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Liquid Trio Experiment: Spontaneous Combustion
Progressive Rock/Jazz/Fusion
Rating: 5.0/5.0

Liquid Trio Experiment is actually Liquid Tension Experiment sans one member, namely John Petrucci. This was not by design for his wife went into premature labor and he had to leave. This was in October of 1998. Misters Tony Levin (acclaimed American bassist), Mike Portney, and Jordan Rudess (both Dream Theater) chose to continue on and play. As Portney says 'we just were enjoying the free spirit of jamming and improvisation...never discussing any preconceived ideas, riffs or direction...but simply "diving in without a safety net" and going wherever the music took us. Several songs did find their home on LTE2 and for two songs 'Chewbacca' and 'Liquid Dreams,' Petrucci added his guitar. The rest of the songs are here, in a rarely found raw form.

Those familiar with Dream Theater should not listen for that style here. This is essentially improvisational progressive rock more akin to a jazz-rock fusion. (In some moments it reminds me of Brand X if Frank Zappa was invited to sit in). If you are even less familiar with this style or free-form jazz in general, you'll probably hate this album. It's imaginative, quirky, creative, intelligent, spontaneous and so ripe with a happy strangeness that it can only make you smile. And so, there are great moments of brilliance on this work.

'Jazz Odsessy' is one of those moments. The song is driven by Rudess' crisp piano and undergirded by Levin's subtle bass. On 'The Rubberband Man' and his 'Return,' the trio proves to be wholly creative and genuinely elusive in style. Another great moment is 'Holes,'an upbeat number that has a little more rock in it's fusion than most numbers. For in lesson in what you can really do with a bass guitar, you must listen to 'Tony's Nightmare.' Levin is simply of the best of the best.

I only hit a few highlights here. There is more great stuff on this album. If you ever wondered what great musicians, and some who play metal, do on their down time, then 'Spontaneous Combustion' explains alot. Yet, on other hand, some never willingly drift too far from their comfort zones. Some listeners never do either. I would encourage you to do so. I believe you will pleasantly surprised. Recommended!
  - Craig Hartranft


In Short

Peculiar and pleasing, 'Spontaneous Combustion' is a one of a kind work for those whose musical interests are not confined to a single genre or a narrow mind.

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