Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 16/04/2021
Running Time: 61:39
Review by Chris Galea
It’s hard to believe that it has been over 20 years since the first Liquid Tension Experiment (LTE) CD popped into my letter box but on listening to the band’s 3rd album, it feels much less than that.
For the uninitiated, LTE was formed after 4 academically trained musicians got together in one room hoping that something worthwhile would emerge from their collaborative efforts. The musicians were guitarist John Petrucci and drummer Mike Portnoy, who at the time were both parts of Dream Theater; ex-King Crimson bassist Tony Levin and keyboardist Jordan Rudess. Well, something worthwhile had emerged…in fact so productive was the chemistry between them that Jordan Rudess ended up being invited to join Dream Theater…where he remains to this day. The first LTE album was quickly followed by another but that was the distant 1999.
In a nutshell LTE is an instrumental band that inhabits the boundaries of Progressive Metal. The beauty of this project is that there are no significant constrictions, whether artistic or commercial, on what to create. Having said that, I’d say that “3” feels Jazzier, Bluesier, Funkier and perhaps more eclectic than the previous 2 LTE albums. And yet the source of the music is immediately recognisable. Case in point is ‘Beating The Odds’, which John Petrucci recently described as the “feel-good song of the pandemic”.
The tracks I liked most are also the ‘weirdest’…the most adventurous…of the lot: ‘Liquid Evolution’ and ‘Rhapsody In Blue’. The latter track, in particular, seems to possess the musical playfulness often associated with Frank Zappa.
When you hear Tony Levin extracting a series of harmonics from his bass, you know that Chris and Kevin (whoever they are) are about to embark on another journey. I’m referring to the track ‘Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey’ (Note: the 1st LTE album had featured a track called ‘Chris And Kevin’s Excellent Adventure’).
‘Shades Of Hope’ contains some of the emotional intensity of ‘Out Of The Blue’, a track that appeared on Petrucci’s recent “Terminal Velocity” solo album.
Mike Portnoy sounds relentless in ‘The Passage of Time’, the closest the album gets (musically speaking) to Dream Theater. In this track his drumming works particularly well with Petrucci’s fiery riffs.
All musicians are in excellent form, individually and collectively. There’s no doubt in my mind that this third LTE outing delivers on its potential and expectations in leaps and bounds.
‘The Passage Of Time’ (Official Video)
‘Hypersonic’ (Official Video)
02. Beating The Odds
03. Liquid Evolution
04. The Passage Of Time
05. Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey
06. Rhapsody In Blue
07. Shades Of Hope
08. Key To The Imagination
Tony Levin – Bass Guitars, Chapman Stick
John Petrucci – Guitars
Mike Portnoy – Drums
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
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