on May 24, 2000
I love this album so very much. These guys are true virtuosos of their instruments. I love every track, particularly the huge opening track "Paradigm Shift", the wild "Kindred Spirits", and the over-active and heartlessly indulgent "Universal Mind". This group has no notion of humility whatsoever, but they can pump out one heck of an album. My reviews of each track:
1."Paradigm Shift"-A chop-heavy speedplay of lighthearted madness. Delicious.
2."Osmosis"-EXTREMELY groovy, relaxing track. The name suits it well. A real treat to listen to.
3."Kindred Spirits"-A rocker's delight, pretty heavy stuff, but very beautiful and melodic. A grand exposition of eveyone's talents.
4."The Stretch"-Another groovy, swinging track. Not nearly as soothing and relaxing as "Osmosis", but very cool and fun to listen to.
5."Freedom of Speech"-Nine minute anthem with some beautiful keyboard work, and some impressive guitar solos, but nothing mindblowing. Not bad, just not as spectacular as the rest of the album.
6."Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure"-Cool, short, groovy, yet still edgy. The overdubbed whistling was a nice touch.
7."State of Grace"-Another slow anthem. Worst track here. Once again, Rudess's keyboards shine, but the track seems a bit cold and boring.
8."Universal Mind"-My personal favorite track. It's fast, indulgent, heavy, and active. Not for the faint of heart.
9-13."Three Minute Warning"-A HUGE twenty eight minute long jam session. The warning on the back of the CD should provide sufficient information on the tracks. You're guaranteed to like at least part of it. It's awesome, but a bit rough.
That's it. Anyone looking for an awesome instrumental album will love this. It's just...EXCELLENT! A real masterpiece of prog-metal virtuosity.
on July 19, 2001
This instrumental album is one of the greatest that I've ever heard. It's just absolutely amazing. The album opens with a blast of music that shows just how fast those guitars, keyboards and drums can go. "Paradigm Shift" continues with a bunch of unison runs bewteen Petrucci and Rudess. The entire song features solo after solo between the keyboards and guitar. And the drum part just stays right in there with it all. "Osmosis" is based around the bass part and everyone else jamming on it. It's a nice song that drastically contrasts the first piece. "Kindred Spirits" is a guitar-led piece that is pretty cool. The next piece, "The Stretch," is the shortest on the album, but it's cool. The song has Rudess soloing over a drum and bass groove. "Freedom of Speech" is the "power-ballad" of the album. It has a very Dream Theater-sound to it. Good stuff. The next song is my favorite. "Chirs and Kevin's Excellent Adventure." It really shows the band's sense of humor, having a drum and bass riff with "vocal overdubs" that are just goofy. I really like it. "State of Grace" is a guitar-keyboard duet that is very good. "Universal Mind" is another speed-demon piece. Fast and furious, with such a cool ending.
With having less than a week to write and record the whole album (Sept 20 through Sept 25, 1997), the epic of this project ends up being a 28:31-long jam session that was recorded and included in its entirety. This entire piece was improvised, starting off with the guys just messing around with stuff. Nothing really starts until the drum beat gets put down, then the keyboards get into it. The guitar comes in as the jam continues. Part 2 starts with a guitar lead that the rest build off of. The music dies down, but only until the drums start again with another groove. And I think that beat involves Portnoy playing 5's with the bass while keeping a good snare beat on 2 and 4. Part 3 is another change, building into a cool guitar solo. It's amazing how the guitars and keyboards are able to stay together despite all of these changes. Part 4 is cool, too. It starts with a keyboards solo over a cool groove, then it's time for another great guitar solo. Part 5 starts out slower, with good keyboard part. Then the guitars and bass drum start trading rhythms. The question-answer part between the guitar and keyboard is just amazing. The jam session ends as it starts, in a note-filled nebula of sound. "I believe that will suffice for a record. Alright, send it to Varney. As is."
