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THE TANGENT

Eclectic Prog • Multi-National


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The Tangent biography
Formed in 2002 in Northern England, UK

THE TANGENT is a project originally formed by Andy Tillison, Guy Manning and Sam Baine of PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES [Po90] as well as half of THE FLOWER KINGS including Jonas Reingold, Zoltan Csorsz and guitar virtuoso and former KAIPA member Roine Stolt. Of course to put further icing on the cake David Jackson of VAN DER GRAFF GENERATOR would lend his legendary sax to the band for their debut album. This started out as a mere project and was actually intended to be a Tillison solo effort before it became a full fledged band as Tillison felt the need to produce something more typically 'prog' than he'd been doing in Po90. Of course it has to be noted that this really is Andy Tillison's affair since over the years the entire roster (spare Tillison and Manning) has been changed due to many different circumstances, which has really not affected the supergroup as many would expect. Often asked about his changing line up, Tillison responds by saying that it's all part of a prog band's life and fans of the genre know all about line-up changes by now. THE TANGENT is quite a dynamic band in terms of line up even now as they recruit several members of BEARDFISH onto their team, having been impressed by them on the "Not As Good As The Book" tour. This does make for a very dynamic sound which leaves the band with a fresh angle for each album. Often touted as a 'retro' band thanks to their old school sound, the band does have a very 'classic' prog feel to them with Tillison's prominent synths. THE TANGENT has often been compared to YES and KING CRIMSON in style because of the mixture of Light and Dark with Stolt and Tillison (respectively) at the helm of the project. Highly melodic and very inclined to write sprawling epics THE TANGENT should satisfy the tastes of any prog listener who wants to go back to the roots of the genre while maintaining a contemporary message and feel.

Their music is often cynical as Tillison has often been seen as 'the dark horse' of the modern progressive scene, his lyrics often poking fun at modern music and tendencies as shown in every one of their albums, but especially "The Music That Died Alone" and their newest effort to date, "Not As Good As The Book", which is a largely sarcastic and cynical look at the world that turned out to be not as good as we thought it would be. heir second effort, "The World That We Drive Through" continued t...
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Slow Rust Of Forgotten MachinerySlow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery
Insideoutmusic 2017
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THE TANGENT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE TANGENT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 344 ratings
The Music That Died Alone
2003
3.74 | 256 ratings
The World That We Drive Through
2004
3.83 | 344 ratings
A Place In The Queue
2006
3.87 | 381 ratings
Not As Good As The Book
2008
3.73 | 269 ratings
Down And Out In Paris And London
2009
3.85 | 311 ratings
COMM
2011
4.00 | 355 ratings
Le Sacre Du Travail
2013
3.83 | 277 ratings
A Spark In The Aether - The Music That Died Alone, Volume Two
2015
4.00 | 283 ratings
The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery
2017
4.01 | 200 ratings
Proxy
2018

THE TANGENT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 40 ratings
Pyramids And Stars
2005
4.40 | 78 ratings
Going Off On One
2007
4.38 | 13 ratings
Hotel Cantaffordit (as TangeKanic (Tangent & Karmakanic)
2018

THE TANGENT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.17 | 53 ratings
Going Off On One
2007
4.76 | 40 ratings
Going Off On Two
2011

THE TANGENT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.22 | 36 ratings
L'Étagčre Du Travail
2013

THE TANGENT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.18 | 42 ratings
A Place On The Shelf
2009

THE TANGENT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Proxy by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.01 | 200 ratings

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Proxy
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Can The Tangent really be back with their tenth album? Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about Andy Tillison and his exciting new band Parallel or 90 Degrees, which also featured a young musician called Guy Manning. They were both there at the beginning of this band as well, although Guy is now heavily involved in other groups, and there have been some changes in the line-up since the last album. Of course, Andy Tillison (Po90/Kalman Filter) is still there providing vocals and keyboards, while Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings/Steve Hackett Band) is still there providing bass as he has since the very beginning. Theo Travis (Soft Machine/Travis-Fripp) long ago replaced David Jackson on Saxophone and flute, while we have some newbies in guitarist Luke Machin (Maschine/Francis Dunnery Band) and drummer Steve Roberts (Magenta/Godsticks), plus there is a special guest in the guise of Goran Edman (Karmakanic, Yngwie Malmsteen band).

