Author Topic: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread  (Read 44386 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline DoctorAction

  • Posts: 1188
  • Everyday Glory
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1785 on: November 30, 2021, 04:28:28 PM »
Recording studio albums without a click is not really a thing in most kinds of music. So I have no idea why you are asking for it.

I think you just came up with the exact reason I'm asking for it.  :lol

No click when recording studio albums = more human = more feel = more better.

All of DT's studio work has been recorded to a click, as has virtually everyone else's, to such an extent that it's a weird thing to talk about. 

It might be weird if you're someone who has no interest in how musicians record, or if you don't listen to drums or music in any detail. But given we're on a prog metal forum I'm guessing that's not the case.

Why would you not want to hear MM free of the click? That's weird to me. What have you got against hearing the drummer keep time?

I have no problem with the album, btw, it's about 60% of my listening atm. It's great  This is just something that occurs to me when I'm listening to it. I'm not meaning to diss it.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Offline erwinrafael

  • Posts: 3424
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1786 on: November 30, 2021, 08:24:54 PM »
Recording studio albums without a click is not really a thing in most kinds of music. So I have no idea why you are asking for it.

If you want to hear DT play without a click, listen to any of the Portnoy era live albums.  They were all done without a click.

Lots of massivly-successful 'classic rock' gems were recorded without a click.

I think the OP's point is that there's a different and/or lack of 'feel' on the newer albums. A matter of opinion, of course, but one that I happen to concur with.

That being said, all in all, I think DT's output has been tremendously consistent.

Nearly all of the folk/rock I listen to was recorded without a click...i think it depends on the genre.
Yes, things were done differently 40-50 years ago.

But these days, it is the industry standard to record to a click in a studio.  All of DT's studio work has been recorded to a click, as has virtually everyone else's, to such an extent that it's a weird thing to talk about. 

Any purported "lack of feel" isn't due to the presence of a click track.

Respectfully, 'Industry Standard' for rock/metal is not necessarily the standard for all genres. Jazz, Folk, Americana, (the list goes on) artists are all recording 'live on the floor.' Splitting hairs for sure, but sometimes I feel it's important to acknoweldge that there's a massive amount of music out there that doesn't fall under the umbrella of 'major label.'

I think he meant industry standard as in rock/metal industry. Not the whole music industry.

I am in percussive world music. Usually we do not record to a metronome even in studio work because the live feel, the sense of spontaneity, comes with the genre.

But in prog metal, not just DT but in general, part of "spirit" is the sense of "perfection" of technical virtuosity in a complex layered composition. At least for me, when I listen to this kind of music, I am not really looking for the "live feel" in studio recordings. For me, the more they go batshit crazy in the studio and make the most complex recording they could, GO! Then it becomes more exciting to listen / watch them live because I then go thinking "can they pull this incredibly complex masterpiece live?"

Offline TAC

  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 53761
  • Gender: Male
  • Kip Rolled
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1787 on: November 30, 2021, 08:30:28 PM »

But in prog metal, not just DT but in general, part of "spirit" is the sense of "perfection" of technical virtuosity in a complex layered composition. At least for me, when I listen to this kind of music, I am not really looking for the "live feel" in studio recordings. For me, the more they go batshit crazy in the studio and make the most complex recording they could, GO! Then it becomes more exciting to listen / watch them live because I then go thinking "can they pull this incredibly complex masterpiece live?"

I'm on board with this, Erwin.

Even live, I really don't care about the fact that they're playing to a click. It's not like I can hear it. I'm just amazed that they are actually performing this music live. I mean, click or no click, it's still a live performance, is it not?
would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
Winger Theater Forums................or WTF.  ;D
that's next level, man.

Offline hefdaddy42

  • Et in Arcadia Ego
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 45141
  • Gender: Male
  • Postwhore Emeritus
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1788 on: December 01, 2021, 06:48:27 AM »
No click when recording studio albums = more human = more feel = more better.
No click when recording this kind of music = less precision, which is the exact opposite of what this band is going for.

It might be weird if you're someone who has no interest in how musicians record, or if you don't listen to drums or music in any detail. But given we're on a prog metal forum I'm guessing that's not the case.
You're right, it's not the case.  Look, want what you want, but recording to a click is so much a part of most studio recording that it just goes without saying.  You might as well request something else that is just indelible, like "I wish they would record with the lights off in the studio" or something.

Why would you not want to hear MM free of the click? That's weird to me. What have you got against hearing the drummer keep time?

I have no problem with the album, btw, it's about 60% of my listening atm. It's great  This is just something that occurs to me when I'm listening to it. I'm not meaning to diss it.
I've heard both of those things.  In live performances.  Which is where they USED to happen.
 
Hef is right on all things. Except for when I disagree with him. In which case he's probably still right.

Offline hefdaddy42

  • Et in Arcadia Ego
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 45141
  • Gender: Male
  • Postwhore Emeritus
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1789 on: December 01, 2021, 06:54:44 AM »
Respectfully, 'Industry Standard' for rock/metal is not necessarily the standard for all genres. Jazz, Folk, Americana, (the list goes on) artists are all recording 'live on the floor.' Splitting hairs for sure, but sometimes I feel it's important to acknoweldge that there's a massive amount of music out there that doesn't fall under the umbrella of 'major label.'
Yes, I know.  I didn't mention it because I actually thought it was another thing that went without saying.

Those genres (among others) are often recorded with all musicians playing together, simultaneously, and vibing off of each other (especially jazz).  A click wouldn't help in that situation.

Hef is right on all things. Except for when I disagree with him. In which case he's probably still right.

