Tangent, The - A Place In The Queue

Year of Release: 2006
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 237
Format: CD
Total Time: 78:58:00

For years Andy Tillison worked hard with his band Parallel or 90 Degrees, hard to convince music lovers about his talent and the strong wish to be accepted in the world of progressive rock, to leave a statement behind if you wish. With numerous great compositions and lots of interesting albums on the Cyclops label, Po90° still didn't make it big. So I can imagine the anger at the Tillison household (Andy is the partner of keyboardplayer Sam Baine) seeing that "other" upcoming bands did receive international respect whereas in his case this claim to fame resulted in next to nothing. Whilst by now the prog community no longer got startled when rumours about a newly formed supergroup hit the specialized press, people nevertheless got puzzled to see three members of famous Swedish proggers Flower Kings team up with Andy Tillison. Under the moniker of The Tangent, also good friend Guy Manning helped out on the 2003 debut album The Music That Died Alone. For sure the biggest surprise lays in the fact that none other than original VDGG member David Jackson also guests on the album. Tillison, who has always been a great admirer of VDGG, was chuffed when Jackson even stayed at Andy's place during recordings. The international press responded in a very favourable way, which kind of resulted in Andy deciding to put a hold on Po90° for the time being and devote more time to The Tangent. As he mentioned since the very beginning, this would not be a mere one-off but a new band which in the end might even perform live.

Sporting long epics and borrowing from the wealth of progressive rock surely a lot of authentic seventies elements could be traced all over The Tangent's output. Also the Canterbury scene influence was neatly introduced to bring it a new dimension. With the same line-up and with Theo Travis replacing David Jackson, The World That We Drive Through was released a year later. By now the name The Tangent had become commonplace whilst the line-up felt so natural that a string of live dates followed. Recorded in Aschaffenburg on 3rd November 2004 and for the very last time in the line-up of Tillison, Baine, Stolt, Reingold, Csörsz, the live album Pyramids And Stars was released, available through the band's website only. Meanwhile the band's concert with the new line-up at ROSfest will probably also see the light of day as a limited live album. Apparently their version of "20th Century Schizoid Man" is a blast [it was - ed.]

For the recording of the band's current, third album, Andy could no longer use the talents of Roine Stolt and Zoltan Csörsz. However with bass player Jonas Reingold still on board, the replacements were rather "easy" to be found as Karmakanic pal Kirster Johnsson stepped in, as well as ex-Flower Kings drummer Jaime Salazar. Heralded by Andy as "a double album on a single CD," Tillison started writing material for the new album with the kind of spirit Yes must have approached writing Tales From Topographic Oceans way back in 1973. In no respect does The Tangent compromise in order to be more easily accepted. On the contrary, as they illustrate with the 20:00 long opener "In Earnest," which opens very quietly before it opens up like a flower in full bloom. Andy's favourite Hammond organ is used throughout this disc, which I'm sure will enthuse a lot of musicfans. Due to the fact that, next to Andy as the main singer, the band also has three other vocalists, this comes in handy in order to make certain parts of the arrangements sound fuller.

My personal explanation about "progressive rock" is that it's the kind of music which has to wisk me to unexpected musical environments. It has to be like a journey to the unknown, like you step into a bus not knowing where you'll be granted the possibility to step off. In that respect The Tangent fully completes this picture as every single composition contains loads of different atmospheres, rhythm changes, breaks, solos. Still these compositions surely don't sound like patchwork but like true classical inspired masterpieces.

When I listen to "Lost In London" I have to think about the humor as fit into music by the likes of Caravan or Hatfield and the North. Isn't it wonderful when Andy sings "I'm a Yorkshire kid in London" where you can hear he's uncomfortable about the idea. The laidback jazzy swing forms an interesting counterpoint to the lyrics whilst authentic Canterbury-era synths spice up the whole. Pure jazz comes with the short "DIY Surgery" in which Theo Travis can fully shine. If ever there was an intro which could rival the well-known classics from the golden age of prog it most certainly has to be the great organ intro of "GPS Culture." This is a blistering track which sends shivers down your spine from the very first second onwards. A milestone in current prog history!

When you get sent so many new titles a year like myself, it strikes you when you can hear the joy of the musicians on the actual album. With The Tangent and A Place In The Queue this is exactly the case as you can hear the ease of improvisation and the happiness it brings with it. However I do have my doubts with the disco-like acessibility of "The Sun Is In My Eyes" including synthesized horns and a nicked line from the smash hit "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," made famous by Santa Esmeralda (the original version clocking in at over 14 minutes, which in a way can be regarded as being "progressive"?). The third The Tangent album ends with another epic, the 25:00 long title track, which contains a fair amount of input from Guy Manning. So in a way it's like the first and the seventh track act like audio bookends in between which the rest of the material is trapped. With the amount of jazzy sidesteps and the technical prowess maybe The Tangent should be given the chance to perform at the world famous Ronnie Scott's club in London. After all, this club has hosted more than purely jazz musicians in its existence. Also Dream Theater performed there once and DT to my ears is far removed from jazz. With rousing saxophone solos courtesy of Theo Travis and some astonishing interventions by Jonas Reingold and great piano lines by Sam Baine, of course this band could do well in London, even if Andy Tillison remains "a Yorkshire kid"!

With A Place In The Queue, The Tangent can jump said "queue" in one go and present themselves right at the very beginning of it because it's there where true talent can be found. Their original mix fuses the best of the seventies prog highlights being VDGG, Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, ELP, Caravan, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Hatfield and the North all spiced up with the energy from current bands such as Flower Kings, IQ, Arena, Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, Magenta and even newcomers Wobbler. The only thing we can wish for is that Andy stil finds enough time to devote to Parallel or 90 Degrees as well as they surely deserve a second chance and not a mere ? "place in the queue!"

In Earnest (20:03) / Lost In London (8:08) / DIY Surgery (2:16) / GPS Culture (10:07) / Follow Your Leaders (9:21) / The Sun In My Eyes (3:44) / A Place In The Queue (25:19)

Andy Tillison - organ, piano, Moog synths, guitars, vocals
Sam Baine - piano, synth, vocals
Guy Manning - acoustic guitars, mandolin, vocals
Jonas Reingold - bass
Jaime Salazar - drums
Theo Travis - saxophones, flutes, clarinet, vocals
Krister Jonsson - electric guitars


Dan Watts - electric guitar

The Music That Died Alone (2003)
The World We Drive Through (2004)
Pyramids And Stars (2005)
A Place In The Queue (2006)
Going Off On One (2007)
Not As Good As The Book (2008)
Down And Out In Paris And London (2009)
Comm (2011)
Le Sacre Du Travail (2013)
A Spark In The Aether (2015)

Going Off On One (DVD) (2007)
Going Off On Two (CD/DVD) (2010)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: March 18th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.thetangent.org
Hits: 1169
Language: english


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