The Tangent - 'Comm'

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The Tangent - 'Comm'

Sixth studio album from The Tangent.

This is the sixth studio album from The Tangent, a band that started life as a kind of offshoot from The Flower Kings (TFK) but has morphed over time until the only original member remaining is Andy Tillison (keyboards & vocals). For me Mr. Tillison represents both the Yin and the Yang of the band, because on one hand he writes great songs and lyrics, plays keyboards like a demon yet on the other there are his vocals. He has that spoken/sung style of voice which comes across as lacking depth, dynamism and variation - to the extent that I find myself longing to hear these songs delivered by a really top notch front man. His voice isn’t terrible, but it’s a bit dull and doesn’t quite do the material justice. That’s a shame because it detracts from what is essentially a very fine album, musically having plenty to commend it, not least the copious and wonderful keyboard flurries and solos from Tillison but also for the presence of one Luke Machin. 

Never heard of him? You soon will, because he is a fabulous guitarist. His biography says he’s been involved with Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives and that he’s a prodigy, a phrase that fills me with dread as it usually means “widdle merchant”. In this case you can rest assured that he knows when to play, but equally importantly when not to. He doesn’t overfill his solos and has a Dave Gilmour ability in allowing them to flow. Sure, he can do speed but it comes in small doses that fits the song.In the band’s new line-up Jonathan Barrett (bass), the almost ever present Theo Travis (sax & flute) are joined by Nick Redwood who apparently was the fourth drummer used during the album’s gestation period. Barrett has subsequently left the band due to a neck injury.

As always, an album by The Tangent has a theme and this one is communication and technology, with Tillison seemingly holding similar views to my own about social networking et al (just don’t get me started). The album is bookended by two epic tracks (well, it is Prog) and both are classics of the genre. ‘The Wiki Man’ clocks in at 20 minutes and features some splendid keyboard runs. The opening has TFK, Transatlantic and Spock’s Beard overtones. Machin’s guitar work is fantastic whilst the quiet section at halfway is redolent of Camel with its plaintive piano and fretless bass. ‘The Mind’s Eye’ is my least favourite song on the album as it has a discordant feel whilst ‘Shoot Them Down’ is the album’s ballad and has a fantastic melody and lovely beat when the pace increases, more great guitar but is a tad repetitive towards the end. ‘Tech Support Guy’ is amusing and has ELP and Jethro Tull flavours. The Hammond Organ solo is terrific. ‘Titanic Calling Carpathia’ is a 16 minute epic, moves though several phases and rounds the album out very nicely.

Gary Marshall


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