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3.63 | 42 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1998


1. Paradigm Shift (8:55)
2. Osmosis (3:26)
3. Kindred Spirits (6:29)
4. The Stretch (2:00)
5. Freedom Of Speech (9:19)
6. Chris And Kevin's Excellent Adventure (2:21)
7. State Of Grace (5:02)
8. Universal Mind (7:53)
9. Three Minute Warning Part 1 (8:19)
10. Three Minute Warning Part 2 (4:02)
11. Three Minute Warning Part 3 (5:20)
12. Three Minute Warning Part 4 (4:20)
13. Three Minute Warning Part 5 (6:30)

Total Time 73:56


- Mike Portnoy / drums, percussion
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards, effects
- Tony Levin / bass, Chapman stick
- John Petrucci / guitars

About this release

Released by Magna Carta.

Thanks to UMUR, Lynx33 for the updates


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Liquid Tension Experiment was formed in 1997 by Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Tony Levin, best known for his work with King Crimson, and keyboard virtuoso Jordan Rudess (who would go on to join Dream Theater after the evident chemistry displayed throughout this project). They play instrumental progressive metal, with musicianship of the very highest standard.

While there are some people out there who aren't fans of constant shredding and noodling away and who might be discouraged from getting this album, there is a lot more on offer here than merely a competition to see who can play the fastest. Some of the music is as experimental and as obscure as the band's name. Namely, 'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure', 'Osmosis' and 'The Stretch' are all rather demanding tracks which serve to see just how "out of the box" the listener can go.

But of course, this is an album featuring some of prog metals most prominent figures, and there's no way we can leave out the breath-taking acrobatics, for which we have the two best songs on the album; 'Paradigm Shift' and 'Universal Mind'. Fans of Dream Theater will definitely enjoy these tracks!

As a whole though, this album is just a bit too disjointed for my tastes. There's some incredible playing and chemistry between the members, but I usually find myself only listening to the two songs I mentioned above. On top of that, there's that blasted 'Three Minute Warning'. A 28-minute improvised jam, which, while brimming with amazing technical ability, is otherwise considerably boring. It's fine though, the band themselves acknowledge it on the back of the CD cover, stating that this song is not for the musically faint-hearted, or critics of self-indulgence.

Overall this isn't a terrible album, in fact, it is pretty good in small doses, I find. Fans of Dream Theater will definitely want this in their collections, and most fans of progressive music in general will find something here to sink their teeth into.
My affection for Dream Theater drew me to Liquid Tension Experiment and I expected something incredible with the likes of Tony Levin on bass, John Petrucci on guitar, Mike Portnoy on drums and Jordan Rudess on the keys. Instead the album comes across as a good diversion from the usual brilliance of Dream Theater. The album admittedly has some amazing musicianship but it is missing the magic that encompasses the Dream Theater albums. Labrie is missing of course and Myung is also absent. Without these members naturally it is far from Dream Theater, and I was underwhelmed overall.

The music dominates over every track and the highlights are definitely the amazing 'Universal Mind', that ends with a circus theme, and the massive epic 'Three Minute Warning' that runs for a whopping 28 minutes.

I enjoyed the weirdness of jazz infestation 'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure' that brought back memories of that strange film, but the awful 'Osmosis' and 'The Stretch' really are filler songs to skip.

I would say that overall, the debut for Liquid Tension Experiment is a curio worth checking out but could have been so much better without all the filler tracks and with more brilliance and less experimentation.
Liquid Tension Experiment were a supergroup put together at the suggestion of the Magna Carta label, who thought it'd be cool to get Mick Portnoy and John Petrucci of Dream Theater together with Tony Levin and Jordan Rudess for some jamming. The end result is an interesting instrumental album which, when it really cooks, is actually pretty fascinating.

To a certain extent you're listening to Jordan Rudess' audition for Dream Theater here, because it was in these sessions that Portnoy and Petrucci decided that Jordan was what that band needed in the keyboardist's spot, but if you set that point of historical interest aside the album is pleasant but can have moments of being a bit unfocused. One of the best songs on the album, in fact, is Freedom of Speech, which dials back the improv and is more orchestrated and ends up being rather magnificent with it. (It's also the song where the fusion influence is perhaps least apparent.) On the flipside, the half hour long improv session of Three Minute Warning might be a fascinating insight into the band's working, but unless you have a lot of patience for fusion-influenced instrumental music your attention is likely to wane at points.

In fact, I used to be a bit more down on this album than I am, but I think I realised why: it's because I was listening to it wearing the wrong set of ears. Due to the strong Dream Theater connection, I was geared up to hope for prog metal, and judged from a metal-oriented perspective there's definitely issues. That said, I found I enjoyed it more if I persuaded myself to see it not as a prog metal album with fusion influence, but a fusion album with a bit more metallic bite than average. So shave off half a star to a whole star if you particularly dislike fusion, or prefer your prog metal to be emphatically prog METAL, but otherwise I think I sold this one a little short.
This all-star band consists of Dream Theater members John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy, with former Dixie Dregs keyboardist (and future DT member) Jordan Rudess, and King Crimson/Peter Gabriel’s Tony Levin holding the low end on bass and Chapman Stick.

