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The Tangent - Down And Out In Paris And London CD (album) cover


The Tangent

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars I have always thought that Greg Lake sounds like Neil Diamond. I've thought that since childhood when my older sister used to play "Hot August Night" ceaselessly. I don't care much for that crooning style and consequently I don't really care for Greg Lake's voice that much. The thing is, I just love ELP. So did I ever wish that ELP had a different singer? No. I've had to listen to my Mum telling me that none of my favourite bands could sing, friends who hate Yes and Rush for the same reason. Did this ever stop Geddy Lee from singing? No.

So it is with the Tangent. I end up loving a band where no review of their music is complete without "despite Tillison's vocals". I wish to be the one who does a review, (my first review since I worked staff at "Disc" -remember that? I think my last review was for Mud) of the Tangent where the vocals are actually the centrepiece of what it is that the band do and why they matter. Despite nothing.

This is the Tangent's fifth studio CD. A band who have quietly dominated my own and many other prog rock aficionados listening during this decade, in much the same way as the Flower Kings and Spock's Beard did in the 90s. Like all the best bands they have a tortuously changing lineup which usually dominates the first half of any review, telling us who's in and who's out. So to pass over quickly, out are all members of Flower Kings, in are Jonathan Barratt (bass) Paul Burgess (drums) and the guitar parts are now handled by Andy Tillison apart from a "guest spot" by Jakko which implies he's not a member of the regulars any more. Theo Travis, Guy Manning and Andy Tillison are still there. Tillison makes big play of the fact that they are all English this time. I don't care if they are from Irkutsk.

The album itself is presented in a sort of blurry digipack package with the Eiffel Tower at night taking the front cover. Throughout the rest of the package, everything seems to be based around blurred traffic shots or "time lapse ribbons" as Tillison mentions in the lyrics of the song "Perdu Dans Paris". It's hardly the Roger Dean style stuff of Ed Unitsky and I think that it looks far more like the front of a jazz album than a prog rock epic, but when you get to the music inside, it does all make sense and in fairness, Ed Unitskie would not have done.

The album kicks off, as Tangent and Transatlantic and Flower Kings albums tend to do, with a twenty minute epic called Where Are They Now, nicely cut up into little meaningless (to the actual playing thereof), but appealing subtitles like Europe by Ebay or The Losing Game. Already a nod to those lovely LPs with subtitles like "Sure as Eggs is Eggs (aching men's feet)", "The Solid Time of Change" and "The Clot Thickens" The Prologue section starts with a kind of cross between Mark Knopfler's "Local Hero" soundtrack guitar theme. I worry about that. For approximately 10 seconds when I realise I like it anyway. By the time the vocals come in we've had the rise and climax of this theme with Wishbone Ash harmony guitars, a pretty obvious phrase from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" (those of us who have the Tangent's fan-only album 'A Place on the Shelf' know where that came from!), a mad jazzy section with piano a guitar fighting it out against a groovy bass line, some keyboard punctuations that could have been in Karn Evil 9, the re-appearance of the first theme played on flute, the rebuilding of that theme and subsequent development into the first song section. That lot took about three minutes. I've heard whole albums with less ideas and influences than are packed into those three minutes.

"Caught in the lights of the under-pass, a guy who needs no name lights a cigarette and thinks back, he lost the Winning Game" Tillison knows how to hook people into his stories because they actually open like novels or good Tarantino style cinema. Darkness, street lights, traffic, cigarette, mystery. This section gives us the clue to what is happening in the song. It's a series of little sequels to songs that the band have done before. Not musical sequels, lyrical sequels. This one is for the Winning Game, a track from their second 2004 album. It seems that the character here is now down at heel after his financial success and selfishness portrayed in the earlier song, here he's in the recession, with the rest of us. The whole piece whisks us round what it is that the Tangent do best. There's great keyboard/guitar interplay jam sections, diminuendos to gorgeous little themes, complete breakdowns, chaotic sections, songs within songs - rabble rousing choruses, a whole slew of different keyboards sounds. if anyone like myself, fell in love with the band for the songs "In Darkest Dreams" or "In Earnest", well this is totally on a par with those two. In fact "Earnest" is the last stop of the sequels journey, and with some achingly beautiful lines from the apparently "weak singer" - lump in my throat here at any rate - the thing gradually builds up into the best progressive rock sax solo since Wish You Were Here, Theo Travis surely claiming his crown as the King of such things and fades away with a tuneful, soulful guitar solo back into the theme that started the whole thing off a mere 20 minutes ago. Tillison amused me in an interview recently where he was asked about why he wrote songs that were so long. He said "They're only as long as an episode of Scooby Doo" Even I hadn't thought of that and I've been defending long songs for 40 years now. This is a monumental track, a proper epic that deserves its length. It passes fast like "Close to the Edge" does. At the end of boring geography lessons I'd look at my watch and think "20 minutes to go". I found that if I sung "Close to the Edge" in my head, the dinner bell went off a lot faster. This would be an ideal candidate.

After a fireworks display like that we need a respite of course, and for two bars of that sort of Genesis Duke-era drum machine it seems like we're going to get it. Wrong. The whole thing is a trick and Peroxetine 20 kicks in like someone throwing you what appears to be a tennis ball which turns out to be made of lead when you catch it. A randy riff that sounds like Van Der Graaf being annoyed blasts in accompanied by a synth line that's so shrill it sounds like your smoke alarm has gone off. My KIDS told me to turn it down for goodness sakes! A few bars of that and we're into night time traffic again, smoky atmospheres with cool vibraphones, dirty snarling saxophones and references in the lyrics to the Truman Show perhaps "The traffic's just going round and round". This song appears to be about the effects of anti depressants like Paxil and Seroxat which are based on Peroxetine. (Wikipedia - citation needed:-)) Mood and melody do play a big part, this song does rather use that Porcupine Tree ON/OFF technique where things just blast in and disappear. Bass playing is liquid and begins to suddenly make you think, "This isn't Jonas Reingold any more but it's really good" The song suddenly shifts into a more typically Tangent instrumental section. I like this very much with it's twists and turns, yet somehow feel that it one of the album's least convincing transitions and feel that this section is almost incongruously isolated from the rest of the song as though it's an idea they wanted to use so they just stuck it in there. The first of two! Tut Tut! When we get back out of the prog and into the song though, the urgency of the piece is certainly still there and this song is still very good and surprising listening if nowhere near as perfectly formed as the opener.

