The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, will release their 10th studio album ‘Proxy’ on November 16th, 2018. Recorded during the band’s tour with Karmakanic in 2017/18, which saw them with more chances than normal to work together on the record – hotel writing sessions, van discussions, soundcheck ideas – all of which have allowed the band to make an album that is as organic as they have achieved since their formation 15 years ago.
Andy Tillison comments: “Our belief is that Progressive Rock music is still a valid and viable musical form in 2018 and will continue to be so. Our band has always sought to take on board things from the present and add them to that magical mix. We don’t claim to be offering the FUTURE. We just claim to be offering one set of possibilities. Ours. Now.”
‘Proxy’ is a riot of juxtaposing styles, presented in a really direct manner and despite being firmly rooted in the stylistic traits of the Progressive Rock Genre takes some unexpected turnoffs and a major swerve. The albums kicks off with a trademark Tangent prog fantasia based around growling Hammonds, shrieking Synths, whirling guitars and sharp percussive bass – influences of ELP, Egg, Hatfield & the North, Caravan and Camel proudly worn on their sleeves. This 16-minute title track eventually becomes a protest song about the continuing wars that share their name with the song.
But this album features no overall concept. The second track is a sun-drenched Mediterranean fusion instrumental, more Chick Corea than Che Guevara. And the third track is referred to by the band as an attempt to find the missing link between Porcupine Tree and Jamiroquai. By the time we reach the centrepiece epic track ‘The Adulthood Lie’, the rulebook has been left behind and the band are trying to fix the car with whatever is at hand. The Tangent came of age some time ago now. After 15 years with a constant presence on the periphery of the scene, this album is the next step on the road from a band who have painstakingly revered and recreated the past, with one eye on the future.
The album will be available as a limited CD digipak, Vinyl LP + CD & as digital download. The full track-listing is as follows:
2.The Melting Andalusian Skies
3.A Case of Misplaced Optimism
4.The Adulthood Lie
6.Excerpt From “Exo-Oceans” (Bonus Track)
The album features the following players: Andy Tillison – Vocals, Lyrics, Keyboards, Composer Jonas Reingold (The Sea Within, Steve Hackett Band) – Bass Guitar Theo Travis (Soft Machine, Travis-Fripp) – Sax & Flute Luke Machin (Maschine, Francis Dunnery Band) – Guitar Steve Roberts (ex Magenta, Godsticks) – Drums
With special guest: Goran Edman (Karmakanic) – Vocals
Welcome to another edition of Progradar Recommends and this time I’ll talk about new releases from Tangekanic, That Joe Payne, Toundra and Flicker Rate…
Tangekanic – Hotel Cantaffordit
I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Summers End Festival in Chepstow last October with the Prog Guru™ himself, Mr David Elliott. It was a blast, a real home grown, family friendly festival with superb acts and a brilliant atmosphere. One of the highlights was the set from Tangekanic, a touring unit that plays the music of both The Tangent and Karmakanic and features members of both, working together in one collaborative set.
Well the guys took the show to the USA and, luckily for us, decided to record at the New Jersey Proghouse and release it as a live album – ‘Hotel Cantaffordit’. What a stunning release it is, Jonas Reingold – Bass Guitar, Andy Tillison – Keyboards & Vocals, Göran Edman – Vocals, Luke Machin – Guitar and Steve Roberts – Drums deliver a rip-roaring set full of good natured humour and enough energy and vibrancy to power a small village in deepest Yorkshire!
Opening with an incendiary version of The Tangent’s Spark In The Aether and then a spirited interpretation of the instrumental Dr Livingstone (I Presume?)from the band’s latest long player ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’, this hybrid band play as if they’ve been together for many a year.
There’s a real camaraderie between them and a fun feeling to their energetic and lively set, the dry asides from Jonas are a particular highlight as is the wonderful version of the Swedish band’s God, The Universe And Everything Else Nobody Cares About, the closing track, Steer By The Stars with a hugely entertaining performance of the uplifting Send a Message From the Heart segued on closes the album in style.
‘Hotel Cantaffordit’ also includes the emotive Sanctuary In Music and Two Rope Swings.
I’ve met Joe a few times and he is a lovely and personable young man so it was with some concern that I heard he had left his role as front man for the legendary prog unit The Enid in September 2016. He was open about his issues with anxiety and depression and thankfully, like the proverbial Phoenix, Joe has risen from the flames and reinvented himself as a solo artist with this first single release, I Need A Change.
