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Jordan Rudess - Wired for Madness CD (album) cover


Jordan Rudess

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3 stars Jordan Rudess, a classically trained keyboardist, started out in 1993 with a solo album. That's all it took to be discovered and become a highly sought after keyboardist, and he ended up playing with bands like Dixie Dregs, Liquid Tension Experiment and, of course, he became the replacement for Derek Sherinian in the band Dream Theater with whom he released several albums before returning to his solo work.

His 15th solo album, released in April of 2019, is called "Wired for Madness". It is made up of 2 suites and 5 regular songs. Jordan provides vocals and keyboards for this album, but he has recruited several friends to help out on this album, namely Marco Minnemann on drums, James LaBrie on vocals, and Vinnie Moore, Guthrie Govan, Joe Bonamassa and John Petrucci all as guest guitarists. That's quite an impressive line-up.

The first track takes up the first suite called "Wired for Madness ? Part 1". This is a 3-part suite. The first section is called "Bring it On" and it features a wide array of tempos, meters, keyboard and guitar solos, but it all moves ahead and a smooth pace, changing from heavy prog to the big band sound at the end of the section. It is quite an introduction to what you can expect. "Out of Body" continues to show his compositional skills and his prowress as an amazing keyboardist, showing that he deserves to be up there with the greats like Emerson, Wakeman and others. The feel is complex, and continues to move from playful keyboard sections to heavy metal sections at the blink of an eye. The third section, "Lost Control", gives you a bit of a breather as things calm down and settle into a simpler melodic style with airy vocals. Halfway through, things get complex again starting with more playfulness which is interrupted by sudden bursts of heavy energy.

Where the first part of the title track is 11 minutes, the second part (which takes up the 2nd track) runs for around 20 minutes and has a lot more sections and is called, of course, "Wired for Madness ? Part 2". A quick 30 second introductory track called "Entering Delirium" starts it off with dark, robotic effects. "The Other Side" begins with some interesting harmonized vocal effects and soon moves into a nice, progressive, organ led section. Synths and other keyboards keep things going. The brightness gives way to a darker sound by the end of the section, moving into "Chaotic Chaos", which begins with a lusher sound and the return of vocals. The moderately tempo-ed section seems a bit contrived, but 70's styled keyboards take over in a very progressive and cinematic instrumental break, which later turns into a "Humoresque" of sorts before turning progressive again. "Angels in the Sky" also starts off with a softer lush section and vocals, almost continuing the vocals from the previous section and sounding very similar. Things get even more cinematic in this section, including even a choir effect. "I'll Be Waiting" starts immediately with female vocals and the continuing lushness. Rudess is definitely talented, but also tends to have the same occasional drawbacks of his influences in that, like both Emerson and Wakeman, tends to fall to contrived and over-the-top sections. That seems to happen in this part of the title track more than it did in the first part. "Human Kaleidoscope" features a more complex and changing sound, from piano rhapsodies to fusion guitar to big band styles, it covers all of the textures that it can in 5 minutes before moving on to the last section "Infinite Overdose". This section calms back down again with female vocals. LaBrie lends his vocals on this section also, which are definitely designed for the climatic ending of the suite.

At this point in the album, the following tracks are shorter form tracks. "Off the Ground" is led by piano and vocals with a more standard rock ballad sound. Guthrie Govan provides a guitar solo during the instrumental break. "Drop Twist" begins with an electronic sound. When the rhythm kicks in, it turns into a keyboard extravaganza with plenty of progressive elements. This is like "Liquid Tension Experiment" with keyboards being the main element, a complex and ever changing instrumental. "Perpetual Shine" offers more of the same, this time with a funkier element, and a bit more guitar and bass. "Just Can't Win" is a rock/blues oriented number with brass effects and a synth and guitar solo in the instrumental break. The vocals aren't very convincing for the type of song that it is. There is also a rolling piano solo at the end. "Just for Today" is a piano led ballad with airy vocals. It is quite straightforward with an Alan Parsons Project feel. "Why I Dream" ends the album with a more progressive, jazz fusion style with vocals that roll along with the smooth sound of the music. The jazz piano sound during the first instrumental break is great and more intensity later brings in a synth-guitar duet in a call and response style before the lyrics come back.

Most of the progressiveness of this album happens in the 2 part, title track suites. It is done very well except for the part that kind of lags in the middle of the 2nd part. The individual tracks that come after are less progressive with 3 of them being standard pop/rock while the other 3 are a bit more complex, but not as much as the title track. The stronger tracks are excellent while the more standard tracks are a bit boring. It all evens out to a good 3 star album, great music, but not essential.

Report this review (#2189060)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
3 stars It has been a long since the latest Jordan's solo album, he was pretty busy with other projects. This time he had the help of great musicians including his longtime friend James Labrie, John Petrucci and Marco Minnemann. It all starts in a big fashion with a 20 minutes title track that shows the versatility of Jordan and various styles of music from prog, classical, metal and a lot of Jazz. The song contains many twists and moods, a variety of keyboards/piano sounds, but also some space is left to the guitar bringing some heaviness. The vocals are present sparsely. If the first part of that song is more in a jazz style territory, the second part is more on the classical side with symphonic arrangements. James Labrie closes the song with his singing after a strong Keith Emerson passage from Jordan. And then the rest of the album falls down to keep the momentum of this first epic where the progressive side is replaced by a more standard type of music and too much light mood music for my taste. But it is still impressive to hear how talented is this musician.
Report this review (#2201813)
Posted Saturday, May 11, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars All right. Jordan Rudess. I'm going to talk about my relationship through the years with his music making as to give a context, and because it's fun for me :D If you want to skip to the album review per se, go to the paragraph that starts with "The Review"

My first meeting with Jordan's music was when I bought my first Dream Theater cd in high school: the at-that- moment-just-released Scenes from a Memory. I flipped out. Dream Theater became my favorite band for years. I became totally mesmerized with their music.