When Portnoy was given the invitation to form this supergroup, he could have took the easy way out and produced instrumentals in the vein of Dream Theater’s “Erotomania” or the frantic sections in “Metropolis, Pt. 1”. The passion and spirit carries over for making well-thought out and interesting compositions, but this project is musically quite different from Portnoy’s main band.

It definitely has something to do with the influence of Steve Morse on Petrucci’s playing style as well as Rudess being a former Dreg, but a good portion of this material reminds me of a heavier Dixie Dregs (minus the country/bluegrass elements). Tracks such as “Paradigm Shift”, “Kindred Spirits” and “Universal Mind” have that tight rhythmic groove and soaring leads that much of Morse’s material contains (with the Dregs and solo).

No doubt that Petrucci shreds on this album, but there are some rather memorable moments where his playing either relies on fewer notes but more emphasis on subtlety and melody (“Osmosis”, “Freedom Of Speech”, “State Of Grace”), but even in these moments the band can’t help but show off their chops. However, on the tracks “The Stretch” and “Chris and Kevin’s Excellent Adventure”, the theatrics are minimized slightly as guitar is eliminated from the equation. These tracks serve as effectively punchy interludes to showcase Tony Levin’s abilities, with most of the support coming from Rudess on “The Stretch” and Portnoy in “Adventure”.

Just as things were going along smoothly, we hit the ironically titled “3 Minute Warning”. The liner notes give warning about “extreme self-indulgence”, and that really isn’t that far off. This piece, 28 minutes spread over 5 tracks, is basically an extended jam session. I mustn’t have found it all that worthwhile initially since I didn’t have this part of the album ripped to my computer prior to this review, and while there are a few bright spots, it’s like most jams – hit and miss.

Overall, I’d say LTE is a well-put together instrumental album that should please many fans of progressive rock or metal.
"Liquid Tension Experiment" is the self-titled full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Liquid Tension Experiment. The album was released by Magna Carta in March 1998. Liquid Tension Experiment is an instrumental progressive metal/ fusion project by three members of Dream Theater and bassist Tony Levin (known for his work with among others Peter Gabriel and King Crimson).

The music on the album is intrumental progressive metal/ fusion. All musicians are extremely skilled and we´re treated to technical playing on a very high level. While the tracks feature re-occuring themes, much of the material sound like it was created while jamming. Tony Levin´s use of the chapman stick gives the bass part of the music a rather significant sound, but it´s mostly guitarist John Petrucci and keyboard player Jordan Rudess who leads the show with one blistering solo after another. There´s room for more mellow melodic work too though and the album balances between faster paced progressive metal/ fusion and mellower almost new age sounding sections. Drummer Mike Portnoy is as usual a powerhouse.

While the album is in many ways a both pleasant and solid effort, I generally think it´s too obvious that this is a side-project the members created to have fun. It´s not like the music reflect that they have anything important on heart or that they spent oodles of time writing and discussing how the music should sound. While such a loose approach to writing music works for some, I wouldn´t say I find this particular album a great artistic success. If you think you can enjoy light weight progressive metal/ fusion with a rather carefree approach to writing memorable tunes this might be something for you. For me personally the album passes by without many hooks or memorable moments to hold on to and I´m ultimately left a bit unimpressed with the songwriting and with the sterile sound production too. A 3 star rating is warranted.
Phonebook Eater
If there's something that the side project's debut has is outstanding technique, just like Dream Theater. But at least DT are able to have also catchy melodies and nice moods. This band, or at least this album, was just created to show people how good the musicians are, and how fast they can go. However, "Paradigm Shift" is a great song, with a lot of energy, and the final and epic "Three Minute Warning" has some unbelievable moments, that passes from jazz to heavy prog to avant. But that's all. All the other songs are generally annoying, and easily forgettable, even when they try to have melody. I give this album 2.5 stars only because of the two songs I mentioned.

Members reviews

This would almost be a Dream Theater instrumental release, and a very good one too. However, when it was released, it wasn't so close to DT's sound at the time, but it did give a hint of things to come once Jordan Rudess joined the band (mainly faster and and crazier keyboards than before, and somewhat less atmospheric). I guess this album can be divided in three kind of songs:

The metal proggy songs, which are by far the ones I enjoy the most, being my very favourite one "Paradigm Shift", which would resume what I like best of this album. In this category also fit "Kindred Spirits", "Freedom of Speech", and "Universal Mind".

Then there are the soft and light hearted songs, kind of included to give you a moment of breath after the other frenetic songs. I'm not really particularly fond of this songs, but they are still enjoyable.

And last is the "Three Minute Warning" songs, or song. This ones are mainly a long 30 + min improvisation jam. Now, I'm not really the biggest fan of improvs, mainly becaus it shows they could use a bit more work to polish them, and they hardly ever have strong melodies, and this one is not the exception, but it is still very enjoyable too, and anyone who is really fond of them should really give this one a listen.

I go with 4 stars with this, mainly because I find the metal songs really great, but the rest are just good, but not essential in my book.

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