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Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment 2 CD (album) cover


Liquid Tension Experiment


Progressive Metal

4.09 | 558 ratings

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4 stars Though certainly a lively set by four of the finest techies to ever pick up an instrument, what is best about the second LTE record is what is best about all alternative projects: the psychology of being a "different band" despite a same or similar lineup; some unspoken but tangible liberty felt by four pros who, one way or another, had found a way to make a pretty good living playing original music, had begun to feel the cold hand of style slowly tighten its hold on them, and wanted to do something about it. In that way the LTE project was mildly successful and Liquid Tension Experiment 2 turned out to be the superior of the various releases.

But it is not necessarily a great album, at least not in the normal sense. More an experience than a piece of work, the material is no better than from any number of first-rate rock/fusion outfits over the past forty years. In some ways, it reminds of Rick Wakeman's early days as a solo artist and the fun that is heard pouring out of those sessions. Steve Hackett, too. But, as is sometimes the case here, the compositions themselves may not be as important as the moment-- the event of four seasoned vets getting together for some low-pressure but, with luck, high-gain recordings that may prove to be more than the sum of its parts. Spontaneous invention within predesignated patterns is the order here, an art form that is not often done well but when witnessed, always leaves an impression. Petrucci stereo-pings his tricky 7-string riff to open 'Acid Rain' with Rudess right behind and Portnoy/Levin punching it all alive, this the boys' need for "a burner" on the album, "a blazing fury of notes and ideas" (an apt description of the whole set). 'Biaxident', really a sister piece to the opener, is forgiven its romantic uplift as it shifts to various sweet thematic variations with gorgeous solo breaks between piano and guitar, polished and large-sounding '914' recalls ELP circa '92, and the astro-rock of 'Another Dimension' is a pleasing ride through space with good symphonic arrangements and plenty of neat details and development.

At seventeen minutes, massive centerpiece 'When the Water Breaks' regales with layers of metal, building keyboard themes, playful drum/bass exchanges, bluesy diversions, Yngwie-like cosmic viking plunderings, vintage Lord/Blackmore-isms, gonking funk, before finally returning to the starting line. Superfluous 'Chewbacca' is a painful 13 minutes of not much, an experiment gone awry, but 'Liquid Dreams' is more promising with clean, dignified lines quietly tapering off into slightly sappy finisher 'Hourglass'.

What we don't have here is failure to communicate, and it is the sound of virtuosos who could spend all day & night simply playing together whether they knew what was coming at them around the corner or not. Which is to say it is a blast to listen to.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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