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

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

 Proxy by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.01 | 200 ratings

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Proxy
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by M27Barney

5 stars If you buy one CD in the next 12 months make sure it is this one. Quite simply brilliant from the first second of "Proxy" to the last second of "Suppers Off". This CD blew my grunties off and I reckon sent them skittering off down the street where they are now terrorising scousers 30 miles to west of where I live...This has got to be the best release of 2018, and any symphonic prog fan who doesn't think this is the dogs bollocks on toast is a mountebank cad brother of a soap dodgers dog! I love the lyrics and the musicianship is tight and powers the quirks till they sneak inside your scalp and your hair will never stand diwn again. This album has everything, brill bass, scintilating keys and even brilliant wind instruments. Guitar to kill for and a cheeky nod to the music that the three man Genesis could have produced ("suppers off" has a sound of ATTWT but is a billion times better). Just buy this and strap your undies on guys and gals...
 Proxy by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.01 | 200 ratings

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Proxy
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars Modern proggers The Tangent return in 2018 with `Proxy', actually their tenth album to date, and damned if they haven't delivered the greatest of musical goods all over again, although they always set such a high standard that this shouldn't be a surprise! Andy Tillison, one of the most energetic and diverse keyboardists in modern prog as well as a hugely charismatic and distinctive vocalist, is joined once more by The Flower King's skilled bassist Jonas Reingold, talented young guitarist Luke Machin, modern Canterbury sound legend Theo Travis with his classy sax, flute and clarinet, ex-Godsticks drummer Steve Roberts and Karmakanic's Göran Edman on backing vocals, and they offer a first-rate collection of Canterbury-flavoured prog, electronic and jazzy extended pieces. `Proxy' is described as `a protest, a reflection, a couple of regrets and a rant', so it means that in addition to all the vibrant and enthusiastic playing, you get a stream of thoughtful lyrics, proving once again that Andy is one of the rare few in modern prog that prizes weighty and smart words of actual depth equally as much as all the instrumental showboating.

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

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

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

Five stars!

 Proxy by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.01 | 200 ratings

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Proxy
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars The Tangent has evolved into a platform of experimentation. And why not? Andy Tillison has been making high quality progressive rock for a long time, so it is good to explore new possibilities. Under the label of Eclectic Prog, Proxy does experiment with different genres of music. For example, the 16 minute "The Adulthood Lie" fuses Fatboy Slim type of electronic funk with classic The Tangent in a way that is brilliant. It will mesmerize, intrigue, excite, and venture through many twists and turns. The majority of Proxy is classic symphonic progressive rock with Andy's spin on the world as he tells stories of politics, music, and life. "Supper's Off" is a classic b-side from Le Sacre Du Travail that features Andy's electrifying keyboards and can fit nicely on any Tangent album and deserves it's place in the sun. From start to finish, Proxy does a lot of things right, and fits nicely in a high quality catalog of music.
 Proxy by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.01 | 200 ratings

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Proxy
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by CeeJayGee

5 stars Just over a year after the release of the wonderful album The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery comes the band's 10th. I was delighted when Andy Tillison announced its planned release date offering early access to demos of the songs, so I have followed the album's development closely and many of the songs already feel like old friends. The strapline to the album is "A protest, a reflection, a couple of regrets and a rant". I can confidently say that the rant is Supper's Off, a demo song included on the little known companion disc to Le Sacre Du Travail (L'Étagere Du Travail). The quality of this song has always meant it deserved wider recognition and it is great that it has finally been released. Also included as a bonus track is an excerpt from one of Andy's side projects, Kalman Filter and taken from another of his 2018 releases Exo-Oceans, another fine album (instrumental) that deserves much wider recognition. That leaves the four tracks that are new to me. My favourite is The Adulthood Lie, at over 16 minutes, it is a fast- paced monster (you will also see it released as a single) that delighted me from first listen. This must be one of Andy's regrets. The album opens with the title track Proxy, also at over 16 minutes it is the longest track (just). This has to be the protest song. As is so often the case with The Tangent, the vocal is used sparingly to deliver the message (which it does) within a complex and enjoyable prog track. The Melting Andalusian Skies is an enjoyable and interesting instrumental track at just under nine minutes has a more laid back tempo but still a strong edge to it. I assume that this is the reflection. The shortest song is A Case Of Mistaken Optimism, and must be the other regret. This is an enjoyable toe-tapping piece with the clarity of Andy's vocal getting the message over very clearly. The musicianship on the album is of the highest standard and the overall packaged album is, for me, by some way the best of the year. Brilliant 5 stars.
 The Music That Died Alone by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.96 | 344 ratings

