Tangent, The - A Place In The Queue


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

If people wondered whether The Tangent would survive the departure of Roine Stolt, the proof is in the third release, A Place In The Queue. Of course, those who wondered this were no doubt thinking about the demise of the other supergroup Stolt had been part of - Transatlantic. That thought minimizes the contributions (and their actual role) of the rest of The Tangent - Andy Tillison (keyboards, vocals, guitars), Sam Baine (piano, synthesizer and vocals), Jonas Reingold (bass), Theo Travis (sax, flues, clarinet and vocals) and Guy Manning (acoustic guitars, mandolin and voice). In on guitar is Krister Jonsson (also a member of Karmakanic with Reingold) and on drums, another ex-Flower Kings member, Jaime Salazar, taking over for Zoltan Csorsz. As special guest, from Tillison's other group Parallel or 90 Degrees, is Dan Watts, who plays guitar on "GPS Culture."

This is a different Tangent than heard on The World... and The Music, though elements of both those albums can be heard here, especially the Canterbury element of The Music... in "Lost In London." The sound is jazzier, at times much darker. As with the previous two, and more so with The World..., this is an album that works on two levels - one, just to listen to; two, listening deeper to what is being sung and thinking on it. It isn't, overall, as immediate as The World..., so the pieces take a little longer to grab you (well, most of them; others do right away), but once you explore them, chart their course through your ear and into your brain, you come to appreciate them for what they are.

It's heavier and, even though there are light moments, seems angrier. But it's theme is different, and necessitates a darker, cynical view (having seen the world we drive through). But, it's a point of view that I'd think most not in a position of power share - of having a lot to say and yet not being heard. It's not quite as lushly symphonic as what preceded it, though it is symphonic, as keyboards are, as you might expect, very much at the center of things.

The album is bookended by two epic pieces, "In Earnest" and "A Place In The Queue" (20-plus and 25-plus respectively). The first, as Tillison explains at the Tangent website, is about a forgotten war hero - the story an amalgam of three actual World War II veterans whose stories he learned of, the saddest being the one who remembers nothing but the war. It's a demonstration of contrasts, going from jazz-club to heavy keyboard/Hammond excursions to searing guitar leads. And, if you listen closely, there are some briefly heard refrains from "The World That We Drive Through" - just hints (or, perhaps just my imagination). The piece certainly closes in the typical Tangent epic style - swirling eddies of keyboards; crashing percussion; tart guitar leads.

The closing, title piece -- composed by Tillison and Travis -- begins with what sounds like a sustained guitar/sax note twin lead, drums and bass walking along either side. But as we journey along with Tillison and company, we go through various moods, from pastoral to gloomy-dark (at one point recalling some of the darker textures of Pink Floyd's The Wall without sounding particularly Floyd-esque); from the intimate to the epic; from jazzy to funky to rock and back again. Tillison and Manning share lead vocals on this dynamic piece. One of my favorite sections (and there are many) is when it becomes a relaxed, jazzy piece that features some terrific, emotive sax playing from Travis. This same feel is then picked up by Jonsson on guitar.

In between these two epics, we get the Tillison/Manning piece "Lost In London." Flute flutters throughout, like a drunken bird, over a moody organ that suddenly becomes snarly (and later gets quite ferocious before being beaten down and subdued - and yes, you can think a bit of ELP here). The piece is meant to be lighthearted, a reflection on Tillison's attempt at gaining a recording contract, referencing even Richard Branson, though not exactly by name. It feels like a travelogue through London as well, naming (or referencing) people and places. The second chapter of this piece forms the latter two minutes with more happily trilling flute; here the subject turns more serious - political - when commenting on the Iraq war; a quick and pointed comment of a sentence or two conveys quite a lot of subtext.

"GPS Culture" begins with quickly percolating, classically proggy, keyboards; these give way to shrill keys and organs and hints of Yes - more the Yes of The Ladder than classic Yes. Some classic Yes-like elements do creep in though ("Yours Is No Disgrace" will flash in and out of your mind; and some "da da da"s seem particularly Yes-like), but otherwise, nothing at all like Yes, and very much The Tangent. Bass provides the main driving force here.

"Follow Your Leaders" begins with a funky, ELP-like, organ intro and transitions into something that sounds like a rockier version of 50's swing; I mean, if Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra rocked out with frenetic drumming, acidic guitars (during the instrumental interlude that is lead into by trilling flute), and throbbing bass. Here, too, keyboards cut and carve abstract shapes out of the atmosphere with smooth flowing lines (and more searing solos from Jonsson).

There are two oddities: "DIY Surgery," an angular, avant-garde, fusiony, funky piece that lasts a mere 2:16. Travis does let rip with a scattershot sax solo at a little more than mid-way through. "The Sun In My Eyes" was originally called "School Disco," but "[w]e changed the title just in case people actually thought it was some kind of disco track!!" says Tillison. Well ... yes, it does sound disco. I mean, that fat bass line of Reingold's is straight outta... um, yeh. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that I might recognize that, huh? Anyway, Tillison is singing about being picked on in his youth for his choice of music... which wasn't disco. So, if ever there was a proggy version of disco, it's this piece. Yes, there's a spinning silver ball, and perhaps some Travolta inspired dancing (and not of the Pulp Fiction variety) going on... no Bee Gee like vocals though. The disco stops at the instruments. It's a fun tune... cynical, but fun.

The special edition includes a second CD featuring a further 6 pieces... as I've not yet heard these, I'll merely mention them: "Promises Were Made," a Sam Baine composition; "The First Day At School," "Forsaken Cathedrals," "The Sun In My Eyes" (an extended remix), "Grooving On Mars" (live performance of Travis tune recorded by Gong as "Yoni On Mars") and "Kartoffelsalat Im Unterseeboot."

So while it's beauty is different from The World We Drive Through, which remains my favorite Tangent release thus far, this falls rather closely behind, this is still a strong album. It isn't as unified as past releases, though there is symmetry between the first and last pieces, and all but two anchor into some aspect of these two. While there's a lot of year left as I write this, it has the right kind of stuff to make best-of lists come voting time. Give it a place on your listening queue.


Tracklisting:
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)

Bonus Disk on Special Edition: Promises Were Made / The First Day At School / Forsaken Cathedrals / The Sun In My Eyes (an extended remix) / Grooving On Mars / Kartoffelsalat Im Unterseeboot

Musicians:
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

Guests:

Dan Watts - electric guitar (4)

Discography:
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: May 8th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.thetangent.org
Hits: 1357
Language: english

  

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