What’s a real supergroup? Often, these kind of ‘supergroups’ should be labeled as ‘bands with known musicians included’. In the case of Liquid Tension Experiment we can truly talk about a supergroup for two reasons: the stellar musical capabilities and the songs that are jaw-dropping. What the quartet delivers on the third longplayer is the result of a mindset that puts the musical ego to the back and give full scope to excellent music. The musical expertise, each of these four specialists brings to the plate, is an extremely import tool and it is exactly that, a mean to create something bigger.
The beginning of Liquid Tension Experiment happened in the late ’90s, back in 1997 to be precise. Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudness and Tony Levin teamed-up with the aim to create a first longplayer under the moniker of Liquid Tension Experiment. The collaboration was a successful one, that resulted in the self-titled debut in 1998. A year later ‘LTE2’ followed before things slowed down and basically stopped. Time is a limited source if you’re part of numerous bands and projects, which just allowed a few Liquid Tension Experiment shows in demand.
Now, there are always two side of the coin, also when it comes to a pandemic. The impact is dramatic for the industry, that’s for sure, but the last months also provided extra time for bands and musicians to let creativity flow. Not only that songwriting was done much more focussed, the foursome, known as Liquid Tension Experiment, finally found some time to work on a new Liquid Tension Experiment longplayer. Continuing the chronological naming approach, the record is simply entitled ‘LTE 3’ and features music that impresses. Although being equipped with numerous layers and various twists, the album still has a flow that makes it easy to listen to it start to finish.
The album starts in a frantic fashion. ‘Hypersonic’ is the title of the opener that shows right away what this quartet is capable of. There’s a lot to discover and the explore with every spin of this album. The sleight of hand impresses right away and what also becomes apparent is that it’s the passion for music being the driving force for the foursome to create music. Next to the brisk opener there is with Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ a song on the album that I haven’t expected and still fits perfectly into the context of ‘LTE 3’. Although Liquid Tension Experiment had the tune already as a part of live shows back in 2008, it’s this version, enriched by progressive elements, that mirrors the widely spread musical influences of the four guys.
A song I would like to mention too is ‘Beating the Odds’. It’s the most catchy track on the album and comes with a light-hearted vibe. Portnoy jokingly described the song as the “Feel-good song in the pandemic” and I think it’s to the point described. Melodies and the spirit of rock is what drives this composition, that is a treat for listener’s ears.
While the start being a very energetic experience it’s the closing of the album that begins calm and with an ease. Mentioning ‘ease’, it feels like these guys worked on the songs with an ease. It all sounds natural and not forced which is perfectly represented by ‘Key to the Imagination’. The song clocks in at 13 minutes and is fore sure a grande finale. Starting with piano and Petrucci’s gently singing guitar, the track evolves to a musical summary of all you get from ‘LTE 3’.
‘LTE 3’ is an instrumental album and these kind of releases sometimes miss the fascination since the focus is too much on the technical aspect. Here, things are slightly different. I would almost say that lyrics would be a distraction and would guide the focus away from the excellently done musical layers. There is so much happening on ‘LTE 3’ that mind and soul needs to explore and digest. If you want to listen to the result of professional specialists at work, this is your album. Jaw-dropping good.
- Beating the Odds
- Liquid Evolution
- The Passage of Time
- Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey
- Rhapsody in Blue
- Shades of Hope
- Key to the Imagination
Label: Inside Out Music
Genre: Progressive Rock
Release Date EU: April 16th, 2021