The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, are pleased to announce the release of their 11th studio album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ on the 21st August 2020. The follow-up to 2018’s ‘Proxy’, sees them taking the band philosophy of celebrating the golden age of prog, whilst bringing it to the present and exploring new paths for the music to take in the future. On ‘Auto Reconnaissance’, they bend that philosophy to their will, taking in prog rock foot Stomping, sublime Jazz, humour, narrative, a modern R&B love song, funk/soul and a 28 minute long emotional epic about the band’s home country of England.
Andy comments: “I utterly refuse to accept that Progressive Rock Music is some kind of museum piece. It is actually a living and breathing movement that has a past, a present and above all, a future. It once had an album-chart-topping golden age, but the genre was never about that. It has subtly and virally kept itself alive for decades where many new musical genres have risen to glory and faded away.”
For this release, Andy is once again joined by long-time collaborator Luke Machin (who also helped produce the album), Jonas Reingold, Theo Travis, and Steve Roberts. Together they bring to life an album that has been influenced by the likes of ELP, The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, Aphex Twin, National Health, Rose Royce, Squarepusher and Return To Forever amongst others.
Andy comments of the current line-up: “In the past 6 years the line-up of The Tangent has become more stable than at the beginning. I think that the identity of the Tangent as a “Group” rather than a “Project” started to come together on the album ‘A Spark In The Aether’ in 2014. Essentially Luke, Jonas, Theo and myself have appeared on the last four albums, and we added Steve Roberts for the tour that supported ‘Slow Rust’ in 2017 and we’ve settled on this line-up. I hope for a while because I find this unit to be productive, in tune with the band’s purpose and manifesto and a lot of fun to boot. The new album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ is the first time that the core band has been identical in structure to its predecessor. For the first time I feel that everyone is “in tune” with the fusion of Jazz, Prog, Punkishness and electronica that The Tangent likes to cook up. We are a good group of friends and although we don’t meet up often, it’s a real blast when we do. I’ve always considered Ed Unitsky the cover artist to have been a recurring member of the cast – his artwork has been a huge part of our story and although we move away, we always return.”
‘Auto Reconnaissance’ will be available as Limited CD Digipak (incl. bonus track), Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP booklet & as Digital Album, all featuring the artwork of Ed Untisky, whose visuals have not been seen on a Tangent album ince 2014’s ‘A Spark In The Aether’. The full track-listing can be found below:
1. Life On Hold
2. Jinxed In Jersey
3. Under Your Spell
4. The Tower Of Babel
5. Lie Back & Think Of England
6. The Midas Touch
7. Proxima (Bonus Track)
The Tangent are the following players:
Andy Tillison – Vocals, Lyrics, Keyboards, Composer
Jonas Reingold (The Sea Within, Steve Hackett Band) – Bass Guitar
Theo Travis (Soft Machine, David Gilmour, Travis-Fripp) – Sax & Flute
Luke Machin (Maschine, Francis Dunnery Band) – Guitar
Steve Roberts (David Cross Band, ex Magenta, Godsticks) – Drums
2018 has been a rather excellent year for new music. It seems like no sooner has one great album come along then another arrives into the inbox at Progradar Towers. Music of all sorts of genres and description but the overriding feeling I have got this year is that there is joy back in music. The majority of new releases I’m hearing have enforced my faith in the restorative abilities of music and the fact that music can simply put a smile on your face and make the world a happier place to be in.
The latest album to get me buzzing and happy to get out of bed on a wet and miserable October morning is the new release, and 10th studio release, from progressive rock stalwarts The Tangent:
“Entitled “Proxy” it’s a single CD and Vinyl – a riot of juxtopposing 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.
Recorded during the band’s tour with Karmakanic in 2017/18 – there were 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 organic and as close to being that band, as has happened to the group of far flung members since they began their career 15 years ago.”
Thank you press release, main man Andy Tillison goes on to say, “I often think of good progressive albums as being like the Bayeux Tapestry, an account of the times the band lives in, using all the history that got us to that point, commenting on the Now with the experience of the past.”
Andy agreed with me that ‘Proxy’ is a lighter album than ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’, the band’s previous studio release but it does start with the obligatory protest song, title track Proxy. A track about the continuing wars that share their name with the song. The Tangent have always brought politics into progressive rock and this song carries on that connection, Prog always being born from counterculture. It’s a complete prog reference journey with Tillison’s swirling hammonds and synths, Jonas Reingold’s signature punchy bass, Steve Roberts’ dynamic drums and Luke Machin’s stylistic guitar work. Take yourself on a sisteen minute nostalgic road trip punctuated by the ever so elegant sax and flute of Theo Travis, this is what the band have always been good at, delivering a potent message with lashings of fantastic music to ease it home. The guitar and vocal motif at the end puts a particularly large smile on my face, tipping a nod to the 70’s in the process, The Tangent are back!
Now the album takes a wander over into left-field territory with the jazz-fusion instrumental The Melting Andalusian Skies, a piece of music as laid back as they come, sit back, enjoy the warm, sunny feel and let the ever so smooth sounds flow over you. Luke and Andy trade guitar and synth like the best jazz pros and Theo gives the whole shebang the necessary chuzpah. Luke throws in some Gordon Giltrap guitar and even acid jazz to give a psychedelic overtone, this is music for the hell of it, these guys are having a seriously good time, it’s patently obvious. Described by the band as an attempt to find the missing link between Porcupine Tree and Jamiroquai, A Case Of Misplaced Optimism is more funk than any man should have to handle! This track will get you digging the groove and saying ‘yeah man’ every five seconds, it is seriously infectious piece of music that put a huge grin on my face, yep, the joy is here for everyone to hear.
Rapidly becoming one of my all time favourite songs by the band, The Adulthood Lie is my stand out track on what is becoming a seriously good album. The Tangent do electronic dance music (yes you read that right, EDM!) and it works brilliantly. I know Andy wasn’t sure how the fans would take this homage to Ibiza, Fatboy Slim, Sophie Ellis Bextor and the rest but, to me, it’s a fantastic track. It’s chock full of catchy moments and a seriously infectious vibe that gets you up and dragging your dancing boots out of the cupboard before you even know what you’re doing. You know what, this is what progressive music should be about, you’re hearing a true progression and maturation of The Tangent’s sound and it’s bloody brilliant. As Andy says,
“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.”
There’s a repeated vocal line that runs through the song that starts, “When I was young, I fell in love…”, trust me, that will rapidly become a glorious earworm! Andy admitted the band had gone a bit mad on this track but was really glad that they had.
“The whole of Supper’s Off came from a daft thing I said about “Cooking The Books Of Revelation” in a rather boring meeting at college…”
Being a fellow Yorkshireman, Andy has a particular sense of humour, Supper’s Off was a recording made at the time of (Tangent album) ‘Le Sacre Du Travail’. It wasn’t properly recorded until this album but it’s another iteration of The Tangent’s so called Fast Song. GPS Culture, Evening TV, Uphill From Here and Spark In The Aether could be said to be the others. My friend, and Bad Elephant Music boss, David Elliott has called it “an anthem for the modern progressive rock band” and he’s not wrong. A captivating and utterly addictive track with the funkiest keyboard hook and guitar riff going, it’s blasts into your mind at a mind-blowing rate of knots and takes everybody on a fun-fuelled musical roller coaster ride before tipping its hat and firing off into the distance.
Normality is resumed with the ten minute bonus of Excerpt From “Excerpt From “Exo-Oceans”, a little dip into Andy’s Kalman Filter material which is edgy, spaced out and best listened to in the dark with something addictive (legally, obviously!! you know, like Whiskey!) and this brings the heart rate down nicely so you can actually process what you’ve just listened to.
‘Proxy’ is a joyous celebration of music, done in The Tangent’s inimitable style. It’s an album that truly bears repeated listens, I’m sure Andy has left little chestnuts and references in there for people to pick up on. What we’re hearing is a true progression of the band’s sound that, while keeping what has always made them who they are, now resonates even more clearly with the world we live in. Music to make you think and music to lift your soul, what more can you ask for?
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
The idea of a Supergroup is a funny thing. A gathering of very talented and creative musicians get together to pool their ideas to create something, they hope, that is absolutely amazing. Sometimes that happens, bands like Cream or The Travelling Wilburys spring to mid for a start; however, often what ends up being created is an album that is somewhat written almost by committee, something that inhibits the creative process because of the sheer amount of creativity that is thrown at the project. And unfortunately, for me, the new album from the collective known as The Sea Within, being released on the 22nd June 2018, falls into the latter category.
The roster of acts that the members of the band have worked with, including Steven Wilson, Yes, and SteveHackett, obviously shows that these guys are hugely talented and, indeed, this is proven by the playing on the album and accompanying 4 track E.P. There are some fantastically gorgeous moments recorded, the sub E.L.O. / Supertramp vibe on the first half of the 14 minute epic Broken Cord is sublime. But here also is the problem; this song would be a perfect six to seven minute progressive pop tune, it’s a shame they felt the need to include a huge swathe of jazz improv. showing off onto it.
This is a fault repeated on a few of the songs, it’s like someone in the band came to the studio with something they were desperate to have included with the production team including it where they could instead of asking the pertinent questions, does it add to the tune, does it fit, is it needed?
In 1832, JMW Turner, at The Royal Exhibition, upstaged his great rival John Constable, by adding to his great painting Helvoetsluys, a small smudge of orange paint. Just that, something very small and insignificant on the face of it, but hugely significant in the bigger picture. Turner understood the principle of less is more, he had the ability to recognise when something was finished. He didn’t need to keep on adding, he just knew that what he had created was good, brilliantly, jaw-droppingly amazing.
A little bit of this level of self-awareness would have been something which would have improved The Sea Within immensely. They have created a very, very good, maybe even great album here; it’s just that I don’t think they realised they had, they couldn’t stop; if they were Turner they wouldn’t have stopped at a little orange splash, they’d potentially have taken a spray can to the canvas and covered the painting in orange.
Ironically, though, the four track E.P. proves that The Sea Within have got that awareness; maybe because of the format it is recorded on helped, but these four tracks, The Roaring Silence, Where Are You Going, Time and Denise are focused, unfussy and spell-blindingly good – a really enjoyable 28 minutes or so of driving, clever and immense progressive pop rock.
For me, if I was the producer, I would have taken all the superfluous showy off bits out of the album, lost a couple of weaker tracks and included the E.P. in the album itself. Perhaps it’s a project one of the erstwhile musicians, Steven Wilson perhaps, could get their teeth into – turning this reasonable and worthy album by very talented musicians into the potentially great one that is hidden in it. For the listener it is a worthwhile listen, but I’m convinced it could be, and should be, so much more with a helluva a lot less on it.
The Sea Within – the new art-rock collective comprising of Roine Stolt(Transatlantic, The Flower Kings), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Jonas Reingold (Steve Hackett, The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, The Tangent), Tom Brislin (Yes Symphonic, Renaissance, Spiraling, Deborah Harry) & Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, UK, Joe Satriani) – have announced that their debut self-titled album will be released on June 22nd, 2018.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start. The Sea Within is more of an amalgamation of some serious talents, than a regular “supergroup”. These musicians have come together to create a unique album. Guitarist/vocalist Roine Stolt, bassist Jonas Reingold, keyboard player/vocalist Tom Brislin, drummer/vocalist Marco Minnemann and vocalist/guitarist Daniel Gildenlöw have a vast reservoir of experience. Look at the portmanteau of artists with who they’ve worked: The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Jon Anderson, Steven Wilson,The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Yes, Steve Hackett, Renaissance, Pain Of Salvation, Deborah Harry, Meatloaf, Karmakanic … that of itself tells you this is something very special.
“I suppose it all began to take shape in the autumn of 2016,”explains Stolt. “I had a chat with Thomas Waber, the boss at InsideOut Music, about the idea of putting together a new band. I wanted to move in a fresh direction with new collaborations. So Thomas gave me the ‘go ahead’ to seek musicians for a new project.”First on-board was The Flower Kings bass player Jonas Reingold.- “He is a long time bandmate and friend and we were also very keen to get keyboardist Tom (Brislin) involved – after seeing his synth pyrotechnics with legends Yes ‘Symphonic’ and with Camel. Then we have been a fans of ‘Aristocrats’ drummer Marco for a long time; I first heard of him 15 years ago and he is a brilliant drummer, unique energy. Then when we discussed ideas for singers, Daniel’s name came up, he has such a great range and dynamic voice and we’ve worked together on and off over the years.” Also added later to the bands line-up for live shows was vocalist & guitarist Casey McPherson of ‘Flying Colors’ & ‘Alpha Rev’, who also sings a couple of songs on the album.
Initially the band went to Livingston Studios in London last September to begin the process of assembling all the material and recording it for the debut album.“Most of the material you’ll hear are really band compositions. Of course, ideas were triggered by all of us. Sometimes Jonas would come up with a part, chord sequence or tune and then I or Tom would write melody & lyric and some new riff section and Marco enhancing with further musical metric twists and developments – then Daniel would add or rewrite some of the lyrics, change or add more melodies. Overall, the vast majority of the tracks have been worked on and developed by all of us in one way or another.”
The entire recording situation took about six months, and the band also have some very special guests featured on the album.“We have got Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater playing piano on one song. The legendary Jon Anderson sings on another track, while ‘wind ace’ Rob Townsend, who plays saxophone and flute with Steve Hackett, is also on the record. Each of them brings a different flavour to the music.”
“People have asked me how I would describe what we have done, and it is almost impossible. I would have to say it sounds like…us, ‘The Sea Within’. Our tastes are very eclectic – from prog to jazz to classical, to heavy rock, folk, punk, electronica and pop. We all come from a different background – so here everything goes.This has been about putting those diverse influences into the music. I feel you will hear all that’s good about pop – with great melodies and hooks – plus the rawness of metal, improvisations, symphonic and movie soundtracks. We also left room for each of us to take off on flights of instrumental jamming. That was the basic idea, anyway. But until we all got together, we had no idea where it would lead or if it would actually work.” The band have ended up recording close to two hours of music, and will be releasing it all in June on what will be a self-titled album.
The Sea Within as a music collective have plans to perform live, and will make their stage debut at ‘Night Of The Prog’ in Loreley, Germany which happens from July 13-15 and will bring special guests for that evening. “As far as I am concerned, we will try do as much touring as possible. We have a great band, great label and our agent Rob Palmen on-board. We have great artwork by Marcela Bolivar, all looks bright. However Daniel will not be able to join us for touring now, as he has commitments with main band Pain Of Salvation. With Casey taking the vocal spot, now with us live, we can go out on the road and play this album and beyond and grow as a band.We have so much to offer musically, on record and on stage and I am sure we will develop a lot over the next few years. But ‘The Sea Within’ album is a great start. I am excited for everyone to hear what we have done and am now thrilled to start working on the songs for the live show.”
The album will be available as a special edition 2CD digipak, gatefold 2LP vinyl + 2CD & as digital download. You can find the full track listing below: Disc 1:
1.Ashes of Dawn
2.They Know My Name
4.An Eye for an Eye for an Eye
8.The Hiding of the Truth
1.The Roaring Silence
2.Where Are You Going?
As mentioned, The Sea Within has recently announced their first confirmed live date, taking to the stage at Night of the Prog Festival 2018 at Loreley, Germany on the weekend of 13-15th July 2018. Tickets are available now here: http://www.nightoftheprogfestival.com/en/home-2/
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?).
Following last year’s sell-out Genesis Revisited tour, prog icon and former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett, announces a 6-date UK tour in October. Treating fans to many favourite Genesis and Hackett numbers, this time Steve and his band will be accompanied by a 41-piece orchestra.
The decision to undertake this tour was cemented following the critical success of last year’s one-off US performance of the Genesis Revisited music with his band and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the charismatic Bradley Thachuk.
It went down a storm with the audience and sounded amazing, with the orchestra adding even more texture and colour to these classic tracks, prompting Steve to want to perform more shows in this way. Such was the gusto and verve brought to the performance by conductor, Bradley Thachuk that he will fly over to the UK to conduct the October shows. This show promises to be a transcendent experience!
Steve explains, “I always hoped that the Genesis music would one day involve an orchestra and I’m proud to say I’ll now be able to make that dream a reality on my next British tour, involving my own extraordinary rock band alongside a full-sized orchestra.”
The show will feature some of Genesis’ best-loved songs, including Supper’s Ready, Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Firth of Fifth and more. Steve will not be neglecting his remarkable solo repertoire and there will be tracks included such as Shadow of the Hierophant, El Niño and The Steppes.
Tour details are as follows: –
Monday, October 1st Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Wednesday, October 3rd Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Joining Steve on the tour are his regular musicians Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes) with Nad Sylvan on vocals. They will be joined on this tour by Jonas Reingold from The Flower Kings on bass.
Legendary Swedish progressive rockers Kaipa, led by mastermind Hans Lundin, have announced the release of their new studio album ‘Children of the Sounds’ for 22nd September 2017. The band’s 13th album, and 8th since the act were reborn in 2002, this album features the line-up of Lundin, accompanied by Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Morgan Ågren (Karmakanic), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic), Patrik Lundström (Ritual) & Aleena Gibson, plus a guest appearance from violinist Elin Rubinsztein.
This album is a thing of great beauty, and if you know the extended catalogue of the band, it sits right at the top!! Since Per Nilsson replaced Roine Stolt from the 2007 album ‘Angling Feelings’, there has been subtle change to the style of music. Always melodic, with great interplay between Nilsson’s sometimes frenetic guitar, Reingold’s bass and Lundin’s keys.
Just 5 tracks on here, the opening title track, Children Of The Sounds, sets off with swapped female/male vocal leads interspersed with Nilsson’s piquant guitar floating over all. The rhythm section drive the music along for 11 minutes, and not one minute of this is filler. Aleena Gibson’s voice is an acquired taste I’ll admit, but I can’t imagine anybody else singing her parts!
Track 2 is a 17 minute epic composition that builds right from the off. On The Edge of New Horizonsis a lovely long-form work that Kaipa is noted for. Just when you think it is over, Lundin brings in a new melody or revamps an earlier one. Excellent.
The 3rd track Like A Serpentine does what it says on the tin. Beautiful melodies again and great vocal harmonies, Lundin himself taking the lead. Nilsson excels yet again!! The rhythm section to be so understated carries the tune along very sweetly. The violin places yet another layer overall.
The Shadowy Sunlight, track 4, is the shortest at just under 7 minutes. Beautiful folky violin with some fascinating guitar/keyboards interplay here. Multiple key-changes as the tune ascends to a heady climax – the subtle shift from minor to major really awaken a longing for resolution and finally Nilsson delivers! But I wonder why it finished so soon?
The last track What’s Behind The Fields, opens with a feeling of déjà vu… Have we heard this before? Indeed the track develops into a showcase for all the great features of this band:- harmony vocals and instrumental wizardry of the highest calibre!!
‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ by The Tangent succeeds at every level, from the incredible depth and texture of the colours in Mark Buckingham’s arresting album art to the pacing of the expansive musical compositions. Band leader Andy Tillison has talked about working to recover his ‘mojo’ after a long hospital stay, and ‘Slow Rust’ makes clear that he’s found it, perhaps in greater quantity even than before. In particular, the album comfortably engages an intriguing dialectic between global politics and individual relationships; broad social commentary and hyper-specific lyrical descriptions; fury and compassion; and the musical energies of seasoned and youthful collaborators. Along the way, Tillison & Co. play jazz, funk, punk, prog, techno, ambient, and heavy rock to great effect.
The album opens with the “pocket symphony” Two Rope Swings, which packs the musical and thematic expanse of a 20 minute epic into a mere 6.5 minutes. Each member of the band turn in lovely performances here, including newcomer Marie-Eve de Gaultier, whose vocals emphasize the mournful aspect of realizing our ignorance concerning those who live in a different skin from our own—whether human or otherwise. Tillison’s wonderfully detailed lyrics express the global import of the song through their very specificity:
“And we think Africa is like some fairyland/Like in the picturebooks we read when we played on the swings/Lions and tigers and wildebeests and zebra…Kilimanjaro”
What do we expect from each other, when we make our adult choices with the naivete of a child reading picture books on a rope swing? When we can’t even place an entire species of animals on the right continent, imagining African lions as living side by side with Asian tigers?
Doctor Livingstone (I Presume), besides possessing the perfect, playful title for a long instrumental, showcases the band’s seemingly limitless musical muscle. Leaping right over the gate with lithe bass, rolling organ, and a melodic synth lead, the track quickly sets the stage then shines the spotlight on guitarist Luke Machin’s searing but instantly accessible soloing. Theo Travis provides plenty of nuanced saxes and flutes along the way, while piano and acoustic guitar occasionally accent the trading off between bass, synth, guitar, and sax solos. What begins as a relatively mellow jazz exercise rolls to full boil midway with some heavier riffs and shredding from Machin; not content to climax at its most intense moment, the track slides into a more classically jazz section that highlights even further the god-level bass genius of Jonas Reingold. Taken all together, this instrumental melds early 70’s jazz-influenced prog with mid-60’s Impulse! Records jazz experimentation. It also succeeds as a test for a new addition to The Tangent’s line-up: if you want to prove the mettle of your new drummer, how better than with an extended jazz work-out? The spry young lad taking over drum controls makes a great showing here that matches but never overwhelms the contributions of his bandmates, and it’s quite the surprise that this talent has not been tapped by the band on previous outings.* Perhaps the snare could have been a bit punchier to better complement Reingold’s monster tone, or the crash treated with less decay, but those are minor differences of production opinion that don’t detract from a stellar debut performance.
On an album replete with highlights, title track Slow Rust is clearly the centrepiece. All the righteous indignation, cynical wisdom, and nimble musicality of the album are placed on full display for 22 intense minutes. On the face of it, this song is inspired by the same series of recent events that prompted A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road, namely, the horrendous slandering of “migrants” by the UK press in the wake of 2016’s Brexit vote. But Slow Rust is this and so much more. Rooting around behind the mere occurrence of such hateful news reporting, Tillison explores the contributing factors. How is it that celebrity gossip, local events, and national politics coexist on equal footing in the papers? We all know that this paper has this party bias and that one another, but how do the potentially myriad perspectives of numerous writers and editors fall out along such neat lines, and why must we find a ready group on which to place the blame for our perceived problems? When there’s profits to be had, and fear and hatred turn a profit, any story becomes about the insecurities of the reader; the actual story of another person’s hardship gets twisted into the story of how an influx of persecuted refugees affects my life:
“Ah, when the helpless are a threat/What does that say about the rest of us?”
Furthermore, when only binary choices are on offer, the rejection of one point of view becomes the ready adoption of another, and either way someone will be waiting to accept your payment. Even Education, the great salvation of the Enlightenment, is implicated. If schools are just an ideas factory for “Corporate automatons,” then the same principle of profit and binary choices will drive all learning:
“Become a teacher and bow your head/To the passing fashions where you get led/Recite your mantras, but say your prayers/’Cause what else have you done? The future’s theirs/To sell textbooks/That’s all they’re here to do”
Even for a Prog Epic, this is an incredibly expansive track, though it never feels stretched or repetitive. There’s no thesis, but it’s focused polemic more than angry rant. It also seriously rocks. Tillison turns in a number of noteworthy synth and vocal performances, especially in the funky and heavy “Binary Choices” section that includes effected spoken word vocals and a reference to President Biff. Reingold is, again, a force-beyond-nature on bass throughout the song, though de Gaultier is the key ingredient that lifts everything above the sum of its parts. Here and elsewhere on the album, the soft timbre of her voice pervades every open space, simultaneously smoothing, undergirding, and highlighting whatever else is happening musically. Depending on Tillison’s role at any moment, this includes supporting the more mournful notes in his voice or providing the comforting sweater counterpoint to his angry grandpa affectation.
De Gaultier’s vocals are also essential to the emotion of The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine, as she permeates the very pretty and hopeful chorus to an otherwise sad tale. Her reassuring suggestion for a repaired relationship sharpens the sadness of the song once you realize that of course, as per the song’s title, this advice will be ignored in favour of doubling down on prideful posturing. As such, this track provides the personal counterpoint to the album’s finale: in the microcosm, destructive pride and redirected fear can lead a person, as well as a country, a few steps down the wrong road. Musically, The Sad Story leaves plenty of room for jazzy solos, including some gorgeous flute work by Travis, a healthy dose of flittering piano, a classic drum solo, and more arresting guitar shredding from Machin.
‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ culminates in the Prog-Punk Theatre of A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road. The punk elements are noteworthy, but the spirits of Emerson and Lake are as strong here as that of Johnny Rotten, Tillison playing some particularly nice analogue synths to punctuate the story. Like Slow Rust, this song is about the post-Brexit rise of hatred toward those of ‘questionable origin’, but it’s also about the historical recurrence of inhumane attitudes, and serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers in not learning our history lessons already. Alternating between spoken word narration, explosive rock bombast, proggy excess, jazzy swagger, and punk aggression, this epic competes for “most quintessential Tangent track” as well as “most timely political commentary by a musical artist.” If ever a polemic needed pressing to a side of vinyl, it’s this one. When the album reaches its depressing conclusion, be sure to immediately start it over again. The opening strains of Two Rope Swings, with de Gualtier’s call of “halcyon days,” take on an elegiac character when placed immediately following A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road.
With ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (or, Where Do We Draw the Line Now?)’ The Tangent have progressed by retaining everything that made their previous work great while seamlessly integrating these elements with new musical contributions that hold up to the weighty subject matter. The album burns with all the conscience and compassion called for by our times. It simultaneously maintains a spirit of joy and playfulness in the performances. A clear contender for Album of the Year, ‘Slow Rust’ is wonderfully immediate while reserving unfathomable depths to be explored across repeated listens for years to come.
*This reviewer is simultaneously sincere and facetious: yes, I’m aware that the drummer is Andy Tillison himself. It is genuinely a surprise that Tillison’s drumming was not previously featured, because he’s quite good.
The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, have announced the release of the first new music since 2015. Their new ninth studio album ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ is set for release on 21st July 2017. The line-up for this album once again features Tillison on keyboards, vocals (and for the first time on a Tangent record – drums), Jonas Reingold on bass, Luke Machin on guitars and vocals, and Theo Travis on sax and flutes plus new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier on keys and vocals. There are also guest appearances from author/playwright and Chumbawamba founder Boff Whalley on vocals, and upcoming DJ/producer Matt Farrow.
Band leader Andy Tillison had this to say: “Roger Waters did prove the ability of Progressive Music to act as a vehicle to communicate ideas about the current world scene. In both Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” and his “Amused To Death” albums, Waters set a challenge to others in the genre. A challenge which has not been frequently accepted.”
The album sees The Tangent in political commentary mode once again – this time often focussing on the horrendous plight of refugees from war torn parts of the world – and the way in which they are treated by the West, and in particular by the tabloid press. The album laments the new trend in building walls and defending borders across the world yet takes time to look at the breakup of friendships and other more personal issues – along with a song about the fate of wildlife in the modern consumer world.
And it’s a Progressive Rock Record. Full of intricacies, long developed pieces, challenging arrangements and virtuoso playing from all members. New sounds and styles (the band have brought a DJ on board for some sections) – new voices and techniques (first female vocals in The Tangent since the “Not As Good As The Book” album 10 years ago). A new producer in the form of Luke Machin whose open and deep/clear sound is a major factor of this album, a new drummer in the form of Andy Tillison who decided at long last (after drumming for 30 years) to let his own performances guide the rest of the band rather than adding another musician later. And after 13 years of asking, Jonas finally agreed to play some double bass in a song where Luke also plays some Scat guitar and Andy does a full on drum solo.
“The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery” also features stellar artwork from Marvel / DC Comics artist Mark Buckingham. The sleeve of the album is totally based on the music it contains and was especially created for this project.
The album will be available on limited digipak CD, gatefold 2LP + CD, and digital download, and you can find the full track-listing below:
Two Rope Swings
Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)
The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine
A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road
The band will head out on tour in support of the new record, once again joining forces with Sweden’s Karmakanic to present albums by both bands. The full list of dates is as follows:
Aug 26th 2017 – Bierkeller, Reichenbach, DE
Sept 1st 2017 – 2 days of Prog +1 Festival, Veruno, Italy
Sept 9th 2017 – The Boerderij, Zoetermeer
Oct 8th 2017 – SUMMERS END Festival, Chepstow, UK
Oct 21st 2017 – Progtoberfest, Chicago, USA
Oct 22nd 2017 – Shank Hall, Milwaukee WI, USA
Oct 24th 2017 – Token Lounge, Westland MI, USA
Oct 26th 2017 – Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ, USA
Oct 27th 2017 – The Regent Theatre, Arlington MA, USA