Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kinetic Element "The Face of Life"

Greetings from the tundra fellow progheads!  Regardless of where you call home, the groundhog fooled us all this year.  Fortunately the Concert Closet is heated and quite comfortable...and currently following a GPS guided search for all things prog across these United States...

Being always on the lookout for the next big thing, I discovered the new release from Kinetic Element, "The Face of Life." This album literally just hit the streets and I am excited to give it a listen.  While the roots of the band are in the cozy hills of Virginia, their guitarist laid his tracks down from sunny California (more on that later).  So join me as we partake of the latest from this neo/symphonic prog rock band...


Dropping the laser on the start of the disc leads me right into "Epistle." The song opens so quickly you feel like you missed the first two minutes; the symphonic aspects come right at you.  There are top notes of Yes and Genesis roaming freely through the entire cut as guitar work provides a perfect platform from which the vocals leap into the headphones, permeate the veil, and reverberate through your head.  It would be easy to say Kinetic Element paints the canvas with loud colorful strokes--but would it be totally accurate?  This is a band that cuts a wide swath across the prog garden every time out.  Let this one pour down on you like a sudden rain storm in July...
 
Moving the laser farther along the CD I discover "All Open Eyes" and once again Kinetic Element bursts through the gate with gusto.  Keyboards and guitars lead you down a brightly lit path toward musical bliss.  There are aromatics of Gentle Giant and Camel wafting across the room and swirling about your cranium, the music a siren luring you across the prog garden.

Much like the Genesis masterpiece " Supper's Ready," this song goes through time, tempo, and mood changes the way Pete Townsend goes through guitars.  Kinetic Element shows off their ability to be ornate without being pretentious; the headphones burst with energy as the music flows through your entire being.

Liner Notes...Kinetic Element is based in Richmond VA and the line-up on this album is Saint John Coleman on vocals, Mike Visaggio on piano, organ, and synthesizers, Pete Matuchniak on guitars, Mark Tupko on bass, and Michael Murray on drums.  Pete, no stranger to the Concert Closet, laid his guitar tracks down from the the warm confines of Irvine CA, hence the need to travel coast-to-coast for this leg of the journey.  Mr. Matuchniak has traveled many a lap around the prog garden; Kinetic Element is a fine feather in a well worn cap...

Kinetic Element came into existence in 2006 to perform Mike Visaggio's solo work "Starship Universe" at the Pop Montreal festival that year.  The band signed to Melodic Revolution Records in 2013 and continued their upward trajectory.  Many miles, festivals, headliners, and a few line-up changes since that time led to "The Face of Light," the third album in their catalog.

My last choice for review from what truly is a tantalizing music buffet is "Last Words."  A softer opening than previous, this song floats gently across your auditory sensors and wraps itself around your soul. Vocals and keyboards take center stage on this cut, flowing as smoothly as melted chocolate down the side of a New York cheesecake.  There is an Asia/Yes vibe here as I sense Mike alternately channeling Rick Wakeman and Geoff Downes while pouring his all into those ivories...

Learn more about Kinetic Element at their website Kinetic Element.  You will find links there to purchase this album and all the band's music.  You can also wander behind the curtain at their
Facebook page and Twitter @kineticelement.



I chose "The Face of Life" as your weekly teaser for two reasons.  First, I am always intrigued by title cuts; they usually convey the main focus or message the album is attempting to convey. Second, it's just a beautiful piece of music.  Everyone gets to "strut their stuff" on this song as Kinetic Element waltzes across the prog garden with heads held high, and justifiably so.  The band's ability to channel early Genesis once again shines through as time changes, mood swings, and a liquid tempo will leave you wanting more--even after nineteen minutes plus!  I pick up aromatics of The Strawbs and Gentle Giant simmering under the surface as well.  There is so much here but nothing makes you feel overwhelmed; just sated.  Taking a journey across one's life should be this complex and yet this simple.  "The Face of Life" will remind you of why you got into prog in the first place...

                   

And just like that the flame is extinguished as the candle burns down...melted wax pooling in your mind as the music fades.  Kinetic Element is a band that is very comfortable wearing the symphonic prog moniker--and they wear it well.  To be able to come across as ornate without drowning themselves out, all the while packing so much strength and emotion into five songs that carry you away for about sixty minutes of utopia...just another reason to stay in the prog garden a good long time, thank you very much...

Never forget what brought you here and keeps you coming back...the search for all things prog can be a wondrous journey indeed...until next time...

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Residuos Mentales "Introspection"

Greetings from the Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  I hope you are enjoying the bountiful  crop the prog garden has graced 2019 with thus far--of course we've only begun this leg of the journey!  This week I felt a desire for something a bit different; nothing way off the radar screen yet something that puts a bit of a twist on what the headphones have been cranking out lately...in other words, it's time to expand the parameters of the prog garden...

My quest for something new meant setting the GPS for the unknown...which took the search for all things prog to Greece this week, a place I have not visited nearly enough.  They say curiosity killed the cat; I say the cat should have been a prog fan; he would have had a much happier life!  Welcome to the sounds of Residuos Mentales.


The opening cut, "Pandora's Box," peels the curtain back with some terrestrial sounds led by a definitive piano...there is a Jordan Rudess meets sci-fi meets The Moody Blues feel to the intro; if it's possible to be swept up in a cloud of music and transported to a different universe, this song takes you there.  A calming serenity flows gently through every note as well, much like watching the tide slowly roll in as the full moon illuminates the beach...

Farther down the playlist, "The Thorn in Me" continues the somber elegance that permeates the room.  There are top notes of Al DiMeola on soft acoustic as flute and piano once again rinse the stress away as easily as peeling off silk pajamas.  Residuos Mentales rides that fine line etched between the ambient and AOR sections of the prog garden.  Your pulse is slowed to a gentle whisper as you fall smoothly into the musical surreal...

Liner Notes...Residuos Mentales call Athens, Greece home.  The band is a two man operation consisting of Stratos Morianos on keyboards and Alexandros Mantas on guitars and flute.  "Introspection," their first foray into the prog garden, was released last August.  Starting out with a concept album is a bit of a risk, but Residuos Mentales manage to wade through those rough waters just fine.  Originally coming together in 2012, the duo spent the better part of four years recording a plethora of instrumental pieces that culminated in this 2018 debut.  Stratos and Alexandros seem to draw energy and emotion from each other as they put this album together song by song...connecting the darkness lurking behind a seemingly harmless facade to the inner workings of a tortured soul..."Introspection" tells of one man's internal anguish as he deals with memories of his past, hence the dark somber overtones and canvas filled with gray to black hues...


One last peek behind the mask reveals "A Prospect of a Blooming Life," another beautiful piece that shines a bit of light on the entire collection.  The piano once again basks in the spotlight but with more tender overtones and an acoustic counterpart that caresses your mind as it flows smoothly through the headphones and right through your entire being.  Residuos Mentales has taken up residence in a unique section of the prog garden; blending the beauty of original Greek music with a  "quiet ornate" flair and a touch of ambient, much the way Eno was a soothing balm in his earlier days.  The canvas is flush with bright colors more reminiscent of a summer's day than a Peter Max painting; soothing for the mind and spirit--not a jolt of caffeine.

Find out more about Residuos Mentales at the band's Facebook page.  There are several options for purchasing the music; bandcampiTunes, and Amazon are great places to start.  Residuos Mentales play with your senses; a concept album dealing with memories of a tortured past yet there seems to be more serenity than pain in the music...or are they just memories smoothed over with time?  "Introspection" toys with you repeatedly, challenging you to forget (or change?) your past.

The finale for the week is "A Promise Unkept/Mental Residuals."  A gentle reminder that perhaps  not everything follows even the best of plans...sometimes the mental roadblocks keep you from your chosen path.  Yet Residuos Mentales is able to paint  a broken spirit with a gentle brush as you find yourself looking inward with more peace of mind than regret.  Introspection can be a good thing...