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The Music That Died Alone
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars With a lineup mashing together members from The Flower Kings, Parallel or 90 Degrees, and Van der Graaf Generator, the Tangent's debut album to me is a whole that's less than the sum of its parts: it's a nostalgia-prog trip through various musical styles that appealed to me (including an attempt at a Canterbury pastiche), but it feels overproduced and overpolished. On the opening sequence, In Darkest Dreams, the Flower Kings presence threatens to overwhelm proceedings entirely, which may be part of the issue since on balance I tend to find the Flower King sound to be a bit too saccharine for my tastes.
 The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 283 ratings

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The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Poignant and Pointed.

Tillison wrote that after his heart attack he temporarily lost interest in music, and he even thought about wrapping up the band. But clearly inspiration struck, disturbed by the xenophobic politicking around the Brexit vote, and he again found his voice. This is one of the strongest and most poignant of the Tangent albums. Roger Waters has said that really all that matters about an album is whether it moves you, and in this album, the Tangent does this very well. It also happens to be an immensely musical album. It seems to me (and I said this in my review of the previous album too) that when Tillison is driven to write out of a concern for social justice, not only are the lyrics more original and inspired, but the music as well.

The band here is virtually the same as on the previous album (Tillison, Reingold, Travis and Machin - this continues the Luke Machin era), but with one exception. Morgen Agren (drummer for Kaipa, among others) does not appear. Yet, instead of finding another drummer for the album, Andy Tillison fills in on drums himself, and does an amazing job (!!). He had previously filled in on guitar on the album 'Down and Out in Paris and London' when they found themselves without a guitar player (before Luke Machin arrived). The drumming here - as you might guess given this is the Tangent - is difficult. Yet, Tillison pulls it off as if he were Agren - once again showing himself to be a really impressive multi-instrumentalist.

The music is really excellent through and through. It begins with song that is both emotional and intellectual at the same time, "Two Rope Swings", which compares the lives of, on the one hand, kids growing up in Britain, like Tillison, and on the other, those whose otherwise very similar dreams and needs take a very different direction in Africa. The song is wonderfully evocative, very human, yet at the same time a devastating critique of the trade and foreign policies that have meant deforestation, poverty and poaching in developing nations. The music is equally great. The second track ("Doctor Livingstone I Presume") is an extended instrumental, and one of the best-ever Tangent compositions. Luke Machin really shines on this track - really musical soloing. This makes you wish the Tangent wrote more instruments. The title track is "Slow Rust", is a 22-minute epic in the usual Tangent vein, but lyrically focussed on how a lack of standards, professionalism and morals among the tabloid media in the UK have used xenophobia, hate, and racism to sell newspapers in the face of the internet onslaught. Musically this is again very strong, although it perhaps could have been a bit shorter. Following this is another excellent track "The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine", musically similar to the opening song, which wraps a discussion of the effects of aging on friendships together with a social commentary on the difficulties of having a real public discussion in which opposite voices are not talking past each other. The album ends with the tune that Tillison posted on the Tangent website early, well in advance of the publication of the album, "A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road", a 17-minute epic of sorts but which is narrated, more like a radio play (in similar vein to Wakeman's 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'). Here, Tillison compares the politics of right-wing populism, like that in the Brexit vote, Marine Le Pen's politics in France, or the Trump administration, to previous historical epochs. The inside of the album jacket contains a wonderful political cartoon on the same theme from a UK perspective by Mark Buckingham. Despite the clear political agenda here, the music is still very good, with a number of musical themes returning and intertwining to match the political story, making this worth listening to not only for the voice-over/lyrics, but also for the music (although one cannot help but hear the story, making this one track perhaps less flexible than the others). Thus officially ends a fantastic album. A bonus track ("Basildonexit") follows, however, continuing the general theme, although very different musically - a somewhat dancy-electronic number. It is weaker than the rest, but if one ends the album right after "A Few Steps..." and skips the bonus track, one still gets a full 74 minutes of excellent music. Really high value for money.

