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


The Tangent

Eclectic Prog

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4 stars 4 1/2 stars really!!!

Well, I have been lucky enough to hear the promotional release of this album, which is due out in Feb. of '06.

My first impression was that this is where The Tangent truely becomes a band, rather than a project. No more can there be the "just another Roine Stolt project" tag that was wrongly applied to the other two albums (considering the writing has always been done by Andy Tillison, it was always his baby). But on to the music.

First song, "In Earnest" will undoubtedly be considered the "classic" track for most people on first listen. It has everything a prog lover could hope for, while retaining some similarities in composition with previous Tangent albums. But this is certainly no retread of Suppers Ready or Close To The Edge. It has a modern approach and unique sound that is a result of Andy Tillisons approach to prog. This song, unlike some of the others on this album, does contain some tips of the hat to the "classic" prog bands of the 70's though. But not to the point of plagerism, and they are seamlessly blended into the whole. A truely great epic song.

"Lost In London" brings us back to the Canterbury style found on "The Canterbury Sequence" from the first album, but sounds far less like a tribute to that branch of prog and more like a modern take on the style. Excellent track.

"DIY Surgery" is Van der Graaf Generator through and through, while not really reminding me of any particular song of theirs. So not a rip off by any means, but certainly has the feel of their early 70's material. Interesting considering David Jackson is no longer with the band (but is MORE than sufficiently replaced by Theo Travis.....more on his contributions later).

"GPS Culture" is the one track that doesn't stand out as much to me. Perhaps it is because it is reminiscient of the previous album, which I found a bit lacking in adventurousness, unlike this new album. Overall, a good track, but not as outstanding as the others (with one exception).

"Follow Your Leaders" is fantastic. Featuring a solo section that very strongly evokes Gongs better material from the Radio Gnome trilogy days. This one did not strike me on the first listen, but after a couple of listens I now consider it one of the standout tracks.

"The Sun In My Eyes"......the less said about this track the better :) It is a fun track with some entertaining lyrics, but is also the one that keeps me from labeling this album a masterpiece. Still, it is short, and has a certain retro charm (I'll leave it to the reader to decide what sort of retro I'm referring to when they hear it for themselves.......I suppose it is safe to say that I'm not aware of any modern prog band dipping into this musical style :)

"A Place In the Queue" is not as immidiate in terms of "prog appeal" as the epic that starts the album, but repeated listens reveal that it is just as vital and interesting a piece of music as the first album track. Perhaps even more so due to the fact that it requires a few listens to sink in. Another winner for me, to be sure.

So, overall, not quite a masterpiece, but a definite 4 1/2 stars out of 5 for me. I will add here at the end that others have suggested that Theo Travis is the true replacement for Roine Stolt in terms of contributions to the music (as opposed to new guitarist Krister Jonsson). After hearing this album, I would have to agree completely. He helps to change the whole dynamic of this band, and I think that anyone who may have had doubts about him replacing David Jackson will have them throughly dispelled by this album. This is not to say that Krister Jonsson is not a good replacment on guitar, he is and he plays some VERY impressive solos as well as being an excellent rhythm guitarist. But Theo is as important to the sound of this album as Andy Tillison in my opinion.

All in all, excellent job by Tillison and company. I can't wait to get my hands on the Special Edition when it is released.

Report this review (#60169)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tangent leader Andy Tillison softened me right up before I even played a note of this cd. In his sleeve notes he starts waxing nostalgic about Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans", an album that had a profound influence on me as well some thirty years ago. But I fear that he also raises one's expectations about this new cd a bit too much when he implies (despite his explicit denials and sincere attempts to the contrary) that "A Place In The Queue" might eventually sit comfortably alongside the likes of "TFTO", "The Lamb Lies Down", "Pawn Hearts" and others in the annals of prog.

With the absence of Roine Stolt on this cd, Tillison clearly steps to the forefront of the group. One gets a much more personal look at Tillison here; I do enjoy his self- deprecating humor and the insights into his musical influences that he conveys in both the extensive sleeve notes and the lyrics of some of his songs (e.g. "Lost in London"). His distinctive voice bears some passing similitudes with Greg Lake (who I never hear anyone complaining about!), and he displays some fine keyboard playing throughout another very good Tangent album.

I view The Tangent as being in the upper echelon of current prog groups, largely because of Tillison's unique vision, keyboard playing and distinctive writing style, but also because they have rock's best bass player (Jonas Reingold), an excellent drummer (now Jaime Salazar) and they make interesting use of sax and flute (Theo Travis), especially in the jazzier sequences.

Yes, the guitars are good here too, but there are literally thousands of "good" guitarists out there. Let's be honest here, folks - you really can't replace Stolt (just as Yes could never adequately replace Steve Howe). Plus he used to carry some of the vocal duties, both lead and harmony. Sorry if you disagree, my friends, but Stolt's signature guitar phrasing and flourishes are regrettably missed on this cd, and one of the reasons that I can't give more than 4 stars.

The other main reason is the same complaint I have with some Flower Kings cd's: in some of the longer songs, they tend to get lost in some of the jamming and go off on too many tangents..oh wait, maybe that's the point..hmmmm. I just felt that some of the epics could have been even better if they were a bit shorter and more focused (though I probably should be indulging the symphonic nature of the longer pieces!).

This cd probably leans more towards jazz and Canterbury than the previous two Tangent cd's, with references to Van Der Graaf Generator ("DIY Surgery"), Hatfield and the North, and some Caravan (perhaps even Traffic at times?). Travis really pulls his weight on this album.

I keep seeing more and more proggers venturing into political territory since September 11th and the invasion of Iraq - TFK's "The Truth Will Set You Free" and IQ's "Harvest of Souls" come quickly to mind. This album has some of that too. Overall, I like the lyrics (the word "spreadsheet" makes it into a prog epic!), and I really like the keys and drums that drive the Yes-like "GPS Culture" and "Follow Your Leaders".

And don't take "The Sun In My Eyes" too seriously folks. Remember, "nous sommes du soleil" from Yes' TFTO means "we are of the sun". This is clearly a tongue-in- cheek song in a style that lies in direct opposition to the type of music that us nerdy 1970's prog lovers listened to. (It even clocks in at a radio-friendly 3-1/2 minutes!)

O.K., enough meandering thoughts about this very long and complex album. Perhaps I'm just as guilty about going off on tangents as I accused this cd of being! Rest assured that this is a VERY GOOD cd with a distinctive style within the prog genre..but also a slight step back from their previous two albums, in my opinion. But this IS The Tangent!

(You should still buy it for the frequent periods of prog-induced euphoria.)

Report this review (#68661)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Andy Tillison makes clear his devotion to "Tales From Topographic Oceans" in the liner notes, even encouraging you to search your Dad's (or Grandad's) record collection for a copy, but this is no Tales clone. Can The Tangent cope with the loss of Roine Stolt? Yes, no problem. The keyboards are more prominent anyway on this album but Krister Jonsson puts in some great solos when required. The rhythm section is brilliant and the flute and brass work of Theo Travis is outstanding.

"In Earnest" is the first, and best, of the two epics about war veterans who are only appreciated one day a year in November. Excellent lyric (noteable for rhyming "Forties" with "sport his") and a great song, featuring some nice jazzy instrumental sections.

"Lost in London" is about trips Andy Tillison made to London in the 80s in search of a recording contract. Reminiscent of some of Caravan's lighter numbers, this may be the first time Brent Cross Shopping Centre has had a mention in a prog song. Nice flute work.

"DIY Surgery" is a bizarre poem set to VdGG-style music by Theo Travis.

"GPS Culture" is the best of the "non-epic" tracks, mainly thanks to a wonderful organ riff which Wakeman would have been proud of. Features another brilliant instrumental section. My favourite track.

"Follow Your Leaders" is a typical faster Tangent number with an excellent synth solo.

"The Sun In My Eyes" is the "disco" number about the perils of being a Yes fan at school instead of a Sweet fan. Too poppy for my liking and doesn't really fit in. The title track is the 2nd epic and takes a while to get going, but explains the overall concept behind the album.

The second CD in the special edition features some tracks that didn't make it onto disc one. "First day at school" is very nice and possibly should have been on the album instead of "DIY Surgery". The remix of Sun in my eyes is an improvement, but the best things here are the last 2 instrumentals - "Grooving in Mars" is a great jazzy number, recorded live, featuring a great sax motif and "Kartoffelsalat Im Unterseeboot " is a wonderful ambient electronic piece. The extra for the special edition is worth it for this track alone. A definite 4 star effort. Shame they're not touring all round the UK!

Report this review (#69547)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I truly think The Tangent is one of the best progressive rock bands of the post 2000 years. If you listen closely to their music you could be under the impression this music was conceived in the mid seventies. Especially the organs & keyboards sound timeless. More than ever, the sound of this band is reminiscent to the Canterbury scene and bands like Hatfield & the north or Caravan ; especially the gentle vocals or the fairy tale character of the flute parts. On the debut album these influences were just part of a tribute section to H & N. Here, these elements are incorporated in a more natural way. But these are just some of the influences that appear in the sound. You can also notice some shades of Yes in the harmonic vocals and in the guitar parts of "GPS culture" . This can't be a coincidence as some of the lyrical subject are directly linked to that band "they didn't realise the sun was in my eyes ; Nous sommes de soleil". Keith Emerson comes to mind in some of the excellent keyboard parts. The melodies that are provided by the organs are more accessible due to the repetition of some tunes. A marvellous track like "GPS Culture" illustrates perfectly the feeling of a road trip musically. This doesn't mean The Tangent hasn't got its own unique trademarks. The nice atmosphere of this complex music enables you to enjoy this wonderful music from the very first listen. There's a succession of different parts & atmospheres in every track. Sometimes the mood is calm & smooth with delicate sounds on the back while on other moments it's quite jazzy like on the little funny track "DIY surgery". Some parts of this album are symphonic and occasionally pompous. Each excerpt impresses me by its stunning sound & sparkling melodies of vocals and instruments, it's almost unbelievable that they manage to maintain the quality level this high all the time. Both the opening track & the title track are large epics of the same kind. On these long epics the band takes the time to explore the extended parts full of musical creativity& emotional beauty. Here the instrumentation is enriched by the use of orchestral sounds. The sound of an odd track like "Follow your leaders" includes compelling keyboard parts & stunning melodies. Alongside the variations of organ, there's also some wonderful floating keyboards with a space/astral feel. Originally The Tangent started off as a solo project from Andy Tillison but once the other musicians were involved they became a band before the first album was finished. Each record release saw the entrance and the leaving of some band members. Guy Manning, Jonas Reingold & Theo Travis were part of the band from the beginning and the acoustics, sax and bass lines are played decently. For the third studio album Roine Stolt is replaced by Krister Johnsson on guitar. Unfortunately you can notice this. Not that Johnson is a bad guitarist, far from it, his guitar lines serve the music quite good. It's just that the band sounded just a tad better with those characteristic guitar lines of Roine Stolt. For the lyrics Tillison still seems very much in charge of this band. He gives the listener insight to his views on modern society issues like mass consumption, leadership & place of the individual in a society. These themes are recurring several times in different forms through the tales of his own life & observations from the past and the present. Take "London life" for example. The lyrics are clear and comprehensive. Musically the atmosphere is gorgeous, a succession of calm & up- tempo moments. This has to be one of my favourite tracks of the album. Lyrically this is a tale from Tillison's past. He recalls one trip to London where he was involved in the Falkland war protest. You can find more explanations of the concept in the sleeve notes. Sometimes it rather sounds as someone is telling a tale than a real lyric. It never bothers because of the stunning music underneath. The extensive instrumental interludes leave plenty of room for soloing. If you're not familiar with the sound of the voice of Tillison, it can sound a bit odd at first. He's not one of the best vocalists around but I always liked his voice. During some excerpt he's sounding smooth and delicate but the next moment his vocals are really powerful.

Unfortunately there's one weak point in this album. I suppose not many listeners of progressive rock will like "The sun in my eyes" which seems intended as a single heading for chart success. The commercial arrangements which consist of electronics & a blazer section may not please the fan. Underneath there's quite some decent melodies to discover. In either way this song is a lightweight when compared to the other tracks of the album.

The special edition contains another 40 minutes of new music. That's what I call bonus material ! Although these tracks aren't sounding competed and don't really fit in, this material is worthwhile of checking out. Musically The Tangent explores new musical ground with a satisfying result. "Promises were made" holds elements from gothic prog metal. "Forsaken cathedrals" is an extension of the musical elements that are used in "DIY Surgery". Most interesting are the jams in "Grooving On Mars" and "Kartoffelsalat Im Unterseeboot" which sometimes remind me of some ancient Porcupine Tree soundscapes. The explorations don't seem to go anywhere at some points but that can be fun too.

Conclusion : I treasured the two previous Tangent albums for their splendid sound, inspired melodies & interesting lyrics and "A place in the queue" , the third album, is no exception to the rule even though there's nothing really new to discover on this album.

Report this review (#69585)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first review here and I have chosen this one because it has made me feel like in the old 70's. I believe this will be among the top 5 records this year 2006. GPS Culture is the best track here with its impressive moog riff at the beginning, but the longest track In Earnest and the closing A Place In The Queue exceeding 20 minutes both are the closest to the best 70's prog songs. The rest are quite good and I do not even dislike the disco The Sun In My Eyes. Well 4,5 stars
Report this review (#71178)
Posted Sunday, March 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Place in Perfection

The Tangent's third Studio album A Place in the Queue is breathtaking, mesmerizing, and an amazing effort by one of modern symphonic prog's most revered projects. It's the quintessential modern symphonic prog concept album dealing with different political and social aspects of society including economics to war. The album's concept becomes increasingly clearer with each listen and increasingly more addictive.

Andy Tillison is the creative force behind the project. He does most of the keyboards and Moogtrons along with the lead vocals and depth guitars. Tillison's keyboard skills are top class showing off incredible soloing skills and creative sounds from both his keyboard and the Moogtron. Tillison's vocal performance is good as well. He clearly enunciates every lyric and never finds himself off key. Tillison did an amazing job composing and performing this album.

Jonas Reingold is one of my favorite bassists, and he was one of the reasons why I decided to buy this album the second I picked it up. Reingold is definately the leading figure of bassists in the modern symphonic prog world. His walking lines add so much depth behind the melody and his solo in Follow Your Leaders is nothing less than amazing. Reingold shows how bass can lay down the groove but play extremely techincal and melodic lines throughout every performance.

Jaimie Salazar does a great job on drums. His jazzy style is perfect for the variant influences of Andy Tillison. The second track Lost in London shows just how jazzy this band can get, but also how quickly they can switch into heavier styles with poignant instrumental parts.

Krister Jonsson must take quite a bit of influence from Roine Stolt, who played on earlier Tangent albums. Jonsson's performance is so strong that I really don't feel like Stolt did any more for the band. Jonsson's performance may never reach the acclaim of Stolt's, but in terms of quality, these guitarists are equally matched.

Theo Travis' contribution on woodwinds is essential. Without those excellent improvised Sax and Flute solos, this album would miss the character that makes it so amazing.

