You now, cramming 10 minutes worth of musical changes and ideas into a 5 or 6 minute song. And for the most part succeeding, IMO.
But now the band is about to release another long-form album based around a story. And news today is that they are working with sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson to turn the story into a book as well. Anderson posted to his site:
After dropping hints for a while, finally the big announcement, a new project unlike any other I've ever done...and something that I consider very cool.
Most of you are aware of my long-standing friendship with Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist from the legendary rock band Rush, as well as how much Rush has influenced my work. My first novel Resurrection, Inc. was closely inspired by the Rush album "Grace Under Pressure," and I can point to dozens of other novels and stories that bear a clear Rush influence.
For more than twenty years, Neil and I have wanted to collaborate on something MAJOR, a way we could tie together our imaginations, and at last that's happening.
I'm writing the novelization of Rush's forthcoming album Clockwork Angels, their first new CD in five years. Imagine if someone had written the novel of The Wall, Tommy, or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band when those classic albums were released. For Rush fans, CLOCKWORK ANGELS is that project.
I worked together with Neil to flesh out the epic story told over the course of the music, as well as the artist Hugh Syme whose paintings fill the CD booklet. In a young man's quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. To whet your appetite, Rush released the first two tracks, "Caravan" and "BU2B"-listen to those songs to get an idea of the story's beginning.
I'm writing the chapters now, incorporating the lyrics into the narrative, and having a fantastic time. More details to come, but for now-to quote a line from Caravan: "I can't stop thinking big."
Now I'm truly geeked up about this album. The title track, according to Alex Lifeson, is an "epic song" and a "multi-parted piece."
And Neil Peart posted to his website that he has recorded the drums in a way completely new to him as well - by mostly improvising the parts! Shock! Dig it:
I played through each song just a few times on my own, checking out patterns and fills that might work, then called in Booujzhe [producer Nick Raskulinecz]. He stood in the room with me, facing my drums, with a music stand and a single drumstick—he was my conductor, and I was his orchestra... I would attack the drums, responding to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes, and together we would hammer out the basic architecture of the part. His baton would conduct me into choruses, half-time bridges, and double-time outros and so on—so I didn’t have to worry about their durations. No counting, and no endless repetition.
The band has said that the two songs they already released (Caravan and BU2B) were a blueprint for the rest of the album. So with that in mind, enjoy again Caravan live while we wait for the rest of this likely epic album to drop: