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Transatlantic: Kaleidoscope

Four years after The Whirlwind comes Kaleidoscope, the latest from progressive rock super-group Transatlantic. Generally, when Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Roine Stolt, and Pete Trewavas take time away from their other bands & projects and reconvene, we usually can expect some stellar results, and once again that is the case here. With five tracks, two of which clock in at over 25-minutes long, you can expect more bombastic, symphonic prog from these veterans, whose history includes time spent in Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Marillion, Winery Dogs, Adrenaline Mob, Kaipa, and others.

Describing Transatlantic to someone who has never heard the band before usually entails 'imagine a cross between Dream Theater, Fish-era Marillion, Spock's Beard, and The Flower Kings, with a little Yes, Gentle Giant, and Genesis thrown in for good measure', and of course, that's still the case. The styles of all four musicians comes through in each song on Kaleidoscope, from the soaring, symphonic prog opener "Into the Blue", which fluctuates from muscular heaviness punctuated by Stolt's riffs, Portnoy's crashing drums, and Morse's raging Hammond organ, to soothing, Mellotron drenched progressive rock, with Neal's alluring vocals battling Roine's more charming delivery every step of the way. As a lengthy epic, this one works and doesn't disappoint.

The middle part of the CD contains shorter, more direct pieces. "Shine" is a lush, acoustic based number that's all about Morse's soaring melodies, while "Black as the Sky" is a upbeat rocker driven by Portnoy's powerful drumming and some effective lead vocals from Stolt, with Morse & Trewavas providing some expert backing vocals as well. Nice keyboard lines from Neal too, and he weaves some wild lines around Roine's searing lead guitar while Pete's bass rumbles underneath. The acoustic guitars, piano, and pedal steel come out for the emotional, pastoral "Beyond the Sun", complete with another great vocal from Morse.

That brings us to the grand finale, the near 32-minute title track...I mean, come on, when does Transatlantic NOT crank out a near half hour song on their albums? Here, they deliver two! The opening 'Overture' section sees the band throw every Yes/Gentle Giant/Genesis trick (of the tail!) in the book at the listener for a wild, acrobatic instrumental prog tour de force, with guitars a blazing, Mellotrons & Moogs creating waves, and the rhythms super charged. From there we move into the vocal parts of the song, with lyrics about soul searching, as the band takes you through many twists & turns, all of it engaging, especially the 'Ride the Lightning' and 'Desolation Days' parts. Tons of wonderful keyboard tapestries from Morse, and his vocals are top notch on his parts, as well as from Trewavas, Portnoy, & Stolt. Yeah, it's long, but otherwise this epic is a lot of fun.

There you have it-another winner from the guys that call themselves Transatlantic. It's actually kind of nice that the band have managed to keep this thing going, not overstaying their welcome, but popping up every few years and dropping some wonderful, epic symphonic prog in our laps. Let's hope they keep it going for years and years to come.

The special edition comes with a CD full of cover tunes, which we didn't get to review, but looks to be worth seeking out.

Track Listing
1) Into the Blue (25:11)
2) Shine (7:26)
3) Black as the Sky (6:43)
4) Beyond the Sun (4:29)
5) Kaleidoscope (31;53)

Added: February 14th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4706
Language: english

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Transatlantic: Kaleidoscope
Posted by Keith Hannaleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-02-14 06:07:35
My Score:

Progressive rock enthusiasts get to enjoy another epic journey of musical wonders from the talent laden band Transatlantic. The prog rock royalty of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas have done it again on their fourth slice of musical genius with Kaleidoscope.

I know the word epic is overused within this community however there is no other apt word to describe what they have accomplished yet again on this recording.

If you are going to purchase this album make it worth your while and get the special edition with the bonus CD and DVD, you will not be sorry. The "Making Of" is always so much fun to take in. Everything is done at Neal's studio and it shows the listeners how the entire project is constructed from day one. The setting couldn't by any more intimate as it brings you into Neal's kitchen at lunch while the band members discuss the day's events and their ideas for each track. This is a part of the Transatlantic releases I always look forward to. There is plenty to enjoy and laugh about as always so it is a welcome addition.

On to the meat and potatoes now…the opening track "Into The Blue" is a prog rock omnibus encompassing a 5 part suite taking up a lofty 25:11 of the first disc. It is a grand way to open the curtain for this amazing super group. The first part is "Overture (instrumental)" which leads you into "The Dreamer And The Healer" then on to "A New Beginning" to "Written In Your Heart" and finalized with "The Dreamer And The Healer (reprise). Every aspect of this band is here in this suite for your anxious ears to consume. The songs link together like Mother Nature and the food chain while ebbing and flowing like the tides of the oceans. It is all done in true classic prog fashion like their forefathers Yes.

