The Tangent are back with their latest effort, Proxy. This is the 10th release by the Andy Tillison led outfit, and is only a year removed from their last release. Now, I’m going to be up front. While I have heard of The Tangent, I have somehow never managed to give this group a listen. A mistake I will be correcting immediately.
Proxy was written and recorded while they were on the road as the backing band for bassist Jonas Reingold’s other band, Karmakanic. And you can tell it was written as a group functioning on all cylinders. This disc is tight. The band just absolutely feed off each other and easily weave together all their individual styles into an amazingly flowing patchwork of sound.
Is it obvious that Andy Tillison has influences based on 70’s era progressive rock? You betcha. But there is so much more here than that. So much more. There is a lot of jazz present throughout, and the band slips through styles and influences seamlessly.
The album starts off with the 16 minute title track, a wonderful mix of 70’s progressive rock complete with the sound of mellotrons. The lyrics are political, and leave no question as to where Mr. TIllison stands on the subject. The the focus is the music here. One would think a 16 minute song would at some point become tedious. I know for me, even the best of epic progressive tracks have a few spots where you wish they would “just get on with it.” But I have to tell you, I did not have that happen with the track. Here I was, sitting at my desk with my headphones on, tapping along, when I looked at the clock and realized the track was almost over. I could hardly believe my eyes (or ears for that matter).
Next up is the jazz-fusion instrumental, The Melting Andalusian Skies. Guitarist Luke Machin shines on this track. The title is dead-on in describing the music. There is a total Mediterranean feel on this track in its rhythms and styles. And it features flamenco style picking throughout. It’s a great instrumental piece that sees a band running at full stride.
The next track, A Case of Misplaced Optimism, is teeming with amazing bass grooves and riffs. It’s loaded with funk, and the band describe it as an ‘attempt to find the link between Porcupine Tree and Jamiroquai.” A bold goal, no doubt. Whether the band succeeded in that attempt is up to you, the listener, but it’s a fun ride none-the-less. The horns really set the mood here, blasting away behind a great, 70’s funk inspired track. Did I mention the bass groove?
The next song, another 16 minute epic entitled “The Adulthood Lie,” is a sprawling song where the music seems to sweep across the lifetime of the author, who seems to be pondering if maturing and adulthood is all it was supposed to be. Should he really be acting his age? The track features quick pace with a dance groove. It feels like it starts in the 70’s, but not progressive 70’s, but rather the dance feel of the era. You can feel the funk and wah-wah pedal feel of the 70’s full with the flute over the top. Only the keys seem to keep you in the present. As the song progresses, so does the music, transitioning to a more modern dance feel, yet keeping that same beat. After a quick bridge, it even gets into electronica, but with a subtle atmosphere just below the surface. Yet while in that realm, Machin rips off a little jazzy guitar solo. A real interesting meld, indeed. It finishes with a rollicking jam with an 80’s synth vibe.
The last track, “Supper’s Off” clocks in a hair under 10 minutes. Its got a nice pace, and the galloping bassline plays a major role in giving the track its early feel. Sometimes spoken, sometimes sung, the lyrics decry a world gone wrong. How simple it used to be, when things were free. How the generation that enjoyed Woodstock and wanted to change the world turned into the very people who have allowed the current world to become commercialized, changing music from a tool of change to a tool of profit. He laments how a Rolling Stones song could be used by a politician. The song breaks into a ripping guitar solo over that amazing Reingold bass. It rounds into a notable synth solo before reaching a crescendo that drops quickly yet effectively into the last two lines of lyric.
5 songs and 57 minutes later what do you have? A very good eclectic mix of music. The 70’s era English progressive base is there and out front, but The Tangent bring a lot more than that to the table. They play tight, and their jazz jams are amazing. Each song is different in its style and composition. Very different in many cases. This is a talented outfit for sure. I really need to check out their prolific back catalog (10 releases in 15 years!). I’ll give it a very solid 7/10.
The album was released November 16th, 2018 under InsideOut Music
NOTE: THIS REVIEW IT'S BASED ON ONLY 5 SONGS AS THOSE WERE THE ONES WE RECEIVED IN OUR PROMO COPY.
01. Proxy (16:07)
02. The Melting Andalusian Skies (8:51)
03. A Case of Misplaced Optimism (6:13)
04. The Adulthood Lie (16:05)
05. Supper’s Off (9:53)
06. Excerpt From “Excerpt From “Exo-Oceans” (10:25)
Andy Tillison – Vocals, Keyboards, Composer, Lyrics
Jonas Reingold – Bass Guitar
Theo Travis – Saxophone, Flute
Luke Machin – Guitar
Steve Roberts – Drums
Göran Edman – Vocals
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