This album is clearly political. Some may not like this, wishing for a return to the more prosaic lyrical themes often found in regular rock. But when the lyrics are as good as this, I think they really add to the music. Furthermore, on this album I happen to think that the politics have been an important inspiration for the creation of some really great original relevant music. On the Tangent website news and blog section, there is a picture of refugees caged behind a fence, with the question "If these guys were in a band, do you think they would say "politics does not belong in music"?". As a life-long fan of Floyd, Waters, Wyatt, and a host of others, I can't help but identify with this general sentiment. Tillison acknowledges in the liner notes the situatedness of the album, that it came out of a very specific time and place, and suggests that years in the future, listeners may look back and consider it dated. This may be true, but I think the underlying message is one that transcends the here and now. It is a very human message, and like Waters in his recent song "Deja Vu", something tells me this is a message that not only will remain relevant for future societies, but one that we probably will need to keep hearing. But regardless of all that, the album is truly a musical accomplishment - one could ignore the lyrics entirely and just focus on the music, and would be thoroughly impressed. It takes a few spins though, with the lyrics so foregrounded, but once you have listened to it a number of times, the sheer musicality becomes evident.

Overall, a really fantastic album. One of the Tangent's best, and a stunning comeback from the less inspired previous album. I rate this album 9.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it in the 5 PA stars Masterpiece category. Highly recommended.

 A Spark In The Aether - The Music That Died Alone, Volume Two by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.83 | 277 ratings

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A Spark In The Aether - The Music That Died Alone, Volume Two
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars I have noticed a pattern with Tillison/ Tangent albums. The most inspired song writing (music and lyrics) arises when Tillison is presenting a social critique. Those are the moments where he seems to have the most fire in his belly. This album, however, is not one of these. Instead, these songs are largely nostalgic reflections memorizing good times with either music or film. The playing is, as always, excellent. The band here consists of many talented musicians. After a hiatus during 'Le Sacre du Travail', Luke Machin is back on guitar here, and he often steals the show (I split the Tangent into two phases - this album is in the Luke Machin phase - a massive talent). Theo Travis is here again, and excellent as usual. Jonas Reingold, I think, is one of the very best bass players around - so musical. And on this album Morgan Agren (from Kaipa) is on drums. So, there is a huge amount of talent here.

However, despite the album title, the fiery spark is a bit dampened in the writing department. The band does their best livening up the music, and Tillison puts in some excellent solos. But the songs are simply less inspired. Nothing is bad or off-putting, and indeed some of the music here is great. The longest epic "The Celluloid Road" is probably the main contribution that listeners will focus on. Loosely evoking a drive across the USA as reflected in both the history and geography of film in the country, the epic is actually constructed from a number of shorter but musically-related tunes. The culmination, and best of these shorter sub-sections, is where they reach San Francisco. This section is so good, they made it into a single (which makes it onto the album as a bonus 'radio edit'). Both danceable, fun, and yet still 'prog'. But that is only about 4 mins long, and the rest of this epic is up and down, not quite on the same level as other Tangent epics. Instead, my favourite songs on the album are the 9-minute "Clearing the Attic", which is the closest one gets on this album to Tillison's more personal statements from previous albums (ala "A Gap in the Night" etc), and the return (part two) of the title track "A Spark in the Aether" which is twice as long (8 mins) as part one of the same track which opens the album (4 mins). Part two of "Spark" contains a number of really great musical jazzy passages, including some awesomely beautiful bass playing by Reingold. Those are the highlights for me. The rest does not stand up so well. "Codpieces and Capes" is meant to be a nostalgic reminiscence of ostensibly-overblown 70s progressive rock shows and posturing, but with a similar message to (but very different music from) "The Sun in my Eyes" (from 'Place in the Queue'). The theme is "We've Got the Music!". But it doesn't work too well, and I just don't get the same sunny feeling from this one. It is not just that the lyrics seem uninspired; it isn't very musical either. Finally, there is a cover of sorts of Floyd's "Careful with that Axe, Eugene" on this album, but with the lyrics whispered as "Careful with that Sax, Eugene", followed by a screaming sax solo. This would otherwise be a great bonus track, but it doesn't really flow situated in the middle of the album where it is, and indeed seems to break whatever 'concept' there is tieing the tunes together. All in all, for me roughly half the music on this album is great. The rest, after many listens, I now skip over.

