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Tangent, The: COMM

Here are two questions:

Question: How does Andy Tillison keep coming up with such epic work?

Question: How do you make an album of perfect and pure prog?

Andy Tillison and co have hit the spot again with their adherence to the true nature of prog. Comm The Tangent's latest album, no make that opus, is another pure masterpiece that supersedes any prog recording I have had the grand pleasure of lending both my ear and time too this year, by far. This is an album par excellence, an album that is quintessentially the best in its class with its habitual observance in its intelligent musical statement.

This is their seventh release and the first to feature their strongest line up, Luke Machin, Jonathan Barrett and Tony Latham and Theo Travis. This is an album that deals with the world of COMMunications a look at the irony of how it was perceived then and how it is observed now.

As ever Andy has stories to tell and they are stories that you will thoroughly enjoy, as an observance you couldn't ask for anyone better to tell you them. This is something that he is an expert at doing and what makes his approach so likeable, nobody upon nobody can sing Andy Tillison's songs without them loosing their power and meaning.

The album is bookend by two classic's something that the band are famous for, not bookending, but writing epics. "Titanic Calling Carpathia" for me earns a rightful place alongside "In Earnest" and "In Darkest Dreams" as does "Wiki Man" both very powerful in their approach. To be able to open an album which such strength is fantastic, but to be able to then produce another five worthy pieces that prop up this grand entrance, is absolutely outstanding. This is all done without ever falling into the land of mundane; the excitement isn't transitory but perpetual once you become more familiar with each passage. The album isn't immediate per se, although on initial listening you will be excited, for me the real breakthrough comes when you have nurtured off the experience several times, its influence and behaviour become one, which is pretty much the case with all Andy's creations.

"Wiki Man" has the orgasmic keyboard soirees that you would really kill for, which is supported and encouraged by the cast who offer up their different musical styles, which creates a soundstage that is in full complimentary mode. The music is an extension of their being, everyone immersing theirselves, living the moment, something that is very noticeable throughout the whole album, even with its acerbic lyrical content, something that will really bring a wry smile to your face.

"The Mind's Eye" is more guitar orientated, taking a more rockier approach, Luke's master class, duelling conversationally with Andy whilst being kept in check by Tony and Jonathon. The meter is infectious, it grooves, oscillating, making the listening rather intriguing, being a compliant wall of sonics that just doesn't rest on its laurels.

"we see ourselves as what we want, the mirror will oblige, Wiseman, young kid rebel, youth, the mirror will oblige, all of the truth behind our lies"

The succinctness of Andy's observations just create and envelope his songs. With "Shoot Them Down" written and sung by Jonathon Barrett's being the epitome of what the band are about eloquent and beautiful prose. As a piece it just so moving, you can really feel yourself in those broken communities, Jonathon is so at one, full of self belief in what he is presenting, whilst Luke's guitar phrasing on the solo majestically offers that final dimension and depth, a song that brought a tear to my eye as did "Titanic Calling Carpathia".

"Tech Support Guy" looks at the parody of how we perceive the unknown, nameless faceless people we so rely on in today's society , people we blame readily without even thinking, with the whole premise been turned on its head. Musically this is just a flurry of keyboard wizardry being interjected by all, with Theo really setting the piece alight. Luke's guitar work is never a million miles away, participating, stepping forward and stepping back again as and when required, no egos battling, just musicians who want to create the greatness music they can.

The band opened the album with the powerhouse "Wiki Man". With "Titanic Calling Carpathia" they more than match it, taking the whole album up to another level. As with "Shoot Them Down" this really is a thought provoking piece with its cinematic openings, a piece that tugs at the emotions within yourself, placing you there voyeuristically, but more importantly making you sit up and think. The under lying Morse code of SOS, which is embedded really raises the hairs on the back of the neck. As the song journey's so does the subject matter making relevant statements that again just make sense, progression, transforming to today' modern society, begging the real question as to whether today's society has advanced any further in reality to that very significant occurrence 100 years ago. This is just the band at their musical best, it just builds as a piece, scaling and surpassing all that has previously passed, music that I can't wait to hear live.

