The Tangent: The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery
Their first new music since 2015 and ninth studio album from The Tangent, the progressive rockers led by Andy Tillison, is one that finds them applying a thoroughly progressive bent to world issues. “ No hobbits or orcs in our songs.”
A fascinating character whose noteworthy leadership of the good ship Tangent, Mr Tillison’s very able bodied crew low Rust… includes Karmakanic and Flower King Jonas Reingold plus the Maschine pair of Luke Machin (also wearing the production hat) and Marie-Eve du Gaultier in the latest incarnation of a band that’s been issuing a steady output since 2003. Oh and there’s even a guest appearance from Boff Whalley of Chumbawumba. It’s a philosophy of maintaining a fluidity in membership that is admittedly the catalyst for keeping The Tangent fresh and vibrant and on its toes.
While admitting a debt to grumpy old Roger Waters in his mission to comment on world affairs, in what he calls “a challenge which has not been frequently accepted,” Mr T takes up the gauntlet with a determination to pack as much prog and politics into almost 75 minutes of a record where he even plays the drums.
Traditional musical values are strongly at play considering the pertinence of the album title – is progressive rock the giant long forgotten machine, slowly rusting yet capable of turning out the goods? Something from a different time? Or is it a more obvious vision of the migrant journey, one that once ran so freely. The album certainly pays full dues to definitive progressive music in extended pieces whose arrangements typically twists and turns, winding its way through extended arrangement packed with instrumental virtuosity.
Opening in quintessentially English style, pastoral piano and flute sounds cast an idyllic musical glow before some spinning whirring synth and Hammond sounds and seventies TV cop funk kicks in. Lyrically, Two Rope Swings – a track that bridges the previous album with Slow Rust – addresses the fate of elephants and wildlife. Andy calls it “a prog epic that’s quite short!”
The first of a series of track-by-track explanations here:
Dr Livingstone I Presume addresses Andy Tillison’s re-emergence from illness and connecting back with his former self and his musical mojo. An instrumental piece highly rated by the Tillison/Machin combo, the duo duelling away on their respective instruments and sets the tone for three tracks for which the word ‘epic’ could have been invented. Twenty plus minutes of the marathon title track incorporates a mid track electro rap diversion that recalls a touch of Grandmaster Flash where you can also play a lovely little ‘sounds a bit like…(insert name of band/track/album)’ and by golly, amongst the melodic synth lines there’s even a bit of funk and groove.
In time honoured prog fashion, The Sad Story Of Lead And Astatine sees individual band members taking solo spots in a very Crimson-y and jazzy tight but loose arrangement. A Few Steps Down The Wrong Road sees Tillison at his Waters ranting best with some Animals period Floyd-y like aggression and a nod to the classic I Vow To Thee My Country ELP style. While the title may come back to haunt him, there are clearly no conscientious objections as sinister spoken word, keyboards stabs and floating wisps of flute pepper the journey.
The main thrust is as thought provoking as usual, there’s nothing like getting things off your chest – global issues involving the plight of the refugee, building walls and defending borders and the inevitable Brexit allusions combine with the more personal; Mr Tillison not afraid to point some self analysis at himself. Politics and prog? Why not – you could be listening to Bono.
You can watch the video for Two Rope Swings here:
The Tangent website
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