The music, written and arranged entirely by Joe, was brought to life in the studio with the help of three other recently retired Enid members; Max Read (singer and producer), Nic Willes (drums and bass) and Duncan McLaughlan (guitar).
I’m sure Joe would be happy with my description of him and his music as being very dramatic and he is almost operatic in his vocal delivery, the lush harmonies that abound throughout the track are a beautiful highlight. I Need A Change is a musical triumph and sees this remarkable front man back where he belongs. There is real melodrama to the powerful music and there is no doubting the breathtaking emotional performance that Joe delivers on his first solo outing.
If this were a vinyl single we would call Moonlit Love the ‘B’ side and it is another superbly theatrical piece of music that shows off Joe’s talents to perfection. If you buy the single you get another five different versions of I Need A Change including piano, strings and choir arrangements which certainly give excellent value for money.
I am really excited to see what this outstanding performer comes up with next!
I was very impressed by Spanish instrumental band Toundra’s last release ‘IV’ so it was with heightened anticipation that I awaited the promo of their new album ‘Vortex’, the enigmatic cover certainly helped too!
Their sound blends powerful riffs, beautiful deep melodies and intricate atmospheres, all wrapped up in elongated electric songs that emphasized their dangerous flammable live potential. ‘Vortex’ tales that as a base and then builds on it with repeated layers of powerful and in your face instrumental rock.
Monstrous riffs abound, just check out Cobra to see what I’m getting at, and the rhythm section seems like it was hewn out of solid granite. If you like your music in-your-face, direct, dynamic and, well, bloody loud then you have come to the right place. Touareg is an eight minute monster (as well as a Volkswagen 4×4), the eleven minute brilliance of Mojave does show that band can craft an excellent tune as well and is worth the entry price alone.
I have always been a big fan of instrumental rock (see the Flicker Rate review that follows this) and Toundra have just elevated themselves to the top of my recommendations with “the most straight-forward, heart-stopping, earth-shaking album of the year.”
I know the exact moment when Spencer Bassett stepped out of the shadow of his illustrious father John and became a bona-fide artist in his own right. It was when I stopped considering him to be the son of John Bassett and took the merits of Spencer’s instrumental musical project Flicker Rate on their own standing.
Unlike the monstrous riffage of Toundra ‘Skylight’ has a much lighter vibe, wistful and with a easygoing vibe. The title track has an almost world music feel to it and Cloud Drop and Shimmer take that and add a lazy jazz influence to give it real sophistication and maturity.
Final track Grow has a post-rock vibe at its core and adds even more of an easy going feel to this delightful EP. With his third release and its contemplative and emotive atmosphere, Spencer has proven himself to be a songwriter and musician of some repute and not a little skill, it’s a bout time we got a full-length album from him (are you listening Spencer?).
“If, like myself, you are a child of the 80’s and loved the great classic and prog rock bands of that era or, if you just want to hear some fantastic songwriting and music, then you could, and should, listen to ‘The River – Both Sides of the Story’.”
I wrote these words about Italian virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and producer Marco De Angelis’ first album ‘The River – Both Sides of the Story’. Released in 2013, it was one of my favourite releases of that year. When I heard that he was writing new songs for the follow up I eagerly followed any updates.
Well, fast-forward to December 2017 and that sophomore album was upon us. ‘Next Station’ consists of six songs all written, arranged and performed by Marco and is enriched by the collaboration of vocal heavyweights such as Nad Sylvan ( steve Hackett Band, solo), Robbie Wyckoff (Roger Waters Band) and Göran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen, Karmakanic), percussion is courtesy of Cristiano Micalizzi, one of the most sought after drummers in Italy.
“Crazy dreamer, that’s the way they’re used to call you, ’cause your free will fills their life with fear..
Marco cites himself as being ‘Art Rock and Progressive Rock’ but I’d have to say there’s a huge dose of Classic Rock thrown in there as well, much like his debut release. Freewill has an involving introduction, all intricately ‘proggy’ before the velvet tones of Nad Sylvan give it a definitive authority. I love the elaborate instrumental fills, guitars, drums, bass and keys all making their presence felt but it is the cultured vocal that brings this song together. It’s catchy, edgy and quite jazzy in feel, as if Marco has been widening his musical horizons in a very good way. “Believing in them would make life easier, Though far more boring, Wouldn’t it Mr Captain.”
