LTE3 by Liquid Tension ExperimentRelease date: April 16, 2021
Label: InsideOut Music
It’s been 22 years since Liquid Tension Experiment have released or recorded any new music since their second album was originally released on the Magna Carta label in 1999. When it was announced last year in December that they were coming back with a new album, it was time for Portnoy, Rudess, Levin, and Petrucci to bring out the big gigantic guns to have some heavy instrumentals and relieve the stress that people are going through when the world stopped last year in March.
Released on the InsideOut label, LTE3 is a welcoming return for the quartet by going for the jugular by unleashing some of the most intensive arrangements that has finally been brought to life. And it shows not only that Liquid Tension aren’t just a super group, but a band of brothers to make sure that they have electrical juices inside their veins.
The opener ‘Hypersonic’ starts with a ‘Malaguena’-sque intro riff to get the engines up and running. With insane time changes, Portnoy and Rudess duel between each other as Petrucci climbs aboard with some of the most insane textures he’s come up with. As the classical arpeggiated keyboards are brought in, there is some brutal sequences that John and Tony do while the rising organ rises out of the oceans from Jason & The Argonauts.
It becomes this cat-and-mouse midsection with some choral keyboards before the duel returns for the four musicians by travelling upwards into this ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ section done in the styles of a Zappa-sque adventure with John hammering it down to give it a crescendo finale. It’s time to hit the beaches between South Padre Island and Brazoria County, Texas as the quartet make a piece for the surfers to ride the shores on ‘Beating the Odds’ while Tony Levin comes forth with his instruments so that the other three can take a breather after a heavy workout section from the first two tracks on ‘Liquid Evolution’.
Portnoy channels both Zappa alumni Ruth Underwood and Gentle Giant’s Kerry Minnear on the xylophone before John cries out to the howling gods into a sign of hope that everything will be back to normal. ‘The Passage of Time’ sees Jordan tipping his hat to the Triumvirat-sque keyboard sounds. Rumbling riffs and pot boiling drum work with its romantic beauty, Petrucci takes center stage and delivers some killer chops by going underwater. Follow-up to the two stories; ‘Chris & Kevin’s Excellent Adventure’ and ‘Chris & Kevin’s Bogus Journey’, ‘Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey’ has this musique-concrete structure by making it snarl and growl before seguing into Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’.
Bands like ELP, Triumvirat, and the unsung Dutch maestros Trace featuring the late great Rick van der Linden, Liquid Tension Experiment’s take of the jazz classical composition is getting the full prog treatment! While Rick’s previous band Ekseption had done their tribute before in 1969 on their sole self-titled debut, the quartet dip their toes in the water to get their take of Gershwin’s, more electrical outlet!
It’s heavy, spectacular, and a real challenge to bring ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ to life. The first time they did it live was in Los Angeles, 2008. And the studio version is a real corker!
Jazz, classical, prog, and metal, it is combined into one. This would have made Gershwin very proud to hear his composition brought to life by the next generation of musicians who have made some killer adjustments to it. Another sign of calmness is shown once more with ‘Shades of Hope’.
Relaxed and strong, it gets us through the tricky times despite what has been going on throughout the pandemic as Petrucci and Rudess make the sun go over the horizon with some concerto moments as the 13-minute finale ‘Key to the Imagination’ comes full circle for Liquid Tension Experiment. Rudess channels the late composer Wojciech Kilar for the first minute and 23 seconds as the modes for some heavy attack arrangements for Petrucci to bring out the ammunition for Jordan to go bat-shit crazy on the synthesizers. But then John channels Jordan’s introduction by following Kilar’s score to Paul Grimault’s 1980 unsung French animated classic, Le Roi et l’Oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird).
The cat-and-mouse section returns once more with some sitar grooves as they take a listener into another dive of the unknown with some Hot Rats territory! But once the operatic finale comes in, the band is almost saying to their fans, “Thank you for the long wait. We know that you wanted to hear us again, but we’re back in action, and hopefully we will see you once everything will be back to normal”.