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Tangent, The - 2008 Not As Good As The Book (2CD)



ARTIST: Tangent, The
ALBUM: Not As Good As The Book (2CD)
LABEL: Inside Out/SPV
SERIAL: SPV 79712 DCD
YEAR: 2008

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Andy Tillison (Diskdrive) - keyboards, vocals * Guy Manning - acoustic instruments, vocals * Jonas Reingold - bass * Jakko M Jaksyk - electric guitars, vocals * Theo Travis - sax, flute * Jaime Salazar - drums * Julie King - vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 A Crisis In Mid Life * 02 Lost In London 25 Years Later * 03 The Ethernet * 04 Celebrity Puree * 05 Not As Good As The Book * 06 A Sale Of Two Souls * 07 Bat Out Of Basildon * 08 Four Egos - One War * 09 The Full Gamut

RATING:

Background

British retro prog outfit The Tangent are kinda 'out there' in terms of their musical message. Either you'll get it or you won't. Previously considered as a band that traversed the outer limits of the prog-scape, comparisons to retro Swedes The Flower Kings were pretty much on the mark - no doubt due to the inclusion of previous guitarist Roine Stolt and current bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Jaime Salazar. Their previous albums such as 'The Music That Died Alone' could've been an TFK album for all we know, very experimental, very fusion based with jazzy angles too. Well since then, Stolt has left, and a couple more albums have since been released, but it doesn't mean the overblown aspects of The Tangent hasn't diminished any. In fact, they've probably gone the other way.. too far in fact! 'Not As Good As The Book' is a double CD. The standard issue is this 2 cd set, but the full-blown release includes a 100 page booklet with illustrations all based around the theme of the album.. The booklet will become the largest album sleeve notes of all time!! As for theme of the album? It revolves around a chap called Dave Jacob, who accidentally destroys the Earth by playing Yes's 'Relayer' album! He wakes up 88,000 years later - having been reconstructed/cloned by scientists who piece him back together using a couple of van Der Graaf Generator live concerts! Apparently they want to see what our world was like before the aural destruction. Weird? You betcha! Humorous? I reckon, but not intentionally so. You have to wade your way through the booklet and CD to find out for yourself!

The Songs

Disc One - A Crisis In Midlife
Some rather cool modern sounding keys introduce 'A Crisis In Mid Life'. Those spicy keyboard lines are similar to stuff from a German band reviewed here just recently.. 2Hot4U, and makes it sound quite pompy all around. The mid section goes through a fusion phase reminding me of Allan Holdsworth and Eddie Jobson doing their thing in UK many years ago. Our protagonist Dave is working in an office wishing he was an astronaut. 'Lost In London (25 Years Later)' is the result. It has a restrained feel throughout. The mild vibe is complimented by flute, acoustic piano and a waxed lyrical dialogue of ordinary people in less than ordinary situations. Fans of Caravan will enjoy feel at home with this one. 'The Ethernet' is the tale of our Dave's web based relationship with a woman called Lax, who lived four floors down from him - that is until he disappears. Musically with this one, we drift on a bed of Peter Gabriel era Genesis melodies. At 3 min 43 sec, 'Celebrity Puree' is the shortest piece on offer. The aural bombast gives the band members an opportunity to chance their arm instrumentally. Obviously, this is far too short, another few minutes extra would've been the icing on the cake!

The title track 'Not As Good As The Book' for me is the repeat-play track on the album. Every one gets a chance to shine. Tillison's moog work stands out, as does Guy Manning's Spanish acoustic work later on in the piece which then gives way to the electric guitars sonics from Jakko Jaksyk. The band chuck in a few contemporary oddball references to Microsoft Corporation and Star Trek.. of all things! Much has been made of the Van Der Graaf Generator like qualities of 'A Sale Of Two Souls'. The track is mainly acoustic in approach and is a musical respite versus what has gone before and what has yet to come. The most unusual track here is 'Bat Out Of Basildon', a track about a maverick biker. With lyrical references such as 'easy rider', 'bat out of hell, 'leader of the pack' etc, you can see where this track is headed. This one is less about prog and more about rock.

Disc Two - Throwing Metal At The Sky
'Four Egos One War' as you can imagine, is a dig at the ongoing war in the middle east. The war that won't go away - has has been said. 'The Full Gamut' has been described by Tillison as a travelogue of events that transpired during 2006. Musically it's a full overblown prog workout that rediscovers the 1970's with a vengeance and timeshifts it to a studio in 2007 for a bit of 'edit and tweak'. At near on 23 minutes, even Todd Rundgren back in his heyday would be challenged to match this!

In Summary

So there you have it. Without doubt, 'Not As Good As The Book' is a hugely expansive concept. Combining all the things that make prog so appealing, The Tangent have put down a challenge to all others. The humor to be found on this album is a shot-in-the-arm when compared to the seriousness of the genre overall, and thankfully those elements would indicate they are indeed all about having fun. However, you'd be doing well to navigate your way through the album in one sweep. Best to do it in two parts I reckon. For fans of classic 70's prog a la Genesis, Yes and UK, plus of course the obvious references to the Flower Kings I would suggest. Perhaps one day in the far-off future, 'Not As Good As The Book' might be considered in the same breath as those prog classics from the 70's and talked about in the same way as we have with 'Relayer', 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway'.. Only time will tell. Let's hope we don't have to wait around for the Earth to be destroyed or wait another 88,000 years for it to be rebuilt! While you are it, go and investigate The Tangent's past offerings.
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gdazegod April 05 2008 2836 reads 0 comments Print

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