Release date for Rush's long-awaited Clockwork Angels appear on two Japanese sites

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Two separate music sites, and, have posted a May 23 release date for Rush’s Clockwork Angels album — the first indications of when this long-awaited project might appear.

No firm dates have been announced for the U.S., or anywhere else, through the band. Still, fans have to be circling that date now as a strong possibility. This is Rush’s first studio effort since 2007’s Snakes and Arrows.

[MARCH 7, 2012 UPDATE!: U.S. release dates have been confirmed; preorder your copy of Rush’s ‘Clockwork Angels,’ the band’s first studio project since 2007, HERE.]

Rush has already released two advance singles from Clockwork Angels, “Caravan” (see below) and “BU2B” (here). Singer Geddy Lee, in a recent talk with Billboard, said the tracks “are a great indication of where this album’s going, although there’s much more variety than just what those two songs offer.”

Rush began work on the new project in late 2009, drummer Neil Peart said in an update on his official site, then took a hiatus to undertake the “Time Machine” tour — which included 81 shows in North America, South America and Europe. The trio, which also includes Alex Lifeson, reconvened last October to complete the project, Peart said. They are again working with producer Nick “Booujzhe” Raskulinecz, helming his second project for Rush.

The results look to be among the most improvisational yet for Peart.

“Rush songs tend to have complicated arrangements, with odd numbers of beats, bars, and measures all over the place, and our latest songs are no different (maybe worse — or better, depending),” Peart said. “In the past, much of my preparation time would be spent just learning all that. I don’t like to count those parts, but rather play them enough that I begin to feel the changes in a musical way. Playing it through again and again, those elements became ‘the song.’ This time I handed that job over to Booujzhe. (And he loved it!) 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.”

Lee said fans could look forward to a more straight-forward recording, in comparison with the overdub-heavy Snakes and Arrows. “In retrospect, I feel we kind of overdid it with overdubs,” Lee said. “We’d like to simplify that, just in terms of making sure the guitar, bass and drum sounds are big and loud and clear, and any time we are going to add an overdub, to make sure that it definitely is adding and not subtracting.”

Here’s a look back at our previous thoughts on Rush. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011: LIVE IN CLEVELAND (2011): Rush used this opportunity to, as they really have been doing each tour lately, rifle through catalog and pull out some dusty old gems (“Time Stand Still,” reggae “Working Man,” “Marathon,” “Subdivisions,” “Stick It Out” and “Leave That Thing Alone”) and even one bonafide “never been played before” fan favorite (“Presto”) but, most importantly, a run-through of their entire classic Moving Pictures album for its 30th anniversary. Some of those tunes have been played a lot (“Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” I’m looking at you) but others have disappeared for far, far too long. Welcome back to the stage “The Camera Eye” and “Witch Hunt.” Maybe you’ll stick around for a couple tours?

When most think of Rush, it’s their instrumental virtuosity (especially drummer Neil Peart) that comes to mind first. Or the love or hatred of Geddy Lee’s vocals. Other times it’s Peart’s second role as lyricist for the band that garners attention, and it’s another love or hate area of focus: Ayn Rand, sci-fi, songs about balding, fights between dogs and, well, whatever a Bytor is, these are all common targets for those who want to throw stones. We’re here to present an argument for the defense.

RUSH – ROLL THE BONES (1991; 2011 reissue): Listeners will hear immediately that the sound is indeed lighter and quieter, and the soundstage is thinner than either previous version. But it’s all to better show off the album’s immaculate recording, which does get a bit muffled in the Atlantic pressings. This is where you can revel in the tone of Geddy’s maturing voice, or the textures of Alex Lifeson’s guitar, or the layers of keyboard washes that are now magically so much more discernible from one another. With regard to those keyboard washes, what’s funny is that once you hear them here, you can’t help but notice them in the other versions, too. It just took this delicate audiophile edition to separate them out.

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