Offline DoctorAction

  • Posts: 1188
  • Everyday Glory
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1790 on: December 01, 2021, 07:29:12 AM »
It might be weird if you're someone who has no interest in how musicians record, or if you don't listen to drums or music in any detail. But given we're on a prog metal forum I'm guessing that's not the case.
You're right, it's not the case.  Look, want what you want, but recording to a click is so much a part of most studio recording that it just goes without saying.  You might as well request something else that is just indelible, like "I wish they would record with the lights off in the studio" or something.

Except it isn't indelible at all. It's the AutoTune of rhythm-keeping. Any band could choose not to use it and (arguably) get a better result. It's not rocket science. See Iron Maiden or The Black Album or Reign In Blood for hugely successful examples. I'm surprised it's at all controversial.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Offline hefdaddy42

  • Et in Arcadia Ego
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 45141
  • Gender: Male
  • Postwhore Emeritus
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1791 on: December 01, 2021, 08:10:21 AM »
It might be weird if you're someone who has no interest in how musicians record, or if you don't listen to drums or music in any detail. But given we're on a prog metal forum I'm guessing that's not the case.
You're right, it's not the case.  Look, want what you want, but recording to a click is so much a part of most studio recording that it just goes without saying.  You might as well request something else that is just indelible, like "I wish they would record with the lights off in the studio" or something.

Except it isn't indelible at all. It's the AutoTune of rhythm-keeping. Any band could choose not to use it and (arguably) get a better result. It's not rocket science. See Iron Maiden or The Black Album or Reign In Blood for hugely successful examples. I'm surprised it's at all controversial.
It's not controversial.  Doesn't it tell you something that no one does it anymore, in this kind of music?

As noted in another post, some genres of music certainly lend themselves to playing without a click in studio, but highly technical progressive metal is not one of those. 

Now, LIVE, I definitely wish they no longer used a click, but they prefer it for their stage presentation.  Hey, it's their prerogative, but whatever.
Hef is right on all things. Except for when I disagree with him. In which case he's probably still right.

Offline DoctorAction

  • Posts: 1188
  • Everyday Glory
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1792 on: December 01, 2021, 08:41:12 AM »
I think it's ubiquitous in recording in pop, rock and metal because it makes things so much easier to edit, not because they really want it super-clicky-tight but that's pure speculation.

I'll keep crossing my fingers that leading artists get bored of it and try something new/old.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Offline Elite

  • The 'other' Rich
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 16242
  • Gender: Male
  • also, a tin teardrop
    • Overhaul
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1793 on: December 01, 2021, 03:59:07 PM »
Depending on what day you ask me, I have a different opinion about playing with a click or not. I’ve done it both; I have recorded to a click, played live with one and played live without. Generally though, my main feeling is that music is first and foremost a human thing, rooted in a tradition of playing together. Making music is usually something you will do with other people. Music is the most fun when it’s based on interaction with the people you’re playing with, and making something sound good together, at least in my experience. Spontaneity in playing together is a huge thing for me.

Adding a click removes some of that. We did it, because we had a lightshow that was set to the music and later we had a backing track playing along after our keyboard player left. The lights (about 20 in total, spread across the stage) became part of our live show, and there’s no way to line up all of that and sync it in time with the music without playing to a click, but the music lost some spontaneity. There was no sudden increase in speed when you’re on fire, unless you program that, or an extended part somewhere, unless you arrange and rehearse all of that beforehand. The idea of making music together then becomes a rehearsal of doing exactly what you have prepared.

 I think a lot of progressive metal actually falls in this group as well. They’ll play everything exactly as it is on the record, and if they don’t, it’s because they rehearsed it otherwise. The ‘perfect’ timing is an aspect of the genre. I think this is actually a bad thing for the overall musicianship of the respective bands; of course it’s going to sound good, but the band willnot be challenging themselves on stagen rather they’re just playing along to the machine telling them what to do. A band without a click has a harder time making music, because they actually have to work together to make it sound good. My band countered this by sending the click ONLY to our drummer and gave him the freedom to ‘play around’ the click as well. Not everything had to be exactly on top of the click, as long as he generally followed it. This gave him room to play how he liked (within the confines of the measures) and the rest of the band still had to pay attention to each other. I firmly believe this gave a more organic results than when we would all have the clicktrack in our ears.

There’s a good reason a lot of music genres don’t use clicktracks live, and that’s because they don’t want to give up the control of the tempo to a machine that won’t change. And why would you, if you have a good rhythm section playing? I think in recording music though, a lot gets played to a click, unless it’s purposefully all recorded live. I don’t have any data to back this up, but this is from my experience recording stuff in different genres. The ease of editing stuff is likely the main reason and depending on the genre, that can be very rigorously or barely at all. I’ve seen kick-drums being moved milliseconds so that they’re exactly on the beat, but I’ve also seen drums left alone completely to give it a more organic sound. Anything is possible and I think it’s mandatory for any artist to think about these things as well. I for one would love to hear Dream Theater record without a click, with less time-related edits than they do. I think it could sound fantastic. I mean, they’re all great players, why would it not?
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
Squ
scRa are the resultaten of sound nog bring propey

Offline cramx3

  • Chillest of the chill
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 29156
  • Gender: Male
    • The Home of cramx3
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1794 on: December 01, 2021, 04:39:23 PM »
I'm no musician, but I feel like you hit the nail on the head Elite.

