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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 31 January 2014
I agree with other reviewers that this is exactly what we've come to expect from Transatlantic. That said Kaleidoscope is excellent. On the main album there isn't a duff track. The musicianship is first rate. Into The Blue has some classic 70's synth sounds and reminds me of Yes at their peak. The ballad Shine is gorgeous and ends too soon. The title track is an epic 33 minutes long and not a moment is wasted. If you like prog rock you'll love this.
The bonus disk is very good indeed. The covers of And You And I and Conquistador stand out and their workout on King Crimson's Indiscipline shows a band that's willing to take risks.
The vinyl package which is a triple LP set which also includes the both the CD and the bonus CD is good value, especially when you consider that the average price for a double LP these days is around £25 without an included CD. You still can't beat a gatefold LP sleeve and this one comes inside a slipcase with the bonus LP in its own sleeve. I also got a nice 3D postcard of the cover art thrown in too. Recommended.
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on 31 January 2014
Kaleidoscope is the 4th studio album from Prog super-group Transatlantic.
The first disc contains 5 new tracks while a bonus disc offers covers of other 'prog' and rock classic.
First off the quality of musicianship and production is uniformly excellent (and should be no surprise to anyone familiar with the players).

The album opens with the lengthy "Into the Blue". and closes with the even more lengthy "Kaleidoscope".
In the middle there are three shorter tracks (two of which "Shine" and "Beyond the Sun" are ballads)

Overall, I do like this album but it lacks something. Everyone is playing well within their comfort zone here and the songs are all pretty 'safe'. It would be unkind to describe the album as derivative, but it certainly doesn't plough any new furrows and for the most part lacks edge

The best song on the album is Black is The Sky - which romps along at a fair pace while still delivering enough keyboard, bass, guitar and drum virtuosity to satisfy.
The two ballads are also pretty decent .
It's the longer songs that somehow disappoint.
If for no other reason than they feel long - and Into the Blue seems like more a meander through collection of fragments than a coherent piece with a theme or direction.

All that said, Portnoy, Trewavas, Morse and Stolt are so obviously at ease playing together and such capable musicians in their own rights that even if this album isn't their best it is still well worth a listen.
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on 31 January 2014
The cd starts with a big epic of 25 minutes "Into the Blue" that contains all the trademarks of the band with a big symphonic sound, some nice vocals, a solid rhythm section, plenty of keyboards parts and some nice guitars soloing. The music goes from a fast tempo to some slower passages were Neal Morse brings the music to a high emotional level. Then the Flower Kings influence is still there with many instrumental breaks, a crescendo building and reaching a emotional peak. While this is not credited, Daniel Gildenlow brings his contributions in the vocal department like every musicians, and we are treated with a nice flute passage that gives a different mood to the music.

"Shine" is a ballad that put Neal Morse voice and the guitar of Roine Stolt in the spot. "Black As the Sky" show Stolt singing and some spectacular bass/drums/keyboards parts that is very original for the band usual style. This will probably be one of the best short songs in their career. "Beyond the Sun" is a nice short song with Neal singing and some beautiful Steve Howe kind of guitar parts from Roine. And then comes the 31 minutes epic that gets a heavier sound and many tempo changes going from slower passages and many moods and styles, some Pink Floyd vibe and some keyboards parts that sound like some jazz stuff of Chick Corea. The vocals parts of Neal at times gets the pop rock style of the 80's. This song has some darker moods, but it's always tempered with some light passages. The final section of the song brings again some unusual style of music from the band with some tasty keyboards parts.

This is another winner for Transatlantic, the songwriting, the musicianship and the production are top notch. All this with a special second cd of covers with a beautiful version of "And You And I" and a interesting choice of songs like "Indiscipline" (King Crimson) and "Sylvia" (Focus).
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on 13 February 2014
I've now had some time with this album. It has all the usual TA ingredients: structured symphonic style epics, soaring melodies, superb singalong moments and top playing from all. This time I note in particular the tasteful synth playing, especially the use of mini moog and Hammond. There are no significant weak moments. I prefer the structure of this album to The Whirlwind. I find TA are best at 20-30 minute pieces with recurring themes and moods.

