. Much respect must be given to all parties for making it happen and for making such a great album of fine guitar led musical mayhem.

Released 28th August 2020

Order from Amazon here:

Terminal Velocity by John Petrucci: Amazon.co.uk: Music

John Wenlock-Smith Interviews Jordan Rudess

John Wenlock-Smith – Good afternoon Jordan, how are you doing now?

Jordan RudessHello John, yes, I am doing fine thank you. We are all safe and well as can be at this moment in time.

JWS – Lets talk about ‘LTE3’ (The forthcoming new album from Liquid Tension Experiment) that is due out in April, I have a download of it and I think it is a fabulous set of pieces, I really like it.

JROh I am glad that you like it. I was not quite sure what you were going to say but I like a lot too. I am enormously proud of what we managed to get done, especially with this pandemic. It allowed us a window of opportunity to allow LTE (Liquid Tension Experiment) to be once more. It has only taken us twenty years in which a lot has changed but some things have not changed much at all really. We are still the same musicians, just a bit older now but still willing to try this experiment once again. Hopefully the response will be positive from all quarters, like the Dream Theater fans and the fusion fans too.    

JWS – I Like it, the opener Hypersonic is certainly fast and furious, was that deliberately so?

JRYes, we wanted something that would either attract or dispel the listener, I think that we succeeded on that score.

JWS – I agree, I think it set you up for all that is to come. I especially like the track Rhapsody In Blue, a reworking of a piece previously played live.

JRI have always liked that Gershwin piece, although it has been so long since we last did that song that I had to rethink my approach on keyboards to do it.

JWS – Well I think it is a stunning take on what is a classic musical piece. What other songs do you especially like? I see you have your piano right there, play me something please will you?

JRWith pleasure, this is the song Shades Of Hope (Jordan then proceeds to play this jaw droppingly fantastic piano line from the song, his playing is impeccable and for an audience of one!)

JWS – Wow! thanks Jordan, that was fabulous. I have just bought an 88 key digital piano for myself ,although It will be years before I am anywhere near proficient.

JRWell, keep playing, is what I would say to you. I started when I was 9 years of age and I am now 64 but I still love music as much now as when I first started, possibly even more so truth be told.

JWS – I am looking forward to getting the new album. I am going to get the 2CD version with the extra tracks on it, those sound interesting, although I’ve yet to hear them.

JROh you will like those I think, we got to do even more wild playing for those.

JWS – So how did those sessions work out?

JR Well, we recorded it at Dream Theater’s New York base of operation. I kind of thought it might be odd for Mike (Portnoy) as he’d not been there since he left the band but he was totally cool with it all and even offered some memorabilia for the complex. But, overall, it was just great fun, four friends who value each other musically and socially. Tony (Levin) brought his famous coffee machine again to keep us going, it was all such a great vibe. I think the results honour the commitment made by each member to the proceedings.

JWS – Did you use your normal Dream Theater keyboard set up?

JRPretty much, although I did tweak a few sound settings. John (Petrucci) pointed out that my sound was a bit stale sounding and, as he is the master of tone, I listened to his suggestions and we got to the sound that we felt was what we wanted.  

JWS – So will there be any opportunity for some live LTE shows? Possibly when covid is over and activities resume normally?

JRWell I certainly hope there would be but only once we have sorted out activities for the main band. We are all busy, Mike is always busy with either Neal Morse or his own projects, as is Tony with all that he does. We are all remarkably busy hence the twenty years gap between ‘LTE2’ and this new album.

 JWS – Have you been active during lockdown Jordan?

JRYes, I have been busy with my sound company and I have also recorded a new solo album. I have also been busy with my Patreon site, using it to connect to other people. Depending on their support level, they can access tutorials and even have a one-to-one conversation. My latest solo album ‘Chapter In Time’ is on bandcamp only.

Check it out, it is just me playing mainly piano pieces and a few textural keyboard sounds to create some ambient type of music. I think you might like it, is mellow and chilled, good to relax to or listen to in the background. 

JWS – I also saw your performance of Tarkus on the recently issued Keith Emerson tribute concert. That was some performance of the whole of Tarkus!

JRThank you, Tarkus is an important piece for me, that is the track that stopped me being just a classically trained pianist and made me want to rock out. So I owe Keith Emerson a huge debt of gratitude for that song, it was a privilege to be able to honour him in that way.

JWS – I agree, I have also got that on CD and I have your own version on ‘The Road Home’ album.

JRThat’s a good album, I like that one, with some great players, Neal Morse, Rod Morgenstein and Kip Winger, Nick DiVirgilio, and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, amongst others. I had a lot of fun with that album paying tribute to some of my influences.   