on December 17, 1999
To think there are humans behind the instruments in this album is impossible. To dream theater's fans this album will full-fill all your selves and you'll find Mike and John playing in a way absolutely different to DT's albums. The album opens with a thunderous sound of drums, keyboards and guitar going so fast you'll hardly think a human being could be able to play like that....it's called "Paradigm Shift", a heavy track full of solos and heavy rythms, it then settles a more gentle pace with a guitar solo. Suddenly it changes into an arabian riff, and it ends as it begins. (Mike Portnoy is unbelievable in this one) "Osmosis", is a 3 minute song with a strange percussion, and a sort of caribbean sound though not Reggae, nice fillings provided by Petrucci's guitars complete the track. The third track "kindred Spirits" starts rockin' with a guitar followed by Tony's bass. Beautiful harmony in this track, with a piece where a fast keyboard solo is followed in the same way by a guitar solo. Some piano is used in the middle of the song. It ends with a quick-paced rythm with everyone riffin'. "the stretch": an improvisation by Mike, Tony and Jordan....sort of funky bass lines here, cool drums and a keyboard solo. the track only lasts 2 minutes. You then get to listen the incredible "freedom of Speech", a piano intro is followed by a perfect guitar solo. The track changes to a sort of heavy rythm, but keeps the piano background, which makes the song so hearted, a series of guitar, keyboard and organ solos are found towards the end of the song, which is finished by a piano melody. "Chris And Kevin's excellent adventure" shows what a drum set and a bass can do. Completely improvised by Mike and Tony, funky riffs cover the drum background provided by Mike. "State Of Grace" is a nice ballad by John and Jordan. Beautiful piano notes are the background for a guitar solo/rythm. Nice one. Then we have "Universal Mind", again twin fast solos (john and Jordan together) open this track, a heavy riff is reached which is filled by I think 8 solos (maybe more) alternating from John to Jordan (some piano, some keyboards), abruptly ending in a piano melody all alone, which is then transformed to a drums & bass funky rythm. Then they all play together (quite fast), and ends in a nice old tune. Three Minute Warning"------------- see for yourself! Enjoy it cause it's quite a Blast! DVB
on March 18, 2000
Friends, don't let today's amoral popular culture force disposable "rock" music (if you can call Limp Biscuit and Blink 182 "rock" music) down your throats. Buy music made by musicians. If you get your kicks listening to pointless stuff with violent, unprovocative lyrics, then go ahead and listen to that other stuff. But if you want to listen to a band that doesn't need to offend and be obnoxious to show that it has real "balls," then listen to the instrumentalist group Liquid Tension Experiment and their mother project, Dream Theater, both of whom can write and play music like it's nobody's business. And lest you think progressive music does not have heart and soul: 1) You might know a lot about popular culture and the latest fashion trends, but you know nothing about music and 2) You haven't listened to Liquid Tension Experiment or Dream Theater.
My friends, thank you all, and good wishes to all of you fine souls.
on November 26, 2000
When I first heard LTE I was blown away by the preciseness and talent of the group. The songs are constructed in such a way that each one flows through several different "genres" without the feeling that they were just thrown together. Each song sounds as though it was finely tuned for weeks in advance. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that this album was conceived, written and recorded in only five days!
The artists involved are incredible. Mike Portney and Tony Levin do an excellent job in building a solid foundation for all the songs while John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess switch back and forth between rhythm and lead (although Tony Levin does get several opportunities to be in the spotlight). My personal favorite tracks are "Kindred Spirits", "Freedom of Speech" and "Universal Mind". "Three Minute Warning" is an amazing 27 minute jam that was simply added to the end of the album. No retakes, no overdubs.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this album is a masterpiece. No musician or music appreciator should be without this CD.
on September 8, 2006
I agree with "geddysciple" that LTE (and, consequently, Dream Theater) produce incredible music that sound superhuman. However, the seventh track, "State of Grace," is perhaps the most significant piece that the group has put out. It is satisfying in almost every way. Given that the group's standard is powerful, exuberant progressive rock, it is all the more satisfying to hear that LTE can produce a heartfelt, emotional ballad in the form of "State of Grace." John Petrucci's song-length solo is played with such feeling that I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would opt to name this track as "a bit cold and boring."
on December 2, 2013
Liquid Tension Experiment (LTE) is a powerhouse. Here we have John Petrucci (Dream Theater; guitar), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater; keyboards), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater; drums), and Tony Levin (King Crimson [and a host of other stuff]; bass). Each member is well-known in his own circle, though this project is primarily a Dream Theater (DT) spinoff, but without any vocal contributions and a different bassist. I've heard "super-group" recordings before, and typically what you wind up with is one or two people standing out in front of the rest, or you wind up with a bizarre 70+ minute jam session. With LTE, things are very different. Yes, there is a jam aspect to it, but there's also core melodies that will get stuck in your head. Yes, there is some blazing fast instrumental wizardry, but also there's dream-like soundscapes and slower tempos (often within the same song!), but never losing sight of the song's destination. Each member contributes to the record equally. Often I find myself saying "I'm going to listen to Tony (or whoever) on this track," and I hear something new.