The influence of Neal Morse is strongest, but I always enjoy Roine Stolt's vocals and Portnoy's busy drums. The latter's familiar fills are there along with some more unusual moments.
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on 6 February 2014
Look, it was always going to be an impossible task following the sheer brilliance of The Whirlwind, an album I consider to be in my all time top 10. Maybe if they had tried some different ideas the outcome would have been better. But to go down the well trodden path with material that isn`t up to it just wasn`t going to work. Consequently Kaleidoscope fares very badly in comparison.

There are some very nice parts on the album, but not enough to outweigh the substandard majority so I am left with a feeling of extreme disappointment. Even the Morse ballad, Beyond The Sun, is a dirge. Bridge Across Forever, it ain`t. I found myself playing a game of "Heard this before" or "this sounds like" so many times. It really pains me to say these negative things, as I consider Neal Morse to be one of the best songwriters around.

So are the reviewers giving this album 5 stars really saying this is as good as the Whirlwind? Really? Oh, and one more thing. Please don`t let Pete Trewavas sing again. Ever.
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on 23 February 2014
1970s prog was the music I grew up with, and the first transatlantic album was a modern take on that genre: brilliant album. This one is a huge disappointment. There are bits from Genesis, ELP , Yes in there but it just doesn't hit the spot for me. The album had been getting good reviews in the Prog press so maybe its just me. Superb playing throughout is a given with these musicians. My advice would be to shorten the long songs: just because you can doesn't mean you have to: 32 mins of mediocre could be condensed to 15 mins of bril prog perhaps ?
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on 28 January 2014
I really did not want to be the first to review this and reading the two reviews - SO FAR; I feel more comfortable with my opinion.
First off - I do not question the pedigree of the band. Who could? Top rank team.
Polished, accomplished and super slick.
But - is this becoming too formulaic?
Maybe I am changing - but I am starting to find it all a little bit tedious. Maybe I am tired of super slick 'perfection'?
Kaleidoscope is 'classic' Transatlantic - it sounds pretty much like it's predecessors - two lengthy tracks with three shorter ones in the middle.
The quality is there - and, the quantity; but it just seems to be wearing out; a bit too repetitive.
This will not endear me to the hoards of Transatlantic faithful but - sadly; it's how I feel.
The bonus CD - and I usually look forward to their covers, also seems below par. "And You And I" is okay - but "Can't Get You Out Of My Head", "Conquistador", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Tin Soldier" are not what I'd call complimentary.
With "Sylvia" - the Focus classic, the band sounds as if it is struggling a bit and King Crimson's "Indiscipline" is awful! "Nights In White Satin" finishes it all off in a reasonable fashion.
Sorry - it's okay. But I am not sure where I will go with Transatlantic from here - IF they ever make another album?
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on 27 January 2014
I thought 'The Whirlwind' was an excellent album and it seemed at that point that a plateau may have been reached.

I hate to be critical but this appears to be a pale repeat of that album and the tracks are long for the sake of being long.

Mike Portnoy's drums sound tired and the ballads that Neal Morse writes are leaning evermore towards a religious flavour that can sound a little preachy.

Don't get me wrong, there are some wonderful instrumental passages and changes of mood here but they are few and far between.

And the cover tracks do not add anythiing to the originals. Everyone knows what 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' and 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' sound like so there is no reason to go over old ground. 'Indiscipline' the King Crimson cover comes out the best with some excellent, Zappaesque vocals.

Overall, it's okay but I feel it is too much to expect four people to keep churning out epics which are wholly original.
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on 28 February 2014
Transatlantic! What a band! This is album number four and I remember clearly getting really excited back in the year 2000 when SMPTe was in the pipeline. The article was in 'Classic Rock' magazine and I suddenly realised these four differing and similar personalities could create something unbelievable. SMPTe is still my favourite album because it is so musical and melodic. This is always the album that I recommend as the 'future of prog'.The four individual band CDs at this time were 'Snow', 'Space Revolver', 'Scenes from a Memory and ''. Then SMPTe dropped on to the progressive landscape like confetti at a wedding. Album number two, Bridge across Forever, did not live up to the majesty of the first album although it is still a pretty decent record. 'The Whirlwind' was brilliant but overlong! Watching them at 'High Voltage' perform the whole thing was magnificent but you just wanted them to play something from the first two albums. A mere four year wait and we get Kaleidoscope and it is another collision of four musical hopes!

