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Tiles - Pretending 2 Run CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.85 | 78 ratings

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Steve Conrad
5 stars "And Acceptance is the Answer..."

"...To All My Problems Today"

ALL my problems.

As a person in recovery from a host of spiritual, emotional, and physical addictions and ailments, I have learned to survive and thrive via the spiritual path I have undertaken.

Basic Tenets

-Gratitude -Acceptance -Serenity is inversely proportional to the level of my expectations -Forgiveness

This Matters How?

Rarely have I been as captivated, as entranced by a musical work as I have been by TILES' epic, masterful album "Pretending 2 Run" (P2R).

The themes, the scope, the lyrics, the music, the conceptual basis, the corresponding musical community built upon it, the musical breadth and variety, the execution...

In brief, a masterpiece. And one that for me highlights the reasons the basic tenets of this spiritual path of recovery is vital- for me, and perhaps for others too.


In case you don't know, TILES is at heart a Detroit, Michigan, USA-based quartet, making progressive music for 28 years now. It's true that vocalist Paul Rarick retired in 2018 from his active role in TILES; yet I get the impression he may still be involved at some level(s) in helping make music happen.

With only a few minor changes, this quartet has survived and thrived against some formidable odds, staying true to their vision of creating worthy, high quality progressive music- and in case you didn't know- a) it's really tough to keep a band intact and thriving for decades, and b) I have a real soft spot for bands who do.

I'm a retired musician too, and heck, it was tough keeping bands together months, much less years- egos, day jobs, practice spots, family, efforts no matter how feeble to have a life...

TILES hasn't been prolific, not that this matters in the least to me, and P2R was in the works for years.

True, 2016

I usually focus on the latest releases I can get my hands on- it's my passion and also the focus of my Facebook page Progressive Rock Fanatics, as well as my Wordpress site of the same name.

But this one grabs me, and frankly I had the same "problem" as TILES' members had as people who have more than music to contend with, who must work for a living.

Ninety-six minutes in a double CD release? I likely will check out a few tracks, which is what I did in 2016.


Upon wishing Facebook friend Chris Herin (TILES' multi-guitarist/string instrument/trumpet/keyboards/ composer/arranger) happy birthday, I decided to give P2R a hearing. All the way through.

And again.

Began reading about Girolamo Savonarola (because of some references made to his writing), "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (frequent and vital snippets spoken throughout by a French foreign exchange student), reviewed Psalm 51 (the great penitential psalm written by a tormented author seeking healing and redemption)- listened again for instrumentation and contributions by guest musicians like Mike Portnoy and son Max, Ian Anderson, Colin Edwards, Adam Holzman, to name a few...

And Again

Made notes. Themes: Betrayal. Loss. Grief and its stages. Healing. Redemption. The Music: Ranging from classical to folksy to hard rock to complex progressive rock and metal, utilizing a host of instrumentation and musicians, plus an amazing amount of lovely vocal work rivaling what I've heard from the Beach Boys all the way to Moon Safari... The Lyrics: which to my ears provide JUST the right amount of clarity and ambiguity- I know that probably sounds absurd, but I like room for my own interpretations.

The Premise(s)

The protagonist (TILES say it's a male, but it could just as well be female or any other) is cut to the core by the beloved. Judging from the lyrics it's set within a domestic situation, some kind of betrayal.

This betrayal of trust (infidelity? Loss of feelings? Abandonment?) triggers within the protagonist an agony of bewilderment, paranoia, woundedness, heartbreak- all of which many humans can probably identify with.

Mostly alone, the protagonist struggles to find balance and healing and reason. Inch by painful inch (s)he battles rage, depression, emotional vertigo, hopelessness to tiny glimpses of light, tiny moments of considering his or her or their part in the betrayal.

The Art

Hugh Symes, designer and creator of voluminous album art for many musicians and bands, shows a turtle set upon an escalator, at the top of which is a little girl who appears to be beside herself with anger.

Along with this cover art within an enclosed booklet with the CD's are numerous other images, equally striking and suggestive of these themes.

For me, the juxtaposition of the descendant of these most-ancient reptiles, alongside the contemporary lazy-machine device of the escalator, overseen by the 'innocent' child, speaks to the album's core themes and concepts: betrayal. Redemption. What matters and what doesn't.

This Matters How?

Again, this IS a music album, so why Steve are you straying so deeply into all this other terrain?

Because to me, P2R is a masterpiece that comprises so much more than only notes on paper, or exquisite musical chops.

It's the whole musical/lyrical/conceptual scope that flummoxes me, captivates me, entrances me.

It has all of that- the musical virtuosity, the diversity, the complexity, moments of raw power and also intimate loveliness.

And it has so much more. In "The Little Prince" Saint-Exupéry says "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye."

What is Essential?

-Gratitude -Acceptance -Serenity is inversely proportional to the level of my expectations -Forgiveness

In this meticulously plotted and executed songcycle, the protagonist goes it alone, and nearly dies of it.

I am grateful for the reminder of how important music and art and TILES are for me and perhaps for all of us to realize what IS essential.

In My Estimation

TILES has presented us with an essential masterpiece of progressive rock music, titled "Pretending 2 Run".

Steve Conrad | 5/5 |


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