Tiles - Window Dressing

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: IOMACD 2080
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:20:00

So, I was quite taken with Presents of Mind, as my review of it would indicate. Thus, I was awaiting the next gift from Tiles... and I'm not quite as taken with Window Dressing as I was Presents.... I don't know if they actually were, but overall the band sound a bit bored here... sound and fury signifying nothing in a way. Vocalist Paul Rarick seems bored for sure, not quite but almost phoning it in. Perhaps a little too breezy in his delivery. Though I did listen to this before their ROSFest 2005 and CalProg 2005 appearances, listening to it after... I'm not sure if what was an often lackluster performance there has given me the same impression of this now. But, listening to it again now.. no. No. Truly there's some spark missing here. And "Slippers In The Snow" is absolutely dreary; we do get orchestration and keyboards (Hugh Syme), and a piano outro that are quite nice, but otherwise...

As Duncan opined in his review of this CD, the album gets better as it moves along, and I have to concur. But getting there takes a while as the opening track, the heavy, thick, dark, throaty and sluggish "Window Dressing" is more than 17 minutes long. And it's not the length that's the problem, if those 17 minutes were... thrilling. Here (and throughout the album) we find Rarick doing a passable imitation of James LaBrie, though I can't say that he's trying to sound like LaBrie necessarily, just that he does. The throatiness in this track comes about in the chugging duet of Chris Herin (guitar) and Jeff Whittle (bass). The music here on "Window Dressing" (the song and the album itself) is more interesting in the instrumental passages; the song goes into airy territories at about 3:15. Not that I don't like Rarick as a vocalist, just that... well, I want more life in his delivery. The same life that can be heard in Herin's delicate guitar phrases in this interlude. A later interlude is a little subtle and is lacking something... the keyboard washes provide atmosphere, but the piece seems to be treading water... waiting for some inspiration to take hold. It almost comes, but doesn't... and leads into a Yes-like passage... something that should have been introduced much sooner. 17 minutes long, as I said, but doesn't really come to life until the last 3 minutes, with some decent drumming from Pat DeLeon (capable of so much more). (DeLeon left the band shortly after their CalProg appearance, by the way).

"Remember To Forget" starts with a little more life, moving along with a classic 70s rock kind of groove - hints of Rush and Led Zeppelin... mostly Rush - again mainly in Whittle's thick and fat bass chords. Rush will also come to mind with "All She Knows." I also thought of 80s pop-rock... The Outfield come to mind... but truly think of a cheerful "Freewill." Yes, the guitar/bass combo seems almost lifted from that piece. And the trio get even heavier with "Capture The Flag" (Rush plays Metallica). Guitar chimes and crunches alternatively... and for the solo some heavy notes are rung out ... fingers flying up and down the fretboard (Kim Mitchell is guest guitarist on this track). You could probably play this song in the company of Enchant's "Under Fire" (from A Blink Of An Eye), not so much thematically, but stylistically. The churning guitar/bass element recurs in "Paintings," which takes a basic Rush-like riff and does nothing with it. Here Rarick's vocals are hit and miss (mostly miss, coming to life during the chorus). The lacy bridge is interesting however, and much more appealing than the throaty churning. "Spindrift" is a grower that is some what patchy in the appeal department, but has more than enough moments to put it on the "plus" side. Not that Tiles do anything different here really from the rest of the heavy tracks, but there's a bit of an edge to the guitars, bass and drums that give us a little passion lacking in the other tracks. Here, too, we get a rumbling bass/screaming guitar passage that made me think of King Crimson.

"Tear-Water Tea" includes a sweet sounding violin from guest Matthew Parmenter. This is a more measured, mellow piece, allowing guitars (here acoustic), drums and bass to create atmosphere and texture that back well Rarick's vocals. It's balladic, not sickly sweet or anything, but a slightly melancholy ballad. A very nice piece where Rarick's laidback vocal delivery matches the mood perfectly and gives the piece a bit of warmth and feeling. No Rush comparisons here, either. Very nice. Lead guitar here is played by Whittle rather than Herin, and Herin adds trumpet.

There are a few instrumentals here, "Stop Gap" being the first, a jazzy little number with deeply throbbing bass, shimmering and pounding percussion and... either brassy guitar or brass accents. There's a Latin-esque feel to the piece, too. Really, really great stuff here. It's vivacious, interesting, playful without being cutesy... one of my favorites actually. A really cool tune. The second instrumental, "Unicornicopia," is a piano and violin piece - even more melancholy than "Tear-Water Tea." Very beautiful and well stated. Quite a contrast to the churning metal that began the album. A plucked guitar and a mandolin are is featured in the old-worldy sounding "A.02" - simple, but nice.

Well, I was expecting something much more from this release, but I've come away disappointed. It's not awful, but it's not great either... and comes just slightly above average in my opinion, mainly due to Herin and the fine instrumentals.

Window Dressing (17:13) / Remember To Forget (4:57) / All She Knows (4:37) / Capture The Flag (9:05) / Stop Gap (2:55) / Tear-Water Tea (4:15) / Unincornicopia (5:22) / Paintings (4.47) / A.02 (1:18) / Slippers In The Snow (3.14) / Spindrift (9:30)

Pat DeLeon - drums, percussion
Chris Herin - guitars, mandolin, banjo, keyboards; trumpet (5)
Paul Rarick - vocals
Jeff Whittle - bass; lead guitar (5)

Additional Musicians:

Kim Mitchell - guitar (4)
Matthew Parmenter - violin (6, 7)
Hugh Syme - keyboards, orchestration (10)

Tiles (1994)
Fence The Clear (1997)
Presents Of Mind (1999)
Presence In Europe 1999 (2000)
Tiles - Special Edition (2004)
Fence The Clear - Special Edition (2004)
Presents Of Mind - Special Edition (2004)
Window Dressing (2004)
Fly Paper (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: August 6th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.tiles-music.com
Hits: 774
Language: english


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