                         

Once again we have come to the end of the road for this week fellow progheads; the sand has dropped into the bottom globe of the hourglass.  Residuos Mentales was a refreshing journey through new acreage in the prog garden, a gentle mind massage for those in need of mental relaxation.  To venture into one's past wary of the pain and torment yet able to find serenity in all the commotion is a rare thing; Stratos and Alexandros walked that path beautifully.  This week's journey was a pleasant side road filled with splendor...

The search for all things prog continues on the road less traveled...until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Falling Edge "FE3"

Welcome once again to The Closet Concert Arena fellow progheads!  Punxsutawney Phil lied; winter continues its cruel grasp on the globe--at least my section of it.  No worries though; we have ways of staying warm here on the tundra, mainly by pumping some good prog through the headphones and sitting by the fire with a warm beverage...yeah, that's more like it.

Now that we're all comfortable, let's check out what the search for all things prog led us to this week; a new release from Falling Edge, "FE3."  A return visitor to the Concert Closet that releases their music independently, Falling Edge is one of those bands that is hard to pigeon hole; they tend to wander the entire prog garden gathering ideas and inspiration, creating their own unique style.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The opening cut "Where Should We Go From Here?" is a quick snippet of the adventure you are about to embark on.  The music starts off gently, leading you down a dark alley that awakens your inner fear sensors...and then the door opens to "Experience/Innocence" waiting on the other side, assuring you everything will be fine.  A soft acoustic opening leads you on a journey of self exploration.  Even with top notes of The StrawbsFalling Edge remains a band as determined to stand out among the masses as a John Petrucci guitar solo in church.  The piece continues to flow through you with delicate ease, keeping the emotional elevator on the ground floor while soothing guitar and gentle vocals reverb through your  body.

Next up is "Gone," a song that pushes away from the shore Falling Edge  has kept steadfastly close to thus far.  Don't worry--they don't take you through a metal minefield, but you will discover keyboards that splatter bright colors across the canvas and a guitar that hits you like a taser warning shot.  I sense aromatics of Hollow Moon and The Tangent wafting through the headphones as Falling Edge continues on their journey across the prog garden seeking ideas and opportunities to create their unique sound.
Liner Notes...Falling Edge hails from Chatham, Ontario and since I have reviewed them several times in the past, I will attempt to avoid redundancy and simply tell you Falling Edge is the brainchild of founder Chris Rupert.  "FE3" consists of Chris on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards, and Rob Kovar on drums.  Many a musician has their name on the Falling Edge alumni list; Chris brings together those he feels can best contribute to the music at hand.  

Since their debut in 2004 Falling Edge has released three albums,  each an independent slice of their unique style in the prog garden. Chris continues to push and challenge himself musically with each addition to the catalog, and "FE3" is one more step in Falling Edge's journey across the prog soundscape.  

Dig a bit deeper into the making of "FE3" and find out more about Falling Edge at their website 
Falling Edge.  You will find links there to purchase all of their music as well as news about the status of album number four.  You can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter @FallingEdgeband .

Last song for review, "Seventeen," is another cut that expands the parameters of the prog garden acreage Falling Edge tends with passion.  A hard-hitting guitar intro complements Rob's drum work nicely. This is an instrumental piece pumping through the headphones with the veracity of a newly discovered oil vein deep underground, bursting forth and soaking you completely.  Let this album flow through your mind awhile and allow yourself to pick up something new each time...
For your music fix this week I chose the earlier reviewed "Gone."  Get swept up in the exuberance of brightly colored keyboards that pave the way for harder hitting guitars and drums--then hang on as Chris comes at you with vocals reminiscent of early Genesis.  This song will chase you around the room at high speed for a while, then give you a chance to catch your breath and settle in for the night...

                      

Another walk across the calendar has ended as one more week falls into the abyss.  Falling Edge once again reminds me of the pleasure that spending time in the prog garden is; so much to choose from and so many tributaries to travel up, down, over, and through.  Complacency has no home for the prog minded here in the Concert Closet as a determination to bring something new usually leads to expanded horizons and a wider range of sound and performance.

