Transatlantic - The Whirlwind
InsideOut Music
Progressive Rock
Disc 1: 12 songs (77:56) Disc 2: 8 songs (56:30)
Release year: 2009
Transatlantic, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Aleksie
Album of the month
T’was one of the most joyous occasions of the current year when I heard that Neal Morse (formerly Spock’s Beard, currently great solo career), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, seemingly bazillion drumming appearances), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, The Tangent, Swedish prog galore) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion, English prog galore) would be joining forces in studio conditions under their ocean-crossing name once again. After the 8-year wait since Bridge Across Forever, the results displayed on The Whirlwind are nothing short of brilliant.

As is common with prog bands, Transatlantic has assembled a thematically unified package out of the twelve songs included in “The Whirlwind” and as such, I feel a need to avoid the brief song-by-song run-through I usually employ with reviews. Most of all, listening to this record as I did, before reading any deep analysing on the songs from message boards or such, was such great fun that I don’t want to spoil too much. Concerning the structuring, there are no interludes or speech-only songs that would tie up a specific story here, so every song can stand as a lone piece and impress all the same. Musically, the expected similarities with pioneers like Yes and Genesis are surely here, but overall I’d dare say the “proggyness” as one could easily think of it with zany time signature tricks en masse and all is quite subdued.

There’s plenty of the good stuff outside of four/four-time to soothe wank-fanatics like myself, but it’s noteworthy how much the emphasis of the song writing seems to be on the melodies and pop-like elements. Lots of acoustic guitars are happening all over. Elements of old-time favourites like The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield come to mind, mixed in with touches of the kind of psychedelia Pink Floyd is known for. And fear not, because heavy riffing is sparsely added for great effect, especially when it is aided by the occasionally appearing strings. Guitar solos and duelling leads with keyboards aren’t splurged around but used very tastefully. All four members bringing in their vocal work makes for some great harmonies, although I gotta say, I would’ve liked for even more of them. I think Morse and Stolt take care of most of the lead vocals and they sound as good as they ever have in their careers. All this is capped off with an ending track that finalizes the ever-growing epic atmosphere present in awesome, awesome fashion. As random as it may sound, this record has the best finale of the year.

As my version of this release is the special limited extravaganza 2-CD-and-DVD-set, there's more to review. The bonus CD contains four more original tunes and a batch of cover songs. Out of the originals, Spinning is definitely my favourite, starting off as a sunny 60’s pop tune but eventually morphing into a somewhat simple (well, on Transatlantic’s scale of skills anyhow) but great prog jam. The trio of Lenny Johnson, For Such A Time and Lending A Hand is interesting in that I feel every tune is a different kind of tribute to The Beatles, who are surely held in high esteem among the band members. The tracks range from mellow, harmonizing pop to the quirky, psychedelia-infused rambles that recall I Am The Walrus (one of my Beatles-favourites, actually). The nifty covers tackled here are GenesisReturn Of The Giant Hogweed, Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog, a medley of I Need You’s – meaning that they’ve combined the similarly titled tracks by America and The Beatles into one song – and Santana’s Soul Sacrifice. The latter with its groovy jamming and killer guitar work scores the most points from me on the cover-front. Slap in a very pleasing Making Of-DVD into the package, showing the guys through their studio sessions (for example, mercifully for amateur singers like myself, showing that even brilliant vocalists like Morse can go “that’s too high” while jamming), and you’ve got a set that’s can’t-miss material for prog fans.

I can see that listeners wishing for some mind-blowing instrumental ownage could be disappointed by the overall direction on The Whirlwind, but I love it. I can pick up some Liquid Tension Experiment for extreme noodling anytime and go for this record when wanting great songs with very accomplished musicianship. Whether you’re looking for all the goodies of this limited edition or just one great album in the single-disc version (a 2-CD set is also available.../shameless plugs), Transatlantic’s newest offering delivers in style.

Killing Songs :
All of 'em, with my favourites being Overture/Whirlwind, On The Prowl, A Man Can Feel, Out Of The Night, Rose Colored Glasses, Is It Really Happening? & Dancing With Eternal Glory/Whirlwind (Reprise)
Aleksie quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Transatlantic that we have reviewed:
Transatlantic - An Evening with Transatlantic: Whirld Tour 2010 reviewed by Crash and quoted no quote
Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever reviewed by Dom and quoted 92 / 100
1 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:28 am
View and Post comments