The Tangent - COMM

5 songs
57:34 minutes
***** ****


Two years after Down And Out In Paris And London, North English progressive rock band The Tangent are back with COMM, a kind-of concept album about the history of communication and more specifically the rise of the Internet. And why not?, considering that in 1995, not even a day after the MP3 encoding format was officially introduced by the Fraunhofer Institute, The Tangent were the first band ever to upload a self-made MP3 to the Internet.

The idea of The Tangent has been around since the late Seventies, with the musicians playing together under different names. When they released their debut album in 2003, they were a regular all-star band with members from among others Van Der Graaf Generator and The Flower Kings. On COMM, only Andy Tillison is left from the founding cast, although he is joined by Jonathan Barrett with whom he collaborated already in the past, and the two newcomers Luke Machin and Tony Latham. Stylistically things are still quite the same. The album starts with the twenty minute suit The Wiki Man which gives a concise overview what this band is all about. The Tangent are deeply rooted in ancient prog structures, with a sound reminding somewhat of a crossbreeding between Van Der Graaf Generator and Yes. The quite modern production also allows nods to more modern progressive rock sounds, to prevent the whole thing from sounding dated. The three middle tracks are shorter, running only between six and eight minutes. The Mind’s Eye is a terrific piece of dark prog, reminiscent of mid-Seventies Peter Hammill. Shoot Them Down is a ballad that could as well have come from the brain of David Gilmour, while Tech Support Guy is a straighter rock song. The CD ends with the sixteen and a half minutes long Titanic Calls Carpathia, and it is here where the quartet displays its full potential. While the opener sounded more like some kind of showcase, the closer manages to combine these virtues with a smashing chorus that should give goosebumps to every prog rock aficionado.

With COMM, The Tangent are certainly not reinventing themselves, but by restricting the album to five songs and a short hour running time, they allow it to be one of their more memorable efforts. Fans of retro prog will once again have nothing to complain about.

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