Falling Edge is just one of the low under the radar bands doing great things here in the prog garden.  The search for all things prog has brought to light numerous bands and artists that challenge themselves with every new song, and every new entry hopes to find you waiting with anticipation...until next time...

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Shineback "Dial"

Greetings from the eye of the Polar Vortex fellow progheads!  Most of the tundra covering the planet is frozen; I've seen so many "boiling water frozen in midair" videos and lake effect snow photos I'm beginning to think it's a NASA conspiracy.  Fear not; The Closet Concert Arena remains warm and inviting.  So much so that I thought I would stay stateside this week and visit with a band I was fortunate to connect with courtesy of this blog and some mutual prog rock appreciation.

Shineback is a band in the sense that one person has an idea, some talent, a record label, courage, desire, and a greyhound...did I mention talent?  Simon Godfrey is the "man behind the curtain" bringing this album to life.  Shineback's latest release, "Dial," is a wonderful collection of prog music all conveniently gathered in one place for your listening pleasure...and it is my good fortune to present it to you now...

Finding refuge in the electronic, cinematic section of the prog garden, Shineback is a very reflective band...much the way Big Big TrainSeconds Before Landing, and Gaillion crawl inside your head and refuse to come out.  As an opening course, I opt for "The Gentlemen."  A trademark on this album is the fade-in; here it is done beautifully with a simple telephone ring and an almost "Close To The Edge" like mini-soundscape leading to quick, elaborate keyboards rolling into a guitar riff that spills out of the headphones accompanied by a vocal style reminiscent of 10cc or The Neal Morse Band; neat, clean, and thought provoking...

Shineback hits a nerve; the music cuts through the curtain like a scalpel through softened butter revealing an expansive sound that needs to be heard to be fully appreciated with a sense of humility in the vein of Dreadnaught running rampant through the entire recording.

Moving a bit farther down the playlist I discover a cut called "Without Words."  Simon seems to enjoy toying with your senses...the song opens leaning toward the cinematic section of the prog garden, with a dark background splayed across a canvas hit randomly with brighter hues, bringing a funky contrast to a somber melodic outpouring.  With topnotes of Lifesigns and perhaps a touch of Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate blending seamlessly, Shineback rides across the garden kicking up dust.

Liner Notes...Currently residing in Phildelphia PA, Shineback is Simon Godfrey.   Simon composed, performed, and produced "Dial" along along with longtime 
co-writer and lyricist Robert Ramsay.  Several artists you might recognize from the prog garden also had a hand in making "Dial" a reality; Dec Burke, Hywel Bennett, Joe Cardillo, Tom Hyatt, Ray Weston, Matt Stevens, Karl Eisenhart, Daniel Zambas, and Henry Rogers all contriubuted their talents to this latest Shineback release.  Don't forget Dora, the world's slowest greyhound; she made major "behind the scenes" contributions as well I am told...

Shineback records on Bad Elephant Music and "Dial" is the second full length album in their catalog.  The 2013 debut "Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed" was followed by "Minotaur," a 2017 EP release.  Simon also has several solo albums in the Bad Elephant Music catalog.

Learn more about Shineback as well as Simon Godfrey's other works and purchase all of his music at the Bad Elephant Music website Shineback.  You can dig a bit deeper at Facebook and follow along on Twitter @simonsimple.

My final selection to feast on this week is actually my favorite cut from the album, "I Love You From Memory."  As the song opens and the old Victrola gets cranked up, I feel as though I've been transported to my favorite smoke filled hole-in-the-wall nightclub, kind of a prequel to CBGB's.  The keyboards are wrapped around lyrics that puncture the lining of your cerebelum separating logic from emotion.  

Shineback moves slowly across the prog garden with this song, caressing your face like a distant lover who realizes this is the last time you'll be together.  The mood elevator continues to stay on both extremes, avoiding the neutral zone like hot asphalt in the summertime.  Let this one play on repeat a few times just so you can feel yourself fall into a song without fear of hitting your head... 