Offline darkshade

  • Posts: 4196
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1795 on: December 01, 2021, 04:53:50 PM »
I'm listening to AV for the first time in a few weeks, and I have to admit, this album ain't so bad. It's the most enjoyable album in the Mangini era, both in the performance and the sound production. I had no desire to keep listening after a few weeks of this album being released, but returning with fresh ears has been a positive experience. There are still many moments I do not like, but as a whole, I can listen to this over the previous 4 albums. I still feel like this should have been the album that followed up ADTOE, or even BC&SL, but we got what we got. Is it anything new from the band? No, not at all, this album isn't going to go down as their best by any means, but the songs are energetic and fun, and they generally shy away from most of the things I dislike from the band post-Octavarium. I get the sense that the band allowed the music to marinate more so than they've done in years, as well, and I think it paid off.

About click tracks, I don't think anyone should be using a click track live, with extremely rare exceptions.
Total turn off when I first heard about DT using a click with Mangini. What, the most skilled drummer in the world can't keep time??

Offline KevShmev

  • EZBoard Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 36384
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1796 on: December 01, 2021, 05:02:59 PM »
Count me as someone who wishes DT would not use a click live.  For the occasional song, like Rush used to do for Red Sector A or The Weapon, is fine, but for every song? A band with players as good as Dream Theater should have no problem playing without one.  I know, I know, it's their choice now, and they do it to synch up with the lighting and video screens (as if other bands do not pull it off without a click), and blah blah blah, but it feels more like a precision-based performance rather than a live rock concert.  Maybe it is me getting older and my views changing, but it just feels like a crutch.

Offline cramx3

  • Chillest of the chill
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 29156
  • Gender: Male
    • The Home of cramx3
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1797 on: December 01, 2021, 05:13:46 PM »
They care too much about precision IMO.  Some of the best parts of live shows are when things aren't perfect and the band still finds a way to nail it.  This makes me think about the one time of performing Repentance and the mic was off for Mikael's verse yet the band kept playing through it and did the verse again without ever stopping the song.  I've seen the same thing happen with 311 performing Love Song with Matisyahu as guest but his mic was off and yet the band continued playing and got the mic fixed and he got to do his verse.  Both scenarios had the crowd ERUPT when the mic came back on and the music never missed a beat.  Stuff like that shows way more skill and performing as a band than playing to a click IMO.

Offline Ben_Jamin

  • Posts: 13642
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm just a man, thrown into existence by the gods
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1798 on: December 01, 2021, 05:16:14 PM »
Elite, that is a fantastic post. I agree with a lot of it.

I would add that the bands, or genres, that do not play to a click also tend to not have an elaborate stage production. The stage production includes the light shows, the video screens, pyro, fog machines, anything else that is visually triggered at certain points in the songs. Apparently, todays technology allows these to be synced to a click and triggered at those precise moments. If the band plays along to this click then everything will sync up, such as the visuals during the Swing section in Three Days live.

In other words, the click is used for the purpose of a better production value. The click allows you to easily add in effects to bring out the message of the song, to enhance a certain instrument, to pan the sounds left or right. You can also write out the time signatures and tempo of the click based on the arrangement of the song, so you can pinpoint sections where it'd sound neat to do this...you then scrub the recording and then put in a new one, which can easily be punched it at that precise moment.

I don't know how they can be so proud of winning with them odds. - Little Big Man

"We can't rewrite history. We can learn our own history, and share it with other people. While, we learn, from them, their history." -Me,Myself,I

Offline KevShmev

  • EZBoard Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 36384
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1799 on: December 01, 2021, 07:15:16 PM »
They care too much about precision IMO.  Some of the best parts of live shows are when things aren't perfect and the band still finds a way to nail it.  This makes me think about the one time of performing Repentance and the mic was off for Mikael's verse yet the band kept playing through it and did the verse again without ever stopping the song.  I've seen the same thing happen with 311 performing Love Song with Matisyahu as guest but his mic was off and yet the band continued playing and got the mic fixed and he got to do his verse.  Both scenarios had the crowd ERUPT when the mic came back on and the music never missed a beat.  Stuff like that shows way more skill and performing as a band than playing to a click IMO.

Agreed.  It reminds me of the Rush show from Boston in 2010 (I think) when Alex's guitar wouldn't work right for like two minutes and he (despite being aggravated) scatted on the mic and sang "still no guitar" to the crowd while Geddy and Neil jammed around the La Villa Strangiato intro that they were starting until the guitar got working, and when the three kicked into the song full force, the crowd went crazy. That kind of live magic cannot work when you are playing to a programmed set with a click.

Offline erwinrafael

  • Posts: 3424
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1800 on: December 01, 2021, 10:24:21 PM »
And Dream Theater did just that when JP's guitar failed in Paralyzed and Mangini and Jordan went into an inpromptu jam.

Offline Elite

  • The 'other' Rich
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 16242
  • Gender: Male
  • also, a tin teardrop
    • Overhaul
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1801 on: December 02, 2021, 01:29:28 AM »
They care too much about precision IMO.  Some of the best parts of live shows are when things aren't perfect and the band still finds a way to nail it.  This makes me think about the one time of performing Repentance and the mic was off for Mikael's verse yet the band kept playing through it and did the verse again without ever stopping the song.  I've seen the same thing happen with 311 performing Love Song with Matisyahu as guest but his mic was off and yet the band continued playing and got the mic fixed and he got to do his verse.  Both scenarios had the crowd ERUPT when the mic came back on and the music never missed a beat.  Stuff like that shows way more skill and performing as a band than playing to a click IMO.

