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The Tangent - Proxy CD (album) cover


The Tangent

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars Just over a year after the release of the wonderful album The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery comes the band's 10th. I was delighted when Andy Tillison announced its planned release date offering early access to demos of the songs, so I have followed the album's development closely and many of the songs already feel like old friends. The strapline to the album is "A protest, a reflection, a couple of regrets and a rant". I can confidently say that the rant is Supper's Off, a demo song included on the little known companion disc to Le Sacre Du Travail (L'╔tagere Du Travail). The quality of this song has always meant it deserved wider recognition and it is great that it has finally been released. Also included as a bonus track is an excerpt from one of Andy's side projects, Kalman Filter and taken from another of his 2018 releases Exo-Oceans, another fine album (instrumental) that deserves much wider recognition. That leaves the four tracks that are new to me. My favourite is The Adulthood Lie, at over 16 minutes, it is a fast- paced monster (you will also see it released as a single) that delighted me from first listen. This must be one of Andy's regrets. The album opens with the title track Proxy, also at over 16 minutes it is the longest track (just). This has to be the protest song. As is so often the case with The Tangent, the vocal is used sparingly to deliver the message (which it does) within a complex and enjoyable prog track. The Melting Andalusian Skies is an enjoyable and interesting instrumental track at just under nine minutes has a more laid back tempo but still a strong edge to it. I assume that this is the reflection. The shortest song is A Case Of Mistaken Optimism, and must be the other regret. This is an enjoyable toe-tapping piece with the clarity of Andy's vocal getting the message over very clearly. The musicianship on the album is of the highest standard and the overall packaged album is, for me, by some way the best of the year. Brilliant 5 stars.
Report this review (#2056197)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Tangent has evolved into a platform of experimentation. And why not? Andy Tillison has been making high quality progressive rock for a long time, so it is good to explore new possibilities. Under the label of Eclectic Prog, Proxy does experiment with different genres of music. For example, the 16 minute "The Adulthood Lie" fuses Fatboy Slim type of electronic funk with classic The Tangent in a way that is brilliant. It will mesmerize, intrigue, excite, and venture through many twists and turns. The majority of Proxy is classic symphonic progressive rock with Andy's spin on the world as he tells stories of politics, music, and life. "Supper's Off" is a classic b-side from Le Sacre Du Travail that features Andy's electrifying keyboards and can fit nicely on any Tangent album and deserves it's place in the sun. From start to finish, Proxy does a lot of things right, and fits nicely in a high quality catalog of music.
Report this review (#2078709)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Modern proggers The Tangent return in 2018 with `Proxy', actually their tenth album to date, and damned if they haven't delivered the greatest of musical goods all over again, although they always set such a high standard that this shouldn't be a surprise! Andy Tillison, one of the most energetic and diverse keyboardists in modern prog as well as a hugely charismatic and distinctive vocalist, is joined once more by The Flower King's skilled bassist Jonas Reingold, talented young guitarist Luke Machin, modern Canterbury sound legend Theo Travis with his classy sax, flute and clarinet, ex-Godsticks drummer Steve Roberts and Karmakanic's G÷ran Edman on backing vocals, and they offer a first-rate collection of Canterbury-flavoured prog, electronic and jazzy extended pieces. `Proxy' is described as `a protest, a reflection, a couple of regrets and a rant', so it means that in addition to all the vibrant and enthusiastic playing, you get a stream of thoughtful lyrics, proving once again that Andy is one of the rare few in modern prog that prizes weighty and smart words of actual depth equally as much as all the instrumental showboating.

The opening sixteen minute title track proves that you can never predict which directions a Tangent piece will dart in, and big corporation tirade `Proxy' is all snappy drumming, humming keys, fiery guitar soloing, pumping sax and purring bass tearing in and out of brisk tempo changes back and forth that spring out of nowhere. Its opening Canterbury-modelled intro slinks into darker smoky grooves, Seventies jazz-fusion mellowness and rumbling heavier bursts, all peppered with Andy's condescending sneer. The Canterbury embracing maintains throughout the vocal-free `The Melting Andalusian Sky', where the band all get gorgeous improvised soloing showcase moments in between exotic reprising themes, and there's everything from nimble fingered late night/early a.m jazzy piano ruminations, tasty Latin touches and chill-out ambient interludes, making it truly one of the best instrumental pieces to pop up on a prog album in 2018.

