Trey’s Tunes


Courtesy of Jonathan Bayer

“2112” is Rush’s fourth studio album. It was released on April 1, 1976.

Trey Boore, Reporter

“A Passage To Bangkok” is one of the first Rush songs that I had ever heard of. From there, I was hooked on their versatile, hard rock sound and outstanding vocals of Geddy Lee. This song was featured on their fourth studio album, 2112. Released in 1976—46 years later—this LP (long-playing record) still holds up as one of my favorite rush albums. 

The track list consists of: 

  1. Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx / Discovery / Presentation / Oracle / Soliloquy / Grand Finale – Medley 
  2. A Passage To Bangkok
  3. The Twilight Zone 
  4. Lessons
  5. Tears
  6. Something For Nothing

The unique thing about this LP is it is a concept album (tells a story). Obviously, music can be perceived in many different ways, but the main idea is based in the year 2112, in a dystopian society and a man’s experiences. I really like how they were able to use this fantasy story and create it into more than just text. It really shows the artistic and craftsmanship that this band had. 

The first song is 20 minutes long. Technically, it is seven parts put into one which tell the story. On Spotify, it is listed as “2112: Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx / Discovery / Presentation / Oracle / Soliloquy / Grand Finale – Medley.” It begins with an electronic, space-like sound. Almost like how I’d imagine a stereotypical UFO sound. As soon as the instrumentals hit, I know it is Rush because of that identifiable tone. Heavy dark sounding guitar mixed with bright rhythm guitar. It is an interesting but excellent mix. As many overtures go, to me, it sounds like the opening of the album, preparing for the art that is about to be displayed for the ears. This is exactly what Rush did. Through this vocaless song, they seamlessly captured all of the tracks into one. 

One explosion sound effect later and the real beginning starts. “The Temples Of Syrinx” introduces the first idea of where they really were going with this album. It talks about the Temple of Syrinx and priests who controlled the world in 2112, setting the theme for the dystopian story. Quick paste drums and strings set that god-like feel which creates a sense of power. It ends off with a quiet acoustic guitar which heavily differs from the loud and quick previous half. 

This allows it to transition into the next song, “Discovery.” The sound of water is flowing and fades in with the guitarist, Alex Lifeson, what sounds like him tuning his guitar. As the tale goes, a farmer discovers a guitar and learns how to play it. The lyrics are written in first person and when paying close attention, the guitar seems to be written in first person too. The skill level improves with the track and the complexity progresses as well. There are a few parts when the guitar picks up into this happy sound, but for the most part it remains soft and calm and creates an image in listeners heads. 

The following part is called “Presentation.” Just like the name, it’s about presenting the guitar from the old world to these dystopian priests. Right off the bat, this powerful sound returns. The hard driving rock creates an uprising feel which suggests a change is about to come. After reading and listening to the lyrics, it is not hard for me to identify the dialogue between the speakers. When sharing the found guitar with the priest, the verses are calm and smooth. Though, when the script turns to the priest it captures his angered emotions, the song follows with sharp and heavy chords and the drums pounding. One notable thing that stands out to me musically, is the quick Neil Peart drum fills within the chorus.  

The next three songs put an end to this 20 minute masterpiece. First, “Oracle: The Dream” kind of marks a changing point in the plot. The man keeps his beliefs about the guitar, going against the priest’s words. The soft intro quickly fades as it transitions into the recurring fast paced beats. It talks about his dream where a middle man comes down and leads the man through these “astral nights and galactic days.” The oracle reassures him that he is making the right decision. It’s not a super long part, considering it’s only two minutes long but it keeps things flowing. “Soliloquy” is quite similar, continuing the back and forth thoughts and the emotion is displayed through the music. Alex Lifeson also rips out an amazing solo to add fire to the flame. Finally “Grand Finale” hits. A sonic armada of rock and roll perfectly put together wraps everything up. The lyrics end on “Attention all planets of the solar federation, we have assumed control.” 

The second side of this album is the one that started it all. “Passage To Bangkok” is by far one of my favorite rush songs, if not my favorite. The guitar riff alone speaks for itself. When the rest of the band kicks in, the mood doesn’t fail to pick up. The vocals also fit so perfectly and are honestly satisfying to listen to. It has a very cultured feel to it and Geddy Lee’s bass is more predominant which never gets old. 

“The Twilight Zone” has a different feel than most Rush songs. Personally I think it sounds like it could be from the 80s. The soft-ish tune is by no means bad but definitely isn’t on the top of my list. It doesn’t seem to match up with the rest of the LP but I think the concept idea and lyrics are pretty cool. 

On the other hand, “Lessons” seem to put things back in order. It has a classic groove to it and gets a little heavier here and there. One of my favorite features in this song comes in around the chorus when the guitar harmonizes with the high pitch voice of Geddy Lee. It sounds great and kind of puts into more perspective his confounding range. 

If I had a playlist dedicated to soft songs I like, I would put this next track on it. “Tears” is very relaxing yet mournful. It’s not something that I’d expect to hear from rush but it is different. A good kind of difference. It’s a classic sad love ballad that is written in the way Rush does it best. 

The final song on 2112 is none other than “Something For Nothing.” This is probably my second favorite track on the LP because of that sound that makes me think, “This is Rush.” It begins with a softer tone which occurred often throughout this album. Though, not long after the rest of the band attacks, once again creating that powerful feel. The energy continues to build up, feeling like it may never end. Then the chorus hits. It’s like a quick release as now it feels like the song can flow smoothly away from the choppy build up and just keeps getting better. It has a very catchy chorus in my opinion and it marks a magnificent ending to a beautifully arranged album. 

Something I learned while doing some research on this album is that there are YouTube videos that depict the 2112 story in a comic like style with the music playing over them. They are posted by Rush themselves and I find it very interesting and creative how they were able to bring their lyrics to comics. Nobody does it quite like Rush does.