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Tangent; The: Le Sacre Du Travail

Very little seems to come easily for The Tangent, with a myriad members coming and going from their ranks over the years while the band seem to veer from one near ending to another. However what has remained throughout is that the band's mainman Andy Tillison and whichever cast he has assembled round him at any one time have without exception created captivating, thought provoking music. The last time we heard from the band - 2011's simply wonderful COMM - guitarist Luke Machin was firing the beast's belly, while bassist Dan Mash also jumped on board just after the album's release replacing Jonathan Barrett. However not long after these two lads moved on to form Maschine, reducing The Tangent down to basically a one man Tillison band. Unfazed The Tangent fulcrum gathered some faces new and old round about him to forge ahead and record his first completely conceptual work in the shape of the uncompromising, but stunning Le Sacre Du Travail, which translates to The Rite Of Work.

Back on board for their second (or more) stints in The Tangent are guitarist/vocalist Jakko M. Jakszyk, sax and flute master Theo Travis, and The Flower Kings bassist Jonas Reingold. While new Tangentials Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison adds his percussive weight and Big Big Train singer David Longdon boosts the vocals. This mix of old and new rivalling any previous line-up this band has produced.

While most of this outfit's previous albums have had strong lyrical "themes" running through them Tillison has finally gone completely conceptual with LSDT, basing the words round a typical day in the life of a typical person. From rising from bed, commuting, work, the "joys" of daytime radio, the struggle home and the unfulfilled evening plonked in front of the "box", we can all relate to the tales of woe, despair, dissatisfaction and the lack of fulfilment recounted. The final analysis being that we are all ants rushing about filling the roles demanded of us ad infinitum. Not exactly the most uplifting concept, but then Tillison is never exactly a glass half full sort of guy... However it certainly gives him the scope and dark inspiration to pinpoint the futility of much of what we as a race do every day. Musically it has also offered The Tangent the room to expand their remit, while still sounding reassuringly like the band we've come to love over the years.

Tillison describes this album as an electric sinfonia and Le Sacre Du Travail certainly has the feel and structure of an electric, yet classical piece which slides buy in "movements" rather than songs. The flute work provided by Travis adding floating punctuation to the more expected progressive soundscapes. However vocally with Jakszyk, Longdon and Tillison all bouncing and harmonising off each other this aspect of the album provides a clear focal point that sounds both the same and different to what we are used to. The end results being the strongest vocal display this band has produced. Musically as well things are familiar and different; there are jazzy undercurrents, fluid styles and sublime instrumentation which sprinkles an assured class across supremely constructed and realised tracks. The whole album flows seamlessly from movement to movement, giving the air of a classical recital that you'd expect to experience in one single sitting. Only on a few occasions do the more expected keyboard motifs and choruses that The Tangent have always been so adept at appear, edging into view on "5th Movement: Evening TV" almost as a reward for long term fans of the band. However the journey through biting lyrics, shimmering vocals, perfectly performed percussion and one moment sublime, the next unsettling brass, guitar and keys, as the album ebbs and flows towards the final chapter of the day, is a joy from start to finish. Across all the songs each instrument is giving the room to shine, with the likes of "3rd Movement: Afternoon Malaise" alone serving up tremendous interplay and solo excursions from Tillison's keys, Travis's sax and Jakszyk's guitar - all the while Harrison driving the ensemble keenly from behind the kit. In truth the results are quite magical and I'd possibly even go as far as to suggest that with the classical embellishments from Tillison raising the music even further, this album is the most accomplished in an already tremendous The Tangent catalogue.

Early versions of the album also come with three bonus tracks; the loungy-jazzy "Muffled Ephiphany", the nod to the early punk days of the band through the short energetic burst of "Hat" (Live In Mexborough School 1979) and a "radio edit" of "Evening TV" (not that it's liable to get airplay on BBC Radio Two anytime soon, with their afternoon show and DJ Steve Wright singled out in "3rd Movement: Afternoon Malaise", as a signal of the compromises we all make on a daily basis). All three are excellent additions however they merely provide the finishing gloss to an album that glitters brightly on the merits of its main body of work.

Is it too early to be predicting albums of the year? Possibly, but when it comes to that time Le Sacre Du Travail won't be far away from any prog lovers thoughts. It really is that good.

Track Listing
1. 1st movement: Coming Up On The Hour (Overture)
2. 2nd movement: Morning Journey & The Arrival
3. 3rd movement: Afternoon Malaise
4. 4th movement: A Voyage Through Rush Hour
5. 5th movement: Evening TV
6. Muffled Ephiphany
7. Hat (Live at Mexborough School 1979)
8. Evening TV (Radio Edit)

Added: June 16th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Tangent Online
Hits: 4190
Language: english

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