The Tangent - Comm ( Inside Out Music)

A modern take on an old classical style.
Release Date: 
25 Sep 2011 - 11:30pm

This is not metal. Not by a long stretch of the imagination. But don’t click away to another page just yet – have a read and you may well be intrigued...

The Tangent have been knocking around in one form or another for over three decades and they are alleged to have put out the first ever mp3 on the interweb – they’re in a love/hate relationship with technology, as their latest album Comm demonstrates.

The Wiki Man opens with the sounds of a fax machine (younger readers may have to look up this ancient device on the web) and then it’s absolutely mental synthesisers everywhere. I have no issue with them though, as they fit in perfectly with the ambience of the track/album. The guitar work is ‘exploratory’ and Luke Machin, despite his mere 22 years of age, must have listened to a lot of 70’s prog rock in order to inspire him to these heights. This album is an extension of the 70’s progressive movement, make no mistake. It makes me chuckle and transports me back to another time. There are layers and layers of synth, guitars and drumwork here. It’s retro to the power of ten but most enjoyable. Tangerine Dream, Jarre and a host of other electro pioneers of the late seventies/early eighties come to mind. It is essentially Jethro Tull with synths, albeit with lyrics based around contemporary themes such as computers and the advancement of technology. This track is over 20 minutes long so make sure your pipe is full and your glass is topped up.

The Mind’s Eye is next and haunts me with its ideas of add-ons and prosthetic limbs. It’s a chaotic swirling of instruments with spicy jazz breaks – and is that flute or the mimicry of the synth? To get all arty, The Tangent can make you ponder where we, as a society, are heading with our techy advances. Or you can just bask in the glorious keyboard wonderland. It’s really up to you. There are rambling guitar solos against a backdrop of surging synth - carnival based organs and images of freaks and clowns push into my mind. Who put that green shit in my Cherry Brandy baccy?

Shoot Them Down has a rich sound; it’s all fluffy pillows and opium den mellowness. I’m also reminded of Pink Floyd’s Division Bell (OK, so it’s not the best comparison but the sound is not dissimilar). It’s a strangely melancholic track and it left me feeling mildly depressed despite (or perhaps because of?) the guitar work with its achingly beautiful chains of melody.
Tech Support Guy lifts the mood with jazz/funk mania, recounting a day in the life of Adam, an I.T staffer. Scathing staire is the order of the day and anyone working in I.T (or anyone who has called a helpdesk hotline) will chortle along with the music. I could make a joke about huge organs but I won’t...

Titanic Calls Carpathia is like a soundtrack to some old, weird sci-fi movie. It’s got bags of rising brass – I don’t claim to understand one tenth of the lyrics but it’s good; something about astronauts trapped in space? It’s epic and Andy Tillison (vocals & keyboards) and Jonathan Barrett (bass & vocals) get to go a-roving with their respective instruments. Apparently Nick Rickwood filled in for drummer Tony Latham during the recording of Comm, and Theo Travis did flute and saxophone duties. Howard Moon mockingly said “It’s all about context.” And listeners without context might be a tad confused by the prominence of the keyboards as they weave in and out of the porny bass lines. What is it? Electro-jazz? I’m not sure but I reckon Howard would love it, and so would anyone who digs a bit of Tull, Ozric Tentacles or Floyd.