The Tangent - Proxy

5 songs
57:11 minutes
***** ****


Most bands deliver their best material early on in their careers, and from thereon itís mostly releasing sub-par records to justify tours where they have to play what the audience requests. And then we have The Tangent, in some ways a progressive rock supergroup, although I have always considered them as the brainchild of Andy Tillison who released in the Nineties a couple of records with his band Parallel Or 90 Degrees which was heavily influenced by Van Der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill. In the new millennium he was back with The Tangent, a band that from the onset was looking more for its own identity, and while their early albums were already quite promising, itís especially their later work, like Le Sacrť du Travail (2013) and The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery (2017) which totally convinced me of their genius.

One year later, The Tangent are back with their tenth longplayer Proxy, featuring only five songs, and none of them even making it over twenty minutes. At a little under one hour running time, itís one of their shortest albums so far. The band these days consists of Andy Tillison on vocals and keyboards, and also in charge of composing and the highly intelligent lyrics and the compositions, bass player Jonas Reingold, best known for The Flower Kings but also many other bands, Theo Travis, currently in Soft Machine, on saxophone and flute, Maschineís Luke Machin on guitar, and Steve Roberts on drums.

The opener and title track is a sixteen minute tour de force where the band shows itself from its most Canterburyan side. This is retro prog at its finest, and also a fervent anti-war song that shows that progressive rock can be about so much more than unicorns and fairy tales. Up next is the nine-minute-long The Melting Andalusian Skies, an instrumental track with strong Latin jazz influences. The song is full of ideas and great musicianship, but I do prefer the bandís vocal work. At six minutes, A Case Of Misplaced Optimism is an exceptionally short song for The Tangent, and its tongue-in-cheek funky soul fusion approach is maybe their attempt at radio airplay. Such experiments would fail for most bands, but Tillison is a good enough songwriter to pull this through. The Adulthood Lie is at sixteen minutes just as long as the opener, but instead of being a tribute to the past, this is a more forward oriented track with some electronic beats that make this a truly danceable track and probably one of the bandís best songs in their entire career. The album ends with the ten minute long Supperís Off, a rather angry song with lots of spoken word vocals, somehow channelling the energy of punk rock into progressive rock. The limited edition of the album comes with the ten minute bonus track Excerpt from "Exo-Oceans", which is in fact not a piece by The Tangent, but a short look at Andy Tillisonís recent album Exo-Oceans which he released under the name Kalman Filter. This is a more ambient kind of music, but still full of vitality, the ideal background music when youíre reading a science fiction novel.

Proxy may not be The Tangentís best album so far, but the two long tracks are among the best they have done so far. Furthermore the bonus track made me discover Kalman Filter, for which I am also grateful. Good stuff, like always! Proxy belongs into ever well sorted progressive rock collection.

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