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The Tangent - COMM CD (album) cover

COMM

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 339 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Walkscore
4 stars First of a new Tangent era, with some archetypical Tangent epics.

This Tangent album marks a new era for the band, one we might call the Luke Machin era (who joins on electric guitar). The first album not to feature Guy Manning, by this time the only original member left is Andy Tillison himself. Bassist Jonathan Barrett would leave after this album too, and neither drummers Nick Redwood (who played on the album), nor Tony Latham (who was supposed to become a permanent member), would play on any other Tangent albums. These line-up changes alone might quality the Tangent as a prog band! Actually, Theo Travis is on this album too, and I consider him to be a core member, so it is not just Tillison. With the addition of Machin on guitar, the Tangent once again has a virtuoso guitarist, and Luke is truly excellent. His solos on the album are all top notch - very fluid, fast, and musical. Travis of course is also excellent, as is Tillison himself, so the solo sections on this album are all highly satisfying (the rhythm section is good too, no issues, although nothing as stellar as when Jonas Reingold is on bass grooving along with one of the Swedish drummers who have played in the band). Yet, despite all the changes, this album feels once again like a band album. It has a cohesive sound too.

Most of the music here is excellent, and expertly recorded and performed. The opening and closing tracks, both epics, are the clear highlights. The opener, 20-min 'The Wiki Man', talks about the evolution of the internet and how dependent on it our identities are, and does so in a nice direct way. Nice lyrics that hit home, and the music is excellent, with lots of great changes and solos. The 16-min closing track, "Titanic calls Carpathia", is about the first radio call and the importance of the development of communications technology since that time (both its benefits and its darker sides) - another excellent piece, even better than the opening track. Together these two songs add up to 37 minutes. The three remaining pieces, in comparison, are filler. Of these it is the short (6-min) "Tech Support Guy" that is musically most interesting. "Shoot them down" is a ballad written and sung by Jonathan Barrett - fairly decent, and a little different from the usual Tillison song, but nothing to write home about. I am not so keen on the main themes in the 8-min "The Mind's Eye", meanwhile, but the middle instrumental section is fantastic. There are also two bonus tracks on the album, including a cover of "Watcher of the Skies" and an early demo that sounds more like Rush, but neither is very particularly interesting, and I generally ignore them (and because they are 'bonus' tracks, I have not included them in my rating of the album).

COMM contains many of those characteristics that I think suit the Tangent well. Not only well-written complex music, but I think Tillison's insights about, and critiques of, the impact of the internet and communication tech is his primary lyrical strength and his main original contribution to the world of rock. When he is writing lyrics about this, they never seem pretentious, silly or sneering, but instead quite human and insightful. We identify with them, and they seem to suit his voice best (even when he is singing slightly out of tune, which is a common critique from other reviewers). The opening and closing epics on this album fit this pattern, and I would consider them sort-of archetypical of the 'Tangent sound'. They are definitely among the top 10 of Tangent epics, even if the filler between them is less interesting. Overall, I give this album 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (low) 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |

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