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DVD review – Mike Portnoy’s In Constant Motion

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Mike Portnoy has once again submitted to his urge to chronicle all he does, and thus “In Constant Motion” was born! Not unlike “Liquid Drum Theater” Mike is the host but his music is the star once again. More so then last time in my opinion. In the time between the two videos, Mike has done a lot of different stuff. With DT (Dream Theater) and many other various side projects including: Transatlantic, OSI, Neal Moorse, & four different tribute bands. In Constant Motion goes through the highlights of what he’s accomplished in that time and he gives insight into his place of all the different bodies of work he’s been a part of. This is a three disk set with the first two disks being one half of the main feature, while the third disk is nothing but bonus features. The box it comes in is a unfolding sort of mechanism that hold all three disks and has a slot for the poster that is included in the package. It can be a bit difficult to put the case inside of its cover again but it’s not that big of a deal.The first disk is all about Mike’s work in DT since LQD (Liquid Drum Theater.) He’s since upgraded from the purple monster to an all white double kit appropriately named “The Albino Monster.” I’ve got to say that his drumming in this dvd is allot more interesting then the stuff he was playing back in the LDT era. Lot’s of cool tom grooves, better use of double bass, cooler grooves… he’s just changed for the better in my humble opinion. The movie as a whole is much more focused then LDT. Once you’re in the drum room with Mike it’s all business. There is little to no filler footage in ICM (In Constant Motion) which is an improvement from using filler footage badly. Don’t worry though, there is a ton of bonus footage in the bonus disk. There really isn’t much else to say about the first disk… he breaks down the song, performs it, then moves on to the next one. Some of the performances of the songs he breaks down were recordings from a live show DT did, but I prefer the studio performances because you can clearly see everything he does. The live performances have allot of flashing lights and cuts away from the kit so it loses some of its educational value. You do get your fair share of live show footage though. W00T.

The second disk is really where ICM differs from LDT. After his work in LTE (Liquid Tension Experiment) he kinda went side project crazy. He formed two original bands, Transatlantic and OSI (Office of Strategic Influence.) He formed and played in four tribute bands as a salute to the four big drummers that influenced him when he was just a wee lad. He did session work for Neal Morse, John Arch and John Petrucci while John was in the G3 tour. To top it off he sat in with Overkill and Fate’s Warning. You get performances and some background into each of the different projects but only 3 of those projects are dissected like his work with DT in the first disk. Mike only covers and dissects songs from his work with Transatlantic, OSI, and Neal Morse and only one song per project. Every thing else on this disk is strictly performance w/o in-depth musical analysis. Though by the time you get to this point in the movie you’ve probably had it with Mike breaking down drum parts so the analytical absence is a welcome change.

One of the most entertaining aspects of this disk is watching Mike play on tons of different kits. He starts on a Tama Starclassic Mirage kit. He calls it a medium size kit even though it’s either a 7 or an 8 piece kit with about 9 or 10 cymbals… difference in perception I suppose. His next kit is the OSI kit… which is actually the remnants of his Red Monster that he used in Japan when he was touring with DT. It genuinely is a very small kit, it’s only a four piece… however it’s surrounded by about 8 or 9 cymbals. Of course all the drum sets he used with his four tribute bands were custom made by Tama to mimic Mike’s favorite kit of each different drummer. Clever segue to… the tribute band section!

My favorite section of the second disk, nay, the whole film, is undoubtedly, the tribute band section! I just woulndn’t feel good about myself if I didn’t cover this section. Mike pays tribute to: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rush and their respective drummers: Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Neil Peart. This is the section where Mike speaks about the guys who got him drumming in the first place. After he speaks about each drummer he rolls footage of him playing with the tribute band of the corresponding drummer. With his Beatles tribute band (Yellow Matter Custard) he covers Magical Mystery Tour. With his Led Zeppelin tribute band (hammer of the gods) he plays Moby Dick W/drumsolo. With his Who tribute (Amazing Journey) he covers “Amazing Journey” & “Sparks,” both off the Tommy album. With his Rush tribute band (Cygnus and the sea monsters) he covers YYZ as it was performed on the “Exit… Stage Left” recording. It’s just really great to see Mike paying tribute to those who inspired him and some of the best performance footage comes from this section. My favorite performance of the entire dvd is his tribute to Keith Moon, if nothing else because you gotta admire him for playing a replica of Keith’s kit. No ride, no hi-hats, no splashes or chinas… three crashes and the drums. It must be a real trip playing a kit where you have no ride or hats, your traditional timekeepers. It’s all riding the crash and fills on the drums. Made me respect Keith in a whole new way after seeing that.

The third disk is the bonus disk… for those of you who just don’t know when to say when. There is a tour of the Albino Monster, and interview with Eric Disrude Mike’s drum tech, a photo gallery, pdfs, a drum duet with Charlie Benate, and Jason Bittner, and lotsa live DT footage. After the first two disks, I gotta say that I was worn out. I just didn’t have the stamina to sit through the bonus disk in it’s entirety in one sitting. Bottom line, you get all the extras you want. Just trust me.

Over all this dvd is a worth sequel to LTD. Once again if you’re looking for a general instructional video, this dvd doesn’t earn a very good score. If you come looking for Mike and Mike’s music you’ve come to the right place. I’m giving this one 4.5 stars out of 5. I’m leaving out the other 1/2 of the fifth star because of the lack of analysis on the second disk. I know I said that it was a relief earlier in the review, but you gotta understand that I was watching the whole thing in one go. After I watched it the first time I found myself wanting more analysis of the music in the 2nd disk. He breaks down 6 DT tracks and only 3 side project tracks… he could have at least made it even.

Bottom line, if you love Mike then this is a must have.. but you could have figured that out without my help.

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