Once again, thanks to the kindness of Scott Schorr, the producer of the album, I was able to listen to the new LMR record. This review was written only after one full listening and, as I’m more of a Jordan Rudess specialist, my analysis will focus more on Jordan’s playing. Before starting the track by track review, I would say that if you really liked Rudess Morgenstein Project, Rudess’s solo albums (especially Rhythm of Time) or Liquid Tension Experiment, just go buy this album on http://www.lazybones.com/buy-stuff or on Pledge Music : http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lmr
- Back to the Machine : The record opens on a track built around one big riff that is really effective like an earworm. We can feel directly that Rudess wants to emancipate from DT and wants to fell the void left by the absence of John Petrucci. Minnemann’s drumming is really smooth and natural as far as Tony is concerned, I do regret he is not that audible in the mix. Rudess found his Train of Thought lead back. By the way, he won’t use that much his Zendrix lead (you know, the lead he uses when he plays with his keytar) and seriously that’s good news for our ears. Another good point is the use of a 70s organ like sound which is different from the Hammond organ that Jordan used for the Astonishing. He will use that 70s organ for a « Blind Faith like » solo.
- Ready Set Sue : A lively track which reminded me of Insectsamongus from Jordan’s Rhythm of Time as the sounds are just crazy. You can hear more Tony but what dominates the song is Jordan’s app : Geo-shred (an iPad app created by Jordan himself). There is a beautiful solo lead like in Liquid Tension Experiment and a rhythmical part like in Acid Rain.
- Riff Splat : the title is well chosen as the riff just splats like an egg (I know strange comparison). Tony is the leader here with a riff that varies infinitely. Rudess uses his piano sounds in a very peculiar way by mixing it with strange effects : we can feel that Jordan experimented a lot more than the usual. It’s a very experimental track and sometimes it feels like an guided jam.
- What is the Meaning : once again the title is well chosen: what are the meanings of these strange sounds: a lot of experimentation from Rudess who seems to cross the border of electronic music (don’t worry it’s not Skrillex). Once again, the track is very much like Rudess Morgenstein Project or Insectsamongus. We can feel the influence of GeoShred or sampling which is really unusual from Rudess. Rudess’s solo is really nice and is not about overwhelming arpeggios.
- Marseille: Why Marseille? Because of the beautiful city? Because of Netflix series? Because of Korg’s synth? Anyway,the intro is very much like the intro of Goodnight Kiss. Once again we are really far from the over produced leads and from sounds that seem « unmastered ». We can notice a few classical influences. Tony’s parts are awesome but as I was listening to the album on SoundCloud with a computer, I could not hear them very clearly (no doubt that with the CD album and headphones, the quality will be much better).
- Good Day Hearsay : As the song is heavy, the Zendrix lead is back. But after three or four seconds, Rudess Morgenstein Project is back too. Then comes a Moog like lead. It’s a fast song which is once again reminiscent from Insectsamongus. We can feel that the rise of touch screen controllers like the iPad or the Seabord influenced a lot Jordan’s playing as he uses all the capacities to create rarely heard effects. The end is very much like Screaming Head from Rhythm of Time.
- Witness: the song should have been called: whistles as it is based on whistling. It’s like a proggy Hey Ho Hey Ho. You might expect to hear Jon Anderson as it is really like a Yes song (pun intended).
- Balloon : we are hear in the softer part of the album. It’s a 70s ballad with the riff of the beginning which is like the intro of A Saviour in the Square.
- When the Gavel Falls: so between the Astonishing and this album, the piano sounds are gorgeous in Rudess’s world. Once again the track is like a track from RMP with a piano layered with pads. Minnemann takes the lead with a kind of a solo backed with a heavy riff from Rudess. It’s like a musical roller coaster. The track ends with a lead with a fade out which lets Minnemann finishing the track.
- The Verdict : There is a Kashmir-like riff with Emerson-like sounds. There is a big work on samples, a bit like in Zoolook from Jean Michel Jarre: here the voices are part of the rhythm. Needless to say that Jordan worked a lot on the voice/choir sounds and you can feel it in this very track. It is epic and the end is very confusing as there are a lot of effects and strange sounds.
- Free Radicals: the beginning reminded me of Pictures at an Exhibition with a guitar. It’s a short song and serves as an introduction for the next one. A lot of classical influences like a fugue.
- Magistrate : a track that goes crescendo with a Steve Hackett like guitar and a big shred from Rudess (it’s rare on this album).
- Shiloh’s Cat : once again, there’s a big work on the piano sound. The track is slower and includes a big saxophone part played on the Seabord. It reminded me of It’s a Mystery by Jordan Rudess with the end a la Owner of a Lonely Heart.
- The Tort : it starts with a strange riff. Tony is extremely present and brings some groove to a darker track (we are not far from Porcupine Tree sometimes). It’s a bit like Chewbacca from Liquid Tension Experiment: a sort of random jam.
Understandably, this is a record for fans of Jordan Rudess but those who think that Jordan can only play big shredding soli will be surprised. The record is diverse enough with a good amount of craziness. I was disappointed by Rudess’s solo or side projects after the amazing Rhythm of Time but I need to admit that he found a great and pleasant playground with Levin Minnemann Rudess. Will it pass the test of time? I’m not sure: the album is better than the first one but is too reminiscent of classics like Rudess Morgenstein Project and Rhythm of Time. Well, I wouldn’t mind hearing it live 😉
Thanks again Scott Schorr you just rocked
Review written by « The Keyboard Wizard ».