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Tangent, The: The World That We Drive Through

I'll be honest. At first, I didn't like The World That We Drive Through at all. I couldn't get through the dull first track without wanting to play something else. I thought that the vocals were competent at best. I could not hear a spark of passion anywhere on the CD.

But several spins later has me thinking that perhaps I was being a bit too harsh. However, "The Winning Game" is a dull first track as it resembles a second string Flower Kings song, which isn't surprising given that half of The Tangent is made up of members of that band. The vocals are competent at best, which is to say they are no worse than your average cookie cutter neo-progressive rock band, although The Tangent don't exactly fit under the dreaded neo-prog umbrella. Nevertheless, Roine Stolt, Andy Tillison and Guy Manning are all able to carry a tune without offending the ears. I just wish they wouldn't insist on being so damn verbose all the time, which I notice has become a trend among many current prog bands.

Once past these considerable hurdles, I found there were many sparks of passion. Sometimes it really does take time for new music to sink in. Theo Travis, who replaces David Jackson from the first CD by The Tangent is in many ways, the real star of the show. His performance is perhaps the most distinguishing factor of the album. During the neat instrumental break in "Skipping the Distance", Travis contributes a gorgeous flute solo over a bed of jazzy piano. Likewise, he adds some sterling saxophone to "The World We Drive Through" and "A Gap in the Night", the two epics that close the CD.

I don't want to diminish the invaluable input by guitarist Roine Stolt or keyboardists Andy Tillison and Sam Baine. Stolt is a very melodic player and in some ways, he is quite underrated. He is his usual brilliant self here and his solos are another point in favor of the CD. Likewise, Tillison and Baine from Parallel or 90 Degrees are accomplished players. They offer up some crafty synth solos on the aforementioned lengthy tracks. But they don't merely show off; like Stolt, they play for the sake of the song: try to get the main keyboard theme from the title track out of your head.

I still have some nagging reservations about the album. When it's good it's on fire and when it isn't so good, it's fairly bland. I can comfortably recommend The World That We Live Through to fans of The Flower Kings. Everyone else should proceed with caution.

Track Listing

  1. The Winning Game (11:10)
  2. Skipping the Distance (8:57)
  3. Photosynthesis (7:40)
  4. The World That We Drive Through (13:00)
  5. A Gap in the Night (18:20)

Total Time 59:06

Added: November 13th 2004
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: Official Tangent Website
Hits: 3419
Language: english

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Tangent, The: The World That We Drive Through
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-13 08:56:39
My Score:

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.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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