This album is worth having. It is not just for fans. It contains some very good musical tunes. But half of this album is less inspired, both musically and lyrically. Indeed, for me this is, on balance, the weakest overall album by The Tangent. So, I would recommend those who haven't heard them yet to start with other albums first. Overall, I give this 7.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, translates to 3 PA stars.

 Le Sacre Du Travail by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 355 ratings

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Le Sacre Du Travail
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

5 stars An orchestral treatise on the work day.

Up there among the Tangent's best albums, Le Sacre du Travail (The Rite of Work) is effectively a single 63-minute-long symphony dedicated to understanding and critiquing the regular work day with which we all have (too much) experience. Starting (and ending) with the ticking of the alarm clock, the five tracks - perhaps better described as 'movements' - that make up this piece take us in roughly chronological order through our predictable daily routine, from being woken by the news on the clock radio, to the daily highway commute, the hours we work for others, the afternoon rush home, our final ability to relax (often by watching TV shows and news), to the preparations for the next day. In doing so, Tillison (who wrote all the words and music), brings together much of his ongoing social critique of the way most of us live, from our concentrations in little boxes far away from work necessitating the burning of tons of fossil fuels so others can profit from our best hours, to the control of communications technologies over our lives. Listening to this, I am always reminded of French scholar Henri Lefebvre's classic book "Critique of Everyday Life". Tillison shares with Lefebvre an attempt to look behind the things we all take for granted, and to see the regular every-day as a form of social control in which we all willingly (albeit often under compulsion) participate. The lyrics, and indeed the music, is intellectual, yet also very authentic. Most of us can easily and instantly identify with it. This is one of the things I have liked about The Tangent and Tillison's writing from the beginning - it makes you think, and identify with it.

In terms of sonic textures, this is the most orchestral of The Tangent albums. There are lots of slower sections dominated by the sounds of oboes, clarinets, flutes, and the like, and many of the pieces/movements are structured around orchestral themes and phrasing. This is not to say that the band doesn't rock at times - with such a great band, there are some really excellent solos here, and the band does get heavy once in a while. But for the most part the music is subdued, orderly, precise. It sounds like it was written as a symphony.

The band here is fairly unique for a Tangent album, and it sounds more like a Tillison solo album with hired hands rather than a band album per se. Jonas Reingold, one of the best contemporary bass players in my opinion, is back here (and would stay for further albums), which is wonderful - he adds so much to the Tangent's music, and Theo Travis is thankfully still here (some great solos, etc). However, despite Luke Machin joining on the previous album ('COMM'), he is not on this album, which is a shame, although Jakko Jakszyk (who now plays with King Crimson) fills in on electric guitar, and of course does an excellent and precise job. The drumming here is handled by Gavin Harrison (from Porcupine Tree, and now King Crimson too), and he does a great job, laying down some great grooves under the solos. Finally, on backing vocals is Big Big Train's David Longdon. A common critique of other Tangent albums is that Tillison's singing is not super accurate. Well, it seems he took those critiques to heart here, as his singing is among the most in tune of any Tangent album, and Longdon's harmonies add a lot to the vocals, and raise them up over the typical Tangent sound. There is really nothing to fault on this album vocally.

Finally, the music here is great. Tillison has come up with some great evocative musical themes, including a repeated triplet-based syncopated pattern that permeates and delimits certain movements, somewhat like (but different from) Holst's work or Pat Metheny's 'This Way Up'. These rhythmic patterned themes are very musical, and do a great job in evoking the rushed feel of getting ready for work, commuting on the highway, etc. And while generally slower and quieter than the typical Tangent album, I think it is also one of the most musical, with virtually no sections that are off-putting. Everything here is very rewarding if you give it the time for multiple listens. Some who prefer really fast, loud and heavy playing may not dig this album as much. But I like to see a long piece developed over a series of movements. And there is a lot of space for great instrumental sections here (unlike, say, Tangent's earlier epic 'In Earnest', which put singing over top of much of that piece). Harrison and Reingold lay down some really excellent rhythms, and there are some fantastic solos by Travis, Tillison and Jakszyk. So, even though I really dig the lyrics, it is the music that for me really shines. The two long epics - the 23-min "Morning Journey and Arrival" and the 19-min "Afternoon Malaise" - are the centrepieces of the album. These are really well-developed, with excellent lyrics and extensive instrumental sections that allow the band to shine. In addition to the main pieces/movements that make up the album proper, there are three bonus tracks. Of these, I really like the live proto-punk "Hat" recorded during Tillison's high-school years. A very nice added bonus.

