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The Tangent - Not As Good As The Book CD (album) cover

NOT AS GOOD AS THE BOOK

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 291 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This will be hard to beat for album of the year.

Some people may call the sound of bands like THE TANGENT "regressive" or "retro". I think that what this band has delivered with "Not as Good as the Book" is one of the best symphonic-prog albums to come out in the last few years, thus helping keep prog's most revered sub-genre alive and well. Unlike other more avant-garde bands of today, groups like THE TANGENT don't feel afraid to recognize their allegiance to progressive-rock and to give it all in their records: very-long epic songs, extensive jamming and instrumental sections, harmonies and melodies of varied type and form, lyrics that deal with abstract subjects and constant displays of technical wizardry in the way of solos, odd- time signatures and sudden tempo changes. But what really makes this album so fantastic is that, all of these things, the band manages to do them right.

Bearing some resemblance to fellow symphonic-masters THE FLOWER KINGS (some of its members play or have played in that band after all), THE TANGENT combines elements of traditional 70's symphonic rock (like the use of mellotron and the structures of songs) with elements from jazz, hard rock, and other genres. What separates this album from its predecessors is that herein THE TANGENT has achieved perfection in the combining of all those different influences. Whereas "The Music that died Alone" sounded too-symphonic and "The World that we Drive Through" too jazzy (I haven't heard their other album), in "Not as Good as the Book" we have a perfect balance. The melodies, which were somewhat weaker in "The World", are outstanding now, and at the same time, the jamming and the very interesting harmonies have not been sacrificed.

The musicianship is first-rate throughout the whole record, starting with Tillson, the mastermind, a keyboard master. The vocals in THE TANGENT remind us of Roger Waters and Peter Hammill but also of John Wetton or Roine Stolt. The guitar duties are masterfully handled by Jakszyk, as the acoustics are by Manning. But is the rhythm section, inherited from THE FLOWER KINGS, which, in my view, steals the show, with an amazing coordinated work by Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar that keeps the machine running smoothly from symphonic to jazz arenas, from hard rock passages to quiet interludes. It's a performance of stellar quality.

A Crisis in Midlife (9/10) starts things up with a very optimistic, cosmic keyboard riff and a thunderous bass line that makes us wait for the best. The middle section is much jazzier than the very hard-rock sections that enclose it. Very good.

Lost in London 25 Years Later (8.5/10) starts rather ambiguously, and shifts from jazzy hard rock to a very 70's-flavored, spacey atmosphere. The middle section features a jazzy instrumental passage where guitars, bass and drums amaze us while the piano keeps everything in place. Pure prog- rock bliss.

The Ethernet (8.5/10) has a very quiet beginning, very atmospheric, just voice over keys and some effects. The vocals face their biggest challenge here, and even if they don't manage to totally win, they are good enough for the song's purposes. All the song is rather slow and pensive, but it closes with a very positive reaffirmation of hope followed by a guitar section which sounds very close to neo-prog. Intriguing song.

Celebrity Puree (9/10) is an instrumental track of outstanding energy, with a beginning that, after a few introductory compasses, even borders on metal territory, double-bass drum and everything. Quite an excellent instrumental, it dissolves masterfully into the next song.

Not as Good as The Book (10/10) is, in my opinion, the best song in the album and a magnificent achievement by THE TANGENT, mixing catchy melody and fabulous performances with progressive elements in a song not entirely unlike some of the best bands like THE FLOWER KINGS have offered. After an insecure verse, the chorus is reassuring, even though in a resignation kind-of-way. The middle section is pure symphonic bliss, and the closing which features more fusion of genres is rather spectacular. Superb song.

A Sale of Two Souls (8.5/10) starts only with acoustic guitar and piano, followed by vocals. It's in moments like this when the limitations of the singer are evident, but they never get in the way of the music. The flute accentuates the voice with pianos and keys supporting it and elevating this slow song to a higher level. The final section with is more desperate, with the vocals getting angry and dramatic (very Waters-esque) and the acoustic guitar being strummed violently. Very good.

Bat out of Basildon (8.5/10) is the harder track in the album, but surrounded by a harsh-sounding verse is a middle section of faster speed and more relentless impulse. A good way to close disc 1.

Four Egos, One War (9/10) is an epic of gigantic proportions, taking the entire half of disc 2. This is a progressive-rock fan's dream, with melodies abounding surrounded by extended instrumental sections and constant changes of mood. I think the track is slightly longer than needed, and keeping it below the 20-minute mark would've made it even better.

The Full Gamut (9.5/10) is another mammoth of a track, but it leaves me even more satisfied than the previous one. The melodies are better, and the structure in general makes even more sense than in the first epic on this disc. A fantastic closer to this album.

Not many bands can accomplish recording not one but two 20+-minute songs in one double album where the rest of the songs average 7 minutes and still keep me interested all the way through the end. Even though THE TANGENT lost me for a few seconds, that's nothing compared to the more than 90 minutes that it managed to entertain me, both on an intellectual and emotional level. This is a remarkable album, one of the best in the modern symphonic-prog movement, and very likely, the best album of 2008. It will take a really supreme masterpiece to top this one.

Buy it. Now. "Not as Good As The Book" it is not. It is better.

The T | 5/5 |

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