Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy (drums) and John Petrucci (Guitars) were joined by King Crimson’s Tony Levin (Bass) and keyboard phenomenon Jordan Rudess to participate in the “Liquid Tension Experiment”. This totally unscientific experience took place in the Fall of 1997 in Upstate New York during what Mike Portnoy called “one craziest, most stressful, and , yet, simultaneously beautiful, magical and most creative weeks of my life.” Portnoy, Petrucci, Levin and Rudess got together to create some of the most exciting and innovative progressive rock heard in the last 25 years.
The players are all world-class with their pedigree being undeniable. Dream Theater’s appeal has been proved by their wildly enthusiastic fan base throughout the world. The latest release from Dream Theater, “Falling Into Infinity”, is being embraced by musically starved fans worldwide. Portnoy and Petrucci wanted to take the musicality of DT a step further without being restricted by major label commercial concerns. Levin has always been one to want to explore the outer limits of musical creativity. Witness his stellar career playing with everyone from John Lennon to Peter Gabriel to Bozzio Levin Stevens. Tony wants to leave his musical mark on the planet and he certainly takes another step forward with Liquid Tension Experiment. Jordan Rudess has long been known amongst musicians as one of the finest keyboard players on the planet. He has performed with Jan Hammer, The Dregs and his own recording project, Rudess Morgenstein (with drum ace, Rod Morgenstein).
“Caution:* “Three Minute Warning” is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of extreme self-indulgence. If you fall into any of the above categories, please hit the stop button on your CD player after track # 8 .”
The above warning is issued in a tongue-in-cheek manner by Portnoy on the back of LTE’s CD package. Following 8 action packed tracks is the inaccurately titled “Three Minute Warning”. Twenty-eight and a half minutes of a musical white knuckle ride takes the listener through so many mood changes that it becomes hard to believe that this jam was cut totally live in the studio. To reinforce that reality is the fact that the 24 track master tape ran out during the recording of this song but the ending was captured by Portnoy’s always-recording DAT recorder.
The music on Liquid Tension Experiment is primarily improvised and covers a lot of stylistic ground. But it never stops rocking. There is a consistent heaviness throughout the album which never allows it to leave the realm of hard rock no matter where the musical landscape goes. Mike Portnoy’s playing is stimulating but relentless. John Petrucci wrings emotion out of his guitar at every turn but never ceases to be melodic. Tony Levin coaxes sounds from his instruments that do not seem possible. Jordan Rudess amazing technique never overshadows his ability to write cohesive and moving songs.
Joing the fun was Dream Theater producer, Kevin Shirley, who handled the album’s mix. Kevin’s recent successes with Journey and Silverchair were both great in their commercial and sonic achievement. Kevin felt that “Liquid Tension Experiment” was an album in which he wanted to participate because of its high artistic credibility. He was able to bring a clarity and separation to the instruments and yet still allow them to blend with a powerful “group” sound.
Liquid Tension Experiment is a resounding success.
released March 10, 1998
Liquid Tension Experiment is:
• Tony Levin - Bass (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson)
• Mike Portnoy - Drums (Dream Theater)
• Jordan Rudess - Keyboards (Dream Theater, Dregs)
• John Petrucci - Guitar (Dream Theater)
Produced by Liquid Tension Experiment
Mixed by Kevin “Caveman” Shirley