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.
- The Winning Game (11:10)
- Skipping the Distance (8:57)
- Photosynthesis (7:40)
- The World That We Drive Through (13:00)
- A Gap in the Night (18:20)
Total Time 59:06