Nowadays I am not such a big fan. I still find Awake quite the masterpiece, very original and my favorite of their records. I also have a place in my heart for (some songs) from Scenes from a Memory and Images and Words. But that's it. I usually can't stand anything they did from Six degrees of inner turbulence on, with some songs here and there being allright or cool, but never getting more than a couple of listens. I must admit it is mostly because of James Labrie, whose voice I get repulsed by (but does seem like a very nice man). A thing of tastes I guess.

I also discovered that I didn't like Jordan's take on the keyboards and especially composition. Even my favorite parts from Scenes from a Memory where composed with Derek Sherinian on board. So, my enthusiasm for him is low. Though I do admit his impeccable technique, I find his a million notes a second fills tiring. Again, I can't say a thing about him as a person: Very nice guy.

So in summary: Kevin Moore is my keyboardist in regards to Dream Theater. I find him simple, cool, to the point, and a great composer. Sad to say, I don't love his post DT work, just doesn't tickle me.

About Liquid Tension Experiment: I love three songs (especially Acid Rain, masterpiece) but that's it. Again Jordan doesn't add anything special for me.

As to Jordan's solo discography: Same opinion as above, it doesn't move me.

¿Why do I continue to listen to these guys then? Well, I don't usually. But last year I took my girlfriend to his solo concert because she loves piano and I thought "Hey, he's a brilliant player, let's see what happens". And lo and behold, it was a total pleasure: funny and cool (though Jordan, if you ask me, take it easy on those right hand fills). And he talked about his upcoming record, "Wired for Madness". He even, surprisingly for me, sang a song from it. And I liked it.

So, surprisingly, upon being released I was interested. And man, did I get a surprise! I find the album great. Let me repeat that: I really love it. Here's my review:

The Review: Again, I truly love this album. I was totally surprised by his inventiveness, variety and complexity. It's truly proggy music, with something that I find very scarce in prog usually: Real creativity. There are changes not only in tempo and timbres, but also in styles. This I adore. I find that prog has become a very stale genre, usually rehashing old Yes, Genesis, ELP, etc. But at the moment these bands were trailblazing, inventing new stuff every moment! Nowadays there are too many bands imitating them, not going forward. Dream Theater wasn't this way on their first records, and Jordan isn't here. I find his music fascinating. For the first time listening to him I love his timbres, his melodic vocals and over all his compositions. I love his constant changes, which is what I always look for in Prog. But in this case they are changes that make sense, that sound organic, that sound crazy but melodic. I like that he mixes genres, getting away from the sometimes confining prog metal of Dream Theater. He's got a good ear for mixing old sounding and new sounding keyboards, of inviting different styles of musicians, and even giving good hooks in his vocal lines. Yeah, he's not the best singer, but reminds me a little of an amateur Bowie, which is always a good comparison. And I like him better than Labrie, so Dream Theater, take note. I'm kidding, of course, I think Dream Theater is a thing unto itself, and it's just my taste. To each his own. (And as a side note, I didn't like Dream Theater's parallel record, Distance over Time).

I love the mixing because it's never overwhelming but it's always complex and fun. I find it is like 3d music: You can concentrate on the different lines playing on each other, and also on the great harmonies and progressions. So yeah, in summary, I love it. If I'd have to use a word to describe the sound it would have to be Psychedelic. It truly is a record that goes through the thousand colors you can see in the best trips.

I still have to fully digest Wired for Madness, and this will take months probably. The lyrics for example I haven't analyzed, but I don't care too much. As it is, it's perfect for me, and it won't change my opinion. I can already say that it is one of the best and most stimulating prog records I've heard in a couple of years. I don't usually take the time to review records, but when I find a gem that touches me I am compelled to do so. God knows I've heard so much music in my life (I'm an avid collector) and especially prog. I seldom get surprised and I as you can probably see, I am very intense in my lookout and expectations. This one gave me my fill (totally!), even through all my past experiences with Jordan. So, please, get a good sound system, put the record in the best possible quality, CD or FLAC, and give it a go. I think you will enjoy a totally rewarding ride. It is a beautiful manifestation of what we as humans can accomplish and what depths our art can get into.

I even love the cover! Which is the first Jordan Rudess solo cover I find not only acceptable but I actually dig.

Give it a go, you just might find something lovely. It's worth trying, right?

And hey, you know what? It isn't full of those lightning fast fills! Thanks man!

Report this review (#2216459)
Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well,this is the new solo album for DREAM THEATER keyboard man!And I love it,especially because of the bunch of great guitar players that Mr Rudess managed to grab for his solo album!It's an album without surprises...very professional made....Jordan's voice is ok,nothing bad against it....but it lacks the spark from FEEDING THE WHEEL and RHYTHM OF TIME!It's far from being a bad album,no way,but it's a very decent and ordinary release,and to be honest,I had bigger expectations from our man!The sound,the production is awesome,the performance of the guests on the album is astonishing.....and that's all,folkes!It's good quality prog rock or metal sometimes ,a decent audition guaranteed!3.5 stars for me!
Report this review (#2218886)
Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is truly a masterpiece! From start to finish Jordan manages to keep the listener engaged and amazed. Jordan's playing here is also brilliant in many ways. All the musicians who play on this album are also fantastic. The album does not contain a weak track and extremely solid trough out. You can tell that Jordan is an integral part of Dream Theater after hearing this solo album. I just wish Dream Theater would let Jordan write more songs for the band since this solo output really shows his immense talent. Everyone who likes Dream Theater or progressive rock in general needs to hear this album!
Report this review (#2608244)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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