Agreed.  It reminds me of the Rush show from Boston in 2010 (I think) when Alex's guitar wouldn't work right for like two minutes and he (despite being aggravated) scatted on the mic and sang "still no guitar" to the crowd while Geddy and Neil jammed around the La Villa Strangiato intro that they were starting until the guitar got working, and when the three kicked into the song full force, the crowd went crazy. That kind of live magic cannot work when you are playing to a programmed set with a click.

And this all ties into the idea that music is the result of interaction between actual people, a cumulative effort first. Technique, virtuosity or even the use of a click-track can be a means to achieve this, but it will inherent put a mark on the music you're hearing as a result and (especially in the case of the click-track) the amount of spontaneity and improvisation you can achieve.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
Squ
scRa are the resultaten of sound nog bring propey

Offline KevShmev

  • EZBoard Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 36384
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1802 on: December 02, 2021, 06:07:44 AM »
They care too much about precision IMO.  Some of the best parts of live shows are when things aren't perfect and the band still finds a way to nail it.  This makes me think about the one time of performing Repentance and the mic was off for Mikael's verse yet the band kept playing through it and did the verse again without ever stopping the song.  I've seen the same thing happen with 311 performing Love Song with Matisyahu as guest but his mic was off and yet the band continued playing and got the mic fixed and he got to do his verse.  Both scenarios had the crowd ERUPT when the mic came back on and the music never missed a beat.  Stuff like that shows way more skill and performing as a band than playing to a click IMO.

Agreed.  It reminds me of the Rush show from Boston in 2010 (I think) when Alex's guitar wouldn't work right for like two minutes and he (despite being aggravated) scatted on the mic and sang "still no guitar" to the crowd while Geddy and Neil jammed around the La Villa Strangiato intro that they were starting until the guitar got working, and when the three kicked into the song full force, the crowd went crazy. That kind of live magic cannot work when you are playing to a programmed set with a click.

And this all ties into the idea that music is the result of interaction between actual people, a cumulative effort first. Technique, virtuosity or even the use of a click-track can be a means to achieve this, but it will inherent put a mark on the music you're hearing as a result and (especially in the case of the click-track) the amount of spontaneity and improvisation you can achieve.

Agreed.  cramx3 said it well yesterday:

They care too much about precision IMO.   

And to be fair, DT has always cared a lot about precision, but the scales seem too far tipped in that direction now.  I said before the release of the new album that it was a bit worrisome that seemingly every interview they did had them talking about their playing rather than the songwriting, which I think shows their current mentality.  I get it, it's like the Tom Brady thing where, even though he has already won 7 Super Bowls, he wants to keep winning more, and while the guys in Dream Theater are all already accomplished players, they want to keep getting better.  It definitely strikes a contrast to the attitude of their original drummer who has all but said that he is good enough and doesn't have any interest in practicing to get better anymore, but for me and what I want to hear personally, I don't care about their playing going from 11 on the Spinal Tap volume knob to the imaginary 12.

Offline erwinrafael

  • Posts: 3424
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1803 on: December 02, 2021, 06:43:10 AM »
Are we now looking for spontaneity and improvisation in a studio recording in the prog metal genre? The recent discussion on click track is about studio not live records.

Offline Stadler

  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 31244
  • Gender: Male
  • Pointing out the "unfunny" since 2017!
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1804 on: December 02, 2021, 07:12:33 AM »
The interesting thing about this conversation is how black and white it all seems.    For me, it's all case by case.   I'm not interested in U2 or Kiss with a click track.  I saw Temple Of The Dog play MSG, and their version of "Achilles Last Stand" (and "War Pigs") was breathtaking, because Matt Cameron captured the give and take, the breathing, of both songs.  You could feel ALS speed up and slow down at various points, and it was really electric.   I'm not sure I'm going to a DT show for that.   I like the spontaneous moments, but it's not critical for my enjoyment (though the vast majority of my memorable concert moments are those where it's clear that things are not exactly "on script"). 

Offline Elite

  • The 'other' Rich
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 16242
  • Gender: Male
  • also, a tin teardrop
    • Overhaul
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1805 on: December 02, 2021, 08:05:46 AM »
Are we now looking for spontaneity and improvisation in a studio recording in the prog metal genre? The recent discussion on click track is about studio not live records.

No, you're mixing up two different things. I merely gave my take on click-tracks in both studio and live settings. Nowhere did I say I'm looking for spontaneity and/or improvisation the progressive metal genre, though I do actually believe it could make the genre more interesting and push it into a new direction, but that's a different discussion altogether.

The interesting thing about this conversation is how black and white it all seems.    For me, it's all case by case [...] (though the vast majority of my memorable concert moments are those where it's clear that things are not exactly "on script"). 

I generally agree, though I'm torn between a 'technically perfect' concert/show versus the human side of it where things can (and will) steer off in different directions. The second half is absolutely true for me.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
Squ
scRa are the resultaten of sound nog bring propey

Offline WilliamMunny

  • Posts: 460
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1806 on: December 02, 2021, 08:13:33 AM »
Alright, after a solid six weeks of listening, I am finally ready to offer my 'in depth' opinion, by way of my recent Amazon review:

Amazingly, some 30 years removed from the massive commercial success of their major-label debut, Dream Theater has managed to sustain and maintain their position as one of the premier names in prog-rock/metal. And with each new release, the immensely talented five-piece somehow manages to firmly re-establish what longtime fans have known for years: Dream Theater is still creating amazing music.

Dream Theater possess a surprisingly diverse catalog—one where no two releases sound identical. But regardless of where it might fall on the ‘Rush-meets-Metallica’ spectrum—be it epic, prog-infused workouts (like “Scenes From a Memory”) or driving, metal-tinged onslaughts (“Train of Thought”)—just about every release has given fans a healthy dose of both. The trend continues with Dream Theater’s fifteenth full-length, the aptly titled ‘A View From the Top of the World.’

