The Tangent -
A Spark In The Aether - The Music That Died Alone: Volume Two

(CD 2015, 62:07, Inside Out Record)

The tracks:
  1- A Spark In The Aether
  2- Codpieces And Capes
  3- Clearing The Attic
  4- Aftereugene
  5- The Celluloid Road
  6- A Spark In The Aether (Part 2)

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The new album from The Tangent has been two years in the making and finds the group going back to their prog roots. It even has the subtitle of The Music That Died Alone vol 2. Basically The Tangent is multi instrumentalist Andy Tillison, but joining him on this album are the band that recently played live together. They are The Flower Kings' bassist Jonas Reingold, saxophonist and flautist Theo Travis (who has worked with Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp), Maschine guitarist Luke Machin and Kaipa drummer Morgan Agren.

Andy has always been a keen observer of everyday life and this album continues in that vein. His lyrics are hard hitting and to the point or else storytelling, painting pictures and setting scenes so vivid you can feel yourself there. The prime example of this is the 20 minute epic track The Celluloid Road which is a majestic piece of music crossing from one side of America to the other but through the eyes of someone who has only seen the USA in the cinema. Try counting the film references. You will lose count. The music too, sweeps through many different phases. You can feel the cars on the road, the horses in the wild west and the skyscrapers in the city with Spider-man swinging over the buildings. On Codpieces And Capers Andy takes the groups from the 70s prog scene to task and asks what all that ego and grandeur was all about. ELP's three trucks with their names on the top gets a mention as does various stage carpets and apparel.

Aftereugune seems at first to be an album filler based around a drone and some instrumental noodlings but on closer inspecting is a great instrumental not too dissimilar to Pink Floyd's Careful With That Axe Eugene. Even the name is in the title so it's not as if Andy is trying to hide the fact. Listen for the great give away line regarding the sax.

A Spark In The Ether is song driven alone by an 80s sounding synth and makes a great opening and closing to the album. The guitars of Luke Machin are superb. This guy has a great future ahead of him in the prog world and defies his young age. Jonas's bass lines are tight and along with drummer Morgen keep everything pounding when they need to and gentle when called for.

This will probably be my album of the year for 2015. I cannot see anything beating it. It is not every day that you hear an album for the first time and realise you are listening to an absolute masterpiece of writing playing and production. In this case it happened and on subsequent listens gets even better. This is a must buy recommendation for a prog fan. If I could give it ten stars I would but as I only have five to play with it gets the lot.

***** Dave Smith

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