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Transatlantic: The Absolute Universe
Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe - The Breath Of Life - Abridged Version Album Art

Transatlantic: The Breath Of Life

Melodic Progressive Rock
Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe - Forevermore - Extended Version Album Art

Transatlantic: Forevermore

Melodic Progressive Rock

Preface: What follows first is some history about and explanation of the latest Transatlantic project, The Absolute Universe. After which I make some brief comments about the musical content. Or you can skip the introduction and go straight to my comments. If you don't want to read this lengthy, perhaps boring, treatise, the simple summary is: The Absolute Universe in its two forms is terrific progressive rock. Buy it. (Emphasis made in the following remarks are mine alone.)

So, it's been seven years since Transatlantic, the multi-national progressive rock band, has dropped a new studio album. That's a long time. But cut them a break: Neal Morse (keyboards, guitar vocals), Roine Stolt (guitar, vocals), Pete Trewavas (bass, vocals) and Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) have been busy (and prolific) musicians with their own bands and additional projects. But the foursome regathered in Sweden in 2019 to plot a new Transatlantic double album. Instead, early on, they agreed on a single (CD) album. Then they all went back to their studios to record their various parts. That's when things went a different way or perhaps got out of hand.

Transatlantic - Click For Larger Image


Stolt remarks: "What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding. Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one. But we were already recording, and it didn't seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn't want to lose. That's when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward."

Trewavas suggested the double album once more with the second disc simply a shorter version of the main one. But then Transatlantic to took a whole new and different approach to the double album concept.

Drummer Portnoy explains: "I came up the notion of doing both the two CD and single CD versions of the album in this very unusual way. What I proposed was to make each of these editions different. We had further discussions about this possibility, and eventually decided to go down that route".

Enter the pandemic.

Portnoy continues: "By that time, we were facing the pandemic, so the extra writing for the single CD had to be done remotely. But that wasn't a problem for us. We're experienced enough to make this work."

What is happening with the new album? The double CD, the "extended" version, is called Forevermore; the "abridged" or single "singles" CD, The Breath Of Life. Both arrive under the overarching title The Absolute Universe. It's a concept album, "One giant composition, split in to chapters," notes keyboard player Neal Morse. With "the story line ... about the struggles facing everyone in society today."

To deepen your understanding of the two recordings, Portnoy adds, "The single CD is not an edited version of the double CD. They're new recordings. What we have done are different approaches to the songs for this! We wrote fresh lyrics and also have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you'll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different. Nobody has done this before."

Read more about The Absolute Universe in the InsideOut Music promotional one-sheet, composed by Malcom Dome.

Now for some brief, very subjective, final thoughts on the The Absolute Universe. I love Transatlantic and the four talented musicians who create the music. The music within The Absolute Universe traverses the breadth and depth of classic melodic progressive rock: from moments that are smooth and soothe to the rambunctious that rock, from sublime individual instrumentation to the collaboration of four musicians for intrigue virtuosity. This is truly classic melodic progressive rock.

But, brace yourself. Between three CDs, The Absolute Universe is a lengthy listen: nearly two and a half hours of music. But we're in the middle of a pandemic. What else do you have to do: simply relax and enjoy. Some will call it musical verbosity; the punters, prog wonkery; and the more enlightened, simple creative genius. The Absolute Universe is all three and more. It's simply grand and entertaining stuff. Some song mentions. Across The Absolute Universe, with Forevermore, I appreciated the expansiveness and intrigue of Overture, The World We Used To Know, and especially Love Made Away, an epic and soaring, very Translantic, prog anthem. Other favorites were Take Now My Soul, Solitude, and The Greatest Story Never Ends with their contrasts and variations in composition and expression.

With so much said, Transatlantic's The Absolute Universe is simply superb classic melodic progressive rock, both enormous and entertaining in it's creativity and scope. Quite recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

Note: All Amazon advertising in this review first benefits the artist, then Craig Hartranft also receives a residual. Click, and thanks for your support.

The Bottom Line

Transatlantic's The Absolute Universe is simply superb classic melodic progressive rock, both enormous and entertaining in it's creativity and scope. Quite recommended.

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