The album opens with “The Alien,” a sprawling, nearly-ten minute sonic adventure exploring humanity's future amongst the stars. From the intricate arrangement to the heavily-processed vocals, the track makes for the band’s most adventurous lead off single in years. The backbeat-driven “Answering the Call” and the radio-friendly (ish—after all, this is Dream Theater we’re talking about here) finds the band mining more traditional territory while the de facto album centerpiece (and standout track) “Sleeping Giant” feels like it could easily fit on any number of prior releases.

From there, the album momentarily shifts gears, offering fans a vivid glimpse of their roots with “Transcending Time,” an admittedly Rush-esque number that, in some ways, feels like the fraternal twin to “The Looking Glass” (from Dream Theater’s self-titled twelfth album). And for all the talk of guitarist John Petrucci’s planned inclusion of an eight-string-inspired song, “Awaken the Master” (thankfully) is a surprisingly progressive affair, driven less by de-tuned sonic pummeling and more by one of the album’s more pronounced piano lines.

While Dream Theater has penned its fair share of blistering rockers and endearing ballads, few topics inspire more spirited debate amongst the band’s passionate fan base than that of their ‘epics,’ the handful of twenty-minute-plus numbers that (arguably) make for the finest showcase of their collective abilities. While it remains to be seen where the album-closing title track will ultimately land on the lists of listeners, the song is a worthy addition to the conversation. Not unlike the band’s most recent epic, “IlluminationTheory,” “A View…” starts with a bang before careening into a pensive middle section. But this time around, the transitions are far more seamless. The same can be said for the song’s second half, which features one of the more inspired instrumental passages in recent memory and a surprisingly restrained climax that finds the band eschewing the typical ‘soaring solo’ climax in favor of a punishing syncopated finale. Obviously, mileage may vary, but to my ears, this song, in particular, represents one of the band’s finest moments of the past decade.

To that point, five records into the ‘Mangini’ years, the band has finally figured out a way to properly showcase his drumming abilities. For many fans, Dream Theater’s last record (‘Distance Over Time’) marked a dramatic improvement on the production front, and the trend continues on ‘A View…’ From the crystal-clear, balanced mix to the ‘live on the floor’ energy seeping from the individual performances, this album is easily one of the band’s best ‘sounding’ musical statements to date.

As for the individual performances, ‘A View…’ features everything you’ve come to expect from a Dream Theater record. In addition to Mangini’s tremendous drumming, John Petrucci’s guitar prowess is continuously on display, and bassist John Myung capably carves out a pocket for his low-end acrobatics. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess turns out yet another prodigious performance, delivering some of his most inspired solos to date. Vocalist James Labrie is also in fine form throughout, giving each song exactly what it needs, all the while (wisely) keeping the vocal acrobatics to a minimum. Closing in on sixty, what Labrie has lost in range he’s more than made up for with a newfound depth and warmth. If you enjoy the man’s middle register, you will love this record.

If all of the above hasn’t already cemented the point, this is a fantastic release. I won’t try to quantify it by comparing it to the rest of the band’s catalog (far too soon for that), but I will say this: the album is the very definition of a ‘grower.’ While it sounds incredible from the start, there’s a lot going on, and a casual listen may betray the overall quality on display here. Repeated listens, however, reveal some of the finest musical moments of the band’s career and a surprisingly cohesive collection of songs.

To that point, if you’re reading this, you’ve likely already listened to the record and have made your own opinion. But if you’re a casual fan who’s still sitting on the fence, I’d urge you to give this album a listen. And on the off chance you’ve never heard a single note of Dream Theater’s music, ‘A View From the Top of the World’ would make for a perfect introduction.

***Regarding the physical release: I purchased the standard vinyl edition, and I couldn’t be happier with both the quality of the pressing and the packaging.

Offline Setlist Scotty

  • Posts: 3494
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1807 on: December 02, 2021, 08:34:26 AM »
Count me as someone who wishes DT would not use a click live.  For the occasional song, like Rush used to do for Red Sector A or The Weapon, is fine, but for every song? A band with players as good as Dream Theater should have no problem playing without one.  I know, I know, it's their choice now, and they do it to synch up with the lighting and video screens (as if other bands do not pull it off without a click), and blah blah blah, but it feels more like a precision-based performance rather than a live rock concert.  Maybe it is me getting older and my views changing, but it just feels like a crutch.
Couldn't agree more with this post or with Elite's post above it. It reminds me of a quote from a Neil Peart interview where he said:
Quote
Until the Clockwork Angels tour I had never used a click track live, except once years ago to stay in sync with a rear-screen film. For this tour it was helpful because we had eight string players in the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble, and they sometimes needed it when I wasn't playing. Even in certain passages when I was playing, it helped us all to stay together.

I was also required to stay in tempo with some long, legato sequences of keyboard or vocal effects, and the tambo-click helped with that, too. Even so, I am glad to say that the click appears in only a tiny percentage of the show, and only when absolutely necessary - or at least, "absolutely helpful."

Yes a click live is beneficial for production/lights/video, but Rush had a far more elaborate set up than DT has ever had, and they still pulled it off. So it's possible, but just takes a bit more work. And given that Mangini is known to be quite the machine at time-keeping, I doubt it would ever be a problem for him to pretty much always stay on the mark without a click.
 
