REVIEW: JORDAN RUDESS – “Wired For Madness”
It’s been four years since Jordan Rudess last released a solo album, the highly talented Dream Theater keyboardist has kept himself quite busy during that time releasing two albums with his bandmates and embarking on his memorable Bach to Rock world tour, a one-man show that gave him the chance to play the music that greatly influenced an exceptional career that has lasted for more than three decades.
2019 has already proven to be quite eventful for Rudess with an extensive Dream Theater tour in support of the band’s latest opus ‘Distance over Time’ and the release of his brand new solo album ‘Wired For Madness.’ Unlike some of his previous solo records that focused just on his acoustic piano playing this LP marks an uncompromising return to the era of full-blown rock albums with the synthesizers and electronics boldly upfront.
The title song is in two parts divided into smaller movements and tells the science-fiction tale of a man who wants to become computerized and use technology to advance his life. This is where Rudess really shines, dazzling listeners with beauty and virtuosity while cross-pollinating genres from classical music, ragtime jazz, metal and some very icy synths that would have sounded great as the theme music to an 80’s cop show. His singing vocals whilst not particularly exceptional do personalize songs such as “Off the Ground” showing the depth of his singing range and the emotion he manages to pull off as well as a skill for writing great melodic choruses. This is a record that finds a happy middle between using unusual vintage sounds that would have sounded great in the ’70s as well as more modern video gameish sounds like on the beginning of the composition “Drop Twist.”
We are also treated to some old-fashioned blues on the song “Just Can’t Win.” It’s a fine rendition of where Rock music started and a fitting tribute to the Chicago’s blues legends. The LP ends with “Why I Dream” a majestic tune that could work in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. It has some captivating solos by Rudess and brings the song and the album to an epic conclusion.
‘Wired For Madness’ is a fun listen and speaks volumes of why Jordan Rudess is amongst the pantheon of great progressive rock musicians. It’s also his mastery at using the studio as an instrument that makes this record stand out alongside his enthusiasm to use as much gear and technology as any solo musician can use. While Dream Theater fans are still digesting ‘Distance Over Time’, this album is an opportunity to be open-minded about how the piano, electronic keyboard, and synthesizer are magnificent instruments that can enhance all styles of music, especially hard rock and metal. As the album title suggests, Rudess is musically and creatively wired for madness and eager to take everyone along for the ride!