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Rudess, Jordan: Rhythm of Time

The latest solo album from Dream Theater keyboard ace Jordan Rudess is much of what you would expect from the virtuoso. Eight aggressive tracks littered with explosive keyboard soloing, bombastic drum work from Rod Morgenstein, solid bass grooves from Dave LaRue, and guest guitar performances from Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, and Greg Howe, plus Kip Winger adds vocals on two cuts. Shred fest you say...well, yes, and so much more!

Tunes like "Screaming Head" and "Time Crunch" are manic barn-burners of keyboard frenzy, as Rudess shows off his admirable chops with a wide array of sounds and textures. If you are expecting to hear some of what he displays on Dream Theater or Liquid Tension Experiment albums, then these first two cuts will be right up your alley. What might be more palatable to those with slightly sensitive tastes is the Zappa-meets-Dream Theater of "Insectsamongus", a fun track that has as much jazz to it as it does prog-metal. A nice fusion feel, thanks to the guest guitarists, can be heard on "What Four" (featuring a ripping Morse solo) and "Bar Hopping With Mr. Picky."

The vocal tracks with Kip Winger, "Beyond Tomorrow" and "Tear Before the Rain" are fairly mellow and moody numbers, not what you would expect to hear on a Jordan Rudess solo album,with Rudess supplying piano to Winger's heart-tugging meanderings. Hopefully he is not going to move in a direction like former Dream Theater Kevin Moore did with his Chroma Key project.

All in all, an ejoyable effort, perhaps not as strong as Rudess' previous outing Feeding The Wheel, but solid nontheless.

Track Listing
1) Time Crunch (6:26)
2) Screaming Head (7:25)
3) Insectamongus (9:31)
4) Beyond Tomorrow (9:55)
5) Bar Hopping With Mr. Picky (4:36)
6) What Four (6:50)
7) Ra (7:53)
8) Tear Before the Rain (6:39)
Total Time: 59:16

Added: November 20th 2004
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Rudess, Jordan: Rhythm of Time
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-20 13:48:29
My Score:

Please excuse me if I seem a little schizophrenic during the review. Every now and then you get a CD that has all the elements but leaves you questioning it. Jordan Rudess' new solo CD Rhythm Of Time is exactly that. The current keyboard player for Dream Theater has taken time to create a solo album. With the current schedule of DT, that is the first remarkable thing.

Then Mr. Rudess got an all-star cast to help. Joe Satriani, Kip Winger, Steve Morse, Greg Howe are just a few of the guest musicians. So with much anticipation I opened the CD and popped it in.

The CD opened as expected, a keyboard frenzy that bordered on wanking but propelled nicely and rhythmically along, leaving plenty of places for the layers of keyboards one would expect. I have never heard a solo CD by a dominant instrument player that didn't open with some sort of over-grandeur. But by track 3 I started to think that maybe this was nothing but a showcase for the excellent, but over done, soloing of both Rudess and his guitarists (most notably Satriani).

But then we hit the masterpiece of this CD. "Beyond tomorrow" and "Bar Hopping with Mr. Picky" save this CD. They are based on unique song writing. From Jazz beats to minor vocals, to diverse but intertwined themes that repeat at the unexpected times, this is quality that will make me spin this CD over and over.

And thus I am left with this dichotomy of feelings. These two songs show what Rudess is capable of, and we leave these and go back to the same. "Ra" is a little better, but really just a showcase and not necessarily a true song.

The CD surprisingly ends with a ballad that Jordan sings on himself. Although a nice ballad with excellent piano, I am left wanting one or more extra themes that intersect, instead of the straight ahead piano, singer style. It is a good song that doesn't fit with the rest of the CD.

So am I recommending this CD? In an interview for his latest book, Thomas Wolf said that a writer must first and foremost entertain. After that, he can try and do other things, but he must first entertain. I find that Jordan Rudess (and his guests) decided that in many cases they would show his audience something. Not worrying about the pure joy of the song as much as the amazing way they played it.

I can only judge this CD by how often in the future it will find its way to my CD player. The 2 song masterpiece will get played when I have an itch for amazing instrumentation with heart. But overall, this is a CD that just misses when it comes to entertaining.


Rudess, Jordan: Rhythm of Time
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-08-25 07:44:20
My Score:

Keyboard player Jordan Rudess had to face reality: If he was to write and record his latest solo album before heading out on Dream Theater's 2004 world tour, he would have to seclude himself and focus on nothing but his music. Which is exactly what he did in November 2003. For 14 days.

The result is the explosive and aptly titled Rhythm of Time, which anxiously opens with a song called "Time Crunch." There's enough flashy playing here although not as flashy as projects by ex-Dream Theater keys man Derek Sherinian to convince even ardent naysayers that the members of Dream Theater should put Rudess and his skills to more effective use. But Rudess didn't make this music alone. During his self-imposed exile, he still managed to make contact with guitarists Joe Satriani, Steve Morse, Greg Howe and Vinnie Moore, who all contributed solos that they recorded in their home studios. Meanwhile, bassist Dave Larue and drummer Rod Morgenstein provided the heavy bottom end, and Morgenstein's old bandmate, Kip Winger(!), was even recruited to record understated vocals for the meandering ballads "Beyond Tomorrow" and "Tear Before the Rain" Rhythm of Time's only non-instrumental tracks. (An enhanced element features the same songs sung by Rudess.)

Most of the instrumentals are fancifully intense, with the rhythmic "What Four" and the atmospheric "Ra" (which could be the soundtrack to an action film) standing out as exceptional. "Insectamongus" and "Bar Hopping With Mr. Picky" sound as quirky as their titles indicate, and on "Screaming Head," Rudess makes his gear, uh, scream.

Thanks to its consistent quality, you can add Rhythm of Time to the expanding list of recent high-caliber projects by Dream Theater members.





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