 
And Dream Theater did just that when JP's guitar failed in Paralyzed and Mangini and Jordan went into an inpromptu jam.
Never heard about this - what show was it at? Any video of it?
As a basic rule, if you hate it, you must solely blame Portnoy. If it's good, then you must downplay MP's contribution to the band as not being important anyway, or claim he's just lying. It's the DTF way.

Offline Kram

  • Posts: 417
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1808 on: December 02, 2021, 10:01:13 AM »
And Dream Theater did just that when JP's guitar failed in Paralyzed and Mangini and Jordan went into an inpromptu jam.
Never heard about this - what show was it at? Any video of it?

Here it is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeWDgu2yVGo

Offline rab7

  • Posts: 406
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1809 on: December 02, 2021, 10:28:30 AM »
Re: click tracks for studio recordings

I've seen opinions that click tracks remove spontaneity and "the human interaction element", and that if they record with a click track that means they wrote it with one too.

I would guess that it's possible to do both. When they're jamming and writing the songs, there's no metronome involved. But when it's time to record and lay down the tracks, they need that metronome so everything can line up for the audio engineer and mixer. I'm not sure how they can mix tracks otherwise

Offline Pettor

  • Posts: 552
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1810 on: December 02, 2021, 12:37:36 PM »
So the forum have decided; DT shouldn't use a click track. Who will tell them the news? 🤔

Offline TAC

  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 53761
  • Gender: Male
  • Kip Rolled
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1811 on: December 02, 2021, 12:38:22 PM »
And Dream Theater did just that when JP's guitar failed in Paralyzed and Mangini and Jordan went into an inpromptu jam.
Never heard about this - what show was it at? Any video of it?

Here it is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeWDgu2yVGo

Awesome!
would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
Winger Theater Forums................or WTF.  ;D
that's next level, man.

Offline gzarruk

  • Posts: 3962
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1812 on: December 02, 2021, 01:02:17 PM »
And Dream Theater did just that when JP's guitar failed in Paralyzed and Mangini and Jordan went into an inpromptu jam.
Never heard about this - what show was it at? Any video of it?

Here it is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeWDgu2yVGo

Awesome!

Here's another video of the same improv, but from a different angle :tup
https://youtu.be/ba5bEit62u4
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

Offline KevShmev

  • EZBoard Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 36384
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1813 on: December 02, 2021, 03:49:36 PM »
Are we now looking for spontaneity and improvisation in a studio recording in the prog metal genre? The recent discussion on click track is about studio not live records.

No, you're mixing up two different things. I merely gave my take on click-tracks in both studio and live settings. Nowhere did I say I'm looking for spontaneity and/or improvisation the progressive metal genre, though I do actually believe it could make the genre more interesting and push it into a new direction, but that's a different discussion altogether.

 

Agreed. I was talking more in the live environment, but I don't like this idea that Dream Theater cannot have spontaneous and improvised moments in their studio songs simply because the genre to which they are normally assigned doesn't feature much of that.  If anything, that is a black mark against the genre (generally speaking, not against DT themselves). 

Offline The Letter M

  • Posts: 12626
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1814 on: December 02, 2021, 04:11:18 PM »
Are we now looking for spontaneity and improvisation in a studio recording in the prog metal genre? The recent discussion on click track is about studio not live records.

No, you're mixing up two different things. I merely gave my take on click-tracks in both studio and live settings. Nowhere did I say I'm looking for spontaneity and/or improvisation the progressive metal genre, though I do actually believe it could make the genre more interesting and push it into a new direction, but that's a different discussion altogether.

 

Agreed. I was talking more in the live environment, but I don't like this idea that Dream Theater cannot have spontaneous and improvised moments in their studio songs simply because the genre to which they are normally assigned doesn't feature much of that.  If anything, that is a black mark against the genre (generally speaking, not against DT themselves).

Well, there is the ending to "At Wit's End" which seems to have been done off-the-cuff and is presented as a raw take, IIRC. The easter-egg ending to "Illumination Theory" also sounds like it was an improvised-sort-of piece. There's also the opening to "Viper King" which has Mike being a bit "spontaneous" with his hollering.

I don't think working with a click in the studio robs any band of their improvisation and spontaneity. As others have said, it's used as a tool to make mixing and mastering a much easier process, especially for bands who use a TON of instruments and channels on the mixing board. Some bands only need 4 or 8 channels to record, some use 32 or more, but using a click makes getting all of those sound files to line-up a LOT easier, especially if they want to cut-and-paste parts around. It's a much easier job than cutting tape and taping the reels together, etc. I'd say there are WAY more artists and musicians using clicks than you think, and more than those who don't, even groups whose music is almost entirely in 4/4. But for progressive bands who use a lot of different tempos and time signatures, it helps them keep themselves together.

What's next, are people going to rag on Jordan for using sheet music because he can't memorize his parts like the rest of the band? Is using sheet music "a crutch" on stage?  :facepalm: :lol

-Marc.
ATTENTION - DREAM THEATER FANS! I am running the DREAM THEATER SURVIVOR 2021 Edition, in the Polls/Survivors Forum!!! Please check it out!

Offline DoctorAction

  • Posts: 1188
  • Everyday Glory
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1815 on: December 03, 2021, 03:06:26 AM »
The improv/spontaneity thing is a different point to the natural tempo one, and I can't see it being
 squashed by a click, unless you're using it in the writing, in which case it might encourage you not to change the tempo. Dunno.


I'd say there are WAY more artists and musicians using clicks than you think ...


