Morse, Portnoy, Stolt, Trewavas talk The Absolute Universe
11 November 2020
Transatlantic, the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas, return with their fifth album ‘The Absolute Universe’ set for release 5 February 2021, via InsideOut.
The album began its life in September 2019 when the band got together for initial tracking in Sweden.
Mike Portnoy told MetalTalk: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it.
“At one point though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was, by that time, going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”
Roine Stolt tols us: “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.”
Thus the new concept of two versions of the album was born.
The two versions are ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ and ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.
Mike Portnoy told MetalTalk: “We have got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes.
“However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings.
“We wrote fresh lyrics and 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 will hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.”
Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD,” adds Trewavas. “What’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”
This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic.
Portnoy says: “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around will not shock anyone, right?
“What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters.
“The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.”
Stolt says: “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual. The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”
So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?
Neal Morse told MetalTalk: “I always try not to compare albums as much as possible.
“It is very difficult when you are trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that.
“Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album [third album, 2009] than others that we have created.”
Pete Trewavas told us that, for him, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.
He tells us: “I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we have done.
“As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best.
“As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything and that shines through.
“I am very excited for people to hear ‘The Absolute Universe’.
The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)
Special Edition CD Digipak
The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)
Special Edition 2CD Digipak
The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition
Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet and 60x60cm poster.