`A Case Of Misplaced Optimism' is a mellow funky groover with an infectious chorus that will lodge itself in your brain for days (lovely restrained electronic slivers throughout this one too), but it's the frantic and deliciously schizophrenic `The Adulthood Lie' that proves to be the album highlight! A constantly up-tempo sprint of high energy with a welcome sense of sly humour and self-deprecating reflection, it's constantly driven by a peppy mix of programmed and clicking live drumming, jazzy sax blasts and flighty flute trills, pulsing bass and endlessly glitching electronics. How the colourful sixteen minute epic all manages to hold together brilliantly (as well as keeping your foot tapping and head bouncing!) is a miraculous miracle that speaks volumes about the skill of Andy and the players! `Supper's Off'' might kick off with punchy Asia-esque anthem-like guitars, but the ten-minute closer is loaded with bursts of angry ranted bile delivered with Andy's snarl, but it also settles into peppy little Canterbury touches and big synth themes too.

A perfect introduction for newcomers to what The Tangent do so well, as well as an endlessly satisfying disc for long-time fans, part of `Proxy's strength lies in the fact that it always remains endlessly melodic without simplifying the eclectic music styles and constantly improvised passages, meaning the disc is always surprisingly accessible. In `Proxy', the Tangent have not only delivered their most colourful and vibrant disc of their career to date, but one of the best progressive rock albums of 2018.

Five stars!

Report this review (#2113863)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you buy one CD in the next 12 months make sure it is this one. Quite simply brilliant from the first second of "Proxy" to the last second of "Suppers Off". This CD blew my grunties off and I reckon sent them skittering off down the street where they are now terrorising scousers 30 miles to west of where I live...This has got to be the best release of 2018, and any symphonic prog fan who doesn't think this is the dogs bollocks on toast is a mountebank cad brother of a soap dodgers dog! I love the lyrics and the musicianship is tight and powers the quirks till they sneak inside your scalp and your hair will never stand diwn again. This album has everything, brill bass, scintilating keys and even brilliant wind instruments. Guitar to kill for and a cheeky nod to the music that the three man Genesis could have produced ("suppers off" has a sound of ATTWT but is a billion times better). Just buy this and strap your undies on guys and gals...
Report this review (#2114894)
Posted Friday, January 4, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Can The Tangent really be back with their tenth album? Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about Andy Tillison and his exciting new band Parallel or 90 Degrees, which also featured a young musician called Guy Manning. They were both there at the beginning of this band as well, although Guy is now heavily involved in other groups, and there have been some changes in the line-up since the last album. Of course, Andy Tillison (Po90/Kalman Filter) is still there providing vocals and keyboards, while Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings/Steve Hackett Band) is still there providing bass as he has since the very beginning. Theo Travis (Soft Machine/Travis-Fripp) long ago replaced David Jackson on Saxophone and flute, while we have some newbies in guitarist Luke Machin (Maschine/Francis Dunnery Band) and drummer Steve Roberts (Magenta/Godsticks), plus there is a special guest in the guise of Goran Edman (Karmakanic, Yngwie Malmsteen band).

Andy always used to be very heavily influenced indeed by Peter Hammill and VDGG, but these days he has moved much more into the Canterbury scene, with Egg and Hatfield & The North being major influences, combined with Camel. The result is an album which in many ways feels very dated, while there are some sections on the title cut which could have been heard at a Pontins holiday camp in the Seventies, as well as some tunes from cinema advertising from the same era. But this album is much more than just a collage of different sounds and styles, with Hammond Organ sounds washing through the music and a bass so deep and solid that one feels it is possible to sit on the notes and fly around the room as they reverb out of the speakers.

Lyrically this is one of the most interesting albums I have heard in a while, with words which are far more cutting than the music. Track five is just under ten minutes long, "Supper's Off", and even the title alone lets the listener know they are in for something a little out of the ordinary. A million years ago Andy could be found earning a crust engineering for obscure and very heavy bands at a studio, but through the last thirty years he has continued to innovate and create great music, and this is one of the most enjoyable albums of his I have ever come across. Timeless, dated, modern, superb.

Report this review (#2186853)
Posted Thursday, April 25, 2019 | Review Permalink

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