But with perfect formation we are not finished. We now have Perdu Dans Paris which is for me the Tangent's crowning glory. We do finally get to relax on this one as the song opens ballad style onto a description of Paris - you guessed it - by night. And what a description. Listening to the words, it's like being there. It makes me want to go there now!!. I want to hop on the Eurostar and be there tonight in time to see "The white buildings sautee in the oil of the setting sun" and "The brasseries and sprawling pavement cafes casting lumiere onto the streets of Gay Paris" If the French Tourist board don't launch it as a manifesto for next year it will only be because of the underlying sinister edge, the fact that there are "two cities in this town" where homeless people rub shoulders on the same streets as the wealthy in the shadows of monuments that are famous across the world. A heartbreaking song in some respects, the middle instrumental break is worthy of Genesis at their best, full of joy, melancholy, sadness and amazement all at once. A twelve minute orgy of tune, imagery, terrific playing from all the band, a drop dead gorgeous guitar solo from Jakko, sublime sax interjections from Theo and just the most remarkable vocal performance from Tillison, equal in my opinion to that "The Streets Are lined with camera crews" in "Family Snapshot" on Gabriel Three. The keyboards are held back, there's loads of space, the drums sound amazing. What a song.

Taken into another song If "Perdu" was about down and out in Paris, this must be its London counterpart. The Company Car kicks off sounding for all the world like a track from Joni Mitchell's "Hejira" album, "Old Furry Sings The Blues", complete with that laconic de-tuned guitar strum and very Pastorius inspired bass playing from the by now very convincing and surprising Jonathan Barratt. Where Mitchell is looking at the decline in the fortunes of Beal Street (home of the blues in Memphis Tenessee) at the death bed side of one of the blues legends, Tillison is on the streets of our capital looking at the plight of kids with nothing much to do, families whose only ride in a "company car" will be the car that takes them to the cemetery. Grim stuff. But I'm Grim Tim after all, so it suits me. Sometimes it's the Tangent's moves from one set of inspirations to another that makes them what they are - for good and for bad. Here we get an example of both. The song builds up into a kind of Van Der Graaf frenzy (them again) which from a Joni Mitchell start point is somewhat unusual. It becomes quite punky. This really really works for me. What does not work however is the sudden dive into a piece of ELP almost straight swiped out of the title track "Trilogy" with swooping moogs and nice though that might have been somewhere else (like an ELP album for example) this just serves as a major distraction, totally out of context with the rest of the piece in tone, feeling and sentiment. In a great, poignant and subtle song this is entirely unwarranted. Sorry about that guys, wet fish time!

My edition of the album now has a bonus track. "Everyman's Forgotten Monday" of which I do have an earlier version on the Shelf album mentioned earlier. Bonus tracks normally come last, but this one doesn't. It's the penultimate track and it shouldn't have been. It's a nice little ditty that sounds very Pink Floyd influenced (indeed it's billed as a tribute to Richard Wright). While being pleasant in one respect, the lyrics are decidedly unpleasant in their subject matter (The Burma Crisis a couple of years ago) and also in their use of the English language. Ten or more uses of the word "F***" in a song are perhaps a bit excessive for anyone, let alone a progressive rock band. I'm not a prude and I watch Tarantino movies with great pleasure. I know that what Tillison wants to do is shock people about the situation, but the use of that word no longer shocks and I think, indeed I know he could have chosen better. I'll probably burn myself a CD with this bonus track left out.

And then we have "Ethanol Hat Nail" or the "Canterbury Sequence part 2". Fans of the band are doubtless familiar with the Tangent's penchant for occasionally recreating the "Canterbury Scene" sound of bands like Caravan, Hatfield and The North, Egg and of course National Health. Withe the latter in mind, look at the words "Ethanol Hat Nail" closely! The original Canterbury Sequence was a favourite track from the first album by Tangent, and the other songs in this style have included the "Lost In London" series. I have loved all of them and this one is no exception - in fact, I love it even more than the others. This one really does explore some of the wacky insanity that the bands mentioned before could dole out along with fairly cheerful empty headed lyrics and pleasant tunes. This time there's more traces of the Soft Machine and Henry Cow in the melee, (Theo Travis plays for the Soft Machine too as well as other Canterbury band Gong and traces of Hillage-ness can be found here too.) Try working out where the beats are going to come down in the mad Marimba led opening complete with smashing glass a la Gentle Giant. This is 14 minutes of crazy and fun stuff that delights, entertains and positively sparkles with ideas and references. I genuinely could not have asked for more. I suppose this track might be a real bore for those not into Canterbury stuff, but for me it's difficult to understand how anyone could not anyway!

All in all the negative things I have had to say are about a bonus track and a couple of bits I think we (and they) would have been better without. On the whole though, I think this album represents to me the perfect summing up of all the Tangent stand for and have done. I would be happy now to say it's my favourite of all their albums, yet I don't think they have quite hit the heights of the original "In Earnest" this time. The Tangent have always had a free thinking spirit which I must say I far prefer to the thinly disguised Evangelical dogma of Transatlantic's otherwise terrific album "The Whirlwind". Tillison is almost at pains to declare his lack of religious faith in that first song "Like when people find God, that's a claim I can't boast" and I wonder if he had anticipated the Transatlantic's lyrical bias. Once again the Tangent prove that you can make progressive rock music that has soul and feeling, real emotion as well as blind people with your skill. There are precious few left who can do this. I will look forward to their next and hope (probably once again forlornly) that they can actually stay together to work out the talents they have already manifested here. Certainly totally different from the much more aggressive album by Tillison's other band PO90 which arrived at the same time. I would like to review that too but will not be able to until my eldest son gives it back. (There's a sign) A great album, and for me the high point of 2009 in prog. Not for everyone perhaps, but for me.

Grim Tim December 2009

Report this review (#254766)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Oh, they are experimenting as I see. I have to warn you, I looked so much into this release, expecting a lot and at the same time, I was afraid that it can backfire and disappoint me instead. This fortunately didn't happen. First track, Where Are They Now is doing it ( well. Sounding new and at the same time, interesting, melodic and very consistent, holding together firmly. Knock knock and nothing happens, it stands like stone-hard song. Pleasant one, in these days it's getting harder and harder to catch someone's attention (and it will only get worse, as more and more bands -> songs -> melodies ->ideas) will appear. But another one, Paroxetine 20mg is opposite. Jazzy like rhythm, wild (and unpleasant) synths that are roaring through entire song, we have counterweight to joy from first track. Well done. Not bad song, just when I was first listening it, shocked I was. But after all, the name of the song is some kind of drug, isn't it ? Next song is again return to first one, so opposite to second. Feels like rollercoaster. And so on.

4(+) for album that we were expecting a lot and now, when it's finally here, we're pleased, or at least most of us will be. It's somehow shorter than their previous album. But in general, this album is exceptional (not feeling enough to give masterpiece rating, yet [or never]), set in calm mood (mostly), don't expect headbanging and rock'n'roll guys, this is music for brain-relaxating-thinking (because you can choose)

Report this review (#255121)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I quite enjoyed The Tangent´s last two efforts. This one is even better. Great musicianship, feel and variety. Slightly more agressive than ever before, which for me is a plus. This time Andy takes lead guitar duties and the results are quite satisfactory. But why OH WHY does he insist on singing all the lead vocals??? It´s painfully clear the songs would gain depth and emotion with a better singer. Tillison sings reasonably well but he IS NOT a singer for chrissake! His former bandmate in The Tangent, Roine Stolt, at least has the intelligence to share lead vocals with more proficient singers. As far as the songs are concerned, theres the obligatory epic, clocking at 19 minutes, two expansive 10 minute plus tracks and three more compact pieces. There´s a slightly more experimental feel about this album but i feel it´s also a less hurried affair with mature, cohesive and emotional songwriting. Listen to it! Well worth your time.
Report this review (#255589)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars THE TANGENT was originally conceived to be an Andy Tillison solo project, but it became much more than this right from the first album. I should mention though that Andy Tillison right from the first album has written almost 100% of the music and lyrics, this is his baby. The debut was basically half of PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES (Andy's original band) and half of THE FLOWER KINGS, and while the lineup has changed slightly from album to album, there have always been at least a couple of Swedes involved. Until now. On this their fifth album we have an all English lineup for the first time. Theo Travis and Guy Manning are both back while the new bass player is Jonathon Barrett from PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES. The drummer Paul Burgess lives 5 miles up the road from Andy and currently plays for 10 CC but has also played with CAMEL and JETHRO TULL in the past. I couldn't agree more with what Atvachron said in his review of one of THE TANGENT albums that Andy Tillison is like the heir apparent for Dave Stewart. You can really hear those Canterbury influences on this album mostly through Andy's keyboard work.

The first track "Where Are They Now ?" is my favourite. Andy Tillison said in an interview that this song is emotionally uplifting, and man is he ever right. There's this melody that comes in from the start that just moves me. It returns from time to time on this over 19 minute track. That melody I talked about is played over and over until it settles in before 2 minutes. Nice bass, drums and piano here. There's that melody again before 3 minutes led by flute. Vocals follow as it settles. The bass is prominant then sax arrives 4 1/2 minutes in. Love the organ after 7 minutes, it sounds so Canterbury. Guitar a minute later then we get some wicked organ after 9 minutes. Lots of atmosphere before 10 minutes as it settles. Reserved vocals and piano follow then that melody returns before 11 1/2 minutes. Nice. Mellotron a minute later as it gets full again. It settles with piano before 16 minutes. Reserved vocals follow then it kicks in again. Nice bass and sax here. There's that melody again after 18 1/2 minutes to end it. Bravo ! This has to be my new favourite THE TANGENT song. Incredible.

"Paroxetine-20mg" kicks in quickly. Check out the synths. Vocals follow as it calms right down to a jazzy vibe. Processed vocals and a great sound 2 1/2 minutes in. Synths come in screaming again then it settles. Nice drumwork before 5 1/2 minutes. Lots of synths after 6 minutes then the vocals return. "Perdu Dans Paris" is a laid back tune with the focus on the vocals. "The Company Car" is a relaxing tune with vocals, sax, bass and a beat. It kicks in before 3 minutes. The vocals get passionate and the synths crazy. It settles before 4 1/2 minutes and we get some mellotron. The last three words in the title "The Canterbury Sequence Volume 2. Ethanol Hat Nail" stand for NATIONAL HEALTH. Lots of keys early. Love when it kicks in with vocals, drums, bass and keys all shining brightly. Great sound. It settles 5 1/2 minutes in and the sax is crying out a minute later. The sound starts to build. Vibes too. It's actually heavy 8 minutes in and an all out assault before 9 minutes hits us. Then it settles with sax,piano and mellotron. Vocals and organ (so Canterbury) before 11 minutes.

I'm such a fan of all five THE TANGENT studio albums.Tough to say where this one sits. A fantastic recording.

Report this review (#255795)
Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is my first taste of The Tangent, and it was a... Pretty good taste.

The first song is one of the year's best. "Where Are They Now?" is just an amazing prog track that goes by in a flash, and shows these guys flexing their unique muscle. Amazing stuff.

They shift gears for "Paroxetine 20mg." We get some insane synths with a very jazzy groove. Very amazing old school-sounding track.

"Peru Dan Paris?" Simply beautiful. I felt like I was on vacation in France sipping on some coffee with a beret on my head and a sweet woman by my side. Transformative, brilliant prog.

"Company car?" Not bad...

And it continues downhill from here. The last two songs are just lackluster. This album, while much better than "Vision" by Martigan, suffers from the same problem of peaking at the first song, and then petering out halfway through. The last half of the album just fails to hold my attention.

Three stars. Definitely going to check out their older stuff.

Report this review (#255945)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is pure enjoyment from start to finish.Andy Tillison outdoes himself and has created a modern masterpiece of progressive rock. As a DJ,and having had the pleasure to interview the man himself on my show,Dec.13th,2009,I've heard a lot of music this year and think that this album will be #1 for 2009. The tracks, altough different from one another,flow well together. From the opening track's(Where are they now?) reacurring theme,the great keyboard play, the middle section comes crashing down and restarts with piano...Even though he sounds like Peter Hamill oF VDGG(which i've never been a big fan of...), I actually enjoy Tillison's vocals. The 2nd track (Paroxetine-20mg)is funky with good,catchy lyrics. The following track,(Perdu dans Paris) is my favorite of the album.Theo Travis shines on this track. It is followed by"The Company Car",which is actually an old track written by Tillison(and i think Guy Manning too) back in '89 resurfaces here,rearranged.Good mellow tune that becomes very VDGG a little bit before the middle of the song,and sounds like Tarkus at one point. "Everyman's Forgotten Monday' is a bonus track with a great refrain.The guitar is particularly good and sets the mood during this simple "feely"solo. The last track,"Ethanol Hatnail"( actually "The Canterbury Sequence part 2) is an experimental song,paying hommage to the Canterbury sound of 1971-73.There's even xylophone on this track! This album deserves to be in everybodies collection.
Report this review (#256127)
Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Elegance

The newest album by The Tangent sounds great. I think elegance is the word that suits best for this album - charming solos, gentle sax, lush keyboards with a lot of sound effects, superb harmony backing vocals and so on. Moreover, Down and Out in Paris and London contains frequent tempo changes that can please all fans of eclectic prog subgenre. I think the best aspects of the album are: the structure of Where Are They Now?, the energy of Perdu Dans Paris and the musicianship of Ethanol Hat Nail (Canterbury Sequence Vol. 2). Highly recommended for fans of Camel, Gentle Giant, The Who, Pink Floyd, Yes and Supertramp. Of course, all this is not enough for a masterpiece rating, but it's enough for beautiful album in eclectic manner.

Report this review (#256592)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I had to listen to this one a few more times than I usually listen to a new album just to understand how I feel about it. And I'll have to say, while I respect the talents of the musicians, and enjoy quite a bit of this album, it, for the most part, just doesn't transport me.

For a CD with a sticker on it proclaiming it to be in the style of the great classic progressive groups, this one falls way short. There are good prog moments in every song, but most also have long sections that just aren't very progresive, or interesting, for that matter.

But the last track, The Canterbury Sequence Volume 2. Ethanol Hat Nail (as it is listed on my CD), is fantastic. If the whole disk was like this one track, it would rate much higher.

Report this review (#256721)
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars On a prog evening reunion over here someone told me this latest by The Tangent was probably a masterpiece. Well, I own all previous albums so I would check it out anyway. For The Tangent has always been one of those bands I will automatically buy every new studio album of and there are not that many bands that achieve this so that means they are pretty special to me. All 4 earlier albums easily reached a 4 star rating and they were all pretty equal where the sheer quality is concerned.

After some 4 listening sessions by now a familiar pattern appeared to occur also with this album. Often when I play a new album I'm pretty enthusiastic at first (assuming we're talking about good or excellent albums that is) but second time the whole thing suddenly sounds disappointing. By now I know I shouldn't get put off by this phenomenon because next few listens turn it around again and the album starts growing on me steadily. And that was also the case here.

Opening epic Where are they now ? is a tricky one in this respect because it works on me as a track with many great but also some disappointing moments. The great parts are all to be found in the middle part with the instrumental passage from 7th till 9th minute as absolute highlight. But when we get to the guitar solo towards the end I'm afraid I will keep shutting the ears each time because it's simply ugly. I still wonder if it's done deliberately or that Andy simply has a bad moment there but it's a disappointing effort for me. 4* all in all.

Paroxetine 20mg seems a funny title at first but I happen to know it's medication against depression so that's not funny at all of course. Somehow it's a typical Tilison-kind-of-title, don't know why but he's the kind of guy to invent something like this. The song sounds totally different than the opener, darker for sure (not surprising with such a title) but I can't say it's really better or worse all things considered. So 4* also here.

Perdus dans Paris starts as a ballad but gets harder halfway the song. Could be my statement about Tilison's guitar play is correct (about the bad moment) because here he proves he can play very well. The song is about the two faces of Paris (I presume he means it's a beautiful city with a cold harsh side as well, probably as a clochard ?) and it's very accessible with many great aspects. Even the fading out works well. My 2nd favourite track of the album. 4,25*.

The Company Car as well as the bonus track Everyman's forgotten Monday are both equally fine efforts but still these two are slightly less impressive than first three. Company Car features some excellent keyboardplay by Tilison where the bonus track's finest moment is the sax play by Travis. Both tracks score almost 4* to me.

Ethanol Hat Nail is my absolute favourite track of this album. Finally The Tangent is living up to the subgenre they represent: eclectic prog. It's already showing in first minute with interesting tones that don't quite seem to make sense but in fact they are brilliant if you listen carefully. Rest of the song shines in alternation, what a great variegated track and this goes on for the entire 13 minutes. Masterpiece material: 4,75*.

So in the end this 5th studio album by The Tangent appears not quite a masterpiece but it's a truly excellent album still. It's what they have in common with slightly similar Flower Kings: both bands are unable to produce a really poor studio work. The musical quality of the band members is simply too high and the compositional talent is too obvious. I'm already looking forward to the next performance by The Tangent ! Four+ stars for this.

Report this review (#257413)
Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Is it me or Andy Tillison doesn't have enough with being a closest friend of Roine Stolt's but also needs to be the "British Roine Stolt"? I mean, how can he manage to come up with such an amount of album and double album-worthy material in such a short time span? Almost simultaneously with PO90's comeback album and only one year after The Tangent's "Not As Good As The Book", Tillison and co. release one of the most exciting prog albums in 2009 ? "Down & Out In London & Paris". The fact that The Tangent had to undergo radical line-up changes throughout the last few years only makes it more heroic that this album be so good. Always loyal to their retro-oriented progressive trend that owes much to the heritages of Yes, ELP, VdGG and a couple of Canterbury bands, with added affinities to early TFK and Neal Mors-era Spock's Beard, The Tangent have reaffirmed their nuclear framework while still sounding fresh and energetic. The band's partially refurbished line-up includes drummer Paul Burgess, an accomplished veteran who has played in many occasions in Camel, Jethro Tull, 10cc, etc. ? an admirable pedigree in the areas of prog rock and art-rock, indeed. Right now, as it is, The Tangent happens to be a very important badger as well, since the album's opener 'Where Are They Now?' (almost 20 minute long) happens to be a powerful suite in old progressive fashion. After a calm introductory section featuring Gilmour-like guitar picks, the main body states a bombastic development that combines the energy of classic ELP and the stamina of "Relayer"-era Yes. The first sung section features a 5/4 tempo, while the enthusiastic jam that kicks off at the 7 minute mark moves toward Canterbury-related territory (featuring that special organ vibrato that many keyboardists were enamored of). Anyway, the prevalent symphonic nucleus remains tight, even comprising some space-rock ornaments along the way. After the 10 ˝ minute mark, the suite shifts toward a slow piano-vocal passage from which the first sung section gradually emerges and gets conveniently enhanced with extra dynamics and a greater fluidity. The closing part, ceremonious and powerful, finishes the suite with colorful splendor, featuring alternating solos on guitar and sax (Theo Travis is an absolute monster). What a great opener, my God! 'Paroxetine 20 mg' elaborates a confluence of R'n'B rhythmic cadences and muscularly rocking sonorities ? in spite of its recurrent 4/4 tempo, the compositional development states a sufficient diversity of motifs and ambiences to keep the demanding listener's interest all the way to the end (or at least, the demanding listener who is writing this very review). 'Perdu Dans Paris' is another long monster track, which lasts 11 ž minutes. In contrast with Tillison's intonation, which bears a distant contemplative stance (a-la Hammill, as usual), the melodic development and variations are clearly focused on melancholic moods. This factor remains strong even throughout those passages in the interlude in which the band goes in full swing toward more intense environments. Guest guitarist Jakko M. Jakszyk's refined style is positively responsible for captivating textures that help to reinforce the nostalgic beauty of the overall song. 'The Company Car' has a deceitful intro passage, which is built in a semi-acoustic ballad's framework, but as the psychedelic synth lines settle in and the singing gets raspy, the stage is set for yet another energetic progressive tour-de-force. I sense the fade-out as too premature: I wish there had been more room for that delightful sax solo that solidifies its way around the keyboard ornaments and in perfect coordination with the rhythm duo. The album's official repertoire ends with con 'The Canterbury Sequence Volume 2: Ethanol Hat Nail', a track conceptually linked to one that was part of the debut album "The Music That Died Alone". The title, albeit funny, is not literally a joke: on the contrary, it is a robust homage to the Canterbury old school, with plenty of jazzy elements and a noticeable utilization of fuzzy organ and echoing electric piano here and there. One cannot help thinking of Hatfield & The North, Caravan, Matching Mole and National Health while listening to this spectacular piece: there are also some cosmic adornments that are straightforwardly related to Gong. Pay attention to the heavy section that gets started around the 8 minute mark: formidable!! The album's special edition includes a song called 'Everyman's Forgotten Monday', which is basically a progressive power ballad with punctuated Floydian overtones. It sounds like a crossover of "Wish You Were Here" and the "A Momentary Lapse Of Reason" eras. A nice song, indeed, but the 'Canterbury Sequence 2' makes a much more impressive closer. So, the overall balance is as follows: The Tangent has released yet another excellent addition in any good progressive collection.
Report this review (#257487)
Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recommended.

The Tangent's latest album begins with a beautiful melody played delicately on guitar, immediately grabbing your attention, and never looks back. Yes, the signature line of melody from opener "Where are they now?" is an absolute winner. I was humming it all day after having heard the song just once! The rest of the song is equally enticing, coming together cohesively despite the variety inherent to Andy Tillison's ecelctic style. We are treated to jazzy sections, neo synth solos, and slower more delicate sections that exude the sort of "britishness" you expect from a band like Jethro Tull or Genesis. There's also a section which sounds pleasingly like early Camel, and I love early Camel. A pleasure.

Though some might disagree, I think "Paroxetine 20mg" is even better still. The main section sounds ominous, and mean as hell. A terrifically KC inspired riff blasts away, with an abosolute air-siren of a synth riff to accompany it. The electronic percussion works surprisingly well, combined with a real kit. Sounds awesome. The lyrics are great, and you immediately understand that Tillison has had real-life experience with this substance, and to be honest, it's quite affecting. After a bridge, and a new section, the song unleashes a captiviating piece of synth work that sounds proggy and positively modern at once.

"Perdue dans Paris" is great again, but I actually like it slightly less than the first two tracks. The verse and chorus sections at first sounded a little unexciting to me, but grew on me quite quickly. The middle section, however, has what is probably my favourite instrumental section on the album. Can I just say that Andy Tillison is a wizard with his keyboards? He's certainly not the most technically profficient player on the scene, but in terms of tones and effects and atmosphere, it's probably my favourite keyboard performance of 2009. Probably....

Anyway, a lot of people seem to point out "The Company Car" as the album's weakest track. If that's true, it's only by virtue of the other tracks being amazing, because this is another winner. The lazy saxophone and excellent bass line during the first couple of minutes are pure joy for me, and this song probably has my favourite of Tillison's vocal performances on the album. Once the synths kick in, it's all crazy drumming and pyrotechnics. And i'm sure we all agree that usually makes for a fun ending!

Finally, "The Canterbury Sequence Volume 2 - Ethanol Hat Nail" is a good closer. I see it as almost having 2 halves, even though its not really constructed that way. To me, the first half and the very end are Canterbury Scene in the style of National Health, or Caravan or that sort of band, while most of the second half is firmly in Gong territory. More specifcally, Gong in the "You" period. The first half is enjoyable enough but the second half is an absolute treat and provides a very exciting conclusion for the album that will likely have you heading straight back to track 1.

It was tough to assign a star rating. On the strength of the music alone, it probably deserves a 5. However, I'm docking one star for Tillison's refusal to accept his weakness as a vocalist and hire a proper singer, and also because the sound of the production is not quite to my liking.

Report this review (#260418)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars It took me quite some time to get this album. For a number of reasons. First, their previous album, Not As Good As The Book, was definitly their weakest efford to date and I was afraid they might take that road again this time. Secondly, when I heard the new CD´s title I thought it might be a live album (actually a reference to where it was rcorded). Fortunatly I was wrong on both assumptions. Down And Out In Paris And London is not only a very fine (studio) work, but also probably their most inspired since the terrific A Place In The Queue.

There were some radical line up changes that made a bit aware of it too. After all Andy Tillson dropped all the swedish connections now, at least the phisical ones. Gone are the members or ex members of the Flower Kings replaced by an all english line up. Now with Paul Burguess (Camel, Jetrho Tull, 10cc) on drums and Jonathan Barrett (from Tillson´s other project PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES) on bass and without a lead guitarrist (a good thing, since their last guitar player did not fit well at all). But stylistic speaking, their sound remains as close to TFK as ever, thank god!

So, in the end Down And Out In Paris And London is different in many ways, and yet it sounds quite familiar. Andy Tillson took over lead guitar duties and although he is obviously no Roine Stotl, he does a fine job here, much to my surprise. His lines are simple but fit perfectly to the song structures. Theo Travis´s sax is much more to the forefront now and he has improved a lot since his first effords within the band. It is incredible how tight and strong the band sounds even if so many major changes had occurred in a such a short time span.

Of course nothig would work so well if Tillson didn´t come up with some strong stuff to boot. And strong tunes did he produce! Starting with the mamooth, 19+ epic Where Are They Now until the very last notes of Ethanol Hat Nail (Canterbury Sequence Vol. 2), there is not a single boring moment in the whole CD. Powerful, passionate and convincing material, very well craft and performed. If you like old fashioned symphonic prog done by a modern band which uses the best of both worlds, this is the 2009´s CD you should not miss! Final rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#261450)
Posted Monday, January 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 6/10

"Down And Out In Paris And London" is a pretty good but average Eclectic Prog album, worth listening.

"Down and out in Paris In London" for a moment there seemed like it was going to be the best album of 2009. I also found it to be fantastic, because it sounded so new and at the same time so full of elements typical of classic Eclectic Prog. Then, for some reason, I understood that not everything was so fantastic; infact, in many moments it penetrates too much in banal.

The first song, " Where Are They Now", starts in a very nostalgic way, and calm, almost like a ballad. It then goes into a more complex scheme, typical of eclectic prog, showing one of the best performances of the year as a band playing together. After that the level goes far more down, when the vocals come in. I wasn't crazy for the rest of the song, I don't know why.

" Paroxetine 200mg" is less romantc than the first track, but I prefer this one. It uses many synths and electronic instruments, creating a very interesting atmosphere, memorable in many moments. Even the sax is used in a good and nice way. Even in this song though the level is lower.

"Perdu Dans Paris" is a long ballad , and frankly I thought it was repetitive and banal, not really worth the mention.

"The Company Car" is my favorite song, a beautiful modern ballas that really shows how this band has a wonderful sense for composing music, and arranging it.

" The Canterbury Scene" is another great song all the way through. It was according to my opinion the most original song of the album, with many bizzarness and wierd arrangements, but absolutely fantastic.

In conclusion a pretty good album, worth listening.

Report this review (#261626)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can't say that I liked this album. It suffered from one major weakness, and that is Andy Tillison's singing. To be fair, there's nothing that's wrong with his singing. But there's nothing about to to really inspire excitement either.

This album, especially the first four songs, relies a lot on the stories told via the lyrics. And while the lyrics are as clever and cynical as any other Tangent album I've heard, it's not Andy's finest vocal moment. And while he's singing, the other instruments are not often at their best - when given the freedom to play whatever without worrying about competing with the vocals, the members of the band play quite excellently. But we spend too much time making space for Andy ... space that seems to drag on and on.

Ethanol Hat Nail, which has very little vocals to it, is an excellent piece, and I really enjoy it, but it seems to be "too little, too late". After hearing this album just once, I wonder how much I'm going to bother listening to it. If I want to listen to music that relies on the lyrics, I can think of many other bands who have excellent singers that I would much rather listen to.

Report this review (#263840)
Posted Monday, February 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is not a good disc. The singing is poor (and thankfully, somewhat buried in the mix), the guitar sound is awful (think cheesy 80's pop sound that comes out of a GK solid-state amp), the guitar playing is limp and ineffectual, and the mix is uneven, with some keyboard parts way up in your face at seemingly inappropriate times. It almost sounds like this disc was not mastered by someone who knows their stuff.

I wanted to like "Down and Out...", and forced myself to listen 5-6 times before writing this brief review. Maybe most of the PA reviews here are from die-hard The Tangent fans. Not recommended.

Report this review (#271183)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars It would not be fair for me to give this album any less than 4 stars because it contains my favorite riff of all time, the opening and closing riff of "Where Are They Now?" In fact, it may as very well contain the lyrics I can relate to at this juncture in my life: "Like when people find God, it's a claim I can't boast." It is a song I can listen to hundreds of times and it never grows old upon me. That has to count for something doesn't it?

Across the entire album, the musicianship is superb. The rest of the album never fully reaches the perfection that is achieved in the opener, but I cannot criticize based upon that sole fact.

This album should be somewhere in the 4-5 star range; however, since one of my top 5 songs is on the record, I'll round up to 5 stars. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#272410)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like many have said in other reviews, it did take me a while before I got this album, as is the case with a few, but I grew to love it. The Tangent are still up there with one of the best eclectic prog groups of recent times and this album does not disappoint.

Tillison is still his very best on the keys and some may say they do not like his voice but I think his style of voice actually works well with the instrumentation.

I cannot get enough of that first riff on Where Are They Now? Not many match it, it's pretty special.

And the rest of the album is just a thrill from start to finish. Good variation, strong texture, solos varying from fast and of quality musical standard to slow and moving. A journey which most prog fans will jump on board with.

Recommend it to all.

Report this review (#277633)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A gentleman who runs a relatively successful and well-known Prog music review site recommended The Tangent to me. He described the band as "keyboard-heavy and eclectic" and one of the very best Prog bands of the current era. He specifically mentioned Andy Tillison's vocal skills as particularly memorable and went as far as to compare Andy to Ian Anderson and Peter Hammill; saying that Andy was in the same league as the other men. I happen to be a big JT and VDGG fan so I made it a top priority to get a Tangent CD as soon as I could.

'Down And Out In Paris And London' was the only Tangent CD available at our local CD shop, so I picked it up without much thought. As soon as I got it in my car I popped it in and was sadly surprised to hear music that is bland and FAR, FAR from "eclectic". Whoever decided to file The Tangent under 'Eclectic Prog' at PA was not thinking or listening with a clear head. The Tangent are a CLONE of The Flower Kings, albeit a much less refined CLONE; yet TFK are categorized as a Symphonic Prog band on PA.

Categories aside, the music on this CD is flat-out boring. I really have no better way of putting it, other than to say it's BORING. For starters, Tillison is NOWHERE NEAR as evocative, powerful or memorable as Ian or Peter. His voice is weak and wavering and he says WAY, WAY, WAY TOO MUCH! So much so, that he liters the music with his words. I couldn't believe it when I took the CD jacket out and the guy wrote a FEW THOUSAND words; to included thanking over 100 people!!! That is absolutely without precedent. I thought Neal Morse had a lot to say; but Tillison takes the trophy!

It takes a humble artist to recognize when he/she cannot sign well enough to use their voice as the principal attraction of the music. Perfect examples of such humility are Steve Hackett and Andy Latimer. Each can play guitars and compose like very few others, but they don't dare to pollute their music with rampant, non-stop lyrics and vocalization. These men show restrain and know how to get the point across without needing to overwhelm the listener.

But not Andy Tillison! No sir, he's going to tell us as MUCH as possible about his observations about everything and anything and do so with an onslaught of words. I'm sure that if it weren't for the physical limits of the CD that he'd kept going on and on and on and on.....I've always questioned why musicians who have SO MUCH to say don't simply go out and write books! Neal Peart, a famous lyricist, has done just that. In all fairness to Neal, his lyrics are minimalistic when compared to Tillison's.

As for 'eclectic', there is NOTHING eclectic about this music. It's jazzy, like TFK, whereby the drummer uses cymbals non-stop(he must have a dozen in his kit) on every song, everywhere in the song. This is no to say that the drumming is bad. On the contrary, it's excellent; just not 'eclectic'. Eclectic would be Mastelotto's and Brufford's drumming with King Crimson; now THATS ECLECTIC.

As for the keyboard work; it's very good, but NOT eclectic! LOL! Andy uses a lot of Fender Rhodes-type electric piano and it's quite smooth in his approach. More reminiscent of Bob James' smooth jazz leanings than Kerry Minnear's funky, wacky and spaced-out ECLECTICISM. As for the synth solos(sounding very Minimoogish?) they are about as safe as anything I've ever heard from a "prog" keyboardist; showing a restrain that was actually alarming to me. The way that the Tangent's music was described to me I was ready for something along the lines of Gentle Giant or perhaps something safer along the lines of Spock's Beard. But at no time was I ready for safe, boring music. That is NOT what ECLECTIC means(please see definition in many on-line dictionaries).

Reason why I harp on and on about this NOT being an ECLECTIC recording is that I don't want someone else to be misguided, as I was, into thinking/hoping that The Tangent are the present-day KC, GG or VDGG. They are far, far from eclectic and sound like old guys playing music for old listeners. "Adult Contemporary Prog" is a much more fitting category for this type of music. BTW, I'm an OLD GUY, a 70s hippie, but I prefer a little more adventure in the music I listen to. This record simply didn't cut it for me.

I'm sure there are MANY who will disagree with my observations and may regard this CD as a masterpiece; and that's cool. But to my ears, this record merits 3 stars; and I'm being lenient with that rating.

Report this review (#289274)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I do not know why this album is not in the top 5 of 2009 for me was the most impressive album that came out that year, after the departure of Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar and the change of members in the band is created one of the best albums I've heard of The Tangent, Andy is a genius, this man is one of my favorite musicians of all time and Down and out in paris and london has offered me a jewel of album I've enjoyed over 2010, Andy has a great voice and with the perfect music, give us an excellent album, I recommend this album to be listened to from start to finish, because it seems that some people in ProgArchives qualifies albums without any reason! Better write a review and not evaluate badly an album without any reason! Down and Out in Paris and London is a masterpiece that in my view meets the qualities of an excellent album, and my rating is 5.0 of 5.0 stars, I can't wait for the next album of this superband.

I using a translator of Spanish to English in my reviews.

All The Best.

Report this review (#325750)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Down and Out In Paris and London is The Tangent's fifth release, and follows up the previous year's Not As Good As the Book. 2009's offering, while not a wondrous success, does have a lot of good moments that make it an enjoyable listen, but also has enough low spots that stop it from being an essential release.

Listeners familiar with The Tangent's work shouldn't be very surprised with the sound here. The music is listed here as Eclectic Prog, which is accurate, though it is also heavy on the symphonic side of things. The music is pretty dense, but with a clear distinction between the harmonic and melodic sections. It is also heavy on vocals, but offers a wide range of instruments which provide many entertaining moments. The instrumentation on Down and Out is one of the best things about it. There's a great variety of instruments here, and they're mostly used to good effect. Equipment listeners can hear include electric guitar, a few different keyboards, including piano, synthesizers and a little Mellotron, horns, and even some mallet instruments. Each of these is used pretty evenly, with a slight emphasis being on the keyboards. The mallets in particular provide a few really nice, driving harmony sections. The horns and synthesizers, although they are good most of the time, occasionally become quite abrasive, and create some of the worst moments on the album. The drums and bass are not terribly memorable, though they don't detract from any of the music.

The album starts off well enough with a good, but not monumental, epic. The beautifully clean guitar melody that opens this song, as well as the overture sounding section that follows, is one of the best moments on the entire album. Unfortunately, that's the most enjoyable passage the music has to offer for a long time. The epic hits all of the beats it has to, and is good about introducing and reiterating on melodies. The instrumental breaks are exciting, and provide a lot of different material. The song's not perfect, with a really vague and lazy story about a man's life (a lot of "the guy who" and "the girl who"), and no real lead up to the ending, which simply repeats the guitar melody from the beginning. The vocal sections of the song, as well of the entire album, aren't bad, but actually manage to be boring. Andy Tillison's voice isn't offensive, but it's not very good either. It also doesn't help that most of the instruments drop out once he starts singing. None of the vocals really push any song forward, and are always a low point in terms of quality and excitement in any song.

While the opening has its faults, it's the only one of the first three songs that is mostly enjoyable. The second song is plagued by incredibly annoying brass and synthesizer sounds whose only positive quality is that they don't stick around for the whole song. It's a relief once they're gone, and the next song has moved in the complete opposite direction. However, this relief doesn't last long, as the third song is made up of mostly long, boring and repetitive vocal sections. There's a great instrumental passage in the middle, but it ends just as quickly as it began, and the vocals come right back.

Luckily, after a mostly poor two tracks, the final two offer some of the most enjoyable music to be found here, and save the album from going into overall bad territory. The final song in particular is mostly instrumental, but when there are lyrics, there's actually an interesting harmony going on.

While there is little downright bad music apart from the second song, there is a glaring fault here: there are multiple, fairly lengthy passages of time where nothing musically interesting is happening. These are usually the lyric sections, which could have been saved by more vocal harmonies (though hopefully not more Tillison harmonizing with himself), a rise in fall in his singing intensity, or more interesting lyrical material. While it's easy to write an album off just for bad vocals, the instrumental sections on Down and Out are good, and are not completely offset by their lyrical counterpart.

The album's production quality is worth noting, as it's very clean. There are some pretty dense sections, but you can hear everything just fine. The album also comes in at under an hour, and considering its faults, is a very good thing. The saving grace to this album's mediocre parts is that there is always a good part around the corner. It's just a question of how long it will take to get there, and how long you're willing to wait. While not a great album, Down and Out In Paris and London does have a few great moments, which are unfortunately interspersed with very mediocre moments. It's worth a few listens if you can get your hands on it easily enough, but isn't one of 2009's best.

Report this review (#372322)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There is something very real about the Tangent's music, and something more than credible about its leader, keyboardist/singer Andy Tillison. When you create for a living (or as is often the case in music, for a dying), art that is faithful to a tradition of integrity and intellect is most prized. Or at least it should be. Tillison is slowly but surely emerging as more than just a Prog torchbearer. He is becoming the record keeper, and like the ancient Sephardic Jews carrying and preserving their culture 'til the time was right to reestablish it, he is the face of Rock as Art in Britain, faithful in his restoration and kosher in his treatment of a rare language. An original who also loves the classics, a true musical gastronome able to coax the tough, unappealing or just old-fashioned into something tender, delicious and new. It's little wonder so many in England are lining up to work with him.

Guy Manning's guitar, always a vital presence here, pushes off our main theme for 'Where Are They Now?', Theo Travis's saxes picking it up and the band kicking-in, sounding like twice their five selves. If you haven't acquired your taste for Tillison's voice I don't think this album will make a big difference either way. But the recording is so pure and pristine it barely matters and at the very least we can hear his words (besides, Andy's always got something good to say). This first piece at just under twenty minutes is so packed full of neat stuff that Down and Out in Paris and London, the band's fifth, is a release a veteran listener can just tell will take a while to really get into, to be able to fit into. No matter, it's a lot of fun trying, and that's half the fun of Prog anyway: the journey to get there. The main thematic is stretched, dissected, refitted and fully developed, and is supremely satisfying with subtle influences from Roger Waters to Mark Knopfler to, of course, Dave Stewart. Vintage and slightly monotonous jazzrock sounds in 'Paroxetine-20mg' and melancholic 'Perdu dans Paris' is signature Tillison, taking its time as it ambles through the streets of the City of Light. 'The Company Car' starts slow but has a cherry middle with angular extensions and hot, passionate playing from all. But for many the real treat will be 'The Canterbury Sequence vol. 2, Ethanol Hat Nail', a joyous send-up of that scene with many nods to National Health, the Hatfields and others.

Like them or not, this band is among a tiny handful that holds in its hands the very future of rock that progresses, and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude. Thanks, boys.

Report this review (#544586)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am not sure if Andy Tillison is a football fan, although he lives in England. But those of us under the spell of football often talks about "a game of two halves". That is exactly what I feel about this album.

The Tangent goes on the offensive from the first tone with the great twenty minutes long Where Are They Now epic. The best from the previous album Not As Good As The Book, which I gave five stars, is carried over to this song. Great epic symphonic prog heavily influenced by eclectic prog too. Unfortunate, the next song Paroxetine is a downer. Maybe a downer is what that drug is. I don't know it. Perdu Dans Paris is another great The Tangent epic. The next song The Company Car is another The Tangent light hearted working men hall inspired song. It is good in the working men clubs, but not in my estimation.

The two final songs......... Well, let's say The Tangent plays with ten men just inside and in the front of their own box, desperate defending their own goal against the marauding team called Mediocre. I am not sure what the name Everyman's Forgotten Monday and Ethanol Hat Nail. Canterbury prog ? Well, the fine folk in Canterbury may take issue with that. Although both songs are growers and not as bad as first thought, they are not up to the normal The Tangent standards. Mediocre stuff at best.

I note a substantial drop in standard from their excellent Not As Good As The Book and COMM. This album is not, well, upcoming pun, not as good as their usual standards. Hence my verdict.