What makes this machine work is their obvious chemistry, the undying love for all progressive music and lastly and most importantly, the multitude of talents every member has to offer. It is an all-inclusive display of those factors. This band's respect for the music and from whence it came is written in their own signature sound. Their star shines so brightly with the first track then again comes out in many colors (indeed like a Kaleidoscope) on the fantastic cover songs on the bonus disc. Everyone gets their opportunity to contribute vocals and instrumentation and it all folds nicely into one whole entity to make Transatlantic a special kind of experience.

I like the fact that Mike is singing more all the time, he has so much energy and personality and his voice just lights up a room. His voice is very distinct and I for one like it. His choice of covering the Procol Harum classic "Conquistador" is well suited to his tone and approach. "Indiscipline (King Crimson cover)" is a superb prog classic done very well. With all of its twists and turns it was tailor made for this band to cover. As to be expected all of the instrumentation is exceptional and I think what makes it even more special for the band is that they really are all friends enjoying the process of creating. It becomes obvious while watching the video footage in the studio and around Neal's home. As a fan and appreciative listener I feel like I became a part of this recording in a different way when I experienced their "process" as they went through it.

Now to close the curtain they do it again with another huge musical mountain climb to the zenith of prog rock with the title track "Kaleidoscope." This one exceeds the first epic coming in at 31:53. Everything sandwiched in between is excellent as well. "Shine" is a deeply touching spiritual track that fits in Neal's back pocket like a well-worn glove. If you look at the titles of the tracks they cover the range of emotions one can have during the course of a day. This music spurs on emotions within and that is the whole point right? They succeed in many ways from where this listener sits. The complexities of the music do not overshadow the human touch on this recording, you can feel the music every step of the way and that is the beauty and simplicity of it. Complex yet simple- complete opposites of the spectrum yet it does work out that way in spite of the differences between the two.

Everything about Transatlantic is unique, inspirational and musically solid. What they offer is musical perfection, prog rock nirvana and the complete musical experience. If you walk away from Kaleidoscope unsatisfied or unfulfilled you had better check the obituaries to make sure you are not listed. The members of this band are the keepers of the flame and the literal heartbeat of prog music today. It is highly recommended that you to listen to what they have to offer.

Transatlantic: Kaleidoscope
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-02-02 12:34:21
My Score:

Basically if you don't know who Transatlantic are, then there's fair chance that you've stumbled onto this site in the hope of finding out more about the ridges and valleys on the moon, rather than the latest recommendations for what's hot in the world of music. So with that premise, let's just say that Kaleidoscope is the fourth studio album from this Progtacular supergroup and that it easily lives up to high expectations. The album is bookended by two long (25 minutes plus) epics which really set out what this quartet are all about; three shorter, less expansive excursions comfortably sitting in between. "Into The Blue" careens into view, riff pounding, keys swirling, bass booming, drums begging for mercy and while you'd expect no less from this outfit, the sheer in-your-faceness of it all is still enough to take the breath away. For many Prog bands, what's contained here would be more than enough to fill three albums, with manic guitar solos, sweat inducing percussive masterclasses and cavorting, controlled keyboard chaos. However sublime and beautiful restraint, melody and hooks are also placed at clever intervals. Roine Stolte, Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy (and possibly Pete Trewavas too) all contribute vocals, creating sublime harmonies and banks of sound, ably taking the solo limelight when the need arises. As an opening salvo, this is incredible; ambitious, stretching, involving, intense and intricate. However possibly the greatest achievement is just how quickly you take it all in and digest what is going, allowing the motifs and melodies to settle, while never becoming over familiar. The very fact that on my first encounter I was more than 22 minutes into this song before I even realised its sheer length illustrates just how engrossing it all is.

The title track closes things out in similar fashion, segueing from idea to idea, revisiting themes and sounds to keep you hooked, while highlighting amazing songwriting skills and superb musicianship. So many Prog touching points are referenced, nodded to, or glanced at, that actually listing them becomes pointless, instead be safe in the knowledge that if Prog from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, or 10s has captivated you, then I'd be shocked if you don't find much of interest in these two tracks. However with a stunning mix and clarity of production, the other thing that stands out is just how current it all sounds.

The shorter tracks are no make weights though, "Shine" neat and accessible on an acoustic framework, reminding of a less glossy, flashy Flying Colors, "Black As The Sky" bulging and pompous on the back of soaring keys and a keen beat that drives the song on at a surprising lick, "Beyond The Sun" a slow and string infused slice of melancholy which tempers the more outlandish outbursts perfectly.

Ambitious as ever, impressive as hoped, memorable as wished for and as much fun as possible, Transatlantic prove once more that some supergroups really can be even greater than the sum of their parts – and in this case, that's really saying something.

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