What happens when you take four guys from popular bands and throw them into the studio together?
Well these guys are certainly making my job easy. This year has been a goldmine of great albums. From Bjørn Lynne to Glass to Thonk. Just one great album after the other. Trying to sort them to come up with the album of the year was a monumental task I wasn’t really looking forward to. Then along comes Transatlantic. This one will definitely be album of the year.
This supergroup, formed by Mike Portnoy on drums (Dream Theatre), Pete Trewavas on bass (Marillion), Neal Morse on keyboards (Spock’s Beard) and Roine Stolt on guitar (The Flower Kings) presents us here with a second effort. Their first album was such a hit it dumbfounded most of the critics when it popped into the German charts at number 66 (how dare they?). Remember they’re not on a major label and don’t dispose of millions of dollars for their publicity. This one is just an incredible effort.
My first surprise came when I popped it into the CD player and realized it had only 4 songs. Yet it clocked in at over 76 minutes. Track 1, Duel with the Devil comes in at 26 minutes and 33 seconds. The second, Suite Charlotte Pike is 13:20. The title track is the short song at 5:01. Finally, Stranger in Your Soul is 25 minutes and 34 seconds long.
Not many bands bother with songs of this length, because most bands don’t have the talent to pull it off. They do.
What’s interesting about these songs, with the exception of the title track, is that they’re all subdivided and tend to cross over one into the other. For example, on Suite Charlotte Pike, there is a section called Lost and Found pt. 1 which is continued on Stranger in Your Soul. The three suites could basically be played straight through as one long song.
The odd song on the album is the title track Bridge Across Forever. It’s the only song on the album which is not a group effort and was written by Neil Morse and… Prince! Although I’ve never liked Prince’s music, I’ve always said he was a genius. His influence is felt here.
An album which begins with violins. A sound that is undatable. This could’ve come out in 1971, 1981, 1991 or now. It fits in every epoch. Classic. Classic rock. Jazz. A huge ending with Stranger in your Soul. The last four minutes are extremely emotional carrying through uncharted territory with the impression of a full orchestra playing.
Let it go on for a minute or so once it’s over for a bonus. A bit of studio jamming complete with comments. For the European version of the album, look for a live version of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond.