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The Tangent - A Spark In The Aether - The Music That Died Alone, Volume Two CD (album) cover

A SPARK IN THE AETHER - THE MUSIC THAT DIED ALONE, VOLUME TWO

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.85 | 254 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Andy Tillison and company continue their thoughtful prog-rock revival with this, an impressive eighth album that is a conceptual and musical follow-up to the band's 2003 debut. I first got into the Tangent because of Roine Stolt's involvement. This was during my brief love-affair with the Flower Kings, which didn't last very long... but it thankfully introduced me to this wonderful band, whose energy, earnestness, instrumental chops, and playfulness continue to impress. A Spark in the Aether is a buoyant and bright sounding collection of songs that revel in those things characteristically "prog," making the experience easy to enjoy despite its musical complexity.

The intro is an upbeat, melodic, hook-laden rocker, featuring impressive keyboards by Tillison. Actually, they're very impressive. He's always done a great job incorporating polished and ambitious keyboards in Tangent works, but his fingers feel more dynamic than ever before throughout this album. Also impressive is Machin's guitar, whose licks in the opener are exciting enough to make those musical sparks in the aether that the lyrics refer to.

The follow up is the prog-rock retrospective, "Cod Pieces and Capes," a song that showcases the wonder and ironic tragedy of the classic progressive rock era. This is one of those songs that really makes one connect to the artist. Tillison wears his heart on his sleeve, showing us how important this music has been to his life; something many of us will probably identify with. Plus, it's a great song musically! There's tons of variety, dynamic and mood shifts, drama, big melodies, the works.

The second act of the album transitions to the jazzy "Clearing the Attic," which showcases some great solo work by pretty much the entire band. Subtle flute melodies juxtaposed to guitar outbursts make it fun and quirky. "Aftereugene" is the experimental and totally instrumental mood piece. It's a slow burn that builds tension with a heavy bass riff before releasing it with a furious sax solo.

The set piece of the album dominates the final half: the 21 minute "The Celluloid Road". To be honest, it's not the highlight. It's hard to tell if Tillison is being nostalgic, or engaging in America-bashing. America-bashing was pretty much a standard thing during the Bush years of 2001 - 2008, but it seems passe now. Regardless, the music itself is ambitiously performed prog with countless tempo and tonal changes. The band performs exceptionally well, I'm just not sure that the song works as strongly as the rest of the album. It's at its best when the Tillison focuses on his keyboard more than his singing, and just lets his talented players do their stuff.

The closing song reprises the musical themes to a grand instrumental conclusion, reminding us why the Tangent is one of the most enjoyable and exciting bands playing this kind of music. Check out Spark in the Aether and be reminded why you like prog-rock.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |

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