“Change alone is eternal, Perpetual, Immortal, Taking nothing for granted, It’s the only way to live…”
It’s a pretty impressive start to the album and things just get better with the blinding and bluesy Keep Going where Marco really lets rip with his elegant guitar technique on the slow burning opening to the song, the fiery solo is dynamic and soulful. This track has the most in common with that Floyd classic/hard rock vibe but has added layers of intensity and class thanks to Nad’s superb vocal delivery. Simona Rizzi and Cristiana Polegri give added shine with their ritzy backing vocals, especially on the great chorus. This track is six minutes of classy rock music, best listened to late at night with the lights down low and a glass of vintage red wine in your hand (other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available), it oozes sophistication, the cultured close a fine accompaniment to the blues-filled intro.
“Sitting on a bus, here I am, Old memories in my ears, They saw me growing up, It looks like I’m home to me, here I am, Redolent streets my mind has already walked through, I almost recognize them…”
It may have a bit of an unwieldy, cliche filled title but A Proggy Night In London certainly delivers. By a country mile, the most progressive song on the album, split into five sections, it is a totally engrossing listen with Nad’s voice almost narrating events as the music meanders across your mind, an involving and ever changing soundscape. I have to say that Nad Sylvan gives one of the best (if not THE best) vocal performances I have ever heard by this great frontman, he really seems to be performing right at the top of his game and leads this track along its lengthy, nostalgic feeling journey. Marco performs all the other instrumental duties (Bar the drums) and seems to be everywhere at once, delivering guitar, chapman stick, bass and keyboards wherever they are needed. It is a musical tour-de-force as each section ends and segues perfectly into the next and it is one that you must listen to while still enjoying that glass of wine, this is music that tells engrossing stories and ones that you absolutely have to hear.
“Dream on, /dream on/, worn out heart of mine, Don’t let the darkness hide away our sun again, Wait for that glimmer of light on the horizon, Sometimes the light can be so hard to find…”
Laid back, bluesy and soulful, Back Again introduces Robbie Wyckoff to the vocal duties and his touching delivery matches the music perfectly. There’s an intimate atmosphere to this song, as if you’re sat in a small downtown bar, one of a handful of lucky people to hear such a personal performance. Marco fires off yet another incredibly impassioned guitar solo, all too brief to my ears and the soothing backing vocals from Simona and Cristiana just emphasise the intimate feel that this track engenders. The emphatic and electrifying guitar playing that helps to close out the song just makes the hairs on the back of your neck rise in utter appreciation.
“We all search for happiness, It’s what we always do, From the first breath that we take, ’till the last tear we’ll cry…”
Funky and edgy with cool, hard rock inspired riff, title track Next Station explodes onto the scene ready to take on all comers before realising it has no competition and taking a metaphorical step back to chill out with the rest of us in a funky progressive style. Robbie delivers a subtly powerful vocal performance, stylish on the verse and then forceful on the chorus, aided and abetted, once more, by Simona and Cristiana, “New day, New Life, New Pain, Next station on my road…”
Marco delves deep into his musical box of tricks to deliver a sublime instrumental section in the middle of the track and Cristiana lends her beautifully impassioned saxophone to the melting pot to add some real spirit and fervor. A wonderfully evocative smorgasbord of influences and themes is laid before you on this inventive nostalgic musical pilgrimage through Marco’s musical life to date.
“Some red wispy clouds, slipping over a light blue sky, a blazing sunset is about to be staged, A new night, a new day, A face on the wall to fly me away from here…”
Moments of near perfection like the utterly addictive and captivating guitar motif that opens Last Train are what makes music so incredibly appealing to me and why I still listen to hundreds of new albums a year to seek them out. I’m a huge fan of Göran Edman, his expansive vocal performances with Karmakanic are amazing but we hear a much more chilled and relaxed version here and it is magical, his link up with the backing vocals is sublime. The music transfixes you from one note to the next, a song that is calm, classy elegance personified, the vocals hypnotise and mesmerise and Marco’s guitar seems to have a wistful, almost intangible life of its own. What a way to close out the album!
I’l cut straight to the chase here, you’d best open that bottle of red you were saving for a special occasion as ‘Next Station’ is it. A collection of songs that are more than that, it’s a captivating and involving musical journey led by a musician at the absolute zenith of his career. I think Marco De Angelis, joined by a stellar cast of musical guests, has just delivered the performance of his life!