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10 January, 2004

Review: Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (Liquid Tension Experiment, 1999)

Another band sampled because it was mentioned favourably at the PT-Trans discussion group, this album
wasn't quite what I expected.  I'd anticipated something fairly structured and 'heavy', essentially an instrumental version of Dream Theater, since the line-up was three members of that band, plus Tony Levin.  If it wasn't for the vocals & lyrics, I might appreciate Dream Theater more, so this seemed a safe purchase.

However, it was immediately obvious, and confirmed by the liner notes, that a number of the tracks on the the album were largely the result of jamming. This means that though I certainly can't fault the virtuosity of the playing, a few tracks somewhat lack direction, and my attention wandered a little. That's only partly a criticism, more an acknowledgement of the way jamming works: when it all comes together, it's highly creative and enjoyable, but it doesn't always come together.... One criticism I would make is that there were places where flashy playing failed to mask the weakness of the underlining tune or lack of an over arching composition; as David Gilmour proved, great music doesn't require high speed or intricacy.

Another Mike Portnoy side project, Transatlantic, sounded like a real, 'first-priority' band, producing wonderful music with a sense of fun. This has the sense of fun, and I'm sure the technical achievement was satisfying, but as a listener, I don't think it goes much further than that. Not that it needs to - though my expectation was a little disappointed, I still liked the majority of the album. The longest track, 'When The Water Breaks', is a particular high point.

In summary, it's 'okay', but I doubt I'll play it often.

NP: 'Liquid Tension Experiment 2', Liquid Tension Experiment, 1999

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