Album review: THE TANGENT – A Spark In The Aether

THE TANGENT – A Spark In The Aether

Inside Out [Release date 20.04.15]

Progressive Rock experimentalists The Tangent were a totally unknown entity to me prior to 2011, when I reviewed their sensational five track opus “Comm”. My impression of Andy Tillison’s compositional skills and that album’s overall quality were such that I made a promise to myself to always try and be the one to review any of the band’s future releases for our site.

Luckily, everyone has been pretty understanding, so not only have I written a piece for 2013’s “Le Sacre Du Travail”, but I also present you with a review for “A Spark In The Aether – The Music That Died Alone Volume Two” – the band’s latest and more Prog Rock orientated album.

As I am sure most of you are aware, keeping a steady line up is an unknown quality for The Tangent. That approach has proven, however, to be very beneficial for the outfit, as it has enabled Tillison to keep things both fresh and interesting for his fans and “Spark In The Aether” gives further proof of this.

Having acquired the assistance of some of the most impressive musicians the modern Prog Rock scene has to offer, with Jonas Reingold (bass – The Flower Kings) and Theo Travis (sax & flute – Porcupine Tree) standing out as the most prominent amongst them, Tillison has put together a collection of seven compositions which cover a wide range of diverse styles of music and which, as a result, will surprise and impress even the most knowledgeable of Prog Rock listeners in equal measure.

Even though certain themes and melodies are repeated throughout, creating a strong sense of cohesion in the process, the album is nevertheless split into two distinct halves. The first features material that is more Prog/Jazz in nature, the perfect example being the opening track “A Spark In The Aether” – a bass-led tune whose main keyboard melody is reminiscent of 70s-era Yes.

Much longer and featuring impressive rhythmical variations, “Codpieces And Capes” sounds more American in it approach (see Dream Theater & Spock’s Beard) while the follow-up “Clearing The Attic” begins life as a classic 60’s Rock tune, only to evolve into one of the most rhythmically-challenging pieces this album has to offer.

It is from this point onwards that Andy Tillison and Co really let loose and the end result is amazingly rewarding for any quality music aficionado.

Opening with a moody acoustic guitar theme and featuring an emotionally disturbing saxophone solo, “Aftereugene” is a great example of Tillison’s compositional open-mindedness, while the follow up twenty one minute opus “The Celluloid Road” offers the listener an impressive juxtaposition of Prog and Funk melodies, all presented with high quality narrative-style vocals in the style of the mighty Scott frontman Fish.

Even though it opens as a moody piano-led instrumental piece, “A Spark In The Aether (Part 2)” soon finds Jonas Reingold’s bass dominating the proceedings by indulging in a variation of the main them of the opening track of the album while “San Francisco Radio Edit” is the result of Tillison’s wise decision to turn one the most interesting Funk-infused themes of “The Celluloid Road” into a separate song, thus bringing the album to a pretty dynamic conclusion.

I have often found myself participating in music-related discussions during which I have come across people complaining about the state of Rock music, some more than eager to proclaim how “Rock music is dead” or that “No good music has been recorded since 1974”.

Well, I have news for you people; Rock is NOT dead and good music IS still being created in this day and age. All you need to do is not allow your love of the classics to cloud your judgement and give albums such as this one a fair chance – you will be mightily impressed!  ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

Review by John Stefanis

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