Guy Manning does a spectacular job on acoustic guitars and other assorted strings (12 strings, mandolins, and etc). Manning's playing shows the variation of this group switching from strong, dark, and heavy tones to soft, light, and jazzy tones.

Sam Baine adds a very unqiue flavor to the project. The Tangent is able to use two keys players. Tillison on Moogs, organs, and pianos collaborating with Sam Baine on synths and pianos. This creates a unique and interesting atmosphere with two keyboardists playing in harmony. The two keyboardists add not only a great array of tones, but also unique intervals that are quite open and resolute and other times being close and dissonant.

The production is top quality, just like the rest of this album. Every note is audible. The keyboards and Moogtrons have inventive tones and not just the standard guitar center stock tones. The guitars are thick and buttery when they need to be, but retain a softer jazzier character. The drums cut through and the cymbals are pleasant with some slight force. The bass is audible and clear as always from Mr. Reingold. The vocals are clear, enunciated, and huge. They really fill the space of the recording. All in all, perfect production.

This is definately a five star effort.

Report this review (#72052)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Tangent's third album is easily their most ambitious project to date, being nearly twice as long (!) as The Music that Died Alone. I would have to say that it is my overall favorite album by the band, as the music this time around meshes as a cohesive whole moreso than on past records. The band seems to have taken the best things from both past records to make this one, and it seems like a obvious evolutionary step.

The loss of Roine Stolt and Zoltan Csoraz (or however you spell it) felt to me like a low blow. Zoltan and Jonas Reingold in particular were my favorite bass and drums pairing in progressive rock, so I was both eager and a little skeptical about how the new drummer, Jaime, would turn out. I shouldn't have feared, because he fits in nicely with Jonas and does not hurt the album in any way.

The guitar, too, is less prominant than in early recordings, which is a pro and a con. Andy Tillison's keyboards really are the focus of the album, but Krisster Johnson (spelling? bah!) does an amiable job on what guitar parts ther are. Good work.

Anyways, regardless of length and line-up changes, what really matters is the music. And damn, is the music on this album amazing! More experimental than The Music that Died Alone, and much more energetic than The World That We Drive Through (both 4 star efforts in my book), A Place in the Queue is easily The Tangent's most wholesome and lively album.

'In Earnest' stars things off with a bang, and perhpas shows the album's only fault: that the best song comes first! Starting with an excellent piano riff couresty of Sam Baine (who seems more prominent throughout the record), this 20 minute+ song is a tour de force, with Andy Tillison doing some great keyboard and vocal (!) work. Andy's melodies have always been hit or miss with me on past albums by The Tangent, but this time around most melodic lines are spot on. I really enjoy the verses and instrumental breaks in this song, and is as of now my favorite Tangent song! Awesome work

'Lost in London' is a very Canterbury-esque number, with a great groove and interesting lyrics. On this album, Andy really seems to be able to portray his thoughts very easily, and I get pulled into the stories moreso than on past records. Anyways, great song, with both light and heavy passages, and awesome flute work by Theo Travis, an extremely essential unit to the Tangent now. On "The World...," Theo was pushed to the back more as a guest star than anything. Here, he really shines throughout the album, and his flute and sax flourishes are absolutely essential to the overall sound of the album.

DIY Surgery is a short, fun piece by Theo Travis, very proggy and an interesting listen.

GPS Culture is probably my second favorite song on the album. Awesome vintage keyboard sound! The whole song sounds like it could fit on even the greatest Yes record. The melodies here are infectious, and the slower part in the middle is beautiful. Piano again plays a big role, and vocal harmonies surface in the best way possible.

Follow Your Leaders starts with a somewhat boorish vocal line, but quickly breaks down into a superb instrumental section which saves the song. The song has a driving feel (reminiscient of Up-Hill from Here), but this time it works fully. Great bass work, courtesy of Jonas (to only name one part...his additions throughout the album are priceless). And Theo Travis...again showing off his awesome chops.

The Sun in My Eyes is a great song. 3 and half minutes of disco fun, not to be taken seriously, so other sore reviewers, get over it. Out of an 80 minute album, 4 minutes aren't prog. Whatever, the song works, largely because of the silly, awesome lyrics any prog-lover will eat up.

A Place in the Queue is the other "epic," and though it's not as heavy hitting as the first one, it still has a lot going for it. The beginning section perhaps takes a little long to pick up, but the atmosphere is very calm and collected that the music sounds good anyways. And after a load of fast-paced songs, its nice to catch our breaths. The rest of the song goes through many more moods, melodies, and keyboard solos, culminating in a strong finish to an amzing album.

Well, there you have it, a 5-star masterpiece that has not left my CD player for about two weeks now. This is the Tangent's strongest album to date, and I can only imagine what the next one will sound like.

Report this review (#72209)
Posted Saturday, March 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It Will Go into Top 5 Prog Albums of 2006!

Oh what kinda musical taste that I have? It's too broad, I think . and it's probably undefined. After having reviewed what so called prog met album from Andromeda, now I'm moving into different kinda music which is totally different than the Andromeda kinda thing. Oh taste taste taste . what kinda taste? It doesn't matter, really, as long as the music is okay with my ears, I would go ahead enjoying the stream of music produced by different bands with different styles. That's the beauty of having no preconceived mind about certain type of music. But . there is another part of the coin: so many wish list that I've made for good CDs that will create serious dollar from my pocket. Never mind! I have to work very very hard (of course with prog spirit) to finance my needs for good CDs. What is work for prog man? To purchase CDs!

Yeah, let's get started with this great album by The Tangent. Roine Stolt, one of the best prog musicians we have nowadays, is out from The Tangent in this record. But, the music of The Tangent is still great- even it's much better than their second album "The World That We Drive Through". One thing, Roine Stolt is great, but the band still demonstrates excellent musical quality even after he is not involved in the project. Like its previous predecessors, this album offers you 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. It's definitely an album that no one who claims himself/herself as prog lover miss it. Yeah, it's powerful full stop.

It kicks off softly with great jazzy piano and heavy vocal section in "In Earnest" (20:03). You might be wondering that this long duration track will get you bored - it's not at all. It's terrific! There are multitudes of styles and tempo changes with great textures of organ / keyboard sounds and solos, plus powerful vocal line. The music sometimes turns complex with all instruments play difficult chords with some solos: piano, guitar and keyboards. Oh yes, if you love Canterbury, this track is definitely yours. No doubt. I can sense sometime the music resembles a style of Brian Auger but also a bit of ELP. Krister Jonsson who plays electric guitars also demonstrates his solo stunningly in the vein of classic rock music. It's an awesome song with great composition and structure. I know the track is long but I always repeat the track whenever I listen to it.

"Lost In London" (8:08) opens up in jazzy style combining vocal, flute, drums and bass. Flutes play in some lyrical segments wonderfully with high energy. This track might favor those who love jazz music. Even though there is practically no complexity offered in here, I do enjoy this track. I can see the positive energy cast by Andy Tillison when he sings this song. You can hear beautiful organ sounds along the track. Wonderfully composed!

"DIY Surgery" (2:16) pushes the music further into a bit of avant-garde style, maintaining the original sound of Tangent. The singing style is also different. Saxophone solo is really great in the middle of the track. Well, actually I do not favor sax, in general, but this track offers an attractive sounds and style. Drumming is also top notch! "GPS Culture" (10:07) has different style in terms of rhythm section composition but it's similar in terms of singing style of track 1 and 2. Pulsating organ sounds combined with guitar work make the music is rich in textures. Oh yeah . you might love how the organ is played at the back. Awesome! There are some riffs that remind me to Kansas' "Carry On wayward Son" followed with acoustic guitar work close to the middle of the track. The intertwining work of organ and guitar, played by Dan Watts of Parallel or 90 Degrees is truly stunning; especially when it's combined with silent part using flutes as interjecting sounds. Oh man . this is really cool ..!!!

"Follow Your Leaders" ( 9:21) starts off with dynamic organ punch followed with good guitar rhythm, augmented with dazzling drum. The music is presented differently than other tracks with relatively fast tempo. Andy's vocal quality still proves to be a good enjoyment thing of this one. Oh yeah . I never mention the basslines yet. Yes, it's a great bass guitar playing by The Flower Kings' Jonas Reingold. This tracks offers relatively long keyboard solo combined with flute. It's better playing this album in relatively high volume at your power amplifier.

"The Sun In My Eyes" (3:44) is like a poppy music with heavy brass section - it sounds like R&B music. But .. again, the singing style of Andy Tillison has made this song is different from any other pop songs. I even view this track serves as a "break" after enjoying wonderfully crafted and a bit complex composition. It's a disco song, but it's dynamic and it's nice . it's okay for a break. Why not? It does not jeopardize the cohesiveness of this album. Good.

Now we enter the album title track "A Place In The Queue" (25:19) which serves like an epic that concludes the album. It starts with music using sax as its solo, performed in medium tempo. When the silent part enters with beautiful acoustic guitar fills and rhythm, the clarinet (or alto sax) takes the lead melody very nicely - touchy, indeed. Vocal enters in ambient style in a bit of bluesy texture. The keyboard solo at approx min 6:00 combined with saxophone is well laid out in the whole structure of this epic track. One must pay attention to this part which in my case has made me "nggeblak" (sorry, am using my local language which means: my mind is totally paralyzed listening to this music segment and cannot think sane anymore. Scary isn't it? Well, am not exaggerating .). At approx minutes 10:00 the music changes dramatically in terms of style as the tempo moves quickly. Oh, I love the guitar rhythm at this part. The ending part of this track brings the music back to the intro part with saxophone as main melody, in relatively slow tempo.

What can I say after penning a long review about this album? In fact, I can make the review as long as a novel. But I'm sure, you're not gonna read it. Hey, you don't need to read this review actual, just take a recognizable action: buy this CD!. Oh by the way, the artwork is great! The sonic quality is excellent!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#73300)
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Third album by The Tangent is surely better than 2nd. It seems that the group has finally found its unique style (which can be called neo-canterbury).

"In Earnest" is the first (and by far the better of two) epic here. Great track with lots of changes of harmonies and moods. "Lost In London" is my favorite track of the album - nice melody, though no complexity offered "DIY Surgery" and "GPS Culture" are not bad but don't stand out as well so I skip them (imho the album would do well without them) "Follow Your Leaders" is also very good and catchy "The Sun In My Eyes" is a prog-disco song that is also worth listening "A Place In The Queue" is a typical Tangent epic (but too long for my liking) with typical Andy Tillison vocal harmonies.

The musicianship on the album is great and the only minus of the album for me is its length - 79 minutes are too much for my ears! 4 stars.

Report this review (#75317)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Again, I have to disagree with the majority of reviewers. THIS is exactly what I needed (not): a traumatizing mix of Van Der Graaf Generator and Gong. Jeez... Many years ago, I recovered (not unscathed) from the experience of aforementioned Gong and Van Der Graaf Generator (in my worst nightmares, Peter Hamill is still present). I believed and hoped that this style of "music" was extinct. But No... Introducing The Tangent... Although I hated it from the start, I listened to "A Place In The Queue" 6 times before writing this review (I think any reviewer should do that). Through the entire length of the album, I had the feeling that I am in a musical written by a schizophrenic on crack... I simply don't understand. Tillison, Reingold and company are exceptional musicians, gifted and very technical. Why can't they sing decent prog, in the old fashioned vein of Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and the other classics is beyond me. In my opinion, they make fools of themselves. Pity... 5 stars for the technical capability and musical prowess, 2 stars for the music itself, if you call that music...
Report this review (#75481)
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I had bought every Tangent release prior to this, so naturally bought a copy without listening beforehand (as I do with practically all my purchases). I knew that Roine Stolt was missing but still had high hopes. What a disappointment it proved to be. The music had lost it's previous coherence and direction but was still, in the main, quite listenable. You guessed it - there's a big "but" coming. There have been many musically gifted prog bands who have been let down by weak vocals (Mostly Autumn and Pendragon come immediately to mind), but Andy Tillison seems to take the plaudits here. If he ever hits a note it is either due to luck or the law of averages kicking in! Why is it that principal band members often insist on taking up the lead vocalist's role when they are not up to the task? Can they not hear themselves or are they so vain? I don't expect things to change by the time of the next release but why should they - it's only one fan's opinion. Anyway, that's the last Tangent purchase I shall make without prior listening. Please don't respond to this post saying I am talking rot - it's just my personal taste - some, I'm sure, will not mind the voice.
Report this review (#75507)
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an amazing CD. From the first song, even the first second to the last it keeps high level. Very high level! Every song has got something, which I can find very enjoyable for my ears. Plenty of sounds in old good style, great lyrics, great vocals, beautiful climat, epics. What more can you request? And what more can I write? Just buy it!

Again I have to give 5 stars!

Report this review (#76673)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.4 Stars

While I really disliked it at first listen, I have to admit that this extremely derivative album has clicked on me. It seems like it is a prog supergroup Unfortunately, the singer is not very good, but I have to admit that the rhythm section is the same one as the Flower Kings' Space Revolver, which is a great combination. Also, the keyboard player is a Wakeman/Bodin hybrid that also experiments with wild hammond organ runs, although his synth tone selections sometimes are disappointing.

In Earnest begins the album with a strong note and is the most enjoyable song of the album. It begins with the best vocals of the record and a beautiful melancholic piano. The music unexpectedly explodes into prog rock bombast and has some amazing hammond organ playing in spots (it can even lead me to rewind over and over to hear that particular riff and solo in minute 5). "nineteen forty fiiiiiive" ... man, that singer can be awful at times though. Anyways, expect to hear great musicianship and good songwriting in this epic, and plenty of moments where you think "Where have I heard that before?". 8/10

Lost in London is a very jazzy piece. While not very complex, it holds my interest and is nicely composed. The melodies are good here despite the weak vocals, and the hard-edge bursts are well done. 7/10

DIY Surgery is an unusual jazz-fusion track with bizarre vocals. It reminds me of Van Der Graff Generator, so I don't like it a lot. 5/10

GPS Culture: Another epic with a fantastic intro: a rocking hammond organ switching time signatures every measure (I think). That theme is repeated during parts of the epic, which is excellent and a highlight of the album. It is similar in style to the opener, but it doesn't sound similar. I say similar because it makes you think of a thousand bands influences. 7.5/10

Follow Your Leaders is a fast-tempo rocker with prog elements and Jonas' bass at his best. Good track. The keyboardist sounds like Charly Garcia here, and is really good. 7/10

The Sun in My Eyes is a fun disco-pop track and the catchy spot in the album. There are references to Yes' Ritual with "nous sommes du soleil" and "We Love When We Play" 7/10

A Place In The Quene is harder to get into, but it is a moody song that feels more like the One "Epic" of the album. It really has that epic-feel and goes through many moods. The songwriting and singing is on par with the opener, but I prefer the musicianship in The Earnest. Still, this is a very satisfying 70s sounding epic that deserves to take 1/3 of the album's length and close it. 7.5/10

So, this is an album to recommend if you don't mind retro prog. It is very good, and now Im intrigued that the guitar player of this band used to be none other than the man of Sweden: Roine Stolt himself! Anyways, after he left, they did a good job at not focusing a lot on the guitars and makings the fan miss the virtuosity of Roine. This album is dominated by rhythm, organs, flutes and saxophone.

