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Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Trio Experiment: Spontaneous Combustion CD (album) cover


Liquid Tension Experiment


Progressive Metal

2.08 | 98 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars This isn't the lost Liquid Tension Experiment album fans might have been expecting when it suddenly appeared, in 2007. With guitarist John Petrucci suddenly called away on premature paternity leave early into the 1998 recording sessions for the band's second album, the remaining trio of Tony Levin, Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess were left stranded in an already booked studio, with the money clock still ticking.

Their solution: "we decided to stay and JAM...and JAM we did!!" The resulting tapes, according to Portnoy (a better drummer than he is a salesperson) were "as live and raw as it overdubs, no editing, no mixing." And precious little inspiration either, he might have added. Left beating the air for quick ideas, the trio opted for "going wherever the music took us..." which wasn't very far, apparently.

Players of this caliber shouldn't have any problem finding their groove, as they proved more than once during the awesome, unscripted 30-minute "Three Minute Warning" encore to the band's self-titled debut: proof that spontaneous composition can often yield thrilling results. But sometimes the effort can lead even the best players into an empty cul-de-sac, and here's what it looks like when they hit the brick wall at the end of the street.

I applaud the wry self-deprecation of titling one of their meandering doodles after the aborted Spinal Tap "Jazz Odyssey" detour, from when the Tap itself was reduced to a hapless trio, opening for puppet shows in a second-rate, central California amusement park. But the music here rarely gels, except in fleeting moments: during "Cappuccino", "Boom Boom" (not "B'Boom B'Boom", sorry Crimheads), and the "Disneyland Symphony", in which Levin's gut-rumbling bass guitar is pushed center stage.

Don't accuse the truant Petrucci for leaving his bandmates adrift without a six-string rudder. Blame instead whoever scheduled a tight recording session so late in his wife's third trimester of pregnancy. It isn't the absence of an electric guitar that sinks the album; it's the lack of any assertive lead instrument. As the keyboardist in an accidental power trio, Jordan Rudess should have stepped forward to set the creative pace, as he did throughout the long "Three Minute Warning" jam.

But nobody took the initiative. All three musicians, aces in their respective fields, sound unaccountably inhibited, vibing along aimlessly as if in anticipation of overdubbed guitar solos which never materialized. In effect, the newly christened Liquid Trio is peddling the backing tracks of an uncompleted album, or (even worse) their studio warm-ups for the same. And what happened to make the relea$e of the$e tape$ so imperative after nearly ten years on the shelf?

Self-indulgence is not a bad habit when attempting to pull new music out of thin air. But selling the parboiled results certainly is.

Neu!mann | 1/5 |


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