This is for me one of the strongest Tangent albums. I of course still have some minor critiques. In particular, the final movement (the 12-minute "Evening TV") could have gone further and really blown the roof off with some extended solos and the like (like, say, the finale of Yes' "Tales", etc), but instead plays it safer and feels a bit complacent (perhaps matching the musical vibe to the lyrical message?). It is not bad in any way, but it could have been even better. Because of this, the album does not rate quite as high for me as CD2 of Tangent's double-CD album 'Not as Good as the Book' (of which CD2 I rated 9.3). But 'Sacre' still scores very strongly. On balance, I give this album 9.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which puts it in the 5 PA star "Masterpiece" category. Highly recommended.

 COMM by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.85 | 311 ratings

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COMM
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars First of a new Tangent era, with some archetypical Tangent epics.

This Tangent album marks a new era for the band, one we might call the Luke Machin era (who joins on electric guitar). The first album not to feature Guy Manning, by this time the only original member left is Andy Tillison himself. Bassist Jonathan Barrett would leave after this album too, and neither drummers Nick Redwood (who played on the album), nor Tony Latham (who was supposed to become a permanent member), would play on any other Tangent albums. These line-up changes alone might quality the Tangent as a prog band! Actually, Theo Travis is on this album too, and I consider him to be a core member, so it is not just Tillison. With the addition of Machin on guitar, the Tangent once again has a virtuoso guitarist, and Luke is truly excellent. His solos on the album are all top notch - very fluid, fast, and musical. Travis of course is also excellent, as is Tillison himself, so the solo sections on this album are all highly satisfying (the rhythm section is good too, no issues, although nothing as stellar as when Jonas Reingold is on bass grooving along with one of the Swedish drummers who have played in the band). Yet, despite all the changes, this album feels once again like a band album. It has a cohesive sound too.

Most of the music here is excellent, and expertly recorded and performed. The opening and closing tracks, both epics, are the clear highlights. The opener, 20-min 'The Wiki Man', talks about the evolution of the internet and how dependent on it our identities are, and does so in a nice direct way. Nice lyrics that hit home, and the music is excellent, with lots of great changes and solos. The 16-min closing track, "Titanic calls Carpathia", is about the first radio call and the importance of the development of communications technology since that time (both its benefits and its darker sides) - another excellent piece, even better than the opening track. Together these two songs add up to 37 minutes. The three remaining pieces, in comparison, are filler. Of these it is the short (6-min) "Tech Support Guy" that is musically most interesting. "Shoot them down" is a ballad written and sung by Jonathan Barrett - fairly decent, and a little different from the usual Tillison song, but nothing to write home about. I am not so keen on the main themes in the 8-min "The Mind's Eye", meanwhile, but the middle instrumental section is fantastic. There are also two bonus tracks on the album, including a cover of "Watcher of the Skies" and an early demo that sounds more like Rush, but neither is very particularly interesting, and I generally ignore them (and because they are 'bonus' tracks, I have not included them in my rating of the album).

COMM contains many of those characteristics that I think suit the Tangent well. Not only well-written complex music, but I think Tillison's insights about, and critiques of, the impact of the internet and communication tech is his primary lyrical strength and his main original contribution to the world of rock. When he is writing lyrics about this, they never seem pretentious, silly or sneering, but instead quite human and insightful. We identify with them, and they seem to suit his voice best (even when he is singing slightly out of tune, which is a common critique from other reviewers). The opening and closing epics on this album fit this pattern, and I would consider them sort-of archetypical of the 'Tangent sound'. They are definitely among the top 10 of Tangent epics, even if the filler between them is less interesting. Overall, I give this album 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (low) 4 PA stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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