As ever the artwork is always an important factor for the band and Ed Unitsky's artwork as ever pinpoints the exacting emotions, capturing the whole occasion in its full pictorial glory.

Although the album isn't a social statement it will and does give you plenty to think about, especially when you start to really get to grips with Andy's and this time Jonathon's very clever word manipulations that do heighten the experience. It may have taken two years to write and record this album but this really is THE album these guys were born to create, not one minute of wasted time, a perfect complementation of musicians. Just follow any of the musician's interactions and you can't be anything but overawed and moved by what they have both created individually and as a group.

I know it can be cliché to say that this is the bands best album, but from the bottom of my heart this really is the truth. To be perfectly frank the whole experience is just pure and utter genius, there is just no other way of putting it.

The album isn't available until the end of September, but you can connect to their website and pre – order this opus, something I seriously recommend to any lover of hight quality music. There are some very good deals to be had.

Oh yeah and the answer to those two questions:

Answer: I have no idea. All I can say is thank you for doing so.

Answer: Invite The Tangent

1 The Wiki Man
2 The Mind's Eye
3 Shoot Them Down
4 Tech Support Guy
5 Titanic Calling Carpathia

Added: October 29th 2011
Reviewer: John OBoyle
Related Link: www.thetangent .org
Hits: 4176
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Tangent, The: COMM
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-10-29 13:46:23
My Score:

Andy Tillison and company have really hit a home run with COMM, the fifth full-length offering from The Tangent. I've never been the biggest fan of this multi-national prog outfit from previous memory, but that must mean that I've either been extremely ignorant in the past or this album absolutely outdoes anything in their backcatalog - whatever the case, there's no question in my mind that COMM is an absolutely killer prog rock album and one of the year's best for sure. Epic compositions, complex arrangements, and memorable hooks are all found in abundance on COMM; this is the sort of album that every symphonic prog fan longs to hear. Whether or not you've been a fan of previous works from The Tangent, COMM is a near-essential purchase for all progressive rock listeners.

The Tangent sport a sound that is distinctly their own on COMM, while still wearing quite a few distinct influences on their sleeves. The most obvious points of reference here are probably Yes, Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, and Beardfish, but The Tangent also have an additional jazz tendency that sets them far apart from sounding like a "clone" band of any sort. This still isn't all that unique by modern symphonic prog standards, yet that seems like a minute complaint when the music is this top-notch. It's pretty safe to say that modern prog rock does not get much better than this.

Andy Tillison's keyboard palette of Hammond organs, moogs, and the like is usually the driving force of the music, and I simply can't get enough of his keyboard playing here. What a fantastic musician! His vocals are a bit more of an acquired taste, but I happen to love his powerful and distinct singing style. Luke Machin's guitar playing is also pretty phenomenal; he delivers a few really great solos on COMM. Theo Travis adds a nice touch with his flute and saxophone playing, and even though I wish he could've been a slightly more integral part of a few songs, he does what he does spectacularly. The rhythm section of Jonathan Barrett (bass) and Nick Rickwood (drums) is also great; both of these guys lay down plenty of complex and intricate foundations for most of the tracks.

COMM consists of only five tracks that add up to nearly an hour in length. I'm a bit glad that The Tangent didn't decide to fill up the whole CD with useless filler - every second of COMM is quality material, and it never overstays its welcome. The powerful, twenty-minute "The Wiki Man" opens the album with a bang, and is probably my favorite track of the album. "Titanic Calls Carpathia" is the other epic here and it is every bit as excellent as the aforementioned track. The three other songs are all a bit shorter, but I also really like all of them. "Tech Support Guy" is my favorite of the shorter songs - I especially dig the quirky and witty lyrics about how frustrating being a technical support worker for a company can be.

Even though COMM may not be the most revolutionary prog rock album in recent memory, this is an absolutely terrific observation. A flawless execution in terms of musicianship and production, excellent songwriting, and challenging instrumental portions all make this an album that should be in every symphonic prog fan's collection. COMM was a very pleasant surprise for me, and I will be sure to revisit The Tangent's earlier albums again in the near future. As far as this one is concerned, 4.5 stars are the least I can give. One of the year's best prog albums? I sure think so!

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