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The Tangent - A Place In The Queue CD (album) cover

A PLACE IN THE QUEUE

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.80 | 246 ratings

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Penumbra
5 stars Art Rock at its finest.

I. "In Earnest": Jazz is so evident in this piece about a post-war fighter pilot reminiscing about the war. The thus-influenced rock filled with piano, hammond organ, synthesizer oscillation, beautifull vocals, and excellent guitar. Beginning on a note of excellent chamber music-esque piano playing delivered by the excellent Tillison, drums quickly fly into motion. Salazar is top-notch in his percussion, and Tillison's old Hammond Organ shines with a rotor amplification system that makes one melt. An important feature of the skilfull playing is that (1) it never appears to wander or become repetitive in its changes, and (2) the music does not cease, whether it's the piano providing a lead or background rhythm. The notes are always flying on the bass, drums, organ, piano, and above-par singing from the uniquely-voiced Tillison. Toward the end of this true "epic", there is a beautiful wall of sound involving a guitar solo: not to be missed! This is definitely one of my favourite prog pieces made in the last forty years. (2007)

II. "Lost in London": The second of two immensely strong pieces, this time coming back in an even more powerful pre-Canterbury jazz vein. With Baine's piano playing at its height, there is a reminscence of the old 1950's jam jazz, and it is an excellent homage without becoming too much like its predecessor. Often, this reviewer finds himself humming or outright singing Tillison's powerful lyrics and unique vocalization style. The feeling of timelessness is ruined a tad at the conclusion by some politically charged lyrics, but the beautiful downkey piano melodies, mixed with synthesizers and guitars, really erase this concern.

III. "DIY Surgery": A short piece of true jam jazz, mirroring the saxophones of early 1970's experimental playing in that genre. Travis' bizarre saxophone solo, mixed with Tillison's wonderfully odd tone of voice, combine to make a memorable, if at times noisey piece. It might be bordering on filler, but it generates a certain interest when Tillison sings of "puss and ooze" in conjunction with the viruoistic reed playing.

IV. "GPS Culture": The first of several anti-techno culture oriented pieces, the political message does not really matter here due to such amazingly soaring music pieces. Starting off with a nice percussive organ arpeggio, it quickly spirals into very high-flying guitar and keyboard play-offs. In truth, this piece appears to be more about the vocals and concept relating to the metaphorical "queue" all humans are part of. After a few repeats of the chorus, one might wish for more, and one gets more! As if realizing it is becoming a tad repetitious, "GPS Culture" moves onward to include acoustic guitar and some playful bass guitar. The entire entry is very melodic, and strong after perhaps a minute of peaceful wandering. Of course, the all-knowing piano comes in eventually, and just adds that "classic" touch to the already solid and powerful.

V. "Follow Your Leaderss": The Tangent on a very pure jam session, with "wah wah" effects on the electric guitar. Yet again the hammond shines, but the flute really takes over a few times, lending a folk tinge to the proceedings. There are disturbing pieces of synthesizer stabs, almost hinting at a dystopian world in the imagination. A beautifully (perhaps tortured) played guitar solo takes over the mix after some what-can-only-be-described-as-amazing bass playing goes on. The funeral-like minor key jazz works extremely well, and one feels pathos and understanding of what Tillison, the primary writer, is feeling and what he believes in. "Follow Your Leaders" is utterly superb.

VI. "The Sun in My Eyes": A short but sweet homage to the older progressive bands, particularly Yes. Liberal use of synthesized horns, piano flourishes, and the sarcastic lyrics/vocals lend an excellent faux-disco touch. The irony is self-aware, and I believe The Tangent is proud of this song; it is played with such bravado and pure fun. As in the past few pieces, the bass guitar is particularly strong and sounds as if it is always running with perfect funk precision.

VII. "A Place in the Queue": Sounding grandiose, lumbering, and downright contrived is the last piece. Beginning with a tensed and anxious drumroll, it falls straight into chaos immediately. The saxophone, so long repressed, comes to the forefront for the first time in a while and blares out some excellent solo material. Acoustic guitar and atmospheric synthesizer sounds underly the first two minutes before Tillison begins vocalizing. The lyrics/vocals are intensely moving to simply sit down and listen to. Speaking of a metaphorical queue in which the average person is placed and processed throughout life, the concept is original and depressing. Tillison's varied vocals, moving from quiet to powerful to bizarre to emotional to cold, then back to quiet again, are amazing and I am indebted to this man for introducing me to such an interesting concept to think about! A very nice piano solo, strangely reminiscent of "In Earnest", comes up around the six minute mark, and the saxophone comes up again in a repressed and muted mode. Unfortunately, after the interestingly vocalized and very emotional 12-15 minute point, I found that the same chorus began to be repeated. It appears that toward the end, in an effort to have the default "very long prog epic", The Tangent fell prey to modern standards. It is a beautiful song, but drags on about eight minutes longer than it should; although, the coda contains an excellent build up and the climax is beautiful.

This album affected me greatly the moment I listened to it; the concept, the musical skill, the emotion, and the obvious attention paid to production just blew me away. It still blows me away, and if I could give this album eight points out of five, I would gladly do so. Still, it is as it is: 5/5. Jazz and Prog together is a beautiful marriage, and this marriage should be purchased quickly.

Penumbra | 5/5 |

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