on 4 July 2013
Andy Tillison (the chief behind The Tangent) has created a monster with this his latest in his quest to become a major league player in progrock,and boy he is surely achieving his aim with this superb release.
Over an hour of great music,with influences ranging from Camel and Yes to the extreme of Vdgg.Five movements that take you through the whole spectrum of classic 70s progressive music,but also just enough of modern passages to appeal to the younger listener.
Don't be fooled though that this is just Tillisons baby,it isn't! He has a stellar cast helping him produce a fine album.Theo Travis(sax,flute,Steve Wilson band),Jonas Reingold(basses,The Flower kings,Karmakanic,Agents of Mercy),Jakko M Jakzyk (guitar,Robert Fripp band),Gavin Harrison(drums,Porcupine Tree) amongst others ,who all contribute to make this a must have release.
on 25 June 2013
To a huge number of people, me included, music is the constant, ever present, driving force that carries them through each and every day of their lives. To people like us, events and memories are given points of reference by particular tunes and melodies. Years are recalled through the songs and albums of that time. Sad times and happy times are soothed or amplified by the music that provided the backdrop to those moments. Music, quite literally, gets us through the days.
How appropriate, then, that The Tangent's latest musical piece, Le Sacre Du Travail, is Andy Tillison's vision of that most commonplace of rituals - The Working Day. Spurred on by his long held desire to celebrate the work of Igor Stravinsky, most notably The Rite of Spring, Andy Tillison has written his first Symphonic piece - described as an Electric Sinfonia . To help realise what is The Tangent's first real concept album, Tillison has enlisted the help of a handful of progressive rock's most celebrated luminaries - Gavin Harrison, Jonas Reingold, Theo Travis, Jakko M Jakszyk and David Longdon along with cameo performances by Guy Manning, Rikard Sjoblom, as narrator on the opening overture and Geoff Banks and Jon "Twang" Patrick as our regular morning DJs (we wish!). What we get, within the five sections that make up Le Sacre Du Travail, is a wonderfully constructed distillation of what it feels to endure "the daily grind", its mind numbing effect on all of us, the environmental chaos caused by the need to move millions of us to and fro between bed and breadwinning and the banality of the associated media culture that massages our exhausted selves into thinking this ennui is the acceptable norm. As the lyrics will tell us - "we are ants"!
The uplifting element to all of this, however, is that the music on show here is potent, powerful, sympathetic and most of all, inspiring. From the opening radio alarm "beeps" to the closing "it all starts again" repeated opening bars of music we are treated to a musical and lyrical vision of a working day that magnifies the detail and amplifies the emotions so realistically that I defy anyone not to be able to identify themselves as players in this ritual. This piece doesn't set out to decry our compliance with the system, or signpost a means to ending it. As Andy Tillison points out, this was a done deal from many long years gone. This is the way it is - this is all about us! The Tangent, as Andy Tillison is always at pains to stress, are a progressive rock band and be under no illusion to the contrary, Le Sacre Du Travail is a truly progressive rock album, meant to be listened to in one sitting from start to finish in the manner that those of us old enough can remember doing with the progressive albums of the 70s LP age. In keeping with that tradition, this album is beautifully presented with cover artwork by Martin Stephen and includes a sumptuous colour booklet with artwork by Brian Watson; a booklet that contains extensive notes, printed lyrics and even a short story! Classy and classical!
The musicianship throughout this album is, as one might expect, first class. Theo Travis has arguably made his finest contribution to his playing for The Tangent, his role being the main crossover between the musical styles. Gavin Harrison is a drummer of great quality, his use of the cymbals particularly imaginative, to my ears. The partnership of Harrison and Reingold in the rhythm section underpins this album so efficiently and yet, on repeated listens the creativity just bursts through. Reingold's choice of conventional bass is a masterstroke in maintaining sharpness in the music. Jakko Jakszyk is also well known to The Tangent followers, a player of taste and restraint, he never lets the side down and his vocals on this album are fabulous. So what about vocals? The addition of David Longdon, the current "voice of prog" to many of us Big Big Train bashers, has delivered something not quite as expected here. No soaring lead vocals on this album, rather an ear and talent for vocal arrangement. That this album delivers the best all round vocal performances on any The Tangent work is testament to his collaborative work with Tillison. Andy Tillison, of course, we know as a keyboard player of great skill. He turns out a spectacularly inspired performance on Le Sacre Du Travail, from blistering synthesizer through swirling Hammond to delicate piano, as well as his role as The Orchestra! This is his realisation of a truly ambitious dream - and it shows.