Almost everyone uses a click to record, and it's a pity. It makes editing much easier. But it makes the overall recording less groovy/feely, imo.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Offline KevShmev

  • EZBoard Elder
  • *****
  • Posts: 36384
  • Gender: Male
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1816 on: December 03, 2021, 06:30:29 AM »
Are we now looking for spontaneity and improvisation in a studio recording in the prog metal genre? The recent discussion on click track is about studio not live records.

No, you're mixing up two different things. I merely gave my take on click-tracks in both studio and live settings. Nowhere did I say I'm looking for spontaneity and/or improvisation the progressive metal genre, though I do actually believe it could make the genre more interesting and push it into a new direction, but that's a different discussion altogether.

 

Agreed. I was talking more in the live environment, but I don't like this idea that Dream Theater cannot have spontaneous and improvised moments in their studio songs simply because the genre to which they are normally assigned doesn't feature much of that.  If anything, that is a black mark against the genre (generally speaking, not against DT themselves).

Well, there is the ending to "At Wit's End" which seems to have been done off-the-cuff and is presented as a raw take, IIRC. The easter-egg ending to "Illumination Theory" also sounds like it was an improvised-sort-of piece. There's also the opening to "Viper King" which has Mike being a bit "spontaneous" with his hollering.

I don't think working with a click in the studio robs any band of their improvisation and spontaneity. As others have said, it's used as a tool to make mixing and mastering a much easier process, especially for bands who use a TON of instruments and channels on the mixing board. Some bands only need 4 or 8 channels to record, some use 32 or more, but using a click makes getting all of those sound files to line-up a LOT easier, especially if they want to cut-and-paste parts around. It's a much easier job than cutting tape and taping the reels together, etc. I'd say there are WAY more artists and musicians using clicks than you think, and more than those who don't, even groups whose music is almost entirely in 4/4. But for progressive bands who use a lot of different tempos and time signatures, it helps them keep themselves together.

What's next, are people going to rag on Jordan for using sheet music because he can't memorize his parts like the rest of the band? Is using sheet music "a crutch" on stage?  :facepalm: :lol

-Marc.

To be fair, I was not suggesting that DT has never had spontaneous or improvised moments in the studio, but pushing back on the post by erwinrafael, where he seemingly suggested that it is unrealistic to expect a band in the prog metal genre to have those moments, which seems crazy to me. 

I actually have seen a bit of criticism of Rudess before for using sheet music on stage, but I have no problem with it.  It can't be easy to remember the 1,338 notes he plays every 11 seconds :P, and I would imagine the sheet music has indicators and whatnot as reminders for when he needs to trigger the different sounds on his keyboard since he usually plays everything on one and is constantly changing sounds. I wouldn't wish trying to remember that all by memory on anyone.  :lol :lol

Offline Ben_Jamin

  • Posts: 13642
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm just a man, thrown into existence by the gods
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1817 on: December 03, 2021, 07:12:53 AM »
Are we now looking for spontaneity and improvisation in a studio recording in the prog metal genre? The recent discussion on click track is about studio not live records.

No, you're mixing up two different things. I merely gave my take on click-tracks in both studio and live settings. Nowhere did I say I'm looking for spontaneity and/or improvisation the progressive metal genre, though I do actually believe it could make the genre more interesting and push it into a new direction, but that's a different discussion altogether.

 

Agreed. I was talking more in the live environment, but I don't like this idea that Dream Theater cannot have spontaneous and improvised moments in their studio songs simply because the genre to which they are normally assigned doesn't feature much of that.  If anything, that is a black mark against the genre (generally speaking, not against DT themselves).

Well, there is the ending to "At Wit's End" which seems to have been done off-the-cuff and is presented as a raw take, IIRC. The easter-egg ending to "Illumination Theory" also sounds like it was an improvised-sort-of piece. There's also the opening to "Viper King" which has Mike being a bit "spontaneous" with his hollering.

I don't think working with a click in the studio robs any band of their improvisation and spontaneity. As others have said, it's used as a tool to make mixing and mastering a much easier process, especially for bands who use a TON of instruments and channels on the mixing board. Some bands only need 4 or 8 channels to record, some use 32 or more, but using a click makes getting all of those sound files to line-up a LOT easier, especially if they want to cut-and-paste parts around. It's a much easier job than cutting tape and taping the reels together, etc. I'd say there are WAY more artists and musicians using clicks than you think, and more than those who don't, even groups whose music is almost entirely in 4/4. But for progressive bands who use a lot of different tempos and time signatures, it helps them keep themselves together.

What's next, are people going to rag on Jordan for using sheet music because he can't memorize his parts like the rest of the band? Is using sheet music "a crutch" on stage?  :facepalm: :lol

-Marc.

To be fair, I was not suggesting that DT has never had spontaneous or improvised moments in the studio, but pushing back on the post by erwinrafael, where he seemingly suggested that it is unrealistic to expect a band in the prog metal genre to have those moments, which seems crazy to me. 

I actually have seen a bit of criticism of Rudess before for using sheet music on stage, but I have no problem with it.  It can't be easy to remember the 1,338 notes he plays every 11 seconds :P, and I would imagine the sheet music has indicators and whatnot as reminders for when he needs to trigger the different sounds on his keyboard since he usually plays everything on one and is constantly changing sounds. I wouldn't wish trying to remember that all by memory on anyone.  :lol :lol

And yet I bet those people do not have a problem with all the musicians in an orchestra who read Sheet Music. Classically trained musicians know and utilize sheet music. How else can you compose and Rudess does write down notes when composing his music.

In this Ultimate Guitar interview is this quote:
Quote
"Yeah, these are really interesting things to talk about. I compose music in a lot of different ways, and I enjoy doing it in different ways.

