Thursday, February 13, 2014


Transatlantic, the progressive rock "super-group" made up of Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Pete Trewevas (Marillion) is back!

And considering we waited eight years between Bridge Across Forever and 2009’s The Whirlwind, the five years we spent in anticipation of the follow-up to The Whirlwind is somewhat short.

The Whirlwind is a tough act to follow, however-, it was Transatlantic's best effort (in my opinion).

Kaleidoscope does not attempt to follow the single 78 minute epic, rather showcasing shorter pieces, although  two of those “shorter” pieces exceed 25 minutes each.

While this is not a bad offering, it is not as cohesive as its predecessor.

It contains all of the elements you expect from the band- great melodies,strong mucisianship, interesting lyrics, interesting progressions, but the album’s pace is a little uneven (especially track 4, “Beyond The Sun”).

One drawback to Neal Morse being as prolific as he is, is that some of his epic length songs (either here or on his solo albums) are becoming a little predictable, almost formulaic. 

You hear it on the song he wrote for the last Spock’s Beard record, as well as on “World Without End” from his last solo disc, as well as on this album's opener, “Into The Blue.” 

While it still makes for a good listen, it sounds a little too familiar, up to and including the "big finish." 

“Shine” has some nice moments and a killer guitar solo, but-I can't believe I am saying this about a Transatlantic song- is actually a little too long. 

“Black As The Sky” is fresh and driving with a nice instrumental section. 

I mentioned “Beyond the Sun” earlier, and this song might have been better saved for a Neal solo album, as it kind of derails the album’s flow.

The album closes with the 32 minute title track which does not fall as easily in to the formula trap-you can hear echoes of past efforts, but it still manages to be fresh and original- a great epic!

Buy the version with the bonus CD and you get a nice selection of cover tunes, including a version of Yes’ “And You And I” that is a prelude for anyone who attends the Progressive Nation At Sea finale (Jon Anderson backed by the band).

In a nutshell-half of this album is awesome, and half falls a little short of it’s predecessor.

That said, I would still recommend it highly.

Anyone who lives close to one of the rare Transatlantic tour stops should make it a point to see them live.




  1. Still probably better than most of the crap that's out there. Even Beethoven would have begun to sound formulaic and predictable had he lived long enough and arguably one might say the great masters were such. That;s why so many the music of great composers can be easy to identify and categorize if one listens to enough of it. If the formula works why mess with it? But I do know what you're saying.

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    1. It is (better than most) and I hope I did not give the impression I did not like the disc....I felt I needed to say why I did not like it as much as the previous album, and that was why....the "audio-deja-vu."

      I've still had the album in constant play for more than two weeks...

    2. They were in LA Friday before last (El Segundo Performing Arts Center), Lee but I could not manage to get away.

      Another CalProg show-I wish they did more events on Saturday nights for us out-of-town-ers.

  2. Transatlantic is great, but you're right, a lot of prog rock tends to have that been-there, done-that vibe. But still, better than ninety-five percent of the music that's out there.

    1. Alex-one thing I do not like in progressive music is the way they transition between the different passages-usually with the same jarring drum/guitar elements (you hear the same transitions in Transatlantic and Dream Theater-maybe that's the Portnoy influence.

      In some songs it works, but in many it actually takes away.

      But I stand by the genre. While there is always room for a good pop song, the mainstream is far more repetitive than prog will ever be, and any a Dream Theater album (while it usually tests the "hard" edge of my range) has far more to experience that anything that gets Grammy consideration.