Highlights: In Earnest, GPS Culture, A Place In The Quene

Let Downs: DIY Surgery

My Grade: C+

Report this review (#79409)
Posted Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album .Very good mix of different moods.I really like all the album from first song to the last one with a plus for - A Place In The Queue - which I think it's a great composition.I listend to this several times until now and I keep return to it.Without a doubt one of the greatest from the last years. I really like that I'm still able to listen this kind of music in 2006 and I'm sure I'm not the only one who share this opinion.
Report this review (#80386)
Posted Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
el böthy
4 stars Having read some reviews of this album I was a bit curious about the music in it...but if I say thats the reason I bought this I would be lying. The fact is I saw this album in a record store and was amazed by the cover...and the fact that this album was available for me to buy it (cause as I have said ohhh so many times, prog is quite hard to find in Argentina)! I would have bought it right there, but there was a problem...the price! It was a bit expensive to say the least, and as I had already made my mind about the albums I was gonna buy that day, I did not buy it. The next week I started to read and read more and more reviews about this album...cause I was really curious about it, in a way I had not been in quite a while about an album. So I started a thread in the forum asking if this album was recommended and if buying it would be a good (sane) choice. The awnsers where unanimous: YES!!! So...I bought it...and I am more than glad to have done it!!! The music is very ´70 symphonic inspired yet it sounds very modern and fresh, in a way this is how I thought The Flower Kings sounded like before I listened to them... Now, song by song.

In Earnest - Absolutly, positivly the best song of the record and a real favorite of mine!!! This song, this epic has it all...jazzy pianos, great Hammond solos, an astonishing riff, great guitar solos, flutes, saxs, great vocals...yes, this song is absolutly brilliant!!! And its deffinitly in my personal top 10 of all time epics!!!

Lost in London - This one has more of a cantembury feel to it. Its actually very good, and although its like 8 minutes long it seems to be quite straight foward with Tillison narrating a story about his trip in London...

DIY surgery - This song is 100% about the saxs of mr Theo Travis. Very short, very pleasent and with rubish kind of lyrics.

GPS culture - If you want to know the meaning of "light prog" no more, this is it! A very "happy" song, with an excellent "sing a long" chorus. There are some great keys in this song...impossible not to like it!!!

Follow your leaders - This is for me the weak track. It stars out good, but they strech the song just to much, making it unnessesirly long...although its not that bad anyway, but maybe the album would be better off it.

The sun in my eyes -Well, this kinda has the same problem than the the previous song...and at the same time it doesnt. The thing is, this is not a bad song...but it has nothing to do with the rest of the album, its just to popish...again, the album could have done without it...yet as an individual song its better than Follow your leaders...

A place in the Queue - The other epic of the album, maybe the most important because it carries the name of the album...? Maybe, but In Earnest is better hehehe. This is one song you have to listen to a few times before it grows on you. The first times I did not like it one bit, thought it was boring and the changes in it where not well done...but after many litenings...I have come to appreciate it and to like it. Maybe a bit too long, but in the end its a very good track.

Well...I paid big money...but I gain big music, so it was worth it all the way!!! Keep it going Tillnson!!! Keep it progging!

Report this review (#82331)
Posted Friday, June 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good album!

After the first couple of listens, I didn't think much of A Place in the Queue. The song seemed a little bland, but what I really didn't like about it were the vocals. Andy Tillison, the main man behind keys/organs/synths, also took the lead vocals and didn't do good a very good job at it. But the instrumental work is magnificent.

Musicianship is very high quality overall. Jaime Salazar, responsable for the drums, and Jonas Reingold, for the bass, do a marvelous job with the "kitchenwork". They establish very nice grooves, with plenty of variation and touches of jazz and even a couple of latin music influences. The keyboard work, by Tillison himself (organ/piano/moog) and Sam Baines (piano/synths), are very good too. The guitar work, while not as brilliant, manages to keep up with the rest. And on top of it all, Theo Travis throws in some great saxes, flutes and clarinets.

As for the songs, I found the best are the middle sized ones. "Lost in London" is fantastic, starting off with a cool drum/bass groove and very nice flutes. "GPS Culture" is grand too, featuring great keyboards and maybe the best vocals on the album, and has a general feeling the reminds me a lot of Yes. "Follow Your Leaders" is also very groovy, great bass work, including a solo in the middle section. Even the more poppy song, "The Sun In My Eyes" is quite delightful. "DIY Surgery" is the weirdest song, and still very interesting. Of the two major tracks, the opening "In Earnest" (clocking at about 20 minutes) is a degree better than the closing piece, and eponymous title track, "A Place in the Queue" (a little over 25 minutes), which, to me, is the least appealing song, despite the size.

This is a great album. Classic proggers will love it. Don't bother with the somewhat weak vocals; instrumentally, it is top notch. I time, I even leared to appreciate the vocals a little, so good is the musicianship. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#82942)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is a band and an album that I knew almost nothing about when I bought it, but fortunately it comes with extensive liner notes full of stories, lyrics, credits, and just plain interesting little tidbits of reflection. A pretty darn good piece of work overall, and especially the few songs that include extensive personal pictures of people’s lives and worlds.

The album starts off with the wonderfully descriptive character sketch “In Earnest” about an aging war veteran fiddling with a short-wave radio and reminiscing (somewhat bitterly) about his days as a WWII fighter pilot. The lead-in piano is accentuated with gentle percussion, acoustic guitar and flute, and sets both a nostalgic and somewhat wistful mood. At just over twenty minutes, the work is expansive in exploring a range of emotions as it paints a picture of a man who seems to feel his best days were those spent as a dashing war ‘hero’, and who now is trying to find some meaning in his memories. This is one of the most striking portraits of war and personal sacrifice I’ve ever heard. Unlike most war-themed songs, it doesn’t specifically condemn the practice, but does cause the listener to pause and think about those whose lives have been given (not only in death) to the pursuit of nations confronting other nations. Like the rest of the album, the music is heavy on keyboards and percussion, with occasional bursts of energetic electric guitar injected through the numerous tempo ebbs and flows. The extended instrumental passage in the middle isn’t quite improvisational, but does seem to follow a fairly loose pattern that I imagine will vary quite a bit in a live setting. The up-tempo climax has a very familiar and comfortable 70s feel to it that is quite appealing.

“Lost in London” is another character sketch, this one about the singer Andy Tillison and his journey from a small town to the big city in search of his destiny as a professional musician. Many of the landmarks and cultural references are probably familiar to Englishmen, but the general theme about the cold and impersonal tempo of a large metropolitan area resonate with anyone who has left familiar surroundings to mingle with strangers in a large and strange city. The music here is also very nostalgic, and I can’t shake the feeling that this reminds me very much of a lot of the music Al Stewart made in the 70s – perhaps it’s just the accent.

The jazzy instrumentation of “DIY Surgery” and synthesized vocals set a strange mood for a song about do-it-yourself surgery, a strange concept and an even stranger inclusion on the album. The blend of saxophone and clarinet enhance the jazzy feel to this one, but I really don’t get the point.

Several reviewers have mentioned the Wakeman-like feel of the organ in “GPS Culture”, and I can definitely hear the influence. The music has a bit of a late-70s Yes feel to it, with animated keyboards, minor chords and an odd time signature, and also the staccato vocal accompaniment. This isn’t really a strong track, but is kind of an interesting one, although a bit bombastic to my mind – could have been a bit shorter than its ten minutes without losing much.

“Follow Your Leaders” has a bit of a Canterbury feel to it with peppy synth keyboards, sporadic brass, and rather sarcastic but melodic lyrics. Theo Travis delivers some excellent flute work as well. Even after many listens I can’t help but compare Tillison’s vocals here to 70s lounge-pop act Rupert Holmes (“The Pina Colada Song”).

I have to believe “The Sun in My Eyes” is a joke – a disco-driven throwback to so many forgettable late 70s/early 80s MTV dance band one-hit wonders. This probably would have been a hit twenty-five years ago, but seems really out of place here.

Finally, “A Place in the Queue” is a rangy, epic-like wandering mix of spacey, jazz, improvisational, sometimes borderline metal, but always entertaining journey of sound. This one is a synopsis of the whole point to the album, which is all about those who follow the well-trodden path in the queue and the cost to our individual freedoms, life choices, and experiences. It’s kind of tough to follow, and requires many listens before it will really start to grow on you, although it almost certainly will.

The accompanying “bonus” CD includes some interesting tracks of mostly previously- unreleased studio and live tracks. Some are pretty good – “Promises Were Made” with its heavy keyboard emphasis and Sam Baine’s very appealing vocals (nice to hear a female voice after about an hour and a half of Tillison!); the gentle “A First Day at School” demo track; and the spacey mood music of “Grooving on Mars”. Others are forgettable, most notably an extended and even more danceable version of “The Sun in My Eyes”, and Kraftwerk-like “Kartoffelsalat im Unterseeboot” (maybe a good song, but not personally my type of music).

And that’s pretty much the story of this album. At first couple of listens, I wasn’t really sold on this as a solid piece of work. Much of it seemed derivative, and that’s not a word I use often. But after a while I’ve started to think of the ‘familiar’ sounding passages as being intentionally constructed the way they were in order to evoke very specific moods and emotions that those sounds will inevitably have for those of us who have specific memories attached to them. And in that respect, this album was well done. I don’t own any other Tangent albums, and this album was completely an impulse buy based on a few reviews I’ve read. I have to say that it was a good purchase, and I find myself tossing this one on pretty regularly when I need some deeper-thinking background music for quiet, reflective moods. Definitely four stars.


Report this review (#82982)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A modern masterpiece. If you think great prog rock only existed in the 1970s then check out this album. Amongst its varied excellent qualities (already given in other reviews), here are two trivial personal attractions:

"The Sun in My Eyes" - OK, it's not really prog, but it's quite catchy nonetheless. And when I heard the line 'Bill Bailey takes the p*** from us on Prog Top Ten,' I exclaimed, 'Yes! I remember the programme!' As the presenter of the Channel 4 programme, Mr Bailey did indeed draw attention to the pompous overblown elements of prog - but so what? That's part of it's charm. And it was that programme that led me to investigate more of Pink Floyd and try out Rush. It's not often one hears a moment from one's personal journey of musical discovery being mentioned in a song.

"A Place in the Queue" - I have discovered the final track is a great one to walk to. Despite the changing moods and rhythms, there is a steady beat throughout (until the final few seconds rallantando) which perfectly matches my brisk walking pace. Twenty-five minutes of light exercise accompanied by colourful twilight skies and uplifting prog rock. Heaven!

Report this review (#88218)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The return of this band now with two changes in truth I leave myself hit and I create made a very great jump as far as the sound that is perceived, in notes of this disc we can read that Andy the leader and creator of the project speaks of the importance and relevance that it has had for the abysmal conceptual work creation and I believe that it deals with very consistent way and it obtains a disc that would have of being imitated as far as its conception and development, in this occasion I must agree with some stories that I read of Martín HERNŔNDEZ of Manticornio as far as which it says that this is the stage of creation of an identity own, thing that is absolutely certain, the sound of this disc is brilliant is powerful and it does not request anything to him to anybody, conceived like a tribute very guessed right to "Such From Topographic Oceans", so that I say that it is a tribute guessed right to the YES creation, so that he is that exactly always has annoyed to me that bands remove to cover of already well-known bands so that with only made do it they take off the merito to do they themselves, that class of things are those that I admire more than no other thing of this style of music the effort of its members to make works that in truth are a tribute, for my a tribute is to do something that that band or song specifies has in us of transcendental way thing which I create was obtained from very well made way, as much is so the exit of Ronie STOLT and Zoltan CRÔRSZ is as soon as perceived, thing that I am caused much joy so that that indicates to us that it is a band that accepts the participation of its members and I must say that the participation which I more felt brilliant to clear part this of Mr. Andy TILLISON, was of Theo TRAVIS, with this I do not mean that the others are not good, but until certain point TRAVIS, REINGOLD MANNING and lady BAINE that it very adorns or in short whiles with his sweet voice the disc, do what they came doing of very professional way and more good connected, the work done by the TRAVIS hand, TILLISON and MANNING is simply brilliant, the participation of dupla REINGOLD- SALAZAR that returns me at the great moments of the creations of "Space Revolver" and "Rainmaker" in where this brilliant combination made an excellent work and for many people unique after the exit of SALAZAR of THE FLOWER KINGS, repeats that fantastic union between these musicians who know themselves very or since SALAZAR was the first drummer in the work of called bear KARMAKANIC of where it leaves another member to replace to Mr. STOLT his name Krister JONSSON, that of somewhat contemptuous way is compared to him with STOLT being this very good musician and that it makes his work of form very either obtained and for my surprise or connected enough, this is perhaps so that or it has worked with REINGOLD and I believe that to work with TILLISON it was not problem. The subjects of the disc beautifully are adorned with many secuenciados and calibrated instruments but or like a clock of high precision, to such degree that in truth and not so that me paresaza that left exceeding the presence which they have left but in truth I do not believe that they need to them with this alignment so or obtained, the points obvious and or are delimited with líricas to which they have to us customary in the progressive rock, mystical, revealing and chaotic, where the line to follow is the human being like one more a piece within the game of the life, as the identity search becomes a épica paradigmática the eternal one to look for, to doubt and to find of the man, the influences to which make note TRAVIS are different like those from the past: THE BEATLES, KINGS CRIMSON, YES, PINK FLOYD, GENTLE GIANT. ELP, GENESIS, VDGG and JETHRO TULL, and those of the present: SPOCK'S BREADS, THE FLOWER KINGS, AREA and IQ, the first report of the official site of the band that law spoke of which it was the work that it tried to on a par put of "Unfold The Future" and "Such From Topographic Oceans", I do not know completely what they wanted to give to understand with that references, but when I heard it they made that words obvious and the same me it was made very strange that the disc brought a recommendation of which this disc is due to listen as if outside a work double thing that for 20 years would not doubt it but at the present time makes so coarse and extensive music that that became ridiculous situation, when those discs to which reference becomes left I appear to them like double works so that they were it double and this it is not it, but what if is doubtless a masterful piece of the present time with the subject that gives name to the disc they adjudge one of the huger épicas rolas of all the times, a work that would not have to lack in the any collection of progressive rock, concept and brilliant interpretation.
Report this review (#88669)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The many reviewers who came before me must have given readers a fairly good idea of what this album is like, so let me just add this: if you like classic symphonic prog of the 1970s, you'll most probably love this album. The Tangent's compositions are highly ambitious, and this album contains enough first-rate playing to keep any prog-freak happy. Flutes, saxes, electric and acoustic guitars, a superb rhythm section, and the quirkiest keyboard solos to come out of the U.K. since the late seventies - all that makes for sheer delight.

I've got just two gripes with this album. First of all, there's A PLACE IN THE QUEUE as a 'concept'. Apparently Andy Tillison, the leader of the Tangent (and an artist I really admire) intended to record a new and original album along the lines of A PASSION PLAY (Jethro Tull) and TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS. Some of Tillison's work can certainly be compared with epic tracks such as 'Supper's Ready'. As a composer, he's trying to resurrect the kind of symphonic suite that was abandoned by the first generation of classic prog groups after 1977. But does he succeed?