3 stars

Report this review (#560999)
Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I suddenly became a big fan of The Tangent when I got their first album "The Music That Died Alone" in 2003. Originally conceived as the first solo album by Andy Tillison, the album became a more collaborative venture as time went on. The enthusiasm of the musicians turned this combination of three generations of progressive virtuosity into a cohesive whole .. and the Tangent was born. The second album "The World That We Drive Through" had nuances and textures that were similar to the first album. I really like the artwork by Ed Unitsky. The second album was dominated by green while the first was more on blue but with similar design. Great design and it's really a collector's item; it's very nice to be put in prog collection. Unlike the first, the second album did not include David Jackson (of Van der Graaf Generator) in the band. Theo Travis (Gong.. Porcupine Tree etc) replaced David Jackson seat on Flute and Saxophones. The third album "A Place In The Queue" (2006) was another great offering from the Tangent. Roine Stolt, was out from The Tangent in this record. But, the music of The Tangent was still great- even it's much better than their second album. Like its previous predecessors, the album offered great prog music combining musical styles of Canterbury music like National Health, Hatfield and The North, Egg with Return To Forever music and also some flavors of rock music. The fourth album "Not As Good As The Book" (2008) was another fabulous album with double CD format.

The fifth album "Down And Out In Paris And London" (2009) demonstrated the band's consistent music direction, putting the Canterbury scene as their backbone. In a recent interview Andy Tillison said that in this album he had to also play guitar especially on the opening track. But again, as musicians have changed since its debut album but the Tangent still able to maintain its music quality. Overall, this album is an excellent one.

The opening track "Where Are They Now?" (19:10) is basically an epic with a musical unique style of the Tangent - starting with an ambient opening featuring simple guitar fills, and it then moves in crescendo to the faster and more complex segments. The opening instrumental part consumes more than 3 minutes of great prog music arrangements. In fact when the vocal enters the music it still offers great musical experience; something that I can hardly find performed by other band, really. The vocal style is also very relax. I really enjoy the flow of the music. There are interesting changes of style as well as tempo throughout this track, eg. musical break at minute 10:22.

"Paroxetine - 20mg" (07:47) is a keyboard driven track - at least during the opening part, followed nicely with a musical groove accompanying vocal. It's really a nice music with excellent rhythm section filled with saxophone works. "Perdu Dans Paris" (11:47) starts slow with an ambient bass guitar and keyboard that is followed with slow vocal line. The music moves in crescendo into louder and faster music. The roots of The Tangent music are very apparent here. "The Company Car" (06:23) is rather mellow in style but as its predecessors it flows into louder and faster music with inventive keyboard work. The "Everyman's Forgotten Monday (Bonus Track)" (06:22) and "Ethanol Hat Nail (Canterbury Sequence Vol. 2)" (12:55) are also excellent composition.

It's a 4+ stars overall rating as the music has successfully combined nice melody, excellent harmony, frequent style and tempo changes as well as having cohesive structure. It's highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#603016)
Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a great way to start an album. A formidable guitar lines, then repeated with guitar distortion and later with flute and sax subsequently. Where are They Now? of 19 minutes duration flows naturally and never feels forced continuity. The new guitar solos are complemented well with the accurate base Barret and Burgess, and nicely accompanied by keyboards Tillison. Tillison's voice is not remarkable, but from my point of view, it is appropriate for the band performs music and ideas. And Theo Travis works with his eloquent shares. Perdu Dans Paris is the other great work here. With a description that carries the listener along with excellent music. The Canterbury Sequence Volume 2. Ethanol Hat Nail does not reach the magnificence of those mentioned above but it is a good way to finish the work. The rest is just acceptable...
Report this review (#930080)
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Transitional but still very good album.

Recorded over the year after "Not as Good as the Book", this album represents an interesting transition from the previous Tangent line-up to a new one. It was also recorded during the year in which the global financial crisis occurred. I am not sure if there is any relationship there, but some of the lyrics do refer to aspects of the crisis. With bass player Jonas Reingold leaving, as well as drummer Jamie Salazar (both of whom played in the flower kings), Tillison writes in the liner notes that the Swedish connection so important to the beginnings of the band was no longer and the Tangent were now a fully English band. However, this new state of affairs would not last too long either. The drummer they found to replace Salazar only played on this album (Paul Burgess from 10CC), while the new bass player Jonathan Barrett only plays on two albums (he would be replaced by a returning Jonas Reingold). So, the only original members on this one are Tillison, Travis (sax and flute), and Guy Manning (acoustic guitar, backing vocals).

This means there is no electric guitar player. So, Andy Tillison himself takes on the electric guitar duties, similar to how he would take on the drumming in the most recent album (Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery). I have to say I am impressed by how good Tillison is on guitar here. He is no Roine Stolt (original el guitarist), nor any Luke Machin (current guitarist), both of whom are amazing. However, Tillison can clearly hold his own. Saying this, his electric solos can't compare to Travis' playing, and on this album it is the sax solos that steal the show. But I can't help but be impressed by just how well-rounded a musician Tillison shows himself to be. Even if the band at this time was "down and out" (as implied by the title), Tillison was able (with the help of Travis and Manning) to pull together an original musical statement.

Musically, this selection of tunes is mixed in quality. Thankfully, with this album The Tangent breaks with the previous pattern of putting their weakest material first. Instead, the best track of the collection - "Where are they now" - opens the album. This 19-min long epic is structured around a very catchy guitar hook, with some great grooves and soloing, while bits of the piece have a playful quality that reminds one of Gong. The lyrics are a bit cryptic, but reference the global financial crisis and the lack of trust in society. Two of the middle sections of this track bring back the key figure "Earnest" - of the opening epic on the album 'A Place in the Queue' - who is now in a resthome recounting his war-time stories and experiencing forgiveness. So, this track represents a kind of 'conceptual continuity' with previous Tangent albums. Overall, a great Tangent piece. If the rest of the album had been this good it would have straddled the boundary between four and five stars.

However, of the five remaining tracks, only two really stand out. The second-best is the closing track, titled here "The Canterbury Sequence volume 2, Ethanol Hat Nail". In actuality, it sounds little like the original light-hearted and joyous Canterbury Sequence (from their debut album), but is instead much more experimental, dark, and quirky. But there is still a Canterbury-esque tinge, and it contains some really great music, particularly in its middle sections. After this, only the second track "Paroxetine - 20mg" quite stands up with the rest of The Tangent's discography. The other three tracks sound like filler. While the latter music is not bad in any way, it is just not super memorable, although some of the lyrics maintain Tillison's social critique (particularly "Perdue Dans Paris", about the two separate worlds of the city - the daytime of civilized Parisians coupled with a nighttime occupied by the homeless and castouts).

The result is a mixed album. Three of the tracks are great, while the other three are musically less interesting. The stronger tracks are important to the Tangent discography and thus worth getting, but together do not quite lift the average quality above four stars. On balance, I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1869358)
Posted Thursday, January 25, 2018 | Review Permalink

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