Progressive super group Transatlantic is back with their fourth release titled Kaleidoscope. Featuring: Neal Morse formerly with Spock's Beard, Roine Stolt from The Flower Kings, Mike Portnoy formerly from Dream Theater, and Pete Trewavas of Marillion.
With five epic tracks that combine the Classic Prog sound with Neo Prog elements, Kaleidoscope has been mixed in surround sound, and the deluxe box features many extras. The bonus cd includes covers of pieces by the likes of Yes, King Crimson, Elton John, Procol Harum, and Focus, while the dvd features the promotional video of their song Shine, and a making of documentary.
While the Limited Edition Art Book version was sold out even before it was released, I am reviewing it in hopes that Radiant Records will do a second run, or at least offer the surround sound version in a separate package to fans. I received a spectacular full color 36 page book with an awesome cover texturing under which the image changes when viewed from different angles. I wish I could show it to everyone, you have to see it to believe it! This lavish package which I feel fortunate to have received, includes the main disc, bonus disc, Making of DVD, and the most important disc from my perspective, the DVD with a 5.1 mix of the main audio disc in both DTS and Dolby Digital.
The overall mix is very good, and includes a few sweet moves across the sound stage that accentuate the piece. As one would expect, the bass and drums are up front, with the lead vocals placed in the center channel. Synths are spread everywhere, and fill the backs as the opening track “Into the Blue” begins. As one of two epic pieces on the album, Into the Blue takes the listener on a journey crossing literally all sub genres in the Progressive Rock world. It is easy to hear similarities to Yes and Genesis, tucked in with metal and neo-prog elements.
The acoustic guitar falls from the center channel with responses by second guitars in both the left and right front channels as the song Shine opens. As the song builds synths are added from the rear with soaring guitar solos penetrating the entire space.
If I had been at the controls, I would have pulled back on the snare drum a bit, and find the kick has too much slap and lacks the oomph at the bottom. To that end, the overall quality of the mix tends to lean toward the mid-range, losing the deep lows that audiophiles would expect from a surround release. On the other hand it is not overly bright and offers good dynamics. Putting these personal preferences aside, the music on the entire 1 hour 15 minute disc is excellent accessible progressive rock.
Both Shine and Beyond the Sun make evident Morse’s spiritual leanings, albeit without any preaching, and very inclusive of all theologies. The closing title track clocks in over 30 minutes of intense playing which validates why Transatlantic is an award winning progressive rock super group.
A digipak version which includes the surround mix is now available and certainly a worthy addition to any progressive rock fans collection. Even more so is the inclusion of a bonus disk on most of the versions available. With nearly 50 minutes of music, the bonus disc includes covers of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John), And You and I (Yes), Indiscipline (King Crimson), and Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues), among several others.
For me there is nothing special about the documentary, and the promotional video of Shine only includes a stereo audio track. There is also a double green vinyl version available, and downloadable AIFF files all at the Radiant Records website.
CD1: Main Disc - 5 tracks: Into the Blue (25:11), Shine (7:26), Black as the Sky (6:43), Beyond the Sun (4:29), Kaleidoscope (31:53)
Total Time: 75:43
CD2: Bonus Disc 8 tracks: And You And I (Yes), Can't Get It Out Of My Head (ELO), Conquistador (Procol Harum), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John), Tin Soldier (Small Faces), Sylvia (Focus), Indiscipline (King Crimson), Nights In White Satin (The Moody Blues)
Total Time: 40:59
Making of KaleidoscopeNTSC-0( 1hr 26 min)
"Shine" Promo Video (7:28)
Prog Awards Footage (5:57)
DVD 2: 5.1 mix of the whole Kaleidoscope album.
Region Code DVD: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Screen: 16:9 NTSC (PAL compatible)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, DTS 5.1 mix
2 Audio CD's and 2 DVD discs. Also available on vinyl and as downloadable AIFF files.
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