Before I go on, I must admit this was the first album by the Tangent I heard. (And to be honest, I liked it so much that I immediately bought the others too.) So when I first played it, I was virtually unaware of the Tangent's previous connection with Flower Kings singer-guitarist Roine Stolt. To my feeling, the Tangent were, first and foremost, Tillison's band. Now there's a positive side to this, and a somewhat less positive one.

The positive side can be summed up as follows. Andy Tillison writes intelligent, first-rate lyrics that are far more interesting than those of his Swedish and American peers. The Flower Kings and the Beard tend to make me squirm with embarrassment, but there's no danger of this with the Tangent. To make things worse, Roine Stolt and Neal Morse have an overbearing, theatrical way of singing. On many of their tunes they sound O.K. for a minute or two, but they really get on your nerves after that. That kind of problem does NOT exist with the Tangent. Andy Tillison's vocal delivery is subdued and very English.

Now for the negative side. Although A PLACE IN THE QUEUE's first epic track, 'In Earnest', is sung with great passion (and sounds totally convincing), the (even longer) title track seems truly disjointed. Tillison's ruminations on our willingness to take our 'place in the queue' are not uninteresting, but they would be far better dealt with in a five-minute pop song. No matter how pertinent they may seem, they're simply not gripping enough for an epic 25-minute track. Each time Tillison resumes singing after yet another fabulous keyboard solo, you feel like shouting: come on, man, don't you have any NEWS?

'Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)', 'Supper's Ready' and A PASSION PLAY keep your interest alive because their lyricists chuck a number of images at you which keep getting crazier and more and more surreal (or even, in the case of 'Nous sommes du soleil', more and more moving) while the music builds towards an irresistible climax. Tillison has all the (musical) climaxes he needs - but not the images that move you.

This brings me to my second gripe. A PLACE IN THE QUEUE doesn't contain the 'immortal melodies' it so sorely needs. I admit that 'Lost in London' and 'The Sun in my Eyes' are endearing, but to my disappointment there is nothing on this album as majestic as: 'Can't you feel our souls ignite, shedding ever changing colours...' Perhaps Roine Stolt would have come up with a melody like that (there are similar moments on FLOWER KINGS albums) but then HE would have spoiled it with squirm-inducing lyrics... (Sorry, Roine, no offense - I really like your guitar.)

Oh well. I guess you can't have everything. And maybe I'll keep discovering more 'hidden melodies' on this album as time goes on. That's the way it went with many classic prog albums. I certainly didn't want to slag off the Tangent; I just wanted to, ahem, share my thoughts. Let's hope the Tangent will treat us to many more first-rate albums in the years to come.

Report this review (#89750)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Im with Glueman on this one:

I can keep this relatively short for those of you who don't like to read novel-length reviews. I had VERY high expectations for this album, from listening to "The Music That Died Alone" to hearing all the rave about it on this site. So I was pretty eager to listen to it after it arrived in my mailbox. And what I discovered was GREAT music, and HORRIBLE vocals. I'm sorry- every time Andy, and the others sing I shudder. What a juxtaposition to have excellent music spoiled by horrid vocals. I typically like and can stand singers that get bashed quite a bit (like Geddy and James Labrie) but this? No. Fantastic, rock, jazz, fusion sounds are throughout, but the singing just doesn't cut it. 2 stars.

Report this review (#90837)
Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Best Symphonic Prog Album of the year?... Almost there...

We all heard Yes, and we know nowadays 45 years old progressive fans of that Era talks about "Tales..." and how it changed their lives and i got the chance to listen to every Yes album and it wasnt very clear what was the magic in their music, specially after Listen PFM or bands that didnt came out from UK. Current days prog listeners need FUSION, theres so much music to listen to, why not fusion the best of all into a single album?... that would make us modern listeners happy, like Tales did once in the late 70's...

The lyrics play a HUGE roll in this album, its incredible how they actually achieved modern lyrics for 2000's realistic and strong the lyrics are just ridiculously awesome. Getting into the lyrics is easy since the music behind it is incredible, i mean the Jazzie sections makes The Tangent one of the final steps on symphonic prog appreciation. Though theres a lot of progressive exageration sections, especially soloings on In Earnest know they are just delivery for "progression" issues, so you end liking it anyways.

The artwork is pretty awesome, loved having Escher's stairs on the booklet...always loved that psycho

A Place in The Queue actually achieved what was intented to, in first place...take you to that place in your subconcient, and make your mind travel for those 78 minutes...

What makes this record incredible amazing is the artistic ambience it has fusioned with standard progressive; without the artistic sides it would have sounded like some Tales...but it ended being a different door for those who liked Yes at first and there it was "Steve howes guitar tunning is awfull", "Jon anderson voice is kind of annoying" etc... what i felt Yes lacked, The tangent added using modern fusions, interesting lyrics, and jazz...

**Spectacular Saxophone Solo** hahaha every musician just brought to this record one of their best inspired thoughts..Manning, Travis, Baine . it was like this holy bag, and they started throwing their wealth in there, making it invaluable...

(though my review is based most in the epic tracks, lost in london and Gps Culture, the rest of the tracks, and the bonus disc make it enough enjoyable to not come to criticize them in a ridiculous subjective way.)

5 Stars for bringing it in times we really need this kind of concepts and feel we are not robots...Old guy asked me why there wasnt music like in the 70's...and i answered "Well i've seen Woodstocks dvds and you see how everyone was playing the guitar, and how war made people sick of the world, and they wanted to change it and etc...nowadays the "school + university + job" is way more systematic and "must do" nowadays in society...most musicians that appears in some cases are marginalized in some way...not only monetary, i mean general concerns...but we all know there are lot of young and not so young musicians doing incredible music even now...that gives us some hope.

For knowing if its or not a Masterpiece, doesnt depend on the tastes you have, if theres any help i could give , before listening to a place in the queue would be definitely the ingredients it has, on the "work of art" ingredient list of Mark Rothko:

There must be a clear PREOCCUPATION WITH DEATH - intimations of mortality....Tragic art, romantic art, etc. deals with the knowledge of death. SENSUALITY. Our basis of being concrete about the world. It is a lustful relationship to things that exist. TENSION. Either conflict or curbed desire. IRONY. This is a modern ingredient-the self effacement and examination WIT and PLAY....for the human element. The EPHEMERAL and CHANCE....for the human element. HOPE. 10% to make the tragic concept more endurable.

Think about it...

Stay Classy

Report this review (#92707)
Posted Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are so many excellent reviews already that devote ample and well-written space to the individual tracks.

Thus I thought that I would write about the 'feel' I got from this wonderful album.

I thought that 'The Music That Died Alone' was OK, 'The World That We Drive Through' was a little better but somehow quite derivative.

However, whilst this album still pays massive homage to the heyday (for me, anyway) of the 70s, there is something much more 'fresh' about it than the two previous studio albums.

Perhaps it's because Andy Tillison is now totally at the helm and exhuberance rather than technical excellence is to the fore.

It's not that it's not well-produced, it is, it's just feels as though all concerned are enjoying themselves much more.

This was the impression I gained when I saw them live recently.

Favourite track - 'In earnest'. This is such a thoughtful track and the lyrics really mean something.

Brilliant from start to finish.

4.5 stars.

Report this review (#102472)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My very first preview (and the only one) was for this album some months ago and it was rejected cause i just said "GREAT" or something like that :D It's all Tangent's Fault (especially Andy's) they left me incapable of saying anything more but a single "GREAT"

WHAT AN ALBUM?? Every track is a master piece for me!

The album starts with "In Earnest" 20minute epic. Quite and "shy" in the beginning it quickly unfolds it's true nature!! The keyboards on this track are awesome!! Like huge waves crushing on you and carrying you whenever they want! Great lyrics , great melodies! It grasps u from the very beginning and won't let you go till u released you're listening the next track!

Second track and "Lost in London". I love the rhythm of this track! The bass is just amazing it remind me of the bass in 9 feet underground of caravan. Rarely do i ignore the "melody" to follow the bass. Now the flute. Very "offensive" on the track .. it goes solo, high notes, fast tempos it really reminds me of Jethro Tull. I call it the "Raging Flute" :D. And ever present the masterful keyboards filling the gaps, going solo and carrying you away. And don't forget the rhythm..

DIY Surgery : I loved this track from the very beginning. It's strange, it's weird and it's out of place! An exceptional "break" from the melodic tracks. the amazing intro of GPS culture! the best part of this track for me is the mid-point where it seems like the instruments have a musical conversation, always sounding when others do not and stop abruptly or fade way and another takes the lead! really great moment.

Follow your leaders is a very "ironic" title for the song. The song is all about not becoming one with the mass. It starts with a very "demanding" reef that makes me nervous it's like demanding from me to listen to it. Repeating constantly as it gets louder. It's very symbolic for me cause the actual population of my country (Greece) is 10million. Listen the sad and mellow guitar 2 and a half minutes before the song's end.

What a better way to get you out of the depressing situation than a happy song celebrating difference? There comes "Sun in My Eyes" and apart from Andy's experience i'm sure that many of you will come to think that this song is made for you! So cheer up and prog cause the sun is in OUR eyes :)

And we reached the ending song. A sad song criticizing the society very hard. Almost punk lyrics but the melody is not one of "rage" as a punk melody would be but one of sadness. The whole song is very strong. The "Spectacular Saxophone Solo" as is mentioned on the booklet it exactly that, introduced gently by the keyboard. I hear it almost crying...quietly in the beginning but ascending with every breath of the saxophonist. Pure emotion flows in this part of the track. After this spot there's not much to tell. Myself i'm carried away and i "wake up" at the end.

What a fantastic album "A place in the queue" really is! For once i'm glad Roine Stolt wasn't involved in something:)

I dare not think what would have happened if Andy joined Transatlantic *shakes*

This album is a proof that prog rock still lives and evolves! Every prog and non-prog fan should have it. I think it's a classic along with "The Music the Died Alone". 5-stars of course!

Report this review (#104054)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another album that seems to be out of time. If it would be done in 70's perhaps it would be a great album. Even so, it lacks passion, the feeling that classic bands of the 70's marked in their efforts. Not even close does this reach the magnificiency, the sublime sensibility of Yes classics. The efforts of bands like Tangent, Flower Kings or Spock's Beard makes us think: is symphonic progressive rock dead?

Without the presence of Flower King's guitarist, I thought that it could be created the space for inovation, at least some originality. But with the listenings of the album, I prove myself wrong. Every music line, every word of the lyrics, every comic moment, seems to be a deja vu, but without the deepness of the classics. Symphonic is probably the kind of music which gives more space to high sensibility. Listening to works as Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky makes this album almost seem to be garbage, so lack of feelings it presents.

Still, as I said before, for those who seek new melodies of the 70's classic formulas, this might be quite entertaining. The band shows, as those refered before, a reasonable songwriting and ability with the instruments, but, at the level of creativity, almost null.

Report this review (#104245)
Posted Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I guess this is quite an enjoyable album for people who like the older progressive rock music like King Crimson and Yes. To me it doesn't really make sense that a band releases an album in 2006 sounding like it has been made some 30 years ago.

Musically I must give those guys some slack, because I must admit A Place in the Queue has some fine moments, but I personally don't find Andy Tillison's voice all too amusing. After a while I simply get bored by it and I personally also can't relate to the lyrics either. To me the music too often sounds like "easy listening music", also known under the name of "elevator music".

Take the 1st track In Earnest for example. To me the 1st ten minutes are pure "elevator music" and the song only stars to get interesting during the second half. At 10:30 we get some great instrumental part which I could listen to for the next 10 minutes of this song easily, but the first half of the song has already ruined it for me. Therefore it is very difficult for me to really get into The Tangent's music.

Conclusion: if you like older progressive music and an album that is "easy to listen to" A Place in the Queue might be an album to your taste. If you like more variety and are in for a bit "more recent sounding" and/or heavier music I would stay away from it.

For the reasons mentioned above I can't possibly rate this album higher than 2 stars. It is probably closer to 2.5 though.

Report this review (#111698)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Art Rock at its finest.

I. "In Earnest": Jazz is so evident in this piece about a post-war fighter pilot reminiscing about the war. The thus-influenced rock filled with piano, hammond organ, synthesizer oscillation, beautifull vocals, and excellent guitar. Beginning on a note of excellent chamber music-esque piano playing delivered by the excellent Tillison, drums quickly fly into motion. Salazar is top-notch in his percussion, and Tillison's old Hammond Organ shines with a rotor amplification system that makes one melt. An important feature of the skilfull playing is that (1) it never appears to wander or become repetitive in its changes, and (2) the music does not cease, whether it's the piano providing a lead or background rhythm. The notes are always flying on the bass, drums, organ, piano, and above-par singing from the uniquely-voiced Tillison. Toward the end of this true "epic", there is a beautiful wall of sound involving a guitar solo: not to be missed! This is definitely one of my favourite prog pieces made in the last forty years. (2007)

II. "Lost in London": The second of two immensely strong pieces, this time coming back in an even more powerful pre-Canterbury jazz vein. With Baine's piano playing at its height, there is a reminscence of the old 1950's jam jazz, and it is an excellent homage without becoming too much like its predecessor. Often, this reviewer finds himself humming or outright singing Tillison's powerful lyrics and unique vocalization style. The feeling of timelessness is ruined a tad at the conclusion by some politically charged lyrics, but the beautiful downkey piano melodies, mixed with synthesizers and guitars, really erase this concern.

III. "DIY Surgery": A short piece of true jam jazz, mirroring the saxophones of early 1970's experimental playing in that genre. Travis' bizarre saxophone solo, mixed with Tillison's wonderfully odd tone of voice, combine to make a memorable, if at times noisey piece. It might be bordering on filler, but it generates a certain interest when Tillison sings of "puss and ooze" in conjunction with the viruoistic reed playing.

IV. "GPS Culture": The first of several anti-techno culture oriented pieces, the political message does not really matter here due to such amazingly soaring music pieces. Starting off with a nice percussive organ arpeggio, it quickly spirals into very high-flying guitar and keyboard play-offs. In truth, this piece appears to be more about the vocals and concept relating to the metaphorical "queue" all humans are part of. After a few repeats of the chorus, one might wish for more, and one gets more! As if realizing it is becoming a tad repetitious, "GPS Culture" moves onward to include acoustic guitar and some playful bass guitar. The entire entry is very melodic, and strong after perhaps a minute of peaceful wandering. Of course, the all-knowing piano comes in eventually, and just adds that "classic" touch to the already solid and powerful.

V. "Follow Your Leaderss": The Tangent on a very pure jam session, with "wah wah" effects on the electric guitar. Yet again the hammond shines, but the flute really takes over a few times, lending a folk tinge to the proceedings. There are disturbing pieces of synthesizer stabs, almost hinting at a dystopian world in the imagination. A beautifully (perhaps tortured) played guitar solo takes over the mix after some what-can-only-be-described-as-amazing bass playing goes on. The funeral-like minor key jazz works extremely well, and one feels pathos and understanding of what Tillison, the primary writer, is feeling and what he believes in. "Follow Your Leaders" is utterly superb.

VI. "The Sun in My Eyes": A short but sweet homage to the older progressive bands, particularly Yes. Liberal use of synthesized horns, piano flourishes, and the sarcastic lyrics/vocals lend an excellent faux-disco touch. The irony is self-aware, and I believe The Tangent is proud of this song; it is played with such bravado and pure fun. As in the past few pieces, the bass guitar is particularly strong and sounds as if it is always running with perfect funk precision.

VII. "A Place in the Queue": Sounding grandiose, lumbering, and downright contrived is the last piece. Beginning with a tensed and anxious drumroll, it falls straight into chaos immediately. The saxophone, so long repressed, comes to the forefront for the first time in a while and blares out some excellent solo material. Acoustic guitar and atmospheric synthesizer sounds underly the first two minutes before Tillison begins vocalizing. The lyrics/vocals are intensely moving to simply sit down and listen to. Speaking of a metaphorical queue in which the average person is placed and processed throughout life, the concept is original and depressing. Tillison's varied vocals, moving from quiet to powerful to bizarre to emotional to cold, then back to quiet again, are amazing and I am indebted to this man for introducing me to such an interesting concept to think about! A very nice piano solo, strangely reminiscent of "In Earnest", comes up around the six minute mark, and the saxophone comes up again in a repressed and muted mode. Unfortunately, after the interestingly vocalized and very emotional 12-15 minute point, I found that the same chorus began to be repeated. It appears that toward the end, in an effort to have the default "very long prog epic", The Tangent fell prey to modern standards. It is a beautiful song, but drags on about eight minutes longer than it should; although, the coda contains an excellent build up and the climax is beautiful.

This album affected me greatly the moment I listened to it; the concept, the musical skill, the emotion, and the obvious attention paid to production just blew me away. It still blows me away, and if I could give this album eight points out of five, I would gladly do so. Still, it is as it is: 5/5. Jazz and Prog together is a beautiful marriage, and this marriage should be purchased quickly.

Report this review (#116357)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars From all the rave reviews I had heard about this CD I felt I couldn't miss out. It seemed like it is on everyone's top ten for 2006 list from whatever prog-radio station or website you might investigate. Don't be mad at me but I just disagree. I have listened to this CD 8- 10 times since I bought it including just before I wrote this review.

First off let me state what I liked. I can appreciate great musicians and all of the guys who play on this CD are that. There are some really brilliant moments on this CD but moments of the epic (over 20 minutes in length) tracks I could find possibly 8 minutes each that would satisfy me. There are some incredible instrumental parts especially with the keys and the bass that just soar. There are even a couple of vocal lines that are worthy of emotional lift. OK done with the good.

Andy Tillson should just get over himself as being a singer. He is a great keyboard player and he should be content with that. His voice sounds like Ian Anderson with no balls or range and he cannot write decent and consistent vocal line. The beginning of In Earnest the discordant vocal line for the first 2+ minutes I cannot take at all! Of course he needs to revisit this again in the last 4 minutes of the song as well. Why? On top of that the lyrics are stupidest I have heard since Greg Lakes Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman. For all the heat Neal Morse gets for his lyrics at least they fit together. For the length of some songs just because a song can go on for 25 minutes does not mean it should. You don't have to repeat every musical line two or three times and there are times where creating and expanding on a specific theme to create its own identity is OK.

Seeing all the high marks this CD gets maybe its just me but man if this was about 15-20 minutes shorter and had no vocals I would give it a 4-5 star rating but I just can't. I can only go with 2.

Report this review (#117424)
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars retro-prog, that is what it is.

retro-prog is the all the music that have everything to be prog, except two, and for me, the most important things: originality and progression.

A Place in the Queue is a great example: you can find rhythm changes, and all that stuff that I (and i hope you) like, but the sounds is the same sound that genesis and yes did in the '70s, which means that this album is a prog jewel of the '70s made in the XXI century, 30 years later, that's a long time, thus, this album is more a waste of time for the one's who are tired of listing one and again the same rhythm changes, the sames sounds, the sames ideas from bands wich did it 30 years ago!

what else could i say about this album?, well, pick all YES album, remove inspiration form them, and that is this album

if you are a fan of the '70s music, and don't get bored by listing it one and again, and don't dislike you the copy-paste, then pick this album up and enjoy it, on the other hand, if you are like me, and need new sounds to find something good, don't look at this album, there are a lot of original bands


Report this review (#129337)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Third and, up till now, Tangent´s best CD. Although losing two of their Flower King´s connections, guitarrist Roine Stolt and drummer Zoltan Czörsz, the sound got more symphonic and improved with each release, regardless of the line up changes. Andy Tillson is surely one fo the most creative and insightful prog songwriters to emerge from England since the 70´s. The man is simply a genius and is surrounded by some of the best musicians around. The ironic note is seeing Jaime Salazar replacing Czörsz on the drums (when Salazar was himself replaced by Czörsz in the Flower Kings).

The CD is, like its precedors, a wonderful mix of old and new prog. spiced with some jazz and avant gard influences here and there (Yes, King Crimson, etc et tal). The difference now is that the music became more intricated, bolder and better with time. And, quite unsual, Tillson´s lyrics are as precious as the music itself. The playing is flawless as you would expect from such a team of brilliant musciains. Production is also top notch.

Of the songs the only weak track is DIY Surgery, not surprisingly the sole tune Tillson did not write himself. Fortunatly this turkey is very short. On the other side we have two fantastic epics (In Earnest and the title track), plus some shorter tunes that are varied and very pleasant. The odd song here is The Sun In My Eyes, a wonderful piece of fake disco, with a humorous lyric. It is nice to see that Tillson is capable of writing a simple song and make it work as fine as the complex epics. With apologies to my fellow reviewers who think In Earnest is the best track here, I still found A Place In The Queue to be the Tangent´s highlight, as much as Stardust We Are is for The Flower Kings.

New millenium symphonic prog music at its best. 4,5 stars.

Report this review (#133945)
Posted Monday, August 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Talking about this double album is talking about the two terrific epics to me. I already know for several years that In Earnest and the title track are tremendous but after listening to them once again lately I have to say: I can hardly believe what I'm hearing. These two and mainly In Earnest are simply unbelievable and I even consider allowing them in my personal 50 best songs ever and if you know that number 1000 in my list is already very very good then you will understand how good these two songs are. What astounded me mostly was the details of In Earnest I obviously never gave enough attention to and also the emotional lyrics behind it, I mean this is a composition to perfection. I already had huge respect for Andy Tilison but that has increased after this performance. And this also goes for other tracks on the album like Lost in London, GPS Culture, Follow your leaders and the extended version of The sun in my eyes. If these 6 songs would have been the entire album it would have meant 5 stars without hesitation. But, and now we come to the only downside and criticism I have: they had to make some fillers as well and especially the bonus CD has some useless tracks. I mean a song like Kartoffelsalat im Unterseeboot is a song way below Tangent standard and almost a disgrace they put it on the release.

And it's also a pitty because it ruined a 5 star rating and forces me to give 4. But I will have to finish positively: The Tangent has definitely moved up the rankings of my personal favourite bands due to compositional and executional performances. What a fantastic bands this appears to be. Hope to hear them for a long time to come !

Report this review (#158867)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars [Disclaimer: This is a long, comprehensive review. It might take you awhile to go through it. To save time, go directly to your local music outfitter. Otherwise, I'm sure you'll appreciate this sprawled out sales pitch. It's blatantly clear that the cat didn't have my tongue in this instance. In reality, my problem was finding a stopping point.]

The album is so colorful; it's like seeing the sun after being locked up in solitary confinement for a year. It seems like only yesterday they drove us through a brilliant world of adventure. They haven't had much time in the laboratory since then, but you wouldn't know that from hearing this material. Concepts have been attempted, but trust me; you've never heard one like this in the past. It'll break the bonds of the The Matrix and free you from that oppressive sleep-induced incarceration. Their lyrical libretto will liberate your mind and make you ponder many awe-inspiring questions. It'll also ameliorate any lemming-like behavior that you might be prone to act out. If you listen with intent, you too will join the ranks of the enlightened. This is an out of body experience that's so existential; it can only come from the X-Men, X-Files, tiny greenies, or extraterrestrials. In other words, The Tangent's skill is out of this world.

The band boasts that this release is two-in-one, and they aren't kidding. You'll find yourself checking the timestamp often in order to see how many minutes remain. It'll be a surprise once you realize that so much is left. Its audiences will be perplexed by how much they were able to fit into this laser-etched Frisbee. Alas, it's wedged within a standard disc. Speaking of which, Andy "Diskdrive" Tillison is not only the maestro on the keys, but a true master who corners the market on creative writing. Moreover, if you get hooked up with the deluxe edition, you're meal will be doused in extra gravy.

The Tangent is arguably the best offering on the InsideOut Record label. Playing host to bands such as The Flower Kings, Pain of Salvation, Symphony X, and Saga, that's no small matter to achieve. Even so, they consistently put out art that rivals the monuments of Bellini. Their premiere was hailed as the best progressive rock debut, at a time when there was a bottomless well of highly qualified candidates. In their sophomore year, they followed it up with another quality creation. Now they do the unthinkable: They skip a grade and graduate in short succession. While Michelangelo was a master painter and Rodin the accomplished sculptor, Andy Tillison is the cream of the crop when it comes to crafting melodic worlds of wonder. Da Vinci couldn't have architected a better design. In my opinion, he can't touch it.

I heard a sample in concert long before it was ready for pressing. While I was enamored with the highlights of their first two albums - i.e. The Music That Died Alone and World That We Drive Through, you can instantly tell that Tillison had something tasty cooking in the kitchen. I welcomed the reprieve because I couldn't stand the downtime. Since then, I have found that this partially juvenile display has grown from a larva to a moth.

Lest I forget, the concept is an involved one. It has to do with how we're buried in legalese and literally administered to death. Aiding and abetting sadistic aristocrats, the populace is ready and willing to fall in line. I think Tillison would appreciate Papillon starring Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen. The morale of that tale: While we'd like to be as free as a butterfly, we often let ourselves be dehumanized and treated as slaves. This indefensible behavior only supports the despots who swat and stifle our every move as if we were a nasty horde of flies.

Tillison's words are cynical, but it's not altogether depressing. Although the overall attitude is quite dismal, the instrumentals are to a certain extent cheerful.

Back to the bad news: Roine Stolt, Zoltan Czorz, and Andrew Jackson are no longer a part of the syndicate. Their departures constitute a major loss to the team. It's like displacing last seasons leading scorers. Fortunately, their fill-ins make them more than whole again. Krister Jonzon (guitarist), Jaime Salazar (drummer and also a former member of The Flower Kings), and Theo Travis (flutes; sax; anything wind, not brass) bring a variegated vibe into the equation. While it's neither better nor worse, in some ways it is poles apart. Nevertheless, the change is utterly invigorating. Their contributions make the seasoned players young at heart. We hear ELP, Van Der Graaf Generator, Yes and The Flower Kings in their collaborative synergy. On the whole, it is unlike anything I've ever heard. It's so brand spanking new; your stump will be swollen and bruised from the rapturous beating of these progressive rulers.

While everything in general is enhanced, the guitars have been rebuilt from the ground up. Even with substantial adjustments, it still steers and jeers just as straight and tight. The replacement couldn't have been received any better. This is a testament to Jonzon's unreal talent built upon Stolt's completely surreal foundation. Each guitarist has their own flamboyant style. Like King Midas, Stolt has been known to drag whatever music he touches into the direction of his sanctimonious garden. His surrogate keeps the quality afloat, but has more of a candid and fancy-free approach. It's hard to say which style I like better. You can't beat Stolt's patience. Then again, Jonzon is a fun guy to have in the mix. Okay, maybe he's not wet and mossy (Get it? Fungi. I'm so funny), but his wacky solos are sure to grow on you. When comparing the pair, it's close enough to have to go back to the cameras. Regardless of what the referees decide, many fans will disagree; most will accept to along with the optimistic decree.

This gets three thumbs up: Ebert, Roeper's, and mine. The movie critics may be ignorant to Progressive Rock and I may have made their alleged evaluations up, but the vote from me is tried and true. As a loyal fan of this symphonic genus, I've witnessed many great albums in recent years, but this is as close to greatness as a band can achieve. Tillison will probably come out with another tour de force. Despite that, this should stand the test of time. In the interim, it's freshly squeezed, so expect it to be frequently revisited and then slurped.

As The Tangent takes us on the lamb from our tedious existence, let's check out their latest and greatest escape:

In Earnest - I heard an earlier rendering of this song before the Cray mainframes had filled in the empty pixels. That version was good, but this one's drastically better. Maybe my stereo system is that super. Most likely the tweaks can be ascribed to Andy Tillison's attention to detail. Either way, they deliver the Motts right on schedule. As usual, each piece is custom-crafted and made to order. What is more, the music is much warmer. The keyboards receive totally sufficient representation in this release. It's bluesy and bombastic at times; clawing at the crust like Derek Sherinian's ivory teeth in Platypus. Successive to this listening session, I'm scheduled to see The Syn. I cannot help but think of Chris Squire as I hear Jonas Reingold belch from the bass. If these gestures mean you approve of the meal then Reingold is really enjoying himself. This concoction is time-consuming (20 minutes to be precise). What's more, it's opaque. You've been forewarned! It will take several gasps to fully breathe in and more than a few gulps to suck down the regurgitated bits. It soars with the spitfire of Big Big Train and orbits with the poetic flight of Satellite. It's also ingrained with the classiness of Genesis. That's complimented by the organic earthiness of Echolyn. If it's not already embedded with enough wonder to take flight, it also contains the pop-laden subtleties of The Beatles. Plus, it has the suave coolness of "The Canterbury Sequence" pooled within the symphonic whirlpool of Kansas. While Jonzon sets off a slew of rockets, it is Reingold who lights the wick. This flickers with the glint of the old but reliable Van Der Graaf Generator, and as I've conjectured and shared; I detect the molecules of Mei beside the pretentious detonations of Spock's Beards "Crack the Sky." They open with an epic that travels far and wide. It's derived from Disney's Fantasia and has a trajectory that intersects with the arcadia of Atreyu. Its radiant all-around, but to be explicit, the bass playing is top-notch. As it will take dozens of listens to truly appreciate, this is what I'd label a "delayed" masterpiece. So it's contrary to Folger's motto. All this and I haven't even touched upon the thought-provoking storyline that pays homage to an old-timer and a ragged ace. While we're on the subject, it's a whole different mission when your perspective is on the lyrics. That is why it's wise to rack up your frequent flier miles here.

Lost in London - My oldest brother is an opera singer. He has a degree in music and he's sung around the world. He's been in the company of many renowned vocalists from Billy Joel to the understudy of Pavarotti. He's an established expert in this art form, so his hypotheses are academically valid. With that said, he seriously thought Tillison was the best singer ever to perform at RoSfest. This is ironic since Tillison lists himself on the roster strictly as a keyboardist. Like Michael Vick, his talents surpass a single position. I agree. He is an outstanding singer. This album is a showcase of each of his many talents including his press permed voice. It's not only his reputable pitch but also how he uses it. He demonstrates passion and grace, and this introspective parable depicts the paradigm best. Many singers could learn something from his technique, and his endowment doesn't end there. He is an exceptional songwriter too. This composition especially is as delicious and austere as a cream cracker. It serves its purpose and adequately fills insatiable tummies. However, his pudding is not runny oatmeal or watered-down soup. It's more like a viscous pancake or thick paste. Maybe that's due to the fact that he is an Englishman. Consistent with every song on the album, he escorts us through a secret passage. It's as if they took us on an Easter egg hunt. While it may be as straightforward as sticky rice, its belly is filled with tapioca and fruity jelly. You'll be happy to get lost in the hidey-hole of this hazy mix. Just when it seems the point has been dispensed, current topics are insightfully referenced.

DIY Surgery - This is the most economical article to be furnished by this group of musicians. It's as if it came from IKEA. As long as we're talking acronyms, I thought the Swedish retailer would be credible to cite in my testimonial. In its succinct space, it pegs Far Corner's self-titled debut to the corkboard. Additionally, the tacky assembly adheres to The Flower King's Unfold the Future. In other words, it's vastly jazzy and very weird. The sax is one of the most frequently used tools involved in this witty episode of Home Improvement. When perusing the how-to handbook, it concludes by saying you might as well, "Do it yourself!"

GPS Culture - This intersects with Yes' "Roundabout", which might explain why it was initially my favorite song. When it hits the road, it's really pound the tar. The transitions are so smooth; there is no need for a flimsy click track to guide it. As long as we're talking quasi-car analogies, it puts the pedal to the floorboards and revs on all cylinders. Due to its heedlessness, it slaps hard into a pothole and loses more than a heat shield. What's more, it rattles to the sounds of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." Speaking of which, this hydro-racer's pit crew consists of Karmakanic. Once they've bridged the bottleneck and installed the navigational unit on the dashboard, they go on to complete the work order with very little resistance.

Follow Your Leaders - As promised, once you've voided the sodden sack, there are multiple goodies to snatch. There is nothing bitter or salty about this ichorously pulpy piece. It cracks with the verve of Kaipa, but sizzles with the sweltering sting of Pop Rocks Candy. This carbonated limestone fizzes when it damp. As you might have guessed, there is a lot of Reingold drilled into its trenches. His furious bass constantly chafes against this ditty's fleshy thighs. They're riding with no power steering and all brakes out. That doesn't stop them from proceeding onward. When he arrives at the inevitable solo, his instrument purrs like a tabby cat. At this intersection, there are timely sound effects that make me think I'm being pulled over for speeding every time. I hate to admit it, but it got me on several passes before I memorized its unexpected ETA. If you're out on a joy ride or asleep at the wheel, you potentially risk a heart attack when traversing through this cloverleaf.

The Sun In My Eyes - This melee of mainstream contentment comes to us in the spirit of a progressive affirmation. When they go contemporary, they give us "Owner of a Lonely Heart." I'd sooner expect to find this song on the latest Earth, Wind, and Fire. Still, it's warranted for this short recess. Not to mention, this could be the lone symphonic ballad that blasts them into the commercial charts. The keyboards cook while the bass really boils. Last but not least, the spotlight shines brightly on Jonzon. He wholeheartedly rocks the Kasbah with a religious recitation of the Kaballah. Also worked within the words is a truly funny line. Tillison despairingly admits to, "Getting his head bashed in for liking Yes." For those who have been with the niche brethren since its inception; in a figurative sense, this is a true confession. While this relic is all right, the extended rendition found in the special edition in and of itself necessitates an upgrade.

A Place in the Queue - The "coup de gra caps the stack. As it's sans pareil, this is what you've been - unknowingly - waiting to hear. It's best described as Tillison's "Tales from the Topographic Ocean". I hear Transatlantic and Kansas in many of its sectors. There is so much in there; something's gained with every listen. Along with Morse, Wakeman and Emerson, Tillison proves to be nothing like a hound dog as he reigns supreme as the king on the keyboards. The line between metal and rock gets blurred with every one of The Tangent's albums. In actuality, parts of this sound like Dream Theater's "Octavarium." Supposedly, that's a heavy band and this one ain't but by scrutinizing these samples under a microscope, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. In accession to these similarities, it has its own unique features too. Theo Travis' solos abound with delectable complexity. In a cameo appearance, Guy Manning monopolizes one of the segues just as he did for "Gap in the Night." When you snap this disjointed jigsaw into place, its picturesque image is no less than one in a million. There isn't a single spot where the concept gives up. The lyrics or melody parallel each other in perfect harmony. When one is inactive, the other is very much alive. While there is a front and a back, it's easy to lose yourself in the pleat of its middle. Like a gobstopper, this opus is everlasting. Yet that doesn't matter in the end. Each moment is precious and in retrospect; that applies to the patently abstract passageways as well.

In the studio, Tillison is a surgeon with the software. As I witnessed in person, he has no problem with the hardware either. No wonder he was once a part of tech support. The only fault - if anything - is that this release might be a tad too ambitious. For me, their greatest fan, that is never really a problem.

We do get two-for-one with this offer, but if you're smart; you'll dinosize the Big Kids Meal and get the doublestacked edition as a cheap means to gain access to more great stuff.

Let's flip the supplementary patty:

It actually comes in thirds. The first constitutes prime cuts. In this section, the chunks are good enough to eat even if they didn't make the standard release. In "Promises Were Made", Sam Baine sings a tune that's Mostly Autumn in nature. The second, "The First Day at School," is elementary for someone like Sherlock to assess. While simpler in form, it bears a rough resemblance to "Lost in London". Then the last in the superfluous batch, "Forsaken Cathedralsare" should have been metered with a first-class stamp and distributed wholesale to the masses.

The section to follow has just one song. It's the alternate version of "Sun in My Eyes" and it's vastly different than the uncola. While it may not be radio-friendly by today's standards, it could have been a #1 hit in the seventies. The instrumentations remind me of Yes' Magnification. What's fascinating is that there is a substantial amount of disco deposited in this and only this take.

Assigned to the anchor position, there are two ambient heirlooms. "Grooving on Mars" is a live track that puts the razzmatazz in the jam whereas "Kartoffelsalat Im Unterseeboot" has natural juices in a concentrated block of mash. It's a challenge to believe there would be room on the auction block for anything else. Somehow they've crammed it in.

While this series of songs is worthy of our full attention, we won't cover them in any further detail as we already have a huge load of cargo on consignment.

The evaluators of Antiques Roadshow would very much like to have a personal showing of this extensive collection. These authentic artifacts are sure to earn a quick quote. For the most part, these works of art should earn extensive looks by prospective buyers even if their intrinsic value isn't immediately apparent. By the time you cash this inconspicuous attaché of priceless trinkets in, you'll realize it was more than worth the wait in line. If this is what fans get for their loyalty and patience, just tell me where to sign up for the pre-order. I've never camped out for anything, but I'd surely like to be the critic with admittance to the subsequent sneak preview.

Basically, the concept is hard to ascertain. Without the proper frame of mind, I thought it was their worst album to date. Now I'm convinced it is their best. Whatever they do, add my name to the spreadsheet. I'd gladly take my place in their queue.


[Due to many reasons including my deliberation over the rating plus an inability to pipe down on my delight over this release, the review has taken me longer than any to date - come to think of it; I logged my first impression back in '06 and still had things to fudge together in '08. All joking aside; I temporarily lost the material to a flood. Later, I became reacquainted with my notes and the CD when rifling through a moldy box. Likewise, I have never played an album this many times: Too many to count. The present tally is probably in the hundreds. This release certainly did not deserve procrastination or reckless abandonment from me. Since the delay was somewhat out of my control, I should be forgiven. Not to mention, it was ultimately submitted. So please let this unpardonable sin pass. To own up to the crime and state my reason to come clean, what finally pushed me over the edge was the fact I made a pact with myself to not hear "Better than the Book" until I addressed this one first. Now that I have, you can be assured that there will be more diarrhea of the mouth to dole out on its successor. Hopefully, the praise will come substantially sooner and be a whole lot more concise.]

Report this review (#161527)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hard to write a short review for such a mastodon. But "And the beat goes on", as would so often boldly state Uncle Frank! The Tangent are prolific buggers, this third album surprising many a prog pundit with some more colossal artwork from the genial Ed Udetsky, the drum stool switch from Csörsz to Salazar (Flower Kings reversed!) with Stolt yielding to Krister Jonsson of Karmakanik fame. As long as "basso supremo" Jonas Reingold (one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet) steers the ship, you just know it can't be crap. Theo Travis continues his impressive work on his assorted flute/sax/recorders arsenal. Reading the copious liner notes (How I used to adore that, back in the glory days!) makes this an even more entertaining adventure; bless your heart Andy, dedicating this to Yes' "Tales from Topographic Oceans"! My jaw has rolled under some distant table, would you kindly fetch it, love? "In Earnest" blasts off on a 20 minute historical antiwar voyage that sets the tone tout de suite, discussing the good ole days when life seemingly mattered and yet where World War II had altered the universe by nuking it twice! The playing is exceptional, the mood breathtaking with plenty of piano, flute and sizzling guitar. Hey, this is music that you can sink your mind into. Reingold proudly displays the chops that make him the premier prog bassist today. The quirky autobiographical "Lost in London" emits a complete Caravan/Hatfield aroma, funny music biz lyrics really alluding to Falklands/Irak , flute ablaze and a refreshing ditty that elicits an instrumental intermezzo with a wonky synth solo, some playful organ rips, very Canterbury until a flute flight returns to the story with aplomb. "DIY Surgery" is a brief Travis composition that showcases a wild sax solo, hinting at some Mel Collins type wanderings. "GPS Culture" mocks the mindless technology that we absent mindedly rely on to further dilute our intellect (the innuendo -laden "We sample culture in small spoons") and the unending futility of it all. It's about time some musician other than Steve Wilson attacks our mores (or lack thereof)! Not too many can wield grim humor (an allegedly very Brit/Scot/Irish pastime) with such verve. Another Canterbury female vocal choir adds some charming touches here, with a fluid Jonsson lead to send the message home. The excellent "Follow Your Leaders" is clearly anti-Bush (yeah, what else is new?), because by 2005 it was clear to everyone that way too many apathetic people were silent/ blind or worse, indifferent. Hey, a little angry rebellion is what made Rock music into a force! As Admiral Marko Ramius tells Ryan at the end of "Red October": "A little revolution from time to time is a good thing". A speed bopping bass and a whopping guitar solo are unexpected highlights here. Yummy! "The Sun in My Eyes" is a breezy affair sounding a tad like Flash & the Pan, laced with more irony ("Or Get my head kicked in for liking Yes, instead of Suzi Quatro or the Rubettes"). Priceless stuff. The title track is a 25 minute epic extravaganza that encompasses what makes The Tangent such a special prog unit: great music, fantastic lyrics, a sumptuous trip that literally takes you somewhere, telling a story like a good book or movie should and captivating the listener's attention, groovin' to the sounds, foot a tappin' and booklet in hand, a true personal pleasure bubble. By the time this piece is done, if you are not in Prog Heaven, then your attention span and prog sensibilities have been corrupted. "Call me a doctor, fetch me a policeman" said the Tullster. Yet the Travis sax solo is agonizingly good. The subsequent guitar blast is stunning. The music just flows from segment to segment, avoiding dead air space, relentlessly pushing the buttons. Tillison and Manning conspire vocally to take this well beyond your average prog epic. Baine's piano consistently shines, whether in unison with the others or on her own. Every one gets a turn at sprinkling their identities without sounding like solo or session sidemen , ending on a "Nous sommes du soleil" hint. Bravo. The bonus CD contains more of the same stuff, no filler ("No speck of cereal for my dog") but the finale is worth mentioning, "Potato Salad in a Submarine " is a dreamier excursion beyond the Tangent and into spacier realms, showing off Tillison's obvious encyclopedic knowledge for music that has "music" as the main ingredient, eschewing glamour, fad, kindergarten sing-along choruses and product wrappings. As with the surprising Tangerine Dream-dedicated "Exponenzgesetz" closing off the previous "The World We Drive Through", this extended instrumental piece languorously addresses organic ambient landscapes with Tillison synths and Travis flute propelling the mood ever forward, proving again that these are musicians , not "artistes". I love this kind of musical attitude. 4 "take a number"s
Report this review (#162506)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars More modern progressive rock. And more quality, that is. Once again I hear so many influences that it's hard to keep them all in mind. Personally, I hear much less Canterbury than some. Could be this release, or just my limited exposure to the sub-genre. I do hear a lot of Jethro Tull shining through, though. And I'm not talking about the obvious flute, no no, the heavy symphonic bursts and quirky melody is what comes to mind. Could be this release, or just my unhealthy exposure to Tull.

At first I didn't like this effort. Mainly due to Andy Tillison's voice, but also that the band don't seem to uphold the same musical quality during the vocal/lyrics part. It turns into some kind of easy listening territory I'm not overly keen to explore. Writing this, I have no problem whatsoever with Andy Tillison's voice. But the latter criticism remains. It's not present on every song, not even during all vocal segments of a song, but ultimately it's what will keep me from awarding this album five stars.

It is a distinctly British piece of music. I really can't put my finger on why, but I know it is. I just feel it is.

When it comes to the musical aspects of the album, it can only be described with one word: flawless. Obviously a group of very talented musicians at work here. Organ and keys are very present together with the bass, but it's really the mixture and arrangements of all the different instruments together that makes this so great. I just love the flute. Here it serves its purpose by augmenting the music, lifting it up to higher levels, The best example of this can be found in Lost in London, a nice jazzed-up song, set in that elusive reflective, British mood.

If you like lyrics, those found here should make you happy. It's about society. Heavy stuff, not to be taken lightly, and yes, very enjoyable. Thought-provoking. Andy Tillison shows that he's an excellent lyricist, as well as an accomplished songwriter. Fantastic structure, mood, surprise and consistency. All the ingredients we crave to label this good music.

Recommended for all fans of symphonic-eclectic progressive rock. Again, this isn't for the minimalist. Bombastic, layered, multi-instrumented music. If you like this, you'll probably like A Place In The Queue.

//Linus W

Report this review (#163598)
Posted Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Without a doubt one of the finest releases of bloated symphonic prog-rock in a bloated genre; A Place in the Queue is an outstanding mix of soaring melodies, intricate instrumental passages, dynamic composition, and energy. It seems that The Tangent can more than cope without Roine Stolt-- they thrive without him!

Similar to the band's first release, Place in the Queue is a throw-back to the prog of yesteryear, with numerous thematic and sonic homages, but played with tangible enthusiasm that really energizes the feel. Many of the songs have splashes of jazz, thanks to the winds of Travis, but the star of the show remains Tillison's outstanding keyboards. Jonnson takes up the reigns of lead-guitar from Stolt handedly, which of course has the effect of making The Tangent instantly sound more original-- Stolt's signature sound making everything he plays on become very similar to TFK. The rhythm section should be mentioned as well for cranking out a dynamic backbone to the numerous tempo and style changes in these songs.

