COMM is The Tangent's sixth studio album for InsideOut. It deals with the world we live in today. It describes the past hundred years and the way in which we live in this ever shrinking world. We're obsessed with digital communication and this album casts a light on this subject from different perspectives. Well, that is at least what founding member, band leader, lead singer and keyboard player Andy Tillison tries to make clear with the band's latest album.
On COMM Tillison is assisted by band members Jonathan Barrett (bass, vocals), Nick Rickwood (drums), Luke Machin (guitars) and guest player Theo Travis (saxophones, flutes). Together they achieved a very special album as I found out. I only had to play the album once to discover that all tracks on this release are of a very high level. You can enjoy five outstanding compositions without having any weak passages and performed with awesome musicianship. Especially the keyboard and guitar parts are really stunning. Take for instance the opening epic piece The Wiki Man. Right from the start it blows you out of your chair as if a whirlwind has entered your living room. The playing on the keyboards is just breathtaking. It's hard to sit still by the sound the synthesizers and organs create, but just like a whirlwind this epic piece contains moments of tranquility as well. During the relaxing 'eye of the storm' you'll hear beautiful flute play - or Mellotron samples? - soft guitar and piano parts and a fretless bass. The Wiki Man belongs to the best tracks ever written by The Tangent.
The second epic Titanic Calls Carpathia that ends the album, is of the same calibre. Starting as a classical orchestra it gradually changes into a sort of Canterbury inspired song with hints of bands like Caravan and National Health. Even elements of jazz-rock and fusion have been included. The guitar parts on this piece are very strong again and the saxophone and flute parts just fit the music perfectly. However, in my opinion the finest parts are the excellent synthesizer solos by Andy Tillison. His playing is really virtuoso; just awesome! The album also holds The Mind's Eye, a track that already was available on the live DVD/CD Going Off On Two (see review). This time this piece has been developed into a more complete song which means that the influences of Steve Howe and the Canterbury scene are less prominent than on the live version. Instead more influences are audible from Emerson Lake & Palmer, Robert Fripp and King Crimson. Not all tracks on COMM are up-tempo; a track like Shoot Them Down can easily be called a fine ballad. There's still one track left to mention. Tech Support Guy is the shortest piece of the album. It can be described best as a blend of ELP, Jethro Tull and Canterbury music.
With COMM, The Tangent once again succeeded in recording a very pleasant hour of fantastic progressive rock music, but what else can you expect from a new album of this very talented band? This is just the kind of music I like to listen to on a daily basis. I can never get enough of this genre and therefore this album certainly will make many spins in my CD-player. With this album, The Tangent released one of the musical highlights of 2011. No arguments about that as far as I'm concerned!
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
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