For your listening pleasure I chose "Consider Her Ways."  A bit more uptempo, this tune conjures up the bright lights of the boardwalk in Atlantic City while Simon stokes an emotional fire with his guitar.  Shineback plays well in the prog garden, moving across subgenres as smooth as singlemalt on a crisp fall evening...


                     

And once again fellow progheads we have reached the end of the rainbow...another week winds down.  Shineback brings a funky vibe to the prog garden, shuffling from poignant to witty to
hard-hitting to laid back, and with every mood swing you feel refreshed.

The prog garden continues to bring forth an exciting crop, even in this frigid weather.  The search for all things prog continues on its random path, searching out more new and as yet undiscovered prog gems.  Until next time...

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Kaleidoreal

Welcome to 2019 fellow progheads!  The search for all things prog is back and the journey is starting out strong.  I wanted to peel back the curtain on this latest version of the The Closet Concert Arena to much pomp and circumstance, but that really isn't me.  Instead I opted to set the GPS for Sweden to spend some serious listening time with Kaleidoreal.  I don't always make good decisions, but this is definitely one of them...



My first forage into the 2019 prog garden is also the first garden entry for  Kaleidoreal. "A Life Wasted" was released last summer and since that feels like forever ago, let's head straight to the CD player and put on those headphones...

The album begins and ends with the title cut..."A Life Wasted Part 1" being the opening act.  The song morphs and reinvents itself several times as sound alternately explodes and melts into itself...and the butterfly emerges from the cocoon.  Intermittently hard hitting and then riding the gentle inner edge of the prog garden, this song runs down that proverbial dark alley and dares you to keep up.


Kaleidoreal follows this up with a cut called "Yellow and Blue."  Once again the music starts out as if to pelt you with hailstones only to "settle down" and pour over you like a heavy summer shower...no pain and lots of emotion.  I sense top notes of Transatlantic wafting in the air throughout this cut, and perhaps aromatics of (no surprise) Spock's Beard and Dream Theater.  Kaleidoreal  draws from many different areas of the prog garden bringing a metal edge to a fusion of classic prog and alternative rock...music for an eclectic pallet...

Liner Notes...Kaleidoreal calls Sweden home and is the brainchild of Lars Granat who plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and lays down the vocal tracks.  Joining Lars on this debut album is Rikard Rynoson on vocals and Sebastian Johammer on drums.  Bjorn Headlam and Jonatan Bengtsson provided additional keyboards and David Kallberg added percussion and nose flute...I did say eclectic, didn't I?

This "rock project" is a relative newcomer to the prog garden and I anticipate more music emanating from their section of the prog garden in the future.  Kaleidoreal makes a good case in defense against those who lament the lack of good new prog bands; you know who I mean...people who believe nothing worth listening to was recorded when the decade known as the seventies came to an abrupt close.  Yet Kaleidoreal--and they are not alone--prove naysayers wrong at every juncture.  If you listen with your ears first and allow the sound to enter your heart, mind, and soul, you will understand what I am trying to convey...

One more slice from this incredible release, "I Was Dust."  This cut opens a bit edgier than previous, allowing the guitar to expand the boundaries just a bit.  Venturing into the alternative section of the prog garden, there are top notes of Dreadnaught floating through the headphones as everything comes crashing at you like schrapnel in a hurricane.   Kaleidoreal hits the canvas with a multitude of colors on each cut of this album.  Ranging from bright hues to somber greys, the band has embarked on a journey across the prog garden that will enlighten and expand your listening.  One more reason the killjoys stuck in the 70's are missing out...

Learn more about Kaleidoreal and make this one of your first purchases of 2019 at bandcamp.  You can also learn more about the band at facebook and Twitter @kaleidoreal.  Visit Sweden without the hassle of long airport lines and having your luggage rummaged through by customs...

I chose the cut below for several reasons; it is a genuine peek-behind-the-curtain on a band I expect to hear much more from, so much of who they are emanates from this one cut, the mood swings and climate changes are extreme and incredible, and I want you to run out and buy this...

