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

A PLACE IN THE QUEUE

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 251 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Andy Tillison of The Tangent commented in the liner notes of A Place in the Queue that his album was inspired by Yes's Tales from Topographic Oceans; I don't quite understand that- "In Earnest" and "Lost in London" are the spiritual descendants, as it were, of The Final Cut, and I personally think Tillison's voice is very similar to that of Roger Waters. He shares the same sentiment as Waters, it would seem, that of war being unnecessary most of the time. The sound is closer to The Flower Kings (even with Roine Stolt's absence, but then again, Jamie Salazar and Jonas Reingold provide the solid rhythm section). All said, this is a terrific album and should please most progressive rock lovers. This album could have been a five star deal, but the weaknesses of the twenty-five minute epic (and a few of the disposable tracks) keep this excellent work from being essential.

"In Earnest" Rather than begin with a bang, the opening epic has some melancholic, jazzy piano and sad lyrics. Every time I hear the line spoken, "I was a pilot in a war long ago," I cannot help but think of the people in uniform doing battle on the civilians' behalf- my behalf. It isn't until nearly three minutes in that full-blown symphonic progressive rock happens, with heavy drumming, loud organ, and all manner of instrumentation. The vocal melodies are stunning all throughout the piece, ever-changing, sometimes recurring, and appropriate for the lyrics at all times. The tone of the synthesizer lead is not unlike that of Rick Wakeman's on "The Revealing Science of God," so in the limited respect of instrumentation, there are some similarities between this album and Yes's four song epic. The piece incorporates stereotypical jazz seamlessly at one point, making the listener wonder how he suddenly was hearing it. My favorite section (if I had to choose at gunpoint) is the section that starts just before the ten minute mark. To me, it sounds like music from the video game Sim City 3000 or Sim City 4. The bass eleven minutes in, which plays over a stunning organ solo, just moves swiftly, never content to stay on one note for more than a moment. The "Sim City" segment gets a progressive rock treatment later in the song, loaded with bouncy bass, heavy organ, and that Wakeman-like synthesizer alluded to earlier. There's a little bit of what sounds like improvisation, but after a few listens, it sounds completely natural. The lines, "He's in the way when we order our drinks. He's there every night of the week," always gets to me, making me think about the loneliness and isolation of somebody who has seen and experienced horrors many of us never will. The climax of the song is simply astounding, carrying the peaceful plea of the beleaguered veteran who has seen enough.

"Lost in London" Jazzy and with undertones of Jethro Tull, this song has more of a repeated vocal melody and is less dynamic than the previous song. The lyrics are somewhat nostalgic, about protesting wars. The synthesizer is extremely pleasing. As with the previous track, there is some improvisation, only this time it's more extended. There's a pleasant flute solo over the verse chords before Tillison begins singing again. The last line attempts to be politically powerful and relevant: "And though a million voices tell us not to go and take Iraq, we still went in and we will still haven't come back." This again bolsters my claim that this album is in the spirit of Pink Floyd's last album with Roger Waters.

"DIY Surgery" A weird throwaway track, this one is really a poem recited through effects and over inharmonious music.

"GPS Culture" Kicking off with an exciting organ riff, over which bass and acoustic guitar play a short melody, this is the best "short" song on the album (although I use that term loosely, since this one is over ten minutes). The synthesizer introduction is also great, and this is probably the closest to Yes the band gets, especially with the vocalizations thrown in. One electric guitar riff sounds suspiciously close to the main riff of "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas, but it could be just a passing similarity. The second half of the song employs some well-done improvisation, followed by more Yes-like vocalizations. Perhaps it sounds more like something from The Flower Kings when they are at their best.

"Follow Your Leaders" Again starting off with a heavy organ riff, this is a fast, jazz-tinged song about absent-minded conformity. There are some patchy spots, but for the most part, this song is highly enjoyable, the synthesizer and bass work in particular (both of which get some soloing in). The section featuring the guitar solo is tad boring, but not unpleasant listening. The final two minutes are very mellow, with music quite unlike what came before; it really makes me think of the last several moments of Genesis's "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight."

"The Sun in My Eyes" This song often gets written off as candy-coated "disco music," and with very good reason. I don't know if Tillison was attempting to be ironic, since the lyrics refer to his angst as a youth regarding his preference for Yes instead of the more popular acts of the day.

"A Place in the Queue" While not a bad track, it's length is something of a downside, because some of the parts don't flow as well as they did on "In Earnest," and there's a long instrumental section that just does little for me. For the most part, the vocal melodies are some of the weakest on the album, not being very memorable at all. The transitions are some of the weakest I've ever heard. That said, there's so many satisfying parts to this track. There's a lot of jazzy sections, particularly in the drumming and the heavy use of the saxophone, and the subtle guitar work is very good. As always, the keyboard solos are fantastic, and the guitar work here is a little bit more creative than on previous tracks. The refrain just before fifteen minutes does happen to be one of the best parts of the album.

Bonus Disc: I do not normally review bonus tracks or additional material added on subsequent releases, but I feel compelled to add some brief remarks about the bonus disc. I come up short when I try to produce a good reason that would explain the absence of "Promises Were Made" from the main album. Maybe because it's decidedly heavier, or because it would have gone over the time constraints of a CD- either way, this song (with the amazing female vocalist who provides some great counterpoint) should not have been excluded. I would have gladly traded both "DIY Surgery" and "The Sun in My Eyes" for "Promises Were Made." "The First Day at School" reminds me of Pink Floyd's The Wall on so many levels. For that reason, I'm glad it was left off the main album. It isn't bad, but it's piano-driven and lengthy for being so. Like much of Pink Floyd's The Wall and The Final Cut, the music takes a backseat to the lyrics. With "Forsaken Cathedrals," I shrug my shoulders. The music has a good groove, but it is best that it is relegated to the bonus disc as well. As for the extended version of "The Sun in My Eyes," I can't see anyone wanting to subject themselves to nine minutes of Saturday Night Fever-infused progressive rock. The instrumental tracks, "Grooving on Mars" and "Kartoffelsalat im Unterseeboot" are quite different from what is on the main album, but do make the bonus disc worth having; the former is a laid back jazzy jam session, and the latter is a spacey exploration of varying sounds (which really could have been music for Sim City).

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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