Levin Minnemann Rudess is one of those albums that you almost have to buy on merit alone. Named simply after the last names of the three musicians involved (Tony Levin, Marco Minnemann, Jordan Rudess), the album is a fantastic display of the musical potential that comes when three talented musicians put their heads together. All have carved their own legacy into the prog rock world through bands and projects such as Dream Theater, the Liquid Tension Experiment, The Aristocrats, and so on, and the outcome of Levin Minnemann Rudess is just what you’d expect—mind blowing.
The album, by nature, is prog rock at its core. Although I half expected it to consist of an hour of distortion filled guitar leads with Dream Theater like synth solos, I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the many different genres incorporated into each piece. While some tracks include your typical “race to the finish” of technical prowess, others come out as much more organic, and the use of different textures and musical styles plays an important role.
One minute you’re listening to a jazzy acoustic piano piece, serenity taking over as you stare off into the peaceful night sky, and the next you’re thrown into a power techno rave setting with an over caffeinated DJ at the wheel. The track “Mew,” for example, seems to take on a life of its own, evolving sounds and styles over an eight minute span, all the while telling a fascinating story and keeping the listener engaged at every turn.
One thing I was particularly impressed with was the ability of each musician to leave a vast amount of open space for their fellow artist to grab onto and play around with. It’s almost as if this wer a live studio album where everyone was just playing off each other and feeling the environment, while keeping reoccurring themes present in every track. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed was their use of timing. In particular, the track “Orbiter” has a very loose sense of time to it and gives a sensation of suspension, leaving your feet searching for the floor at what you think to be the end of each phrase. Then there’s “The Twitch,” with its bouncing of meters, never leaving a clear indicator of where the song is heading, but instead feeling like a rollercoaster of unique themes and textures, summing up its name clearly.
Overall the album is everything you’d expect from the minds of these three prog wizards, and then some. It’s an album where, upon starting, you know exactly how good each of the three writers are, yet it’s still awe-inspiring and unexpected how well it turned out. It’s great to hear each one of them show off their chops and go crazy for a solo or twelve, but the real power of this album is in the design and thought they gave to each piece.
You can purchase a CD or DVD here.
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