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Tiles: Off the Floor 01

Every once in a while you find something unique and very interesting in the search for new music. Such is the case with Tiles. After reading their bio and about their search for a lead vocalist, they re-affirmed that age ole adage that "patience is a virtue".

Mark Evans: drums & percussion and Chris Herin: electric & acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards, and backing vocals started recording songs at the Old Schoolhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They had a great set of 12 tracks, but definitely recognized the need for a strong vocalist to set themselves apart from the vast list of bands worldwide.

They had the fortune of being signed by Gene Simmons, yes, of Kiss and Simmons Records fame, which was quite a great start, to be sure. They had been signed as "Standing Pavement", but Simmons recommending shortening the name to one word. Therefore "Tiles" was adopted instead. They later added Jeff Whittle: bass guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals. To make a long story short, it took two years to find Paul Rarick for lead vocals. But once they heard him, they all knew they had found the key.

As I said before, patience is a virtue, and "Landscrape" will test your patience immediately. One of my least favorite tracks on the album. I know they couldn't put it near the end with the fabulous epics which close this album, but I would have left this one off. Don't lose hope. The rest of this album will more than make up for this opener. Sounds like every hard rock opener you may have heard from the past. Hang in there…it gets much better.

"Token Pledge" begins the rebound immediately. Hard to believe the band that made that first one made the rest of the album, but you will be rewarded. This track brings the Rush – oriented heavy bass and lead electric with powerful supporting drums you will hear throughout the rest of the album.

"Modification" brings some very cool changes to the sound. The opening sound effects will stun you and reward you for the wait. The ever evolving sound you will hear developing will win you over on this track or definitely the next.

"Capture the Flag", the first of the big epics will further strengthen my argument that this is one of the best new bands I've laid ears on in a while. This track opens with a Zeppelin – like explosion of sound that will have you movin' and groovin' to the pace. Then the bass and lead guitar lift the sound even further. Rarick's vocals will bring back memories of some of Geddy Lee's early 80's highlights. The music on this one is a great mix of LZ II and some of maybe Rush's "2112" or debut album. Heavy but wired perfectly. Those bouncing full drums will rock your ears. You even get some Crème inspired lead guitar and bass. Well worth the wait.

"Changing the Guard" is an acoustic guitar opener further enthralling you in their sound. The violin adds volumes to the deep sound on this track. At 7:18 minutes, this track though moody, will hold your attention and bring back memories of some glorious music of the past.

"Segue / Window Dressing (Part IV)" is an excellent bass and percussion opening that will immediately become an album favorite. When the power of the drums and lead guitars take off, hold on to your hat. This one rocks like an explosion of sound. Heavy bass and slow dragged electric guitar complete the sound, igniting memories.

With a title like "Dragons, Dreams & Daring Deeds" you can almost imagine the heavy guitars and drums that will besiege you. Well, no surprises, they are delivered at a Rush, breakneck pace. The percussion coming at you will make you swear that Neil Peart is playing. The virtuoso lead electric guitar will bring back even more memories. Sounds like one of the extra songs left off "Moving Pictures".

"Dress Rehearsal" is an excellent lead electric guitar flight with supporting drums and percussion.

"Hide in My Shadow" starts as another excellent guitar solo filled with excellent drums, bass and percussion. Rarick adds solid lead vocals and dark lyrics.

"A Minor Interlude" is a very cool guitar and keyboard instrumental which will prepare you for the epic closers to come. Perfect entry to the close of this album. The bass adds volumes to the sound.

At over 15 minutes, "Checkerboards" is the amazing showstopper you bought this album to hear. It opens with a "view from the studio" with the band discussing how they will open the track. Bringing you the listener into the process. The mandolin opening is perfect. Then they open their version of the story of life. But they let the music do the talking. The fun begins. Lead electric blasting notes, with the bass closely following along. The drums, percussion, acoustic guitar all wade into the full stream of music being presented. Then, suddenly…an almost Rush/Yes – like quiet mid-section from "2112" or "And You and I". Slow strummed guitar and Rarick singing. "Disrupting the balance of nature". Yes, you can hear the influences everywhere. The guitars at the end may take you right back to the "Temples of Syrinx".

If the last epic track wasn't enough to lock in your vote, then "The Wading Pool" will seal the decision. The proggiest song they play on the album. I hope this is a glimpse of future albums. They add some mellotron and flute to make it perfect.

The album includes special guests: Matthew Parmenter: violin & backing vocals on "Changing the Guard" and mellotron on "The Wading Pool". Keith Kaminski plays flute on "The Wading Pool".

After a slow start this band closes well. If you want something new with the spirit and power of music you remember from the past, then this is your ticket.

Track Listing:

1. Landscrape (4.27)
2. Token Pledge (6.46)
3. Modification (3.39)
4. Capture the Flag (9.36)
5. Changing the Guard (7.18)
6. Segue / Window Dressing (Part IV) (3.49)
7. Dragons, Dreams & Daring Deeds (7.52)
8. Dress Rehearsal (5.06)
9. Hide In My Shadow (5.37)
10. A Minor Interlude (1.59)
11. Checkerboards (15.14)
Bonus Track: The Wading Pool (6.10)

Added: October 13th 2014
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link:
Hits: 2613
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Tiles: Off the Floor 01
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-10-13 18:35:00
My Score:

For twenty years now the U.S. band Tiles has been putting out quality heavy progressive rock. To celebrate their 20th anniversary they decided to release a set of live albums. Off The Floor 01 is the first and was released in 2012.

The album was recorded live in studio in front of a small audience. The band was hoping to achieve the spontaneity and excitement of a live performance and I think they achieved that on both fronts. After playing for so long together these four musicians; Paul Rarick (lead vocals), Jeff Whittle (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), Chris Herin (electric & acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals) and Mark Evans (drums & percussion) know each other inside out and it shows in the music. Tiles has always been a guitar heavy band and that hasn't changed with this set. Whether it's the melodic intensity of "Landscrape", the great bass riff in "Token Pledge" or the addictive chord progression and subtle orchestrations in the poignant "Checkerboards", this album is pure class. Speaking of class, the album ending "The Wading Pool", is one of the most touching songs in their catalogue and that doesn't change here.

Off The floor 01 is an excellent live album from one of the most consistent bands over the past twenty years. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Tiles: Off the Floor 01
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-09-19 09:40:23
My Score:

Part 1 of a two part 'live in the studio/soundstage' project of delivering a live album from a band that basically, well, rarely plays live, veteran heavy prog act Tiles certainly delivered what they set out to here on Off the Floor 01. Basically, the band dusts off some of their strongest material from their back catalog here, cranks up the instruments in a small studio in front of a small audience, and gets the tapes rolling. Not a traditional 'live album' by any means, but the band does take the spirit of what it should be and delivers on all fronts. Favorites from their career such as "Hide in My Shadow", "Checkerboards", "Landscrape", "Token Pledge", and many more are run through with reckless precision, the band occasionally throwing in a slight amount of improv to make sure they add in the 'live' element. To those fans who have followed the band through the years, their heavy hitting brand of prog always seemed like it would be served best on stage, and it's amazing here just how correct that opinion holds up. So, strap yourself in, and enjoy some of the best Tiles songs as the band cranked them out live in 2012.

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