Friday, November 27, 2009

The Tangent's new offering - best of 2009

Rating: 10/10

1. Where Are They Now?
2. Paroxetine - 20mg
3. Perdu Dans Paris
4. The Company Car
5. Everyman's Forgotten Monday
6. Ethanol Hat Nail (Canterbury Sequence Vol. 2)

Andy Tillison : Vocals, keyboards, and electric guitar
Jonathan Barrett : Bass
Paul Burgess : Drums
Theo Travis : Sax and flute
Guy Manning : Acoustic guitar and vocals

First off, let me say that I hadn’t heard of The Tangent before being exposed to their music by my co-host MontrealRick. He introduced me to two of their albums, while I introduced him to Parallel or 90 dergrees. This might seem bizarre to most fans of The Tangent, but I knew of Andy Tillison’s music through another band. This said, on with my take of the new album by Andy and his friends.

Down and Out in Paris and London is, by my measure, one of the best new album of 2009 – and I have heard a lot of albums this year. From the opening track to the closing bonus song, this album is a pure jewel. And like a jewel, you can hear the beauty of each song, and the skill of the artisan in crafting each of those small jems.

The album opens with Where Are They Now?, a song that has a deceptively simple melody played on a solo guitar, and added on by multiple instruments, but is in reality a masterful piece using mixed meter, starting with what I take to be a suite of 5/8 – 3/4 - 6/8 . These meter changes do not detract from the song, they flow into it, then they rattle you with a cacophonic saxophone section only to bring you back smoothly into the song. All I can say is that this is a magnificent opener, with touches of Camel-like guitar playing, even a guitar solo that sounds like Sanata.

Paroxetine 20mg starts off strong with a fuzzed synth, but becomes a smooth jazzy song with Floydian touches here and there. A great song about the incapassity to feel. Perdu dans Paris, the second of three long songs, starts off smooth, and you can realy feel as if you are walking through Paris on a beautiful evening night. The middle section is more uptempo and offers a beautiful contrast to the whole atmosphere.

The Company Car also starts off smooth with a magnificent bass line and a subtle sax in the background, only to have a middle instrumental section where drums, guitars, synths, and piano play off each other to the hilt on what seems like a wild ride. Then the sax re-enters the fray whaling, only to fade in the background the same way it came in.

Ethanol Hat Nail starts off a-la Gentle Giant, with syncopated percussions and keyboards, even the sound a glass shatering in the background. Going through different moods, this song returns to the main theme introduced at the beginning, only to change tracks completely in the middle section. This song, about the insecurities of being an artist and not trusting oneself to write good melodies, ends with a return to the main theme.

As for Everyman’s Forgotten Monday, this is a perfect song with which to end the album, with a soaring guitar solo in the middle section. This is also Floydian in tone, with sax and keyboards hinting back to Wish You Were Here, and and closing ping-sound very reminescent of the opening of Echoes. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t sound like Floyd songs, they only use sounds that we associate with the Floyd.

This is a “must-have”, and may be the best album to date by The Tangent. This has been playing in my car and at work for the past month, and will be for some time to come.

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