TRANSATLANTIC — Bridge Across Forever

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TRANSATLANTIC - Bridge Across Forever cover
4.46 | 22 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2001

Tracklist

1. Duel with the Devil (26:43)
2. Suite Charlotte Pike (14:33)
3. Bridge Across Forever (5:33)
4. Stranger in Your Soul (26:05)

Total Time: 72:54

Bonus Disc:

1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (15:27)
2. Studio Chat (4:50)
3. And I Love Her (7:54)
4. Smoke on the Water (4:21)
5. Dance with the Devil (9:01)
6. Roines Demo Bits (10:18)

Total Time: 51:51

Line-up/Musicians

- Neal Morse / Vocals, Keyboards, Piano, Hammond Organ, Mini Moog, Mandolin, Additional Guitars
- Roine Stolt / Guitars, Vocals, Mellotrons, Percussion, Additional Keyboards
- Pete Trewavas / Bass, Moog Taurus Pedals, Vocals
- Mike Portnoy / Drums, Vocals

with

- Chris Carmichael / Violin, Viola, Cello
- Keith Mears / Saxophone
- The "Elite" choir / Backing Vocals

About this release

Released by InsideOut Music, October 9th, 2001.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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TRANSATLANTIC BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

lukretion
Transatlantic are the dream team of modern progressive rock. Comprised of Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals), Roine Stolt (guitars, vocals) and Pete Trewavas (bass, vocals), the project brings together some of the best musicians from the best bands (Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater, The Flower Kings and Marillion, respectively) of the contemporary prog rock and metal scenes. Supergroups are not always a recipe for success, but in this case the class, expertise and artistic integrity of the four musicians involved is guarantee of quality and genuine musical value. Bridge Across Forever is perhaps not perfect and shows one or two rough edges, but it is nevertheless a great album, far superior to ninety-percent of the prog rock that was released around the same time.

The music “formula” that underlies the album is straightforward: full-blown prog rock extravaganza. This is music that harks back to the golden days of progressive rock and the work of bands like Yes and Genesis, albeit revisited in contemporary fashion and bringing in the metallic bite of prog metal. It can be described as a cross between Spock’s Beard and The Flower Kings, with a slightly more metallic undertone relative to these two bands. The Marillion and Dream Theater influences are instead much less pronounced. The emphasis is on long-form compositions with multiple sections, extended instrumental run-throughs and recurring themes that tie together the different parts of the song and give the listener a reference point to hold on to as they navigate the sprawling compositions. The playing is highly-technical and virtuosic – it could not be otherwise given the calibre of the four musicians involved in the project -, but it never loses sight of melody and accessibility. Whether you are into extended guitar solos, flamboyant keyboard parts, spectacular bass grooves or six-armed drum extravaganza, Bridge Across Forever has it all and it’s guaranteed that you can spend hours dissecting the monstrous performances of the Morse, Portnoy, Stolt and Trewavas.

The vocal department is also strong. A difference between this album and its predecessor, Transatlantic’s debut record SMPTe, is that on this one Morse, Portnoy, Stolt and Trewavas share duties behind the mic. This was a more or less conscious attempt at making Transatlantic sound like a Neal Morse’s solo project, after the debut album, where Morse had a leading role in the vocal parts, had been criticized for its excessive similarity with Morse’s and Spock’s Beard’s output. The alternation between four voices is interesting and freshens things up, although Morse does remain the most accomplished vocalist of the four, followed with some distance by Stolt.

The album is comprised of four songs for a total duration exceeding 70 minutes. Two tracks, the opener “Duel with the Devil” and closer “Stranger in Your Soul” are approximately 26 minutes each, “Suite Charlotte Pike” clocks at 14+ minutes, and the title-track is only a mere 5:33 minute long. “Duel with the Devil” and “Stranger in Your Soul” are the two “prog epics” of the album, where Transatlantic pour all of their creativity and skills and then some more. The two pieces share some common musical themes (the strings section that opens both tracks) and a similarly complex structure, with multiple parts that feed into one another, alternating between furious musical workouts and more atmospheric and mellower sections. Although both songs are great fun to listen to, “Duel with the Devil” is the one where Transatlantic truly reach near-perfection, thanks to a beautiful melodic theme (the chorus “Motherless Children…”) that recurs throughout the song in multiple arrangements (including a sublime choral arrangements near the end), and a balanced structure that does not abuse with too many digressions but is firmly grounded around its central melodic idea. “Stranger in Your Soul” is instead slightly less satisfactory and shows some of the pitfalls of long-form songwriting. It opens strongly with some of the most exhilarating musical passages of the album (“Pt I: Sleeping Wide Awake” and the heavily metallic “Part II: Hanging in the Balance”), but it loses steam afterwards (the dull section “Pt III: Lost and Found pt 2”) and then gets tangled into a messy conclusion, with a faux finale (the orchestral crescendo at the end of “Pt IV: Awakening the Stranger”) and a repetition of quiet/loud sections that goes on for too long.

The other two tracks of the album are less spectacular, but nevertheless enjoyable. The title-track, a simple piece for piano and vocals beautifully sung by Neal Morse, is especially endearing. “Suite Charlotte Pike” is a sort of “glorified blues jam”, where Transatlantic showcase their love for The Beatles and 1960/70s pop rock. It’s fun to listen to, but it lacks the depth and musical nuance of the two epics, which makes its 14+ minutes perhaps a tad unwarranted.

