Liquid Tension Experiment is a collaboration between members of the progressive rock powerhouse Dream Theater (Petrucci and Portnoy), Tony Levin (probably one of the greatest bass players in the world), and keyboard player Jordan Rudess. Now before some of you bother to correct me in saying that Rudess is in Dream Theater, you are correct, however, he wasn’t at the time this album was made.
This album is not for everyone. It is an instrumental album, and the last four tracks (all titled “Three Minute Warning”) is a jam session lasting over twenty minutes. There is even a warning of that on the CD cover. These reasons are enough to scare away most people. That’s a good thing, though. Those people wouldn’t appreciate what a great album Liquid Tension Experiment is. For sure, you’re not likely to hear very many cuts from this album on your run-of-the-mill radio station.
The first song, “Paradigm Shift,” is in my opinion a good representation of what the album is all about— it has a monster riff, odd time signatures, faultless musicianship, and very powerful. Make sure your speakers are set at a reasonable level before this song kicks off. In the opening song, and throughout the whole album, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the band’s musicianship. Each of them is a master player and exhibits command over his instrument.
The album runs from the powerful (“Paradigm Shift”) to the jazzy (“Osmosis”) to the just plain goofy (“Chris And Kevin’s Excellent Adventure”).
Fans of Dream Theater will enjoy this side project, as will fans of Tony Levin, who has worked with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, and just about anyone else you can name, but the album, as excellent as it is, doesn’t have as wide an appeal as albums by anyone mentioned above. Liquid Tension Experiment was intended as an experimental side project (similar to King Crimson’s Projekct series in the ‘90’s), and it accomplishes that goal very well. Liquid Tension Experiment 2 was released in 1999, and the Liquid Tension Trio (without Petrucci) released Spontaneous Combustion in 2006.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who is a Dream Theater or progressive rock fan. Serious musicians may also enjoy this album, as it stretches musical convention.