Follow TV Tropes


Music / Liquid Tension Experiment

Go To
Clockwise from Top Left: John Petrucci, Tony Levin, Mike Portnoy, and Jordan Rudess

"CAUTION: "Three Minute Warning" is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of extreme self-indulgence. If you fall into any of the above categories, please hit the stop button on your CD player after track # 8"
Despite being a warning for one song, this more or less describes the band as a whole.

Sometime near the end of The '90s, Dream Theater's drummer, Mike Portnoy, was asked by his company to form a Progressive Rock/Metal supergroup. Said group was composed by Portnoy, his Dream Theater comrade John Petrucci on guitar, the legendary bassist Tony Levin and a then-not-so-notable keyboardist named Jordan Rudess. Thus, the seeds for Liquid Tension Experiment were planted.

The band released only two albums before Rudess' definitive incorporation to Dream Theater and the obvious disbandment, at least for studio recordings, since three-quarters of the band were composed by Dream Theater members. It didn't stop Portnoy from releasing several other albums [live recordings] via his own label, Ytsejam Records. In 2020, a reunion was announced with, with a third album released in 2021, and possible plans for a fourth album.

There was a spinoff of this band, called Liquid Trio Experiment, which was composed of the same members, except one of them, who happened to be Petrucci in the first album, Spontaneous Combustion, and Rudess in the second, When the Keyboard Breaks.


As Liquid Tension Experiment:

  • Liquid Tension Experiment (1998)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1999)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment Live 2008 - Limited Edition Boxset (2009)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment Live in NYC (2009)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment Live in LA (2009)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 3 (2021)

As Liquid Trio Experiment:

  • Spontaneous Combustion (2007)

As Liquid Trio Experiment 2:

  • When the Keyboard Breaks: Live in Chicago (2009, with Charlie Benante as guest drummer)

The Band:

  • John Petrucci - guitars
  • Jordan Rudess - keyboards
  • Tony Levin - bass
  • Mike Portnoy - drums

Both bands provide examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The story behind the name of "Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure", where a photographer kept calling Mike Portnoy "Chris" and Tony Levin "Kevin". "Chris and Kevin's Bogus Journey" is, of course, a sequel.
  • Bohemian Parody: A band photo for Liquid Tension Experiment 3 is in this style, made more ominous by their hooded apparel (and facial expressions that evoke Cardiacs' take from their Sing to God album).
  • Call-Back:
    • Liquid Trio Experiment 2's album, When the Keyboard Breaks is a reference to the track "When the Water Breaks", from Liquid Tension Experiment 2.
    • "Chris and Kevin's Bogus Journey", on Spontaneous Combustion, to "Chris and Kevin's Excellent Journey", on Liquid Tension Experiment. Liquid Tension Experiment 3 also includes "Chris and Kevin's Amazing Odyssey".
  • Content Warnings: Done for humorous effect, as shown in the page quote.
  • Cover Version: In some of their live shows, they did a Progressive Metal arrangement of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". Liquid Tension Experiment 3 includes a studio recording of it as well.
  • Epic Rocking: Aside of some exceptions, each and every single of their remaining songs break the 5-minute barrier. The longest, of course, is the twenty-eight-and-a-half-minute "Three Minute Warning".
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The track that became "When the Water Breaks" was being recorded at the time when John Petrucci's wife went into labour and Petrucci had to leave the studio in the middle of the session. The band even included samples of a baby's first cry within the track.
  • Genre Mashup: Dream Theater-esque Progressive Rock/Metal, mixed in with some Jazz Fusion, a fair amount of Zappaisms, a dash of classical-infused piano, and a teaspoon of electronic music.
  • Improv: "Three Minute Warning" and the entire bonus disc of Liquid Tension Experiment 3 are improvised.
  • Instrumentals: Everything this supergroup has ever done, may it be Tension or Trio, is this.
  • Last Note Hilarity: "When the Water Breaks", which is an epic and ultimately very serious instrumental, ends with a quirky piano solo in the last minute or so.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "The Stretch" and "Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure"
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Three Minute Warning", which is a 27-minute improvised jam recorded entirely in a single take. It's so long that the band's primary recording equipment actually ran out of space and left off the last three or so minutes. The name came from Tony Levin wanting to just play and have fun while the rest of the band wanted to get the structured recording out of the way before they started jamming. He threatened to quit and leave if they "didn't start jamming in three minutes."
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • "Biaxident", which is a play on "by accident" and the medicine "Biaxin", which John Petrucci was taking at the time.
    • "When the Water Breaks" may be a Pun-Based Title on the song "When the Levee Breaks", most famous in Led Zeppelin's version on their untitled fourth album. Then, of course, that was mutated to "When the Keyboard Breaks" when, well, Rudess' keyboard broke.