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Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe - The Ultimate Edition CD (album) cover



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Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars The supergroup is back with another album, this time a pleasant and uplifting 90 minutes journey into the absolute universe of symphonic prog rock. The music is based mostly on a good dose of Neal Morse and Flower Kings with some Beatlesesque, Yes, a bit of jazz, and a rip-off of the song ''Starless'' of King Crimson. This album is made to listen in one take like a big epic with some recurrent themes. My favorite parts are the dark parts that show a slightly different style from the Transatlantic style of the past. There is nothing more to add about the professionalism of those musicians and the overall quality of the production. The bass playing of Pete at the end of the album is breathtaking. It's no surprise to hear at the end on a Neal Morse project a nod to the multi-part vocals of Gentle Giant. This is a very enjoyable ride crossing the Atlantic reunifying the British, the US, and the Swedish. This review is taken from the Blu-Ray Edition which adds to the excitement of it all...
Report this review (#2496924)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Portnoy, Stolt and Morse scare me. They must necessarily have made a pact with the devil by exchanging their souls for an inexhaustible creative vein, because otherwise it is not possible to explain why, for years, these three musicians have been able to churn out piles of records non-stop and carry out numerous parallel projects simultaneously. What then this enormous prolificacy follows a constant superfine quality is always to be seen. Last year we were overwhelmed by the works of The Flower Kings, Neal Morse Band, Sons of Apollo and Flying Colors, all formally excellent as they are creaky in reproducing roughly the same sauce, arousing some perplexity about the actual genuineness of the music in the long run. To further intensify doubts and very high future expectations on the compositional health of the musicians in question, finally there was the bolt from the blue represented by the return of Transatlantic, the definitive super progressive rock band and daughter of the three aforementioned workaholics, to whom we adds bassist Pete Trewavas, already active in Marillion. Transatlantic's approach to music hasn't changed. It is always progressive rock with strong roots planted in the seventies that is inspired by big names such as King Crimson, Genesis, the first Kansas, Rush, revised based on their experience gained with their respective bands of origin, namely The Flower Kings, Neal Morse Band, Dream Theater and Marillion. The result is practically a magmatic tribute to prog which by its nature does not want to invent anything new, but rather enhances the formal characteristics of the genre such as the excellent cantabile melodies, the long instrumental sections with cascading solos and the extremely technical, lively, warm arrangements, colorful and cheerful, but constantly inlaid and screwed on themselves.

The Absolute Universe: Forevermore

The first disc is very dynamic and lively. The choral performance immediately convinces for its freshness of ideas and the songwriting is always focused and inspired. There are several memorable pieces permeated by an enthralling, cheerful and light-hearted mood that almost blurs the very high level of every single moment. Among the best songs we point out Heart Like A Whirlwind, The Darkness in The Light, Swing High, Swing Low, the frenetic divertissment of Bully, Rainbow Sky and the very long and already known The World We Used to Know. The second disc, on the other hand, is more reflective and also leaves room for some slow, a relaxed mood and more successful electro-acoustic insertions (see Lonesome Rebel). The pinkfloydian Owl Howl, the ballad with Beatlesian echoes Solitude, with a convince Portnoy on the microphone, or the concluding Love Made a Way deserve attention, even if in general we can say that each song is very interesting and presents some ideas that raise the level. qualitative.

The Absolute Universe: The Breath of Life

The arrangements, the words and even those who sing the vocal parts change, but the result does not disappoint at all thanks to the extreme attention and study at the table of every single musical passage. Even in this case, listening is smooth and focused on a lot of technique and melody where the difference is made by the personalities of the individual musicians capable of enhancing each other while having ample space allowed to demonstrate their technical-executive skills. The Higher Than The Morning button is positively striking with Trewavas in evidence, the cheerful Take Now My Soul which reworks its mirror Swing High, Swing Low in the extended version, but in PFM sauce. Or again, Owl Howl comes out slightly downsized in the minutes, but supported as always by the drumming from the great "pat" on cymbals and snare drum by Portnoy and by the acid atmosphere in the middle of the song, daughter of the best Pink Floyd. Looking for the Light also returns here broken into two parts with slightly different timing compared to the versions on Forevermore, without however having significant changes that somehow revise the essence of the piece, as well as a short prelude of the mold. bucolic in Genesis style to the track Love Made a Way.

At the end of this huge progressive binge, one can feel largely sated and satisfied. The Transatlantic do not disappoint at all expectations and indeed we can say that against all odds The Absolute Universe casts any real doubt on the inspiration and compositional weakness that appeared at times in the solo works of the individual members of the supergroup. The teamwork in this case has paid off, avoiding those sporadic moments of extremely tired quotationists and children of an exercise in style that hover here and there in the works of The Flower Kings, Neal Morse and Flying Colors, creating a work as usual mammoth, but of very high quality that manages to be memorable from the first impact and at the same time to grow slowly with the audience. 2021 starts with a bang!

Report this review (#2582970)
Posted Monday, August 2, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars What can I say here? I am just so excited for a new Transatlantic release. And of course, I had to listen to Forevermore, the extended version. Right from the get-go, we get that satisfyingly epic sound fans will know and love. Mike Portnoy sounds incredible as expected. Coming off of listening to some of my favorite Flower Kings tracks, I was hungry for more and I was all smiles seeing this finally reached "up next" on my queue of albums for the day.

I'm hard-pressed to not be impressed by these tracks, even when, compositionally, the songs are just okay. I mean, just exemplary musicianship; how could it not be? That all to say, as with the track "Swing High, Swing Low," the clearly Morse-penned neo-gospel Worship song, I even turned to enjoying tracks that I otherwise didn't really like. And as an album (see how the aforementioned track runs into the next, "Bully"), again, right from the start, as others have noted, it is clear that this is one purposeful piece, linked together by not-so-disparate parts. Big surprise there lol.

Excellent vocals and vocal harmonies too, just as we know them to bring to the table. How could these parts not have been a blast for them to put together? From one review to the next, I go from jaded to excited (not that anyone asked). Random aside time: There is a guitar part at the end of "Higher Than the Morning" that I could have sworn was a David Gilmour line.

At the intro to "Looking for the Light" (following the excellent Beatlesesque Psych-soaked Power-Pop-turned-Symphonic- masterpiece, "Rainbow Sky") my jaw literally dropped haha. And is that Mike on lead vox? It's a great, beefy track. Fortunately here, by the middle of the first disc, we have plenty of interest and diversity, while still feeling like one whole piece of music. This carries on to the very end. Just like when I first heard The Whirlwind, all I can say is "Impressive."

Far as I'm concerned, "Owl Howl" is the best track on the album. Give me as much of that Roine Stolt DARK ENERGY as humanly possible. A not-quite-close second for me was clearly "Looking for the Light (Reprise)". Quite the very-mini Epic. Other personal standout tracks include "Rainbow Sky," "The Sun Comes Up Today," and "The Greatest Story Never Ends."

Report this review (#2585621)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2021 | Review Permalink

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