                   

So my friends and fellow progheads, I hope our first foray into the 2019 prog garden was worthy of the journey.  Kaleidoreal is but a small slice of what I anticipate being one helluva prog buffet this year.  There is so much taking root under the current cover of snow just waiting to burst forth.  One reason I chose to open the season here in Sweden is the complexity of Kaleidoreal's sound blending beautifully with the simplicity of the music...it wraps itself around you and doesn't want to let go.  So just appreciate the gesture and tumble into the center of a long comfortable descent into utopia...

 The search for all things prog moves on, and the Concert Closet is doing everything possible to bring the best undsicovered and under-the-radar prog music your way.  Kaleidoreal is the torch bearer for 2019, and the trail blazes on...until next time...

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Goodbye 2018, It Was a Wild Ride

One last hurrah as we turn the final page on 2018 fellow progheads!  Looking back on the recent journey The Closet Concert Arena has taken I am at once awed, inspired, saddened, excited, and hopeful.  So much happened and so much fantastic music was released that to recount it here would take far too long and fall far too short of being a proper homage.  But since it is my blog, and since I abhor "Best Of" compilations and lists, I'll compromise on a quick rundown of the year that was and some sporadic holiday music randomly mixed in...



There isn't enough time and I dislike redundancy; and really there is no need to look at everything I reviewed over the course of the past twelve months...it's already there for your pleasure.  Hopefully you've read, listened, enjoyed, and made your purchases by now anyway...

However; I will revisit one review I wrote in February..."minor Masterpiece," an absolutely brilliant album from Colin Tench.  The world can be cruel though, as Colin passed through the veil just a few months prior to its release.  I like to think I am objective when writing reviews and capable of focusing on the music I am listening to at the moment.  Having said that I will admit openly and honestly this is still one of my favorite releases of 2018...and the music really is amazing.  I hope Colin is stompin' up a progressive storm in that prog garden in the sky...

There were many new releases from new friends and  follow up albums from old friends as well.  The best part of this journey--actually just one of the best parts (there are many)--is building relationships with artists and bands that would otherwise have been missed.  Servants of Science, Circu5, Zombie Picnic, Mile Marker Zero, I Am The Morning, and Silas Neptune are just a sampling of the treasures the search for all things prog discovered for the first time.

A brief interlude...first song for the holidays this year is something from Chris Squire's Swiss Choir; "Silent Night-Night of Silence."  I have always been a fan of Chris; his work with Yes, solo projects, and his collaborations with other artists.  This one just caresses your mind and your heart ever so gently...


                       

For returning favorites, Scarlet INside, Bent Knee, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the Aaron Clift Experiment, and  Seconds Before Landing all had new releases and continued success.  Gregorian Rock even released a Christmas album!  Another favorite part of commanding the Closet Concert Arena is the front row seat to witnessing bands grow and expand not only their catalog but their abilities as artists.  When the the prog garden grows we all win...

One other aspect of the prog garden is big names coming together to form a new band and groups that have been together for many years--decades even--continuing to produce quality music appreciated by an astute audience.

The prog garden is home to much acreage producing so many vast and varied sounds; metal, ambient, classic, alternative and symphonic barely scratch the surface of what lies under the umbrella of progressive rock.  I have been fortunate to review so much great music and meet so many wonderful people; the prog world is a very close knit community I have come to realize and appreciate.

Next song on the holiday playlist is a cut from Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera; "We Three Kings."  A prog twist on a Christmas classic while paying homage to the traditions of the season.  Phil has done many a collaboration with too many artists to list here.  Andy has also played with several bands and on several projects--not to mention solo works.  Two fine musicians offering a lovely rendition of a holiday favorite...

                       

Now that 2018 is making her way through the final turn and fading to black, I want to thank everyone who helped make this year one the most successful for The Closet Concert Arena.  The lights will fade for a few weeks as I prepare for 2019; more reviews, some close-ups, interviews, rewinds, and perhaps a couple of surprises.  So to everyone reading and listening a sincere thank you and hope for an even better 2019.

