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Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe - Forevermore (Extended Version) CD (album) cover

THE ABSOLUTE UNIVERSE - FOREVERMORE (EXTENDED VERSION)

Transatlantic

 

Symphonic Prog

3.99 | 149 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SilverLight59
5 stars In the beginning the universe was without form and chaotic. In time it began to take form and gain structure. And in even more time it became orderly and unimaginably beautiful...

Let me say from the outset that I have never heard any of the earlier transatlantic albums (my bad, my very bad), so I had nothing to compare "The Absolute Universe: Forevermore" against, and tried to approach it with a fresh and open mind. A super group? Indeed. Members from Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Flower Kings, and Marillion. Strong and respectable credentials without a doubt! Still, a super group? Sorry if I was a bit skeptical at the outset. But in my listening experience with 'super groups', it seems that they almost never live up to the hype. And there is definitely hype here as all the reviews here were fawning over this album.

The problem with such super collaborations is that they tend to be somewhat disjoint, not overly harmonious, and lacking a cohesive vision of what they want to accomplish. The sum of the parts rarely seems to add up to the individual pieces. Either they mute one another out, or try to outshine one another, or one ends up dominating over all the the rest, usually with mixed results. Did that happen here? The first track "overture" answers the question with a resounding 'No'! This introductory piece kicks things off with glorious synths, emotional guitar, energetic bass, and propelling drums, each getting their turn to shine while creating the beginning arc that will transcend the entire work.

As I tend to do, I am not so much about a track by track resume of the album,(others can do this much better than I), although I'll reserve the right to digress in this direction a tiny bit at the end. Rather, I am more about the impressions and the experience the music creates for me.

So, in addition to the super group label, I had doubts about a 90 minute work that features 18 tracks. I am much inclined towards longer pieces that tend to develop and unwind, and not so much towards shorter pieces that tend to come across as radio friendly fodder. Would this be a problem here?

Surprisingly not! The reason being that the album is divided into two approximately 45 minute sections of 9 songs each. Each main section has no break between songs so each song smoothly transitions into the next creating in effect two mighty epic suites of music. One reason this is a tremendously successful is that both major suites open with an introductory piece that develops musical and lyrical themes that keep resurfacing throughout the following 8 songs within each section. Likewise each of the two main suites end with closing tracks that are emotional and powerful, with moments of aching beauty and others of uplifting power. They are grand finale pieces that beg to be heard over and over again.

Those of us that prefer epic prog pieces would likely point to one of the key reasons as being that we enjoy the changes in tempo, instrumentation, emotions, and such that longer pieces allow for. So within the body of the main two pieces, this effect is admirably created by the songs running continuous without a break and by the reoccurring musical and lyrical themes. Some of these to watch for are the 'be-long', 'whirlwind of the heart', and 'love made a way' sections. These themes permeate the entire work, and help to drive the arcing lyrical theme of the entire experience.

Curiously, the only noticeable break between songs occurs between the end of the first suite of 9 songs to open the second suite of 9 songs. It's just a brief breather for an audience that has been taken on a magnificent journey to this point, to get us ready for what's coming next. It struck me that if we were at a concert, it might be the time for the intermission so we could grab a beer or glass of wine. Time to absorb what we've taken in, and to anticipate what's still yet to be presented.

Will part two live up to our expectations? Yes indeed! One thing that becomes quickly evident is that suite two is not a piece of music isolated and unrelated to suite one, but thematically is a continuation picking up musical and lyrical threads from section one and expanding them even further. In doing this it becomes obvious that the entire 90 minute production is not so much two pieces of music as it is truly one grand magnum opus! A testimony to this magnificent production is that the 90 minutes simply fly by. Even though the final track has an absolute concluding finality to the entire epic work, you find your self wanting it to keep going. (And of course it can if you wish to acquire the remixed short version - 60 minutes - but that's a different review...) Or we can of course just hit 'play' again as I will be doing for the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, this super group is truly a super group and is hitting on all cylinders. This is a progressive feast of symphonic prog that is just on the mark in every way - lyrically, vocally, musically, and conceptually. Guaranteed, this music will not just fill your ears with pleasure, but it will reach your emotions as well. For more details about the sweet acoustic sections, blistering lead solos, lead vocals by all of the members, the heavenly harmonies, the powerful and eloquent drumming, crunchy and rhythmic base, soundscape and lead synths, and lyrics you'll actually remember, well, you can find those in other reviews! Admittedly, the year is young, but this is a strong contender already for my album of the year.

Next, the short off the wall portion...

I do have one suggestion for the band. If they haven't done so, I suggest releasing "Rainbow Sky" as a single. And no, I'm not contradicting my earlier radio fodder rant. Good motive here, really. This is a totally infectious piece of 'pop-prog', very Beatles- esque psychedelia, and it's a real ear worm that just may draw some into the wonderful world of prog! And as another reviewer aptly stated, it's short enough that in the big picture it doesn't over stay it's welcome. Well said!

So, the Absolute Universe is indeed beautiful, and unquestionably, a masterpiece of prog Forevermore

SilverLight59 | 5/5 |

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