I feel that I should be typing in hushed tones of reverence. Mr. Rudess garners enormous respect and some might consider him a Rock God. Mr. Minnemann is actually the God of Drums and Mr. Levin is actually God. There’s this – and there’s the fact that they are now a high-powered legal firm.
Despite LMR being Gods and Lawyers, LMR more closely resembled people. The similarity to traditional Gods, say, the Greek Gods, of which there were many, is purely a device I am using to fill up the page. The actual Greek Gods did some mean shit to people and to each other. Pretty spiteful stuff. Levin, Minnemann and Rudess only ever do nice things that make the World a better place.
This is why you should not sue me.
I keep hearing that the World of Progressive Rock Gods is exceptionally incestuous. [EDITOR: WOAH there!!!! I’m not sure we can suggest that LMR practice incest as well as Law, Phil. They really might sue us!]. Tony Levin – famous for being a wonderful session musician, Peter Gabriel’s bassist, King Crimson alumni and arguably the most influential Stickist in the Universe – and Jordan Rudess of Dream Theatre were both in Liquid Tension Experiment. Marco Minnemann auditioned for Dream Theatre. Jordan Rudess played on a Steven Wilson solo album. Steven Wilson was in Porcupine Tree with Gavin Harrison. Gavin Harrison is in King Crimson, and so is Tony Levin. You can’t even think “Steven Wilson” without thinking “Marco Minnemann” – he’s done several albums and tours with Mr. Wilson. I think we all know this but we’d be surprised to see just how small the Progressive Rock Family Tree is. You see, I am using “family tree” in the figurative sense. I don’t think these people are actually related. In fact, I’m pretty sure they are NOT related. I’m not implying that hidden in the barn on the Prog farm are actual big-eared, buck teethed, amazingly talented but stumpy children playing nursery rhymes arranged in 9/8 on Jews Harp and Banjos in a Deliverance stylee. I would never employ such potentially offensive words to get a cheap laugh in an album review.
Please don’t sue me.
It is a blessing that these guys are so accomplished. All of them are hailed as pinnacles of talent with their chosen instrument. Not only that, they all play other instruments too. Marco plays guitar, Tony famously plays bass and Chapman Stick and upright bass but less famously guitar and Cello. Jordan plays some really experimental instruments. I don’t need to heap praise on them (or even like them – though I do). They don’t need anyone to like them. Whatever I say is irrelevant here so please don’t sue me. I am convinced that they did this album because they wanted to. They already did one album, they must, therefore, be having a blast together. If we like it then that’s just a bonus. They can keep up with each other as well. Their brains work on another level. Probably two other levels. Perhaps more. I doubt they even need to sell copy-1 of this album and they are clearly having a laugh. For example, how many times have you seen a supergroup of names and thought it sounded like a law firm? I’m pretty sure that Emerson Lake and Palmer once represented me in court when I was accused of something that I’m not allowed to talk about. This means that you have something in common with these gentlemen. They have taken that supergroups-as-law-firms a stage further and used it as a theme when naming their album and many of these 17 tracks that appear before us. I would have said “appear before a jury of their peers” but I think LMR is pretty peerless. They also like bad plays on words. Allegedly. I mean; Habeas Porpoise? I bet this was that cheeky chappie, Marco Minnemann – though I am pretty sure Tony Levin has a similar sense of humour. He once did a track that was either about soup or super-colliders. I think that my kids would call that a “Dad joke”.
It is important that I am not sued.
The question is: “What can you expect from these prodigious proggers?”
The answer is: “All of the things.”
There’s stuff that reminds me of TV theme music by Mike Post. It could have been written for the forthcoming Stephen J. Cannell series: “Strong Independent Female Lawyer” (my affectionate name for the track Shiloh’s Cat) and there’s a Danny Elfman on bad acid track in the aforementioned Habeas Porpoise. I wasn’t so keen on that one to be honest. There’s something that reminds me of music from Bungee’s original X-Box game, Halo – all orchestral and bombastic – and in contrast I though I caught a hint of stuff that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early 8-bit games console. There’s even stuff bordering on Dub-Step. There are some pretty jazzy bits (Marseille). There’s some haunting and pretty stuff squirrelled away as well (Balloon). You will even hear tracks with time signatures that make sense. You might even be able to tap your foot along with them. There’s guitar-led stuff, there’s keyboard-led stuff. There are tracks that have pretty regular time signatures. Honest. There tracks with hard to follow time signatures. There are time signatures in there that break physics. They also have some sampled whistling and an uncredited appearance of a choir of Clangers singing on the track Witness (I mean the Oliver Postgate kind of Clanger – non-UK readers might need to Google that). I think that only these three could probably keep up with each other on many of these songs. On this, their second album together, following on from their eponymous debut from 2013, I can imagine Marco grinning from ear to ear whilst Jordan pivots his massive organ like a musical pole dancer and Tony does that swaying thing that he does.
I could really do with not being sued.
There is a but. It isn’t easy listening. I spent a lot longer trying to familiarize myself with this than any album I’ve reviewed to date. Some of it is exceptionally complex. At times I found myself skipping a track or even turning it off because it was actually a little overwhelming. But it is in no way dull! Barely a track carries on the way it starts. There are just unexpected turns around every corner. Yes, I found it hard to listen to this album all in one go. Despite that, there’s still the odd ear-worm. The opening track is extremely riffy and the whistly bit will drive you nuts if you let it.
Would I buy this? Hell yes! All jokes aside, there’s now a court order that says I must.
This may be a way that I can avoid being sued.
[This album review is meant for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Some assembly may be required. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Do not read while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Apply only to affected area. Review may be too intense for some readers. For recreational use only. If condition persists, consult your physician. No user-serviceable parts inside. Do not look directly at the Sun, this review is subject to change without notice. Please remain seated until the review has come to a complete stop. Reading this review constitutes acceptance of an agreement not to sue the author. Article is provided “as is” without any warranties. All rights reserved. This is an equal opportunities review. Store this review in a cool place (The Progressive Aspect – 😉 ). We will not settle out of court for a million pounds if you are an idiot and take offence at any of this and then sue us. Slippery when wet. No musicians were harmed in the production of this review. Only sustainable sub-nuclear particles were used. Keep cool; process promptly. The material on this page may be offensive to children, the overly religious, individuals, liberals, conservatives, socialists, fascists (actually, fuck the fascists), theists, agnostics, atheists, insomniacs, narcoleptics and all people who eat food. Studies have shown reading this far down in the review causes cancer in laboratory mice. Do not remove this disclaimer under penalty of law. Do not feed the animals. Do not pass Go! Do not collect £100.00. Batteries not included.
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01. Back to the Machine (4:18)
02. Ready, Set, Sue (3:31)
03. Riff Splat (5:53)
04. What is the Meaning (4:20)
05. Marseille (4:18)
06. Good Day Nearway (3:31)
07. Witness (5:03)
08. Balloon (3:00)
09. When the Gavel Falls (4:08)
10. The Verdict (4:29)
11. Free Radicals (1:34)
12. Magistrate (3:39)
13. Shiloh’s Cat (4:33)
14. The Fort (5:10)
15. Testimony (3:20)
16. Habeas Porpoise (4:01)
17. The Fort (ver 2xb 71) (5:03)
Total Time – 69:51
Tony Levin – Bass, Chapman Stick & Cello
Marco Minnemann – Drums & Guitar
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards, GeoShred, Seaboard & Wizardly Noises
Record Label: Lazy Bones Recordings
Produced by: Scott Schorr and LMR
Year of Release: 2016