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The Tangent - The World That We Drive Through CD (album) cover


The Tangent


Eclectic Prog

3.75 | 310 ratings

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4 stars A Grower.

The charms of some albums hit one immediately, while those of others take their time. I picked this one up after getting most of the other Tangent albums first, and initially was not as impressed. While their debut ('The Music that Died Alone') is easy to cognitively map, this one takes longer, partially because the compositions are more dense (tri-tone intervals are all over this album!) , partially there are fewer theatrics (i.e. really obvious complex sections), and partially because each tune on this album shares some sonic and rhythmic similarities. So on the first couple of listens one might not easily remember the distinctions and different sections, whereas the tunes on the debut are very distinct and easily identifiable. Also, I didn't initially take to the opening track, "The Winning Game", and I have to say it has taken longer for me to warm up to that song.

However, over time I find this album has grown on me, and now I actually find I put this one on more often than the debut. There are a few reasons for this. For one, I think the flow works well - I enjoy listening to this album all the way through, and there are no songs or even parts of songs that I dislike (I have warmed up to The Winning Game too). Secondly, the musicianship is really outstanding. Because the musicians (especially the rhythm section) don't have too many chances to show off here, one might not notice on first listen just how stellar and musical the playing is, particularly since one is trying to make out the singing and map the songs. Of course, Tillison and Baine are awesome on the keys - that is to be expected. But the rhythm section is also really top notch. Zoltan Csorsz (who played on the debut, and on some of the best Flower Kings albums), is such an excellent drummer, and Jonas Reingold is an awesome bass player, in my opinion one of the best in the world still active. Their work on this album is so good, I could turn off the rest of the band and be happy just listening to the rhythm section for the hour. And there are some great jazzy sections where the rest of the band turns down, and Sam Baine solos on piano over some great grooves. Roine Stolt's guitar playing is great too, even though I think Roine Stolt's vocals don't work as well on The Tangent albums as on his other projects. For instance, I particularly like his guitar work on the opening track, "The Winning Game", even as I kindof wish that Andy Tillison had been the lead singer (Tillison wrote all the lyrics and it is really his message, so like on later Tangent albums it seems appropriate for him to sing them, even though I admit he is not always the most accurate singer). Saying this, the album feels more like a band effort than the debut or some other Tangent albums, particularly with Sam Baine and Guy Manning adding their own vocals. There is even a tune on this album written by Sam Baine ("Photosynthesis") and it is one of the better tracks on the album too. The long epic that (sort of) closes the album, "A Gap in the Night", is a high-quality long tune, musically up there with their other epics, and the title track is very good. However, my favourite track here is the second track, "Skipping the Distance". I find it the most musical, with some great groovy sections as well as some really great musical use of dissonance.

There is also a bonus track at the end ("Exponenzgesetz") performed solely be Tillison in the style of Tangerine Dream. This track carries less heft and really could have been left off the album without any drop in quality, although it is better than most things TD recorded in the 80s. Tillison stated that it was meant for a solo project called "Tangent of Dreams", and listening to it I can't help but wish that Tillison had released such an album. But it is a nice-enough post-close to the album.

Overall, while I like some of the later Tangent even better than this one, this one has slowly grown on me. The first year I had it I would have given it three stars, but after a few years I now rate it 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars. It has staying power. Best not to judge it too early.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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