Overall, Bridge Across Forever is a strong album that will surely not disappoint prog rock/metal aficionados. It has everything that the genre is known for: tight musicianship, sprawling compositions, clever songwriting and sophisticated arrangements. Most importantly, it packs four songs that strike a great balance between melodic accessibility and musical complexity, making this a record that is both instantly enjoyable and with great replay value.
siLLy puPPy
When TRANSATLANTIC released its debut album “SMPT:e” in 2000 it was met with wild enthusiasm by both prog traditionalists as well as revivalists and the critics alike but had it not been heralded as one of the greatest prog albums of the second coming, it’s unclear if the team of Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas would have continued. However since the album was a smashing success the band wasted no time crafting a follow up that was worthy in capturing the majesty of the debut without directly copying it. The answer was the sophomore release BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER which quickly followed the very next year.

One of the main criticisms of “SMPT:e” was that it was a bit overly dominated by Neil Morse’s Spock’s Beard compositional style along with his vocal performances so the band made a deliberate attempt to have each member participate on a roughly equal footing thus making BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER a much more diverse stream of music that like its predecessor featured a lengthy playing time of over 70 minutes with two massive sprawling compositions “Duel With The Deveil” and “Stranger Across Your Soul” which both featured multiple suites and clocked in over the 26 minute playing time. Together they sandwiched two shorter tracks with the tiny title track at nearly six minutes long a mere blip in comparison.

While very similar in construct, BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER wasn’t just a mere clone of the debut although it was clear that TRANSATLANTIC didn’t want to stray too far from the goose that had laid that golden egg. While all the expected Yes and Genesis symphonic prog influences were in full affect along with the respective band member’s own projects ranging from Spock’s Beard, Marilion and The Flower Kings (Portnoy’s Dream Theater was the only influence least adopted), the band also experimented with new sounds which included guest musicians that added violin, viola and cello sounds as well as a bit of swinging saxophone and a beautiful backing vocal section referred to as The Elite Choir.

The near 27-minute “Duel With The Devil” begins the album and is arguable the strongest track on board with five fully developed suits stitched together with all the right proggy glue to make the proper sound collage complete with all the symphonic prog pomp and excess that made “SMPT:e” stand out and usher the classic prog sounds of the golden years into a new millennium. While the two massive tracks are very much in vein of the debut, the two shorter tracks sandwiched in between were quite different. Although the 14 1/2 minute “Suite Charlotte Pike” shows a series of evolving concepts and nerdy prog workouts, at its core was a simple blues rock jamming session only embellished with the keyboard heft of Hammond organs, Fender Rhodes and piano.

The track that makes the least impact is the overwrought piano ballad of a title track which serves as an intermission between the heavier rocking tracks and multi-suite epic tracks but in reality is a bit too winy and unfortunately breaks the continuity of the epicness. Personally i could totally live without this one. The final “Stranger In Your Soul” concludes the album in a grandiose way with a six-suite 30-minute performance that goes for the symphonic prog jugular and delivers all the expected prog gymnastics teased out into a series of varying instrumental workouts and lyrical earnestness, once again mimicking the success of the debut’s appeal to the true proggers who just can’t get enough of those ridiculously long suites that in the vinyl years could’ve swallowed up a whole album’s playing time.

For my money BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER is a worthy followup to “SMPT:e” but a serious step down in continuity. Whereas the debut just had a certain flow that was perfectly maintained through its 70 minute plus running time, BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER just feels a bit clumsy in how it meanders from idea to idea without the proper connective tissues to pull it off. The two epic tracks are well worth the price of admission but the two middle tracks are less engaging and could’ve easily been nixed from the final cut. There was also a special edition with a bonus disc that featured everything from non-essential covers including a 15 1/2 minute version of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” as well as studio casts, demos and other non-essential material. When all is said and done, BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER is an excellent followup but for my liking lacks the masterpiece perfection of the debut.
arcane-beautiful
Supergroups can be quite a curse, look at Blind Faith, The Traveling Willbburries, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Chas &Dave (I just wanted to play spot the odd one out).

But I think these guys are the only successful supergroup...ever.

These guys actually take the genius from all 4 contestants and put it to good use, with Neal's amazing songwriting and beautiful key work, Roine's amazing improv guitar, Pete's impressive bass skills and Mike's God like drumming to a complete unison of use.

This album is just perfect in every way, and I would even say it is one of the greatest abums I have ever heard. The first and last song are the main contendors, but the middle songs are just as good.

1. Duel With The Devil - A master composition. The main theme Motherless Children is very beautiful, and put to amazing uses. The instrumental work is flawless, with the middle saxophone melody being my favourite. Just amazing. 10/10

2. Suite Charlotte Pike - Mixing Beatle esque harmonies and melodies with some great improv sections, this song really does not fail one bit. Not a dull moment. 10/10

3. Bridge Across Forever - A beautifull ballad. Not my favourite Neal Morse ballad, but still a worth while composition. 9/10

4. Stranger In Your Soul - Best song on the album, and one of the greatest songs ever made. This song has a special place in my heart, because it encapulates some of my all time favourite memories, one of them was when I was walking home at 11 o'clock at night, with this song blasting in my ears. It was pitch dark, and I could have easily been atacked, butI didn't care, cause I was listening to this song. My brother got me into this song, forcing me to watch the live version of it, and I soon got the DVD, just for that song (the rest are pretty good as well). From the beauty of the string section, to the rocking of Hanging In The Balance, to the beauty and solemn of the middle section, to the epic ending. It's beyond great. 11/10 (Yes, 11, take that up your pipe and smoke it)

CONCLUSION: Perfection, in every way possible.

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