Normally, a track-by-track commentary would suffice, but in this case, I think the album as a whole can be discussed as one. If you're expecting Dream Theater without singing, you'll only be half pleased. Like I said, there is a deep "jam band" vibe throughout the album, but it always stays on its proper course. There is real song structure here, but there is heavy improvisation in the form of bass fills, drum fills, and extended solos which give it that "jam" feeling at times.
I did not give album five stars because I think the final CD master was produced too loudly. Keep in mind that loudness and volume are vastly different. Loudness is the overall average sound level a CD possesses when it is minted. Just like water flowing through a hose, a CD can only take so much loudness before it begins to burst. This CD frequently teeters on the very edge of a CD's capacity for maximum loudness, which distorts the sound. Case in point: if you have medium to good equipment, the guitar intro for "Kindred Spirits" shows some crackling sounds for the first few notes. This is not your equipment; it's coming from the final master. There are also other instances on the album where it seems like Portnoy's drum kicks drown out the surrounding notes from the other instruments for a few milliseconds, primarily Jordan's synthesizers. There are other examples as well. This is due to the "loudness wars," which was in full swing in 1998 when this album was mastered. It's a shame, because an album with this much instrumental expertise and showmanship should be experienced with a dynamically rich master. However, I don't feel that this master is as bad as other masters out there (many of DT's latest albums suffer terribly from the loudness wars), so I only knocked off one star. As far as content, this is a five star album.
on August 29, 2005
Many DREAM THEATER side projects have surfaced in the past few years but arguably LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT may well be one of the most interesting of the lot. Featuring nothing but complete virtuosos of their own instruments, this first venture (of two) is an highly experimental album made not only of full band compositions but also of duets and jams, showing all the musicianship of these four guys. And these are none other than Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess (nowadays comprising more than half of DREAM THEATER) aswell as bass demigod Tony Levin (of KING CRIMSON and PETER GABRIEL fame).
LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT is the result of one insane week back in the summer of 1997, when Magna Carta decided it'd be a good thing to form a supergroup and that Mike Portnoy would be the right guy to bring it to life. Originally meant to have Jens Johansson (of STRATOVARIUS) on keyboards instead of Rudess and Billy Sheehan (DAVID LEE ROTH, MR.BIG) instead of Levin, that lineup turned out to be a no-go. Fans of DREAM THEATER probably thank the heavens for that considering the realization of this project was probably one of the main reasons why Jordan Rudess turned out to become a full-time member of DREAM THEATER.
As I said before, this is an album of experimentation, the perfect instrumental showcase for the virtuostic element among these four musicians, with whom a simple jam or the discovery of a cool "groove" or bass line can spark an entire song. Except for a few very sparse vocal overdubs in one track, this is entirely an instrumental record. Some cuts on here are full band compositions while others are simply live jamming and improvisations which eventually got developed into fully fledged songs.
So, LTE can range from very technical, fast and assaulting ("Paradigm Shift", "Universal Mind"), to soothing ("Osmosis", "The Stretch"), to rocking ("Kindred Spirits"), to highly improvised and experimental of which "Three Minute Warning", an over 28-minute piece broken down into five parts is clearly the ultimate example. The fact that the band jammed for so long on this one that the master tape ran out and the last minute and twenty seconds were only captured on a 2-track DAT thankfully running in parallel is a testament to how insane these sessions really were. The difference in sound quality is actually very noticeable towards the end of the track and it shows how spontaneous this project was meant to be.
If you're a big fan of DREAM THEATER, not enjoying this album is kind of an impossibility given all the surrounding and inner factors. If you simply enjoy exploring new musical directions, different sounds and great musicianship, then this album is also for you. If however, the uncoventional makes you pull your hair, then be sure to stay well away from this. Of course you'd be missing quite an experience, though.
on March 12, 2006
LTE 1 has to be one of the finest instrumental offerings to come down the pike in a long, long time. Seeing Tony Levin's name on the cd is always a very good omen that your about to be impressed by what you hear, and sure enough he delivers. Along with keyboardist Jordan Rudess, Drummer Mike Portnoy, and Guitarist John Petrucci are no less impressive. The speed, and synchronization that occurs between these four guys is jaw dropping!
on June 10, 2016
I can write identical comments for both 1 and 2 - love them both! Great music to do stuff by, or do nothing by! I'm a long-time fan of Tony Levin, so that bias prevents me from being completely objective. I've long grown tired of hearing songs that contain sappy and whiny lyrics of lost love, unfaithful companions, failed relationships, and of all that other drivel. Another thing I love about purely instrumental albums is that they are truly an empty vessel for you to put whatever you want into them, or nothing at all!