Lyrically, Queue is smarter than either of the group's previous works, more subtle at times (getting the point across through narrative), and when rhetorical does not sound nearly so preachy as World That We Drive Through.

A must buy for fans of the genre; it's energy and composition blows the competition out of the water!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#164403)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I really feel that up to this point this is one of the best recordings that Andy Tillison has been involved with. For that matter I would say the same for THE FLOWER KINGS alumni. And yes, that's saying something. He said his inspiration for this album came from YES' "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Two lineup changes as Salazar replaces Csorsz on drums, and Jonsson(KARMAKANIC) replaces Stolt on guitars. And it was very cool to see that Dan Watts from Tillison's former band, the great PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES playing lead guitar on one song.

"In Ernest" opens with piano as flute and light drums join in. Reserved vocals follow. A full sound arrives dramatically after 5 minutes. Some great organ play during this section. It changes to a jazzy flavour 6 1/2 minutes in. A minute later we get some outstanding organ and bass play followed by some aggressive guitar. A calm with flute 9 minutes in. I love the instrumental passage 10 1/2 minutes in that goes on for 1 1/2 minutes. The tempo continues to change and then Theo comes in with clarinet 15 1/2 minutes in as it calms down again. The song ends on such an emotional and uplifting manner. "Lost In London" opens with flute as vocals come in. The vocals are so pleasant I can't help but smile. Just a feel good tune. The lyrics are interesting as they convey the feelings of what it's like when no one is listening to you. I like that he mentions Sweden. Excellent instrumental pasage from before 4 minutes to 6 1/2 minutes. Quite the ride. "DIY Surgery" is a short track over 2 minutes long of processed vocals,drums and some crazy sax. Nice. "GPS Culture" features Watts on lead guitar. Love the organ intro that brings GENESIS to mind for me. A full sound comes and goes.Vocals a minute in. A calm after 4 minutes. It gets jazzy before 6 minutes as solo piano then flute and drums follow as we get some atmosphere. Sam adds some vocal melodies before 8 minutes. A great sound follows.

"Follow Your Leaders" opens with some fantastic organ as guitar joins in. More meaningful lyrics from Tillison. Nice sax in this uptempo track followed by keys. Flute and synths shine after 2 minutes. Nice moog in this song. Organ is back with vocals. Some beautiful guitar after 6 minutes as the organ rips it up. Waves of sound before 8 minutes as drums try to beat their way out,but slip away. "The Sun In My Eyes" is such a fun track with a bit of an eighties or disco beat. Lots of sax too. He mentions YES in the lyrics. "A Place In The Queue" flows powerfully in the intro. It settles as acoustic guitar,synths and clarinet take over. Vocals after 2 minutes. This song is over 25 minutes long so we get lots of twists and turns and different moods. Again the lyrics are so thought provoking. There is a lot of space in this song as it moves slowly at times. Some excellent sax 7 minutes in followed by a stunning guitar solo. Vocals are back before 9 minutes. A calm follows. Tempo continues to change as it gets uptempo again 10 1/2 minutes in. It turns jazzy 19 minutes in. This is simply an amazing ride.

It would seem that THE TANGENT and Andy Tillison are getting better with age.

Report this review (#167833)
Posted Friday, April 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...This is my first experience by THE TANGENT and I've heard that Roine Stolt was a member of the band,something that is rather obvious,as the music of the band goes in the FLOWER KINGS/SPOCK'S BEARD VEIN...that means that here we have a type of radio friendly/accesible symphonic/eclectic prog without lacking in complexity or composition...but we also have a main difference with the above mentioned bands...Very often in this album the flute and the sax in a lesser extend dominates the music,that is what I find really unique and different...The singer also has a great clean voice and fits very well with the band's music,a cross between Roine Stolt and Arne Schaffer of VERSUS X...All the tracks of the album are quite good except track 6 which is too poppy and maybe the last epic which I think should be shorter...I'm looking forward hearing their other releases!...
Report this review (#168813)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I accidentally forgot to get the special edition of this, and while that bugs me, it means that this review gets to be shorter than it might have to be.

Here, and I would rather not have to say it's because Roine Stolt is no longer a part of the band (but I might), The Tangent finds its feet and stands as a real band. Supergroups usually don't come together as well as a regular band, and all the different musicians seem to drag the music off in different directions. That was the bane of the first two discs by these boys. However, something clicked with this record. Something clicked, and it's visible straight away.

In Earnest is a ridiculously good epic track. I used to be incredibly excited to see any song over twenty minutes--I figured that since the bands I listened to at the time did really long tracks well, any band that did really long tracks could do them equally as well as well (yes, that's how I meant to say that). Some don't, though, and The Tangent has had a rough history with epic tracks (as if, as it were, they wrote anything else before now). But here is where Andy gets his music straight, and the band is wholly with him. Vocals being what they are (slightly shaky and not exactly terribly different from Roger Waters), everything about this song is perfect, and that's a feat for twenty minutes. If the rest of the album kept up with this piece, couldn't a disc on this planet take its place.

Of course, implied in what I just wrote is that not everything does keep up with In Earnest. So, let me be straight with you, not everything does keep up with In Earnest. Lost in London is good and fun, but not great. DIY Surgery is fun, weird, unique, but not great. GPS Culture and Follow Your Leaders are also quality tracks. All four star worthy songs. The Sun in My Eyes is really neat. I like it a whole lot, though it's nothing terribly progressive. Maybe almost neo progressive, if the definition I've been given about that happens to be an accurate one. The final closing epic, A Place in the Queue (of course, by now, The Tangent's affinity for title tracks should be pretty plain), is good, with a lot of neat parts and, like In Earnest, full of lyrics that actually mean something (rare in prog, I know). However, it's not spectacular enough to pull this album from a four star to a five star.

Four stars, nevertheless, is not a bad rating. This album is great. Seriously. It's not perfect, but it's hard to really enjoy any album that is, right?

Report this review (#183159)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favorite releases on this side of the millenium. The Tangent came out of nowhere from me, after hearing of them on this site I decided to give them a try. I was unable to find Not as Good as the Book and had to make due with this album. Not knowing that fate had played a wonderful trick on me.

The Tangent play a sort of juicy 70's Progrock coupled with tons of other influences from Blues to Fusion, that in my ears is close to as good as it gets. The clean, clear mixing of this album is really to be commended, it's like a 70's album born again in the year 2000!

So, what can be said about the music on this particular album? The opening track In Earnest is what can only be discribed as a Progressive Godzilla sifting through genres as another does a newspaper as it tells the tale of an old man and his life. A truly fantastic song, which almost makes me want to use the dreaded word epic, a masterpiece in so many ways. After being blown to bits by the opener, I was uncertain as how this album would be able to follow up such a grand entrance. Rest assured though, it does not get worse.

The song Lost in London follows with a more low key tone. A brilliantly composed and performed song, carying on the great songwriting from the opening while maintaining the personal and story oriented lyrics. I have something against rating each song by themselves, as I don't think any proper album can be judged song by song. I'll sum up the following songs with Holy cow this is so awesome, I can't believe they still are able to surprise and please me like this, this is like hot chocolate in front of a fire place while it's snowing outside. And I mean that from the heart.

This albums is essential in any progfan's collection. A modern masterpiece!


Report this review (#184277)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A change in line-up, a change in style.

Yes, yes, so The Tangent had never had a stable line-up to this point anyways. Notable absence on this offering from the band, however, is The Flower King himself, Mr. Roine Stolt, who had been around for the first two releases by the super-group. While this clearly was no problem for the band they've made a substantial shift in style with this release. Whether the absence of Stolt is exactly what caused this change we may never know, but fans of the first two albums be warned: this is a very different album. All the elements that the Tangent have previously used are still kicking around, a very prominent keyboard along with an excellent guitar and a slew of other instruments and voices, but this album feels a lot more eclectic than the previous releases. Surely this is the reason the band is under the ''eclectic'' category of this site, but it sometimes feels as though the direction of the album is scattered.

Style wise we have a lot to chose from here. From the Canterbury flavored Lost In London with it's lush flutes and fun beat to the disco inspired The Sun In My Eyes, a fun tune telling the tale of a prog-nut growing up with some very comical lyrics. Some people may like the extreme mix of things, while others may find a little bit more consistency to be a bit more comforting. A couple of excellent pure symphonic-prog moments do exist on the album and they still manage to take up the majority of the album's running time. The album starts with one of the band's token epic cuts, In Earnest is usually proclaimed as the band's best song to reach the 20-minute mark, and while it certainly has its moments, it still has thick competition with songs like In Darkest Dreams or more recently Four Egos, One War. Still, it's an emotional thrill ride telling the story of a war vet who flew Spitfires and who is now nothing more than ''some crazy old man'' who sits at the end of a bar. Some wonderfully spine chilling moments include the first synth hit that almost bring about the feeling of a plane launch. GPS Culture is a quick favorite among all The Tangent's songs, its joyous keyboard opening really leaves a mark and the melodies throughout the song really can't be beat. The lyrics are snide and yet so true (''Through seas of countless choices I'm chosen once again, to fill the air with crafted sounds/you give me space, in your space, a window in your time, at a level which your soul allows''), and the solos are quite impressive.

Some of the album is not quite as strong as the rest, however. For a band who often gets attacked for their vocals they really made a bold move with the choice of vocal style for DIY Surgery. The spoken word mixed with the bleating of sax in the background is often cacophonous and it makes for a strange two minutes, especially after following a blissful tune like Lost In London. Another song that fails to make waves in some cases is the heavy Follow Your Leaders. While the lyrics are once again completely true the music comes across as quite harsh - not to say that the music is too harsh to support the lyrics, but it's quite a lot heavier than a lot of Tangent's material and it really seems to come out of left field here. A good song by all standards, this one simply has a hard time competing with some of the other tunes on the album. The biggest letdown on the album, however, is likely the title cut. A Place In The Queue is The Tangent's longest song to date and also the most drawn out. While the song experiments with some great ideas (including some wonderful jazz moments) they ultimately miss out on taking any one of those ideas and really running with them. The slow pace of the song is a little bit hard to deal with when hoping for another winding epic like In Earnest, and some ideas really could have worked if they were used more often. That robotic, dark and evil chanting voice used near the beginning of the song demands repeated use - it's just so cool! But they dispose of it and move on. Still, in terms of epic songs, this one is good, just not exceptional.

Often times A Place In The Queue is The Tangent's most acclaimed album, but while it's good, they've certainly done better. The album does sport some amazing artwork on both the inside and out, and there's a nice write-up from Tillison on the inner-notes that will make any prog fan proud, but in general this one feels less consistent than the band's other works. The follow up to this album, Not As Good As The Book would prove this new direction to be a good one, but wait for a bit until you reach for this album on the shelves. Go for The World That We Drive Through or The Book first - you won't be disappointed. As for this album: 3.5 stars for a very good album with some classic moments.

Report this review (#186198)
Posted Friday, October 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If Dave Stewart has a musical heir, it has to be keyboardist Andy Tillison who gives much due credit to other Prog deities as Jon Anderson - indeed 'A Place in the Queue' is, according to Tillison, a direct result of hearing Tales back in 1973 - but between the talent, nerdy state-issued spectacles, unkempt 'fro and sheer ambition, it is Stewart whom Andy Tillison seems to most emulate. Previous 'The World That We Drive Through' was very good. This follow up honors the promise shown on that 2004 release and surpasses it by a few lengths and though Mr. Tillison's voice is an acquired taste, wasn't Jon Anderson's too?

Five medium-length cuts bookended by two twenty minute+ dreadnoughts, the record is a thunderstorm of ideas that does reflect Yes's benchmark 1973 release complete with the delusional vocal that introduces 'In Earnest'. The band is more than happy to wear its classic prog influences on its sleeve and the entire album is an intentionally challenging, Anglocentric movement demonstrating a firm grasp of all Western musics that few of the nu progsters have. It reminds us why we love the stuff, rekindling the romance and scolding us for any infidelities. Why prog rock is what it is, or was, and why music that internally changes course without getting lost at sea holds greater value than its inert relatives. Tillison's perfectly recorded organ, Moog and pianos are always the heart of the music and considering he penned ninety percent of the material, it is clearly his baby, the theme being about "Following orders, traffic signs, religions...". Ticks of bossa nova drop in and out but it's never long before the concept transcends all that and we start to feel as if it *is* 1973, hearing symphonic rock fusion in its heyday with the help of Tillison's time machine-- killer organ runs, devastating synth squalls, jazz angularity, intentionally absurd polyrhythms. 10-minute 'GPS Culture' says hello with a Tony Banks organ phrase, Guy Manning's well-placed Flamenco guitar and a manic National Health-style vamp. And 'Follow Your Leaders' just rocks the house down, a walking synthjazz fury that longs for days past, conjuring the best of Egg, Rick Wakeman, early Tull, and Camel. 'The Sun in My Eyes' is a funny commercial spoof with swelling disco arrangements circa 1977, horrid Love Boat strings, the vintage click of a limply wah-wahed guitar, and hysterical prog period tendencies. The huge title track closes the show and does have some draggy moments. But so does almost every great prog escapade, and at 25 minutes I guess every second can't be gold. The most open of the songs, it churns along gradually with an almost Wall-like lumber, wakes-up about halfway through and satisfies most of our expectations, bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Jaime Salazar stealing the show and Tillison with tons of classical ivories and space age drama. A bonus disc is included in the special edition comprising material unused during the session and though holds some good moments, hats off to the band for not pushing their luck by incorporating too much into the main release.

Atavistic in the best possible way, one of the finest items of 2006, and recommended with much happiness.

Report this review (#187873)
Posted Monday, November 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
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).

Report this review (#193214)
Posted Sunday, December 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars You've got more people here than Sweden, but it's the loneliest place in the world

...Lost in London is one of those tracks that might stick to your head forever: a heavy dose of irony surrounded by a jazz fusion/blues atmosphere and polished with a few heavy prog riffs.

A Place in the Queue is definitely an eclectic hearing. My first impressions of THE TANGENT were very positive a few years ago when I listened to some of this album's tracks on prog radio. While there are some quite ''mainstream'' prog tracks like GPS Culture, Follow your Leaders and The Sun in my Eyes (almost pop), the overall sound of the album is highly eclectic - to my ears this is the case here because of the jazz/avant-garde atmosphere, the highly ironic lyrics and singing approach and the weird arrangements that take place in various points in the record.

KING CRIMSON, YES and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR are the obvious influences in the music of THE TANGENT. However, the mood is closer to that of YES and less to that of the ''dark'' representatives of the eclectic genre. The moments that the atmosphere gets a bit gloomy can be found in the short instrumental-based DIY Surgery and the two epics: In Earnest and the title track. The other thing that can be said with certainty is that the level of musicianship and virtuosity remains at high standards - surely prog fans of complex arrangements and bizarre melodies will enjoy the moments in this album.

One interesting thing that occurred to me is that this album sounds highly ''English'' to me... especially the lyrics and the vocals may appeal to friends of ''traditional'' eclectic prog.

Best moments: Lost in London, GPS Culture and A Place in the Queue. The latter is particularly recommended to prog fans.