JWS – So what does the future look like for you, apart from this new ‘LTE3’ album? oh, very impressive artwork by the way!

JRYes, I think it is terrific too. For me, it’s more Dream Theater, once we can get back together safely and tour once again. I am 64 now and still love this life and I appreciate every day that I get to live it too.

JWS – Jordan, my time has gone so all that remains for me is to say a huge thank you for making the time to speak with you. I have really enjoyed my time with you, I wish you well for this album and hope to see you live at some point in the not too distant future.

JRThanks John for a great interview, all the best to you too, my friend.

You can order Jordan’s solo album here:

A Chapter In Time | Jordan Rudess | jordan rudess (bandcamp.com)

And you can pre-order LTE3 here:

LTE3 (lnk.to)

Review – Transatlantic – The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version) by John Wenlock-Smith

This February sees a new album from the Neal Morse/Mike PortnoyTransatlantic realm of progressive activity entitled ‘The Absolute Universe’. This is a little different though in that this album exists in two main versions, this review covering ‘The Absolute Universe – Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

We are informed that each of the albums are different entirely. Rather than being just extended versions, these are different animals that share the same DNA. So it will be interesting to do what we used to do in English at school i.e., compare and contrast them.

This 2CD or 3 vinyl version has more tracks and an additional 30 minutes running time over the single CD/2 vinyl version titled ‘The Absolute Universe – The Breath of Life (Abrdiged Version), both are housed in Digipak sleeves with seriously impressive artwork and graphics. For Transatlantic money is apparently no object, seeing as they are a flagship group for InsideOut, one of their ‘jewels in the crown’ and a proven seller. This album will probably sell in copious amounts and I’m sure both versions will be highly sought by the faithful.

The album starts strongly with Overture, a thunderous 8-minute mini saga all on its own. Unsurprisingly it is everything that you would want and expect, it certainly impressive sounding and a good set up for all that follows. The album has several themes, Neal Morse states that some of it is autobiographical about his own ego in his early years and also comments about the state of America, along with thoughts about how the world is handling the current pandemic.

Heart Like A Whirlwind is a sprightly little number with a jaunty keyboard sound and some sweet guitar embellishments from Roine Stolt. Transatlantic really bring their choruses to life here and Neal Morse is also on great form, in fine voice and really belts this one out. This is a class song by any standard. Higher Than The Morning has Roine singing along with some great bass from Pete Trewavas and delivers another fine chorus along with some more great guitar from Stolt.

This release has a mixture of pieces, some longer, some shorter but all woven together in a symphonic Tour De Force, it is an album that needs time to appreciate all that it contains and is seeking to convey to you, the listener.

The tracks continue to impress with some seriously good playing throughout as things proceed. We come to the final track of Disc 1,The World We Used To Know, which is another lengthy workout track where the whole band can show off their fantastic ensemble playing, a sinewy snaking guitar line from Roine sitting perfectly alongside some powerfully evocative piano from Neal Morse. The song is looking back fondly to how things were and a yearning for those times to return once again, a sentiment that is probably common to us all at the moment!

Disc 2 opens with The Sun Comes Up Today, it offers stacked vocals before Neal offers some great Mellotron sounds for Roine Stolt to solo over. Exceptional, strong Hammond work from Neal is offset by elegant riffing from Roine, subtle running bass from Pete and energetic thunderous drums from Mike Portnoy who is spot on here. It has another strong chorus and is a fabulous shorter song. This leads into the brief prelude to Love Made A Way, that we will hear as the final track of the album, all propelled by acoustic guitar from Roine and some smooth keyboards from Neal. The interestingly titled Owl Howl then follows with a very meaty riff (that is not unreminiscent of Steve Morse’s work with Deep Purple), with Roine asking “Blackbird, Blackbird What Have You Done?”. Without lyrics, it’s hard to discern what the song is on about but it is certainly one of the harder hitting tracks on here with some interesting sounds and timbres deployed. All in all, a very interesting song with great growling bass and some odd keyboard moments. It actually makes for a song that is fairly odd overall but certainly entertaining, I must add!

Overall, the playing throughout the entire album is strong and impressive, I especially like the interplay between Neal and Roine and also enjoy the rhythm section who support all the fireworks that the others create so admirably. I’ll say one thing, this album is certainly musically challenging, like all the best albums tend to be.