I chose this last Christmas song as a sort of tribute to one of my favorites artists, John Wetton.  John played in many bands and was a major part of King Crimson--without John I don't think  "Red" would have been the classic it is.  He also played with Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Asia, District 97, Steve Hackett...the list is as long as it is incredible.  Yet somehow he tends to be overlooked when a discussion of great bass players or vocalists is in progress...one of the reasons I detest the annual "best of" lists that fly about.  It's Christmas, so just enjoy...       


                    

The search for all things prog will continue on as 2019 awakens...so as the journey moves forward I wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season however you choose to celebrate, and a safe and amazing New Year!  Until next time...

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Tangent "Proxy"

A very chilly hello fellow progheads!  We have reached the final few weeks of 2018; the harvest for the 2018 prog garden season is just about in the barn.  Of course that means lots to look forward to in 2019, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Rather, let us savor what 2018 still has to offer...

...which can only mean the search for all things prog takes a quick "final for the year" trip to England as we visit with The Tangent.  The band has released studio album number ten recently, called "Proxy."  The Closet Concert Arena has been a faithful fan of The Tangent for quite some time, and while they do have quite a loyal following it is safe to say Andy Tillison and company have flown low under the radar for more than a decade.  Time to shine some bright light on this corner of the prog garden...


Opening with the title cut (of course).  The music is centered around Andy's keyboard playing with a strong jazz/funk rhythm going on throughout--much to the surprise of no one who follows the band.  There are subtle top notes are of Yes in their Fragile days and Weather Report when Jaco Pastorius roamed the stage; the ornate overflow of sound and emotion splatters across the inner lining of your ear walls.  As the song progresses into an anti-war rebellion all the while keeping the listener mesmerized, you realize The Tangent hasn't missed a beat...

Next song to pulsate through the headphones, "Supper's Off."  If I close my eyes I almost sense Rush pouring into my auditory canals; a very high energy uptempo piece.  The narrative lyrics get your adrenaline pumping while guitar and drums lay the foundation for silky keyboards to glide across like Michelle Kwan on ice.  There is an ELO/UK vibe running through this song, as if Eddie Jobson and Jeff Lynne were involved in a musical one upmanship benefiting all with the good fortune to purchase the album...stay for the credits...

Liner Notes...The Tangent hails from Northern England and is led by the epitome of individualism, Andy Tillison.  Andy is the lead vocalist, keyboardist, lyricist, and composer; in short Andy is The Tangent.  Not that the surrounding cast is a random collection of newbies--far from it.  Brilliance surrounds itself with brilliance...Luke Machin on guitar, Jonas Reingold on bass, Theo Travis on sax and flute, and Steve Roberts on drums.  Special guest Goran Edman also lays down some  vocal tracks.

"Proxy" was released November 16th on InsideOut Music, increasing the band's catalog count to ten.  While The Tangent has staked out their place in the prog garden, "Proxy" is about cementing their legacy.  This album wanders in many directions but never gets lost.  Instead it expands boundaries--as if Andy hasn't pushed and pulled in every direction already.

Learn more about The Tangent and purchase "Proxy" as well as the rest of the band's catalog at
The Tangent.  You can also visit Insideout Music for other bands recording on the label.  Follow The Tangent on Twitter @thetangentmusic and Facebook.



My final selection for review is "The Melting Andalusian Skies."  Andy seems to be channeling his inner Chick Corea on this instrumental extravaganza while Luke captures the essence of Al DiMeola...a winding piece that travels so many tributaries it's best to just lie back and let the music wash over your entire being...never has intensity felt so soothing...

Your teaser for the week is "The Adulthood Lie."  One of the traits of The Tangent is the band's ability to redefine themselves from song to song--or perhaps they defy definition.  No matter the method used; the prog garden is tilled, the acreage turned, and the bounty is beyond expectation.  The canvas is not simply splayed with color--it comes alive and leaps right at you.  As I savor this morsel, I am intrigued by what The Tangent could possibly do next... 

                


So as we witness 2018 begin her final descent, I can think of no better band that captures the meaning of prog today than The Tangent.  While they invite comparison, they defy categorization.  Capturing the essence of progressive rock, they steer clear of repetition.  Not exactly the new kids in town and while they fly low