Whenever Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas get together for Transatlantic, you're quick to use superlatives. This time, however, the prog supergroup has taken it to the extreme once again. Because "The Absolute Universe" is nothing less than the wet dream of every prog fan: a concept album in three different versions
Transatlantic relations are no longer what they used to be, thanks to the Trump administration. In music, however, they still work splendidly. Separate yet united - we bring three of the four prog protagonists to the big eclipsed interview table for you. In our extensive title interview Neal Morse, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas talk about the different album versions and the genesis of "The Absolute Universe" as well as about visa problems, the Corona pandemic and good food. Plus: memories of the first sessions over 20 years ago!
eclipsed: "The Absolute Universe" is certainly the most ambitious project Transatlantic have ever tackled. Anyway, the idea of recording two different versions of one album is a novelty in the history of rock music
Roine Stolt: Quite possibly. When Mike came up with the idea, he said, "I don't think anyone's ever done that before," but none of us did any research to see if that was actually the case.
Pete Trewavas: Maybe you can compare it a bit to PFM's (Premiata Forneria Marconi) ʼ74 album "The World Became The World", of which there is an Italian version and then a version translated specifically into English
eclipsed: The boxset version is supposed to be even longer than the double CD version ..
Neal Morse: Yes, that's the 5.1 mix. That was completely Mike's thing, I wasn't involved, to be honest. But he had to choose between the versions of songs like "Higher Than The Morning" because you can't put everything on there
Stolt: The 5.1 version also has parts that weren't used on either the short or the long version. It's all very complicated! (grins) But we are here, after all, to get you to buy more. We want your money! NOW! (laughs) Seriously, the whole thing is a bit confusing, but I'm sure the fans will be extremely happy with it.
eclipsed: Understanding where the different versions differ and which parts don't appear anywhere else is a huge challenge!
Stolt: It's also a challenge for the band! Mike is the only one who has the overview, and he didn't even co-compose. But we're all different, and that's also the beauty. Myself, I'm very specific about the sounds and the mix, how the bass drum, bass, keyboards and guitars sound, and how much reverb is used - all those nerdy things that probably don't mean anything to a lot of people. Mike, on the other hand, has a concrete idea of what the songs should be called and how long they should be, where they should be split and where the next song should start