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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jordan Rudess

Rhythm of Time

Review by Josh Turner

Jordan Rudess is a virtual virtuoso. His must be an android based on the way that he plays. His fingers are animatronics that are, quick, precise, and measured. For a keyboardist's solo project and something that is purely instrumental, Rhythm of Time is snappy, catchy, and laden with hooks. The album features several legendary musicians. First, there are his pals from the Dixie Dregs: Rod Morgenstein, Steve Morse, and David LaRue. If that is not enough, Joe Satriani, Kip Winger, Vinnie Moore, and Greg Howe also contribute to the disc. The name of the album suits it well. It is chock full of rhythm. Spending time with these songs is pure bliss.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Time Crunch
This really drives with the pedal to the metal. It is night, and there are open roads ahead in the driver's seat of a modern muscle car. It sounds a lot like Derek Sherinian's Black Utopia. The keyboards articulate all kinds of sounds from synths to sound effects. Hitting the demo button on this new model never sounded so good.
Screaming Head
This song is spacey and carries a smirk. It has an evil streak, sort of like the devil sitting on one's shoulder telling them to perform very bad acts. After making a deal, everything seems to be going good. Then again, there is always a price for quick fixes and immediate fortune. This song has tremendous transitions and succulent surprises lurking around the corners. In some spots, the music drops into a fast freefall and then rises at an accelerated rate. This is a great song, one of the highlights of the album. It is how an instrumental should be done. It is no wonder why Dream Theater, the cream of the crop when it comes to technical proficiency, so eagerly wanted this keyboardist in their line-up.
Insectamongus
This starts off as a whacked-out Swedish Carnival in the vein of Flying Food Circus. The interesting part is that the percussion parts typically played by Hasse Bruniusson are played instead on a keyboard. In some parts, his technique mimics that of Tomas Bodin's. Jordan proceeds to flip-flop between this style and something that is more along the lines of Liquid Tension Experiment. Portions even go on to sound like big band and swing music. There is even a haunted house sequence that transitions into something that is somewhat extraterrestrial. This is the most varied piece, hitting all sides of the spectrum.
Beyond Tomorrow
This is a lone walk on the beach pondering life's daily affirmations. It is unexpected, but there are vocals on this track. This is a simple ballad with a stylish melody. Jordan adds some nimble notes. These details give the piece its sparkle. It is very accessible and appealing, much different from the other pieces on the album, which gives it added attraction. It is also the longest track on the album at approximately ten minutes.
Bar Hopping With Mr. Picky
The song is more laid back than the others are and features more drums. Jordan adds a keyboard that sweeps. It becomes playful in the second half. It is sort of like bar hopping. They go looking for the right spot. When they find one with the right kind of atmosphere, he and his friends slam a few shots with the bartender. When things get a little too hazy, the pack goes out for some late night grub. It is a last-minute party when nothing else is planned, but staying in does not feel like the thing to do.
What Four
It all starts out in joy and laughter. However, it becomes a spooky piece reminiscent of the Phantom of the Opera. Some strange man is lurking in the shadows. When he makes himself known, he comes forth in disguise. He torments anyone who visits his shrine. Towards the end of the song, he is all fury and hatred.
Ra
This reminds me of some of the Egyptian parts in Scenes from a Memory. These kinds of riffs completely dominate the song. He creates some cool sounds. The compositions are very clever, and the different sections blend well together with plenty of innovative hooks. It is fascinating when Rudess breaks away with his keyboard set to impersonate a piano.
Tear Before The Rain
It starts slow and atmospheric. This is peaceful and serene like a station hovering in space. This becomes another ballad with vocals. Songs such as these give the album great balance. Jordan gives us energy in some of the other pieces - he gives us passion here. The piece has a lot of emotion and is sung with sophistication. I could see this track being played in a nightclub or during a wedding reception. It is a classy cut, and the only one with a harmony section. Jordan has put out his best solo album. This song is a great representative to the kind of talent and thought Jordan puts into his music. It is a strong finish and easily my favorite number on the album.
 
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