"One is, as I said, I'm an improviser, and a lot of ideas come from something that I just feel, especially if you're feeling a particular emotion, somehow my hands can just kind of land on something that might be a little more special than otherwise.

"And then, if I'm in the writing zone, I'll try recording some of that into my logic session, logic is the DAW that I use, and I'll capture it that way.

"And then what's interesting is that, especially when I'm working on my own music, like [Jordan's 2019 solo album] 'Wired for Madness,' or something like that, I'll capture it, and then when I go to orchestrate it.

"I open up the window that shows me the notation of what I just played because it's not like I can necessarily even remember all the details of what I did.

"'I might just place it here, go like this... oh that was cool. OK, well, let's see it back. Now wait, OK, I can see what the bass line is so I can kind of invent or follow my bass line, I can add my string line while I'm looking at it, maybe something that's not there that I want to add, I can add.'

"But I use the notation very much in that case. But I can also write a lot of times... let's go to a Dream Theater thing where I'm sitting there with a piece of music paper on my lap.

"And I'll be like, 'You know what, guys? This would be a really cool part to be kind of contrapuntal, and I really need a few minutes to just write this out.'

"So everybody gets a cup of coffee, and I write out what John Petrucci just played, and I sit there with the music paper, and I'm looking at it, and I can line things up as you can really only do when you're in that mode."

The improv/spontaneity thing is a different point to the natural tempo one, and I can't see it being
 squashed by a click, unless you're using it in the writing, in which case it might encourage you not to change the tempo. Dunno.


I'd say there are WAY more artists and musicians using clicks than you think ...


Almost everyone uses a click to record, and it's a pity. It makes editing much easier. But it makes the overall recording less groovy/feely, imo.

No it doesn't. Music follows rhythm patterns within a set tempo. The notes length and values do not change. The tempo just speeds things up or slows them down. The click allows musicians to utilize a set tempo and keep the song consistently within the tempo. There are devices called metronomes which is what the click is. The DAW's allow musicians to easily set tempos, time signatures, and if the song doesn't quite sound right in a certain tempo, you can easily adjust the tempo to either go slower or faster without having to re-record everything in that tempo.

The grooves themselves follow the beats of the time signatures and a click does nothing to affect that groove. The tempo does affect the groove and if you speed things up or slows things down just a little bit can have an effect on the groove and it will make the songs, the pockets, the rhythms have less of an impact. Its why I have my criticisms for musicians that play the slower tempo songs slightly faster. Such as in Disappear.


Peoples expectations for bands are hilarious at times.
I don't know how they can be so proud of winning with them odds. - Little Big Man

"We can't rewrite history. We can learn our own history, and share it with other people. While, we learn, from them, their history." -Me,Myself,I

Offline DoctorAction

  • Posts: 1188
  • Everyday Glory
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1818 on: December 03, 2021, 08:30:23 AM »
There are devices called metronomes which is what the click is.

Never heard of 'em. You're making it up.

The grooves themselves follow the beats of the time signatures and a click does nothing to affect that groove. The tempo does affect the groove and if you speed things up or slows things down just a little bit can have an effect on the groove and it will make the songs, the pockets, the rhythms have less of an impact.

You're using the noun "grooves" there instead of "beats" or "rhythms". I said that no click would make it more "groovy/feely". What I'm thinking of is stuff like this:

The click/metronome removes the feel that would be there if the drummer deviated from the tempo by, for example, slowing down a long fill a little to stretch it out, before resuming to (about) the previous tempo, to give that fill more emphasis. Or delaying hitting a bass/crash hit to add more weight. Or coming back in faster after a previous section so the final verse is slightly faster. Or slowing the final passage down a bit so the final epic ending is more epic.

Peoples expectations for bands are hilarious at times.

It's not an expectation, I just thought it would be a cool thing.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 09:21:53 AM by DoctorAction »
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Offline Setlist Scotty

  • Posts: 3494
Re: *Official* A View from the Top of the World discussion thread
« Reply #1819 on: December 03, 2021, 10:10:31 AM »
Thanks to those who posted that impromptu jam - love to see that sort of thing happen.

Agreed.  It reminds me of the Rush show from Boston in 2010 (I think) when Alex's guitar wouldn't work right for like two minutes and he (despite being aggravated) scatted on the mic and sang "still no guitar" to the crowd while Geddy and Neil jammed around the La Villa Strangiato intro that they were starting until the guitar got working, and when the three kicked into the song full force, the crowd went crazy. That kind of live magic cannot work when you are playing to a programmed set with a click.
And Dream Theater did just that when JP's guitar failed in Paralyzed and Mangini and Jordan went into an inpromptu jam.
There is one difference between the example you cite Erwin in comparison to Kev's Rush example. In the case of the Rush song, the song started and the band kept on playing without ever stopping. That wasn't the case with the DT improv. JP started the song only to stop it before anyone else in the band could join in, and then the improv between JR and MM was a completely separate entity from Paralyzed - it's not as if the rest of the band was playing some extended intro to Paralyzed while waiting for JP to get his guitar working properly. So it's apples to oranges.



What's next, are people going to rag on Jordan for using sheet music because he can't memorize his parts like the rest of the band? Is using sheet music "a crutch" on stage?  :facepalm: :lol
IIRC, I don't think JR uses it as sheet music as much as he uses the display to remind him of the variety of patches and keyboard setups that he needs to switch between for each song.
As a basic rule, if you hate it, you must solely blame Portnoy. If it's good, then you must downplay MP's contribution to the band as not being important anyway, or claim he's just lying. It's the DTF way.