I don't feel this is a masterpiece and the rating I assign applies only to the level of my personal enjoyment. I mainly felt that the queue could be much shorter... However, there are moments that are mind-blowing. For friends of eclectic prog, half or one extra star makes absolute sense.

Report this review (#223842)
Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars Is there a discussion possible about the individual taste of music? I hope not. Is there a discussion possible about the added value of a release. I hope yes, since I sincerely can´t see any reason why this album was ever released. I bought the record because so many people were enthousiastic. And although one knows tastes differ, this time I feel fooled. The music meanders through a meagre landscape with little idea of direction. Sometimes it gives a jazzy feel. But hey, was jazz not meant to be energetic, to lift the spirit and to feast? Well, jazz in the meaning of Andy Tillison is a bleak kindergarten party with tasteless cookies. And on top of the absence of enjoyable music comes the voice which is really hard to digest. This is not singing, but merely muttering texts! I like many styles of music, also outside the scope of progressive music. This release, despite the effort put into it by the musicians, must be regarded as superfluous.
Report this review (#229407)
Posted Saturday, August 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first Tangent album I heard and it drew me in straight away. It is stylistically almost identical to Transatlantic as you would expect from a similar 'supergroup' who even earlier on incorporated the same guitarist. This album is a typically lengthy album from a modern prog group but in all of it's 80 minutes it never falls short it always has something exciting around the corner with it's keyboard sounds reminiscent of the classic 70's sounds and guitar playing that incorporates fantastic fast guitar playing and incredible virtuosity in every songs keyboard parts. The lyrics on this album are stylistically similar to Roger Waters late-70's lyrical style with the title track giving a critical view of modern bureaucracy.

This album should be recommended to anybody who enjoys Neal Morse and Transatlantic as it is so similar and will be enjoyed by anybody who loves the slightly softer side of modern Prog Rock. As a rare effort at 70's prog sound that still remains fresh and interesting this one deserves 4 Stars.

Report this review (#384593)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not a place in the Hall of Fame. Just a place in the queue.

The first time I heard this album I was not satisfied. I think I heard it a couple of times and then put it away. After several months I decided to give "A Place In The Queue" another chance and, surprise! I must admit that I began to appreciate it, at least in part.

The quality of the music is good but in every track, except one (the third), there are three types of problems that affect decisively my rating:

1) the arrangements are too bombastic and pompous because of an excessive use of synth that makes the style too close to electronic music. Tillison is a great keyboard player but sometimes he should forget the infinite possibilities that the synth has to offer. The selection of some synth tones, in fact, is at least questionable. 2) The second problem is that the album is too long. I'm a big fan of the suites. I love the songs of more than 20 minutes. "Tales From Topographic Oceans" (mentioned by Tillison in the sleeve notes) is an album that I appreciate very much. But "Tales" has well-defined dynamics, constructed with great skill, where acoustic moments alternate with more aggressive, with catchy melodies followed by very experimental sections. By contrary here, in my opinion, everything is much more monotonous and, as I already said, too pompous. 80 minutes of music are too much in this case. In every track there are musical themes that could be safely omitted. 3) Tillison's voice is mediocre, and in some cases extremely disappointing. It is, surely, a great keyboard player. But his vocal range is low, the intonation is not always clear, and his tone somewhat anonymous. Again, Tillison certainly has not the capacity to interpretate songs like Hammill or Gabriel. So a lot of vocal parts of the album are really weak.

These flaws are, of course, very important: "A Place In The Queue" can not be considered a four, or five, stars rated album, in my opinion. But it is undeniable that, apart from the brief The Sun In Your Eyes, all the songs are interesting and contain some splendid moments (that you appreciate fully, however, only after many plays, so ... patience!). Concerning the style, as many reviewers have said, this is a not particularly original album because the sounds are based on many prog bands of the 70 (Yes, King Crimson. Camel and the bands of Canterbury in particular). Musicians? Great contribution of the rhythm section and also good work on piano and organ Tillison, but the protagonist is Theo Travis: he takes the scene with stunning solos of sax and other wind instruments.

Now, a very short description of the individual tracks:

1. In Earnest. The first suite (20 minutes long) is one of the best things of the album. The first three minutes, very beautiful, seem to come directly from "Island", the fourth album by King Crimson. In the central section there are also excellent guitar parts (the best in the album) and still good solos by Travis. With few weak points you reach the end (a reprise of the opening theme). Rating: 7 / 10

2. Lost In London. Jazz-rock in Caravan style. The vocal parts are what I prefer, despite Tillison. This is also a good piece. Rating: 7 / 10

3. DIY Surgery. It 's the most experimental track, and personally my favorite. Masterfully built by Travis with sax solos and a frenetic jazz tempo. Echoes of King Crimson and VDGG. Rating: 8 / 10.

4. GPS Culture. The style of the masters of '70s prog is imitated in a way too obvious. The first three or four minutes, it seems a piece of Yes, with Tillison mimicking Wakeman. In the final part is still too obvious references to the masters of Prog English: first Pink Floyd, then a chorus of voices identical to those of Northettes (female voices of Hatfield And The North) and then Yes again with the final ("da da da ... da ... daaa ") really derivative. Tillison's voice is frankly very weak. Rating: 4 / 10.

5. Follow Your Leaders is a song in Spock's Beard style, with a convincing vocals (yes!) and some solo by Travis in Canterbury style. Not very interesting and begins to tire after five or six plays. Rating: 4 / 10

6. The Sun In My Eyes. Few things to say. It's a funky track, very biased towards the electronic pop, almost disco music! It is not prog, absolutely. You can listen to the first or second time you hear the album. Then, surely, you can skip this one. Rating: 1 / 10

7. A Place In The Queue is the second suite of more than 25 minutes. Draws much the style of Canterbury already by the sax introduction in Soft Machine / Hatfield style. The instrumental central section is very beautiful with great Tillison works on piano and Travis protagonist of memorable solos. A bit of Camel ("Rain Dances" period) here. The vocals after minute 13 (which will be reprised in the final) is pleasant and quite melodic. After 17 minutes there is a certain drop in quality, but overall is a good song. Rating: 7 / 10. I am totally opposed to bonus tracks, and then I do not include any review of the bonus CD.

Overall, this is not a masterpiece, but it has its moments. Those who hate the synthesizer must avoid it. However, "A Place In The Queue" is not bad for me and fits more or less the same height as many albums of contemporary progressive rock: is good, surely derivative and not essential, but after all absolutely listenable.

Rating: 5 / 10.

Best song: DIY Surgery

Report this review (#437429)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Third album A place in the queue from 2006 is an excellent example how must sound a symphonic prog album. The Tangent was unknown to me few years ago, manageing to listen to this album for the first time around 2008 when I've discovered them. Well, this is solid release and I think Andy Tillson the had of the band did a great job here. Top notch instrumental passages, where the keyboards and guitars has some spectacular moments for sure. Having memebers from diffrent bands , but with same or similar sound, like The Flower Kings, Kaipa or Karmakanic, The Tangent to me sounds more intresting, more captivating , more chalengeing then anything those bands released in same period. This is a very long album , clocking around 76 min, with two giant pieces in the opening In Earnest , 21 min of sheers brilancy and closing track , the title track 25 min of inventive symphonic prog, what is in between is also good with a plus on Lost in LOndon who has a Jethro Tull touch, but very good, I really like it. What I like on this band is that they had a constant quality on their music over the years, they had only good albums , but none of them can be considered masterpieces, at least from my view. So, all in all, a very talented band with talented musicians and a very solid album aswell that desearve attention from any serious prog rock listner. Easy 4 stars.
Report this review (#912600)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Best Symphonic Prog Album of the year?... Almost there...

Current prog listeners need FUSION, theres so much music to listen to nowadays, why not fusion the best of all into a single album?... You can start with The Tangent.

The lyrics play a HUGE roll in the album; Andy Tillison has an incredible sense of modern concepts making his albums very realistic on matters that affect us all.

Getting into the lyrics is easy since the music behind it is incredible, i mean the Jazzy sections makes The Tangent one of the final steps on symphonic prog appreciation. Though theres a lot of progressive "booms" sections, especially soloings on In Earnest (One of my favourite tracks of all times) ...

What makes this record amazing is the artistic ambience it has fusioned with progressive rock; it has opened new doors in the genre by adding modern fusions, interesting thoughts about real problems we face and my favourite ingredient Jazz.

Every musician just brought to this record one of their best inspired thoughts..Manning, Travis, Baine . it was like this holy bag, and they started throwing their wealth in there, making it invaluable...

5 Stars for bringing it in times we really need this kind of concepts and to feel we are not robots...we face a new dimension of techonology advancement and stress as we search for meaning in our lives and is very important that artists choose to explore these concepts, thats why The Tanget music is special.

I believe this record contains the necessary ingredients that are listed on a "work of art", and it will be interesting to review them.

This is a list by Mark Rothko to acknowledge what I mean :

There must be a clear

PREOCCUPATION WITH DEATH - intimations of mortality....Tragic art, romantic art, etc. deals with the knowledge of death.

SENSUALITY. Our basis of being concrete about the world. It is a lustful relationship to things that exist.

TENSION. Either conflict or curbed desire.

IRONY. This is a modern ingredient-the self effacement and examination

WIT and PLAY....for the human element.

The EPHEMERAL and CHANCE....for the human element.

HOPE. 10% to make the tragic concept more endurable.

Think about it...

Highly Recommended!

Report this review (#1138272)
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overly earnest at first, but just wait! (er, I mean, queue)...

An uneven and eclectic double album, 'A Place in the Queue' was recorded with an eye on maintaining the momentum and attention given the first two albums. Roine Stolt and Zoltan Csorsz (guitarist and then-drummer for The Flower Kings) left the band, but were replaced with other Swedish musicians in Krister Jonsson (who played with Karmakanic, Jonas Reingold's band) and Jamie Salazar (who was the original drummer for The Flower Kings), so the Swedish connection continued. Theo Travis had already replaced David Jackson in the last album. With this new line-up, the band began touring extensively in support of 'A Place in the Queue'.

There is a ton of material on this album. Even on just the original CD the capacity is maxed out, with two 20+ min epics, three roughly 10-minute tracks and two shorter pieces. But the version I have is the deluxe/extended double-CD release, which contains another 17 minutes of music recorded at the same time, a long 9-min mix of one of the short tunes (the single 'Sun In My Eyes'), and 20 mins of improvisation (including a live track written by Travis). This album has more compositional collaboration too, with almost half the tracks here written collaboratively (with Travis, Manning, Baine, and Middleton, and Jonsson). The result is an album that feels like a real band album. The music varies in style more than the usual Tangent album, with some pieces actually danceable (again, the single "Sun in my Eyes"), others decidedly avant-jazz (DIY Surgery), and of course the usual Tillison/Tangent social critique. It takes a lot of time and effort to listen to the whole thing, and it is important to give this a full listen to understand its merits. Unfortunately, with so much music, many will be tempted to focus on the first track, which unfortunately is the weakest one here.

The album begins with the first of two long epics, "In Earnest", which suffers from being too true to its name. This long song is about a World War II veteran named Earnest who is now aged and forgotten, and impacted by his memories. Tillison uses his story to make a comment about the immorality of war and the plight of veterans. While I like the general theme, musically this is one of the weakest Tangent pieces. The lyrics are among Tillison's more trite, his singing is a bit more off-key than usual (or at least I notice it more), and the music is generally weaker - it seems mostly written not for music's sake, but instead as backing to the extensive lyrics. But the worst part is that virtually the whole 20 min song is taken up with lyrics, there is no space for the music to speak. The instrumental sections and solos are very brief - it always comes right back to more lyrics. And it goes on and on. Interestingly, Tillison states in the liner notes that Yes's 'Tales of Topographic Oceans' was his inspiration for this album. However, Tales had lots of musical instrumental sections and long solos, it wasn't all full of lyrics like on this song. And all the music on Tales is better than on Earnest. This is hands down the weakest Tangent epic they have ever recorded in my opinion. This is the only song I can't listen to any more on this album. And at 20 minutes, this is a lot of song.

Thankfully, the album picks up from here, and there is still tons of music on it. "Lost in London" is also a Tillison social commentary, this time more personal (about his own experiences feeling lonely when first arriving in London), and it works much better both lyrically and musically. However, it is "DIY Surgery" that finally shakes the listener free from the tired feeling remaining from "In Earnest". Zany jazz avant-funk piece written by Travis, this song wakes the listener up some new sounds, and in the process makes instantly clear what was missing from opening epic. From this point on, the music is all excellent. GPS Culture is another Tillison social commentary, but one of the first of what I think is his main lyrical strength - a social critique of the effects of information technologies in modern life. Continuing with some of the thoughtful critiques begun in 'The World we Drive Through', it is on this album that Tillison really begins commenting on how the internet, digital technology and the like have their dark side. These particular insights are one of the things I really appreciate about The Tangent albums, and about Tillison's writing. This critical ethos continues with "Follow Your Leaders", and perhaps most delicious of all, the groovy dance-hall hit single "The Sun In My Eyes", which is actually a pean to progressive rock and the ability of good music to get one through tough times and social ostracism! (yes, a dance song that promotes progressive rock!). I love it. I also happen to really identify with it - so often in the face of life's challenges (and when younger of the cruelty and unfairness of other human beings, from schoolyard bullies to rotten employers) I have found my inner strength in music. And I think Tillison has found a good metaphor - it is very much like having the sun in one's eyes.

But it is the title track, the 25-minute epic "A Place in the Queue" which is the shining star on the album. Combining Tillison's previous insights about loneliness in modern times (from 'In Darkest Dreams" and "A Gap in the Night", from the first and second Tangent albums, respectively), with the critiques of the way we live (e.g. "The World that we Drive Through"), and his new-found insights about information technology (from spreadsheet accounting, to big-data surveillance), noted above, Tillison builds a dystopian critique of the way contemporary modernity means a life that is increasingly regimented, watched, planned largely to benefit the interests of others, exhausted of possibility and spontaneity, and defined by how willing one is to sell out one's principles for temporary scraps of time. It is devastating. Yet it is not overblown - nothing Tillison says in the piece is an exaggerated claim, or over the top. He simply generalizes from real life. We might not necessarily agree with the implications, but the lyrics here come across as authentic and believable, not pretentious. The music is co-written with Travis, and the music is really excellent, jazzier and different from any other piece, and thus quite original. And there are real musical breaks that given the listener some space. This is one of The Tangent's best epics, a good counter to the one that opens the album.

The pieces on the bonus disc included in the deluxe/extended double-CD version are also worth having. In fact, the 17 minutes of music recorded at the same time as the rest of the album is all better than "In Earnest", both musically and lyrically. "Forsaken Cathedrals" is particularly good. I also really like (of course) the 9-minute version of "Sun in my Eyes". The live track "Grooving on Mars" written by Travis is excellent, and the 13-minute instrumental improvisation "Kartoffeisalat Im Unterseeboot" is also good.

Overall, this is an important album, and one that despite the weak opening epic, I really like. Of course, when reviewing an album, I need to take into account its entirely. On balance, including everything, I give this album 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. If "In Earnest" had been left off this album, it would definitely score higher, in the high 80s.

Report this review (#1868472)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2018 | Review Permalink

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