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Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment CD (album) cover


Liquid Tension Experiment


Progressive Metal

3.84 | 461 ratings

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5 stars 'Liquid Tension Experiment' is an instrumental project, combining the awesome talents Tony Levin, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and Mike Portnoy. The album sees the synthesis of a masterpiece of music from a combination of progressive metal, fusion and a variety of other influences (not to mention sheer artistic flair and virtuoso musicianship!)

The opener, 'Paradigm Shift' really gets the adrenalin going. The incredible force of Portnoy is revealed in his accompaniment of the initial figure, his drumming equally incredible throughout the rest of the track. Jordan Ruddess does a lot of decoration behind the presence of Petrucci, who lays down the rhythmic backbone to the track before the "shift". Petrucci's use of "wah" pedal two and a half minutes into the track is awesome, soaring out over the accompaniment and powering us towards an altogether higher paradigm. The music here is incredibly intense, until a respite ensues, in which Tony Levin lays down a more relaxed bass groove. The music picks up one more, and we are taken to another musical paradigm played (I think) on a Mohammedan scale and creating opportunity for a Ruddess keyboard solo. The closing statement to the song is incredible, seeing a re-instatement of the original theme, and we leave the track on a high note in both awe and admiration.

'Osmosis' is grounded in a really effective riff on fret-less bass, onto which are built layers of rich poly-rhythms. The track is reflective in atmosphere, an oasis of calm amid the frantic excitement of the rest of the album.

'Kindred Spirits' sees a return to the style of 'Paradigm Shift', though less breath taking or dramatic. Virtuoso guitar and keyboard take centre stage, and the music flows and abates to create a complex and altogether pleasant arrangement. It's really quite melodic, and a joy to listen to.

'The Stretch' is a short deviation into I don't know what, but it sounds good anyway. Petrucci however, is absent on the track. 'Freedom of Speech' is introduced to us by a pleasant passage on piano keyboard, Petrucci subsequently taking over the melody. The song undergoes a welcome change - Petrucci's melody would otherwise become repetitive, and what could be considered loosely as a development of 'Osmosis' ensues. There is some very interesting fret-less bass here (tapping perhaps? - it's fast anyway) before a thorough exploration of the new theme is developed. I love the keyboard solo which grows out of here (somewhat reminiscent of, but better than that at the end of 'Paradigm Shift'), and the guitar solo which follows. A lot more of both elements are present before the close of the song, some beautiful piano keyboard and acoustic strumming taking the composition to its conclusion.

'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure' is another deviation from the general feeling of the album, and contains an annoying voice over. The predominant drum figure is interesting though, and the song sees prominence of fret-less bass from Tony Levin.

'State of Grace' is a duet played by Rudess and Petrucci. I'm not sure how much I personally enjoy this track - it's a bit slow, and some of it (the keyboard accompaniment beneath the actual music for example) sounds slightly "naff". Others might disagree, and there is certainly nothing wrong with the structural make up of the song. Indeed, towards the middle, the song does improve (for example, there is a very nice neoclassical sounding passage after about two minutes.)

'Universal Mind' is the brother of Paradigm Shift, and again shoots up the adrenalin with a really great beginning (Petrucci professes the two his favourites to play live). Virtuoso guitar and keyboard are dominant, and there's a fine classical solo from Ruddess near the middle of the piece. The end sees a return to the precise melody played at the start, before a somewhat bizarre ragtime piano conclusion.

To do 'Three Minute Warning' justice with words alone is an impossibility. I will not attempt, other than to say that the twenty eight minute long improvisation is beyond anything I have ever experienced before. The musicianship of Tony Levin, John petrucci, Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess is shown to be beyond this world; to improvise for this long and so well is the divine right of Kings.

Anyone who enjoys some form of progressive music will find something on this album which they will enjoy. It is both essential, and a masterpiece of human creativity and ability. That the album has not achieved a universal five star rating leaves me at a loss.

Ktrout | 5/5 |


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