Rush Go Interactive On New Album

By John Powell, Jam!Showbiz, November 6, 1998

Let's dance tonight to a virtual song. Press this key and you can play along. Let's fly tonight on our virtual wings. Press this key to see amazing things. - "Virtuality" (Rush)

With the click of a mouse and the touch of a few keys, Rush fans are about to take Neil Peart's "Test For Echo" lyrics to heart. Those purchasing the "Different Stages" live concert collection (out Nov. 10th) will have the opportunity to "press a key" and truly "see amazing things".

The first disc in the three-CD set is specially enhanced to mimic the elaborate laser-light shows that are the trademark of any Rush concert.

Designed by Japanese computer artist Hisashi Hoda, the ClusterWorks program, once installed and launched, will animate a computer screen with intricate streams of colour and light. Ranging from tiny pin-point firebursts to bold kinetic strokes, the elaborate patterns randomly pulse to Rush's music as Disc One is played. The light shapes constantly evolve and never repeat.

Fans can also change the designs by moving their mouse and pressing designated keys.

Hoda and his program came to the attention of Rush's bassist/vocalist and "Different Stages" producer Geddy Lee, who was intrigued by the idea of simulating a Rush laser show. Hoda flew from Japan to Toronto and demonstrated the ClusterWorks program to the already computer/Net-savvy Lee. He was impressed.

"It's kind of a delicate imagery and, when it was mentioned, there were things about it that reminded the record company of Rush's live light show," said Lee, speaking to JAM! in an interview at the offices of Rush's Anthem Records. "So for that reason I had a look at it and I thought ... Well, as long as it doesn't, you know, f--k anything up with the production of the album, maybe there are some people who would enjoy it, and it's of no extra cost."

Also of no extra cost is Disc 3, a special limited edition bonus which features a long-lost Rush performance at London's Hammersmith Odeon during the 1978 "Farewell To Kings" tour. (More on that in our JAM! feature story next Monday).

Joking that the ClusterWorks enhancement may be of "special interest to people who smoke a lot of herbs", Lee had some light-hearted advice for those Rush fans who are so inclined.

"Get your stash out and vibe out for an hour," said Lee laughing.

Fans can try out a demo version of ClusterWorks and Hisashi Hoda's other projects at the OnScreen Art Project site at:

"Different Stages"--Enhanced Disc One--Interactive Selections: Dreamline Limelight Driven Bravado Animate Show Don't Tell The Trees Nobody's Hero Closer To The Heart 2112