What The Tangent have created in Le Sacre Du Travail is a vision of what a modern classical symphony should be, with modern rock instruments augmented by the sounds of a traditional orchestra. This has been imagined, constructed and recorded with total belief and dedication. Andy Tillison has created his own virtual orchestra and rock band for the purpose of realising this project. Messer's Travis, Harrison, Reingold, Jakszyk and Longdon have delivered wonderfully to reflect their obvious belief and support of Tillison's masterpiece. It's a stunning success. It should be used as the benchmark for other similar projects in the future. This is the crowning glory for The Tangent...until the next time, perhaps?
on 27 June 2013
How on earth do you write a review that is "helpful"? Well, I don't believe there is a magic formula.
I have blown hot and cold with the Tangent, but generally, I really like the band.
This has put them right back on top - in my opinion.
I love the concept. It's about life - what we do; in case you had not already gathered that?
There are two things I like about this - one is the "kind of jazzy feel" to it. I guess that might open to misinterpretation? But, despite the serious concept, there seems to be a lightness that runs through it, which I like. There are some blatantly rock periods and that distinctive symphonic prog thematic feel. Basically, it is "progressive" in its variable tones.
The second thing is Gavin Harrison's wonderful drumming/percussion; he makes it 'sound' so easy. He doesn't dominate but really makes his mark here.
Naturally - there is the mastermind; the creator and driving force - Mr Andy Tillison who displays his musical skill formidably.
The steady and very competent bass of Mr Jonas Reingold to complete to rhythm section.
The very able Jakko M Jakszyk takes guitar and vocal duties.
All joined by a few "unknowns" - Theo Travis - wind instruments; David Longdon - vocals; Rikard Sjoblom - Narration and Guy Manning is in there somewhere.
"LE SACRE DU TRAVAIL" means "The Rite Of Work" and takes us through an 'ordinary day'. The lyrics reflect Tillison's cynical and abrasive attitude but I'm sure many will relate to them.
This is MY favourite Tangent album; I love it. Keen, professional, incisive and brilliantly executed.
And I still don't know how to write a review that is helpful!
on 7 May 2014
In terms of concept, realisation and execution Le Sacre Du Travail is one of the greatest albums ever made. That is a bold statement and it requires justification. In just a few were very rare exceptions, great albums are defined by the strength of the tracks they contain. Even if there is the odd song that is below par, a 'filler' if you like, many albums are still considered 'great', and this is particularly true with well-known big name bands or solo artists. Le Sacre Du Travail is not that type of album. It isn't that it isn't made up of excellent tracks; it is. The difference here is that this 'Electronic Sinfonia', as the band describes it, is far closer to a classical suite than to a group of songs by a rock band.
Le Sacre is a concept album, a grand and elaborate musical journey that almost everyone of us can relate to: The daily grind of getting up, having breakfast, commuting to our place of work to do what for the most of us is a boring job, return home in the second of the days rush hours, sit down in front of the TV with an evening meal, go to bed and then do it all again the very next day. It sounds boring. The ritual (Le Sacre of the title) often is. This album is anything but. It certainly won't appeal to everyone. The casual listener or someone with the attention span of a guppy probably will not get past the first few seconds. And that would be their loss. Those same people would probably also summarily dismiss Beethoven's Fifth, Mozart's Don Giovanni or Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the inspiration behind Le Sacre Du Travail (The Rite of Work).
The musicians and musicianship on Le Sacre Du Travail is world class, the musical ideas for arrangements worthy of any of the great composers and the interplay between the various musical genres is breathtaking. This is an album of music you listen to from beginning to end. It's not something you cherry pick tracks from; it's not advisable to play in 'shuffle' mode or download the odd track from iTunes. Le Sacre Du Travail demands the same attention and respect as any great piece of music and will reward the patient listener in exactly the same way. Although it will appeal primarily to fans of progressive rock music, who are more used to long form songs, who don't switch off when they haven't heard the hook line within the first 45 seconds, I recommend this album is anyone with an eclectic taste in music and without a shred of musical snobbery or preconceptions.
In another time and another place, Le Sacre Du Travail would be selling in numbers to rival Tubular Bells, The Dark Side of the Moon or even Sgt Peppers.
on 21 April 2015
I listen to many types of music, and by any measure this album is a true Masterpiece. As with all the great music, it takes about five listens to fully get into this album, I personally hate the term Prog. This album burst thru any river of form. The lyrics are funny, sarcastic, and brutally to the point.
I find the extreme, negative vitriol very surprising. Someone tells me you can check this album out on YouTube - I suggest you do this and make your own opinion.
on 9 July 2014
I buy The Tangent albums because I like prog rock and they do make sure they fit every cliche of the genre you can imagine. It's just really....well, it's all so pretentious and comes across as elitist and nothing new. The music is as you'd expect from The Tangent - great keyboards, lousy vocals, clumsy and pretentious lyrics, loads of cliches and underwhelming. All supported by good musicians.
Yes are big Stravinsky fans and years ago they (and others such as Zappa) displayed their affection for him and his influence, but really, this just seems like the Tangent being, well, as I said before, pretentious,
Saying that, you'll always get great keys from Andy Tillison and it's better than the dreadful COMM.