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The Tangent - COMM CD (album) cover


The Tangent


Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 359 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars My only previous experience with The Tangent is 2009's Down and Out in Paris and London. While I found that album to be pretty enjoyable, it was not my favorite and it had a lot of flaws that held it back from being really great. 2011's COMM winds up being very similar to its predecessor, both in sound and structure, but simply does a lot of the same things better, which overall makes it a better package.

Just a passing glance at the track list and lineup can give you an idea of how similar The Tangent's latest two albums are. Both start off with an epic, play around with a few shorter songs, then close with a final long song. The musicians, while not strictly the same, remain mostly unchanged: the vocalist, keyboardist, saxophonist/flautist, and bassist all return, with a new guitarist and drummer. The sound of the music is pretty similar if you've ever heard it, but if not, it leans on the more symphonic side with some eclectic flourishes: lots of keyboards (new and old sounding) and guitars, with occasional sax and flute. The music is very lively, upbeat, and is generally really fun to listen to.

The concept of the album should be pretty evident from the name, cover, and times we live in. Themes covered by COMM delve into modern communication technology, social networking, and their results on society and how we act as humans. There's not a story at play here, but every song deals with these themes, and the commitment to the concept is great. Some of the first sounds you hear are dial-up tones (though the amount of people who know what that is grow fewer by the day), and they lyrics very explicitly mention Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and even PowerPoint. While the lyrics themselves are sometimes too literal for me to enjoy in a musical sense, I do appreciate the thought that went into them and the theme in general.

Just like Down and Out, the opening epic is the best track on COMM. It has the strongest melodies of the 5 songs, and the way The Tangent play around with them is truly a joy to hear. Within the 20 minutes of music, there's nearly always something familiar playing somewhere, whether it be a restatement of the main melody at the forefront, or using it in the harmony while a new theme is developed on top. None of the melodies are played out, and you rarely hear something played exactly the same way twice.

Luckily, the opener is not the only good song to be found here. The three songs in between the two epics don't reach the same heights, but are certainly fine pieces of music. The closer runs the most eclectic ground, and also contains the most interesting theme. If you don't know what the "Carpathia" is, I suggest you look it up, because it will give great meaning to that song. Overall, each song is well composed, and the lengths of each song and the entire album are right where they should be.

Unfortunately, the vocals, which were not my favorite part of the last album, are not much improved here. If, like me, you've never been a fan of Andy Tillison's voice, COMM won't change your mind about it, but at least the band read my review of their last album and has kept the music interesting during vocal sections. The vocal sections are far from my favorite on the album, but because the music doesn't drop out almost entirely like last time, I can find a lot of enjoyment in them.

COMM may be similar to Down and Out in Paris and London but it's simply better, and really enjoyable in its own right. A lot of the things I disliked about the last album are not present here, and there is a lot of great music to be found on top of that. The Tangent's latest might not be without flaw or at the top of the 2011 charts, but it is certainly worth a look.

m2thek | 4/5 |


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