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The Tangent - The Music That Died Alone CD (album) cover

THE MUSIC THAT DIED ALONE

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.96 | 344 ratings

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Walkscore
3 stars The beginning of an important original voice in music.

Originally begun as an Andy Tillison solo project (hence the name he gave it, 'The Tangent'), after getting so many great players to contribute Tillison realized he had created a new band. In addition to getting Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold, and Zoltan Csorsz from the Flower Kings to play on it (guitar, bass, drums, respectively), he also invited David Jackson, the sax/flute-playing original founder of Van Der Graff Generator to contribute. Along with Sam Baine (piano) and Guy Manning (guitar, mandolin), who Tillison had played with and who continued to play with The Tangent, this made for a formidable concentration of talent. The music is highly band-oriented, and there are lots of great solos and opportunities to shine, so it was natural to think of taking this line-up and creating a semi-permanent band out of it. And thus, The Tangent - one of the more exciting new voices in progressive rock - was born. This album is thus an important milestone in music history (at least for those, like myself, who really like the band and Tillison's writing).

As for the album, my reactions have always had two sides ever since my first play, although for the first year or so I would have rated this in the four-star realm. I really like the playing, and there are great sections in each of the songs. The piece that has lasted best for me is "The Canterbury Sequence". Across his albums (and in his writing) Tillison is very up front about his influences, and often writes tunes "in the style of" or "in celebration of", for pieces across many albums. This particular song is (obviously) written in both celebration and style of the Canterbury scene, and there is even a short snippet of "Chaos at the Greasy Spoon" from Hatfield and the North's second album in the middle of it. The lyrics are fun and unpretentious, the drumming nice and jazzy, and feel very warm. It is understandable why so many fans rate this piece highly. Awesome track! (and I say this not only as a huge fan of the Canterbury scene).

The other pieces, however, are more mixed. The second-best composition is the title track ("the Music that Died Alone"). It is very musical, with some great moody sections. The lyrics are a tad pretentious though, and I have to say, a bit too 'obvious', if that is the right word. The long epic, "In Darkest Dreams" is even more mixed. I really like some of the parts of this tune, including the opening theme which Tillison plays on the keys, and some of the great grooves (and solos) the appear from time to time. However, the "This sleep is not what is seems" part for me interrupts the flow in a way that always makes me wince, and the lyrics here again sound a bit obvious. Another thing: Tillison knows he is not the most accurate singer (he often sings slightly out of tune), and on this album he has Roine Stolt and Guy Manning help out with the vocals. Stolt is the dominant vocalist in Darkest Dreams, and while I like his singing in The Flower Kings, I don't think it works as well in the The Tangent. Tillison's lyrics, perhaps more than others, have a personal character that goes very well with Tillison's voice. I wish that Tillison had sung the tune himself. On later albums, he would do this, and even though it means sometimes dealing with slightly out-of-tune vocals, I think it is better than having others sing them for you. But it seems to me on this album, Tillison was a bit self-conscious about his singing. On the plus side, when he DOES sing (as on the most of the other tracks) it seems he did multiple takes in order to get the intonation right, so his singing here is actually generally better than on later albums. So, in a way, this is even more reason for him to sing the epic. Later on, The Tangent released a live album ("Going Off On One") containing a live version of "In Darkest Dreams", and Tillison sang the lead on that version. I think the live version is much better. Finally, there is a short track "Up the Hill From Here", which is among The Tangent's weakest tracks. If it had been left off the album, it would have strengthened the album from my perspective.

Overall, this is an important album that anyone interested in The Tangent should own. After a number of years of listening to it, my rating has declined slightly but by enough that it no longer rates in the 4-star range, and now rates for me at the high end of 3 PA stars (7.7 of 10 on my 10-point scale).

Walkscore | 3/5 |

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