|Tangent, The: The World That We Drive Through
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-13 08:56:39
Being a very big supporter of the first CD by The Tangent, I was looking forward to The World That We Drive Through, yet quite surprised at just how fast they put this one together and released it. It's always hard to predict whether these superstar project will ever amount to more than one release, and in this case it has. Upon the first few listens of the new CD, I was fairly underwhelmed to say the least. First of all, where was David Jackson, the legendary Van Der Graaf Generator sax player, who added so much to the first Tangent CD? Where were the obvious Canterbury & jazz fusion passages that permeated the debut? It all seemed to be gone, replaced with a batch of more structured songs and less instrumental meanderings.
Well, after a few more listens (which is why the delayed review here) my opinions changed drastically. I mean, how can Andy Tillison, Roine Stolt, & Co. possibly dissappoint? So I gave these guys the benefit of the doubt, and damn if all sorts of great stuff started seeping through my speakers upon repeated listens. "The Winning Game" is a fun melodic song, very much in the style of The Flower Kings, complete with symphonic keyboards from Tillison and Sam Baine, as well as ripping guitar work from Stolt. If you listen carefully, there are some jazzy underpinnings going on as well. These jazz influences rear their head again on "Skipping the Distance" a song that also features some stellar flute work from new member Theo Travis, who replaces Jackson on sax & flute. Travis' flute is just gorgeous on this one, trading majestic lines with Baine's piano before Stolt crashes in with a wicked wah-wah guitar solo.
"Photosynthesis" is a fairly pedestrian number, yet with some nice jazzy piano & sax, as well as melodic vocals from Tillison, Stolt, and Guy Manning. Perhaps the highlight's of the CD are the two closing epics; the 13-minute title track, and the near 20-minute "A Gap in the Light". Both pieces are as monumental as any cut off the first album, and lets each of the musicians involved shine. I enjoyed reading along to the lyrics of the title track, which are housed on a beautiful painting by Ed Unitsky (who does all the artwork on the CD) that perfectly depicts the story and mood of the song. Lots of rabid guitar work on this one, as well as simmering keyboards, and a solid groove laid down by Jonas Reingold & Zoltan Esorsz. Tillison's synth work just screams vintage 70's all over this cut. On the symphonic "A Gap in the Light", Manning's Ian Anderson-ish vocals, coupled with lots of raging organ and synths, give this epic a very classic Jethro Tull flavor. The deluxe CD edition also sports a bonus track, the 14-minute "Exponenzgesetz", which is a Tillison solo piece performed on minimoog, modular synth, Mellotron, & piano, as a sort of an homage to the great Tangerine Dream.
So, in summary, this new one by The Tangent is a winner in my book. While it may not take as many chances as their debut, I think that this was the correct follow-up for them. Definitely more structured, less jammy, and more song oriented, but still very enjoyable and vintage sounding. Theo Travis is a perfect fit in my view, and it's cool hearing him as he is surrounded by the sounds of Moogs, Hammonds, Mellotrons, and ripping guitars. Fans of his jazz releases will really dig his duets here with Sam Baine's piano. Good stuff all around, and recommended.