Solitude is the next track, it is about being alone and appreciating the moments as the author is asking questions about how things are now. This song also includes a refrain of the Love Made A Way theme in it and very effectively used it is too. Belong opens with wailing and crying noises before Roine’s liquid guitar opens the music in tandem with Pete Trewevas’ elegant bass, strong organ sounds abound on this shortish track. Lonesome Rebel is next and is another acoustically led piece with Roine on vocals. This one is strong on imagery in the lyrics, politics are in a mess, Roine sings, as he assesses the state of the world.

Looking for The Light (Reprise) begins with an exciting organ solo, backed with some superb bass, powering the track along ferociously. This song is really an instrumental that gives rein for each member to play wildly and express their own talents. Having said that, there are vocals towards the latter part of the song but, mainly, this is soloing by all the band members. We lead into the penultimate track, The Greatest Story Never Ends, which carries on in a similar vein to Looking For The Light, although the vocals come in pretty much right from the off. There is more impressive organ on this one, sounding both full and epic and, again, some good guitar/keyboard interplay here too. It is all extremely exciting, one wonders how this album will translate to the live arena, it certainly has great promise for a lively and engrossing show.

The album closes with the full version of Love Made A Way, opening with gentle piano and guitar runs from Roine Stolt. This is a more ‘Christian’ Neal Morse composition as he sings about how God has changed his life for the better. I know that this might put some folks off, however, the whole song is full of optimism and gratitude. It also has more of that epic chorus and fine guitar runs from Roine whose instrument is wailing throughout the song, and indeed the whole album and he delivers a typically fine, histrionic guitar solo 2/3rds of the way through. This leads us to a very ELO sounding closing section with lots of climbing peaks and cymbals crashing, before everything ends on fading synthesisers and then silence…

This is an album that will make you smile and will definitely tide you over until lockdown has finished, giving you hope for the coming days, being Transatlantic to the max. You did not really expect anything else really, did you? You knew this was going to be wonderfully over the top excess surely? This is what we want and expect from the band and if that is what you get then it will not disappoint in any aspect!

If symphonic progressive rock is your thing, then this album, in whichever form you like, is most definitely for you. Get ready for a great listening experience, hopefully coming to a stage somewhere near soon too, very highly recommended indeed!

Released 5th February 2021

Order from Burning Shed (when back in stock!) here:

The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version) (burningshed.com)

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT – Release video for first single “The Passage of Time”

Album ‘LTE3’ due out March 26th, 2021

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT, the legendary supergroup comprised of Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) recently announced their return with a new album titled ‘LTE3’, due to be released March 26th, 2021 via InsideOutMusic, twenty-two years after the bands’ last studio album.

The band are pleased to share the first video from the album for the single “The Passage of Time.”  You can watch the video, created by Christian Rios, here:

“’The Passage of Time’ was the very first song we composed together when we reunited this past summer. It was so exciting to be back in a room creating together again after so long (22 years for all 4 of us and over 10 years for the 3 of us since being together in DT).

This serves as a great first taste for the listeners as it combines so many of the musical elements that makes LTE unique”

-Mike Portnoy

“This was the first song we worked on and when it was done, we all knew once again how amazing it was to be working together. We knew we were on to something and that this was going to be a really amazing album. Nothing about the passage of over two decades could’ve done anything to change that. To me this song truly reflects the collaborative songwriting efforts of all four of us.”

-John Petrucci 

There is an undeniable chemistry that happens when the four of us are together.  Entering the studio and starting work on ‘The Passage of Time’ after 22 years literally gave me a whole new perspective on these important musical (and personal) relationships and the way time is so relative. We just jumped right in, it was like no time had passed at all, and we created a song that has so many of the elements that make LTE unique. Not a day has gone by since our last release when I wasn’t asked, “When is LTE getting back together again?” Now we can finally deliver, and I can’t wait for everybody to hear our creation.”

-Jordan Rudess

“From the murky depths of the lockdown, LTE has re-emerged, galvanized, dripping with ideas, and taking no prisoners. ‘The Passage of Time’ is just the beginning.”

-Tony Levin 

The pre-order has now started and the album will be available in the following formats:

•Limited deluxe hot pink 3LP+2CD+Blu-ray Box Set (incl. a poster and 4 artcards, Blu-ray incl. a 5.1 surround mix with visuals, and full band interview from the studio)

•Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook

•Limited 2CD Digipak

•Gatefold black 2LP+CD

• Digital album (2CD)

You can pre-order ‘LTE3’ now here: https://liquidtensionex.lnk.to/LTE3/

Tracklisting: 

1. Hypersonic (8:22)

2. Beating The Odds (6:09)

3. Liquid Evolution (3:23)

4. The Passage Of Time (7:32)

5. Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey (5:04)

6. Rhapsody In Blue (13:16)

7. Shades Of Hope (4:42)

8. Key To The Imagination (13:14) 

Bonus Disc: Includes almost an hour of improvised jams. 

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT – Announce details for new album ‘LTE3’

 Album due out March 26th, 2021 

2020 came to a close with LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT announcing their return and new album to be released on InsideOutMusic. Today, the legendary supergroup comprised of Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) are pleased to officially announce that the new album ‘LTE3’ will be released on March 26th, 2021 via InsideOutMusic, twenty-two years after the bands’ last studio album. 

“After over 20 years since the last time we recorded together, the four of us stepped into the studio and it was as if no time had passed at all! All of the magic that made the first two LTE albums so special was still there and we had such a great time making this record. I’m extremely proud of what we created together and can’t wait for everyone to hear it!”

-John Petrucci 

“The best thing to come out of 2020 was this long-awaited reunion! And it was surely worth the wait as after all these years, the magic chemistry was still there and stronger than ever!”

-Mike Portnoy 

Tracklisting: 

1. Hypersonic (8:22)

2. Beating The Odds (6:09)

3. Liquid Evolution (3:23)

4. The Passage Of Time (7:32)

5. Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey (5:04)

6. Rhapsody In Blue (13:16)

7. Shades Of Hope (4:42)

8. Key To The Imagination (13:14)

Bonus Disc: Includes almost an hour of improvised jams.

The pre-order will start on January 22nd 2021 and the album will be available as:

•Limited deluxe hot pink 3LP+2CD+Blu-ray Box Set (incl. a poster and 4 artcards, Blu-ray includes a 5.1 surround mix with visuals, and full band interview from the studio)

•Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook

•Limited 2CD Digipak

•Gatefold black 2LP+CD

• Digital album (2CD)

Watch the recently released teaser trailer, created by Christian Rios, here: 

In 1997, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and Tony Levin, joined forces to create Liquid Tension Experiment. The foursome would release their iconic, self-titled debut album in 1998 and the dazzling follow-up, LTE2 in 1999, creating a dynamic, frantic, and inventive sound all their own. The incredible creativity between the collective would prompt Petrucci and Portnoy to invite Rudess to join Dream Theater, effectively marking the end of this side project.  However, since that time, there have been few reunions more in demand. Now, with the world in lockdown and calendars unexpectedly aligned, the inconceivable has finally happened… a new Liquid Tension Experiment album. 

Band picture by Tony Levin.

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT – Announce New Album to be Released on InsideOutMusic

Album due out in Spring 2021

The biggest music news of the year comes at the very end of 2020 as LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT announce their return with a new label and new album. The legendary supergroup comprised of Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) have signed with InsideOutMusic for the release of their 3rd album. The album is set for a Spring 2021 release, 22 years after the bands’ last studio album.
 
“What happens, when you put four of the most talented musicians on the planet in one room? LTE. We all have been waiting for this album to happen for a very long time and it makes us very proud to be releasing this album. This one is for the fans!” – Thomas Waber, InsideOutMusic Label Manager
 
“We’ve all known Thomas Waber for a very long time and Jordan and I recently discovered how great it was to finally get to work together when Dream Theater joined the Inside Out family a few years ago. There really is no better home for LTE and we all look forward to doing great things together!” – John Petrucci
 
“Myself, and John, have known Thomas Waber since we met on the very first Dream Theater European tour in 1993…since then I have worked with him and Inside Out for the past 20 years with Transatlantic, The Neal Morse Band and Sons Of Apollo. When LTE finally reunited this summer, we knew there was no other label that we could call home” – Mike Portnoy
 
The band have released a new teaser trailer, created by Christian Rios, which you can see here:

In 1997, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and Tony Levin, joined forces to create Liquid Tension Experiment. The foursome would release their iconic, self-titled debut album in 1998 and the dazzling follow-up, LTE2 in 1999, creating a dynamic, frantic, and inventive sound all their own. The incredible creativity between the collective would prompt Petrucci and Portnoy to invite Rudess to join Dream Theater, effectively marking the end of this side project.  However, since that time, there have been few reunions more in demand. Now, with the world in lockdown and calendars unexpectedly aligned, the inconceivable has finally happened… a new Liquid Tension Experiment album.
 
Earlier this week, the Tony, Mike, Jordan, and John teased separate profile images on their social media pages with masks labeled with L-T-E-3 covering their respective faces.  This was followed by the full band image on the band’s socials.
  
Stay tuned for more information in 2021!