Kaleidoscope has two typical Transatlantic epics that bookend the CD and three that mix things up in the middle. The middle three do add a lot of colour and diversity to the whole kaleidoscopic pattern. It's seeing the five tracks arranged so carefully that you realise why Kaleidoscope is called Kaleidoscope. I love 'Shine', track two which is a typical Morsey type guitar motif with lovely instrumentation. 'Black as the Sky' reminds me of the Spocks Beard song 'Crack the Big Sky'; it is keyboard based and is by far the weakest track on view. Beyond the sun is dreamy, atmospheric and beautiful.

'Into the Blue' and 'Kaleidoscope' are the two 30 minute epics that do sit along place the other epics in the Transatlantic canon. Both tracks have typical Morse passages with wonderful off-beat Portnoy drumming. Stolt is a dream on 'Kaleidoscope' on the 7 minute mark.

CD2 has 8 cover versions. All of them mirror the originals, there is no Transatlantic excess here so if you know 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' by Elton then you will know the Trans version. I do love the bonus disc though because it shows us exactly who the influences are. Best track here is 'Sylvia' which is fab.

Negatives, there has to be negatives! Some of the singing is really not up to scratch. Five voices are singing throughout the 2 CDs. Neal Morse has a wonderfully warm and instantly recognisable voice that has evolved over decades of serious vocal scenarios. He has played every musical genre and I have watched his career slowly transend to its current position. Daniel Gildenlow can sing too but he is out of place amongst the four Transatlantic albums. Roine Stolt and his singing has been part of my life for such a long time that I have got used to his shortcomings. Portnoy and Trewavas cannot sing but they get far too much microphone time, Trewavas sings a long passage in the middle of the title track! Why?? Why not stick with Morse? Do we really need 5 vocalists when surely one would do? Spocks Beard had wonderful harmonies and I think Morse is trying to recreate this here but it just doesnt work. When Yes went on tour they did not have five singers!

Kaleidoscope is a 5 star album with a star knocked off for the singing arrangements.
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on 30 January 2014
For me it's great to see another fabulous album out by Transatlantic. I also welcome the format as they did with their 1st and 2nd albums rather than have one massive track. I see a good few mixed reviews here and some who are perhaps fed up of the familiar thing. Well for me personally the fact that Transatlantic have got their own sound and it has not changed is a bonus.

Just what do you want them to do, go down the road many of the greats did like Yes and Genesis and completely change their style and genre, because they was never the same as they was back in their heyday in the early 70's and completely destroyed themselves.

What we have here for me is really a terrific album and one that is a good as every album they have made so far. I cannot even fault the bonus CD of the covers, and the covers on this album are a damn site better done than any of the other covers they did on previous albums which I did not really rate at all.

But for me on these covered songs they have done the dogs on every one of them, and Elton's Goodbye Yellow Road in all honesty you would have to be Elton himself to do a better job, and I have never heard anybody else do nowhere near such a top job on what they did with the song.

Regarding the original material here I certainly do not think it's anything like Neal's Testimony as one reviewer posted here, but it does have maybe a Bridge Across Forever feel to it in parts with the use of strings no doubt. Though I do not feel "Shine" is in the same league of a ballad of a song as "We All Need Some Light" and "Bridge Across Forever" which for me are class ballads and very well written songs.

If anything "Shine" is the only real weak track on this album. But when you consider you are getting an album that is some 75 minutes long, one would expect the odd gap filler to make up the time. You must remember in reality 75 minutes is really a double albums worth of material in relation to the length of albums made back in the 70's by the great Prog Rock bands, it 's a lot harder task to make a solid album over that time slot. So for me that one little track that is not so good is not a big enough dent to drop a star for this album. For me it's well worth all 5 stars and I am just glad the band is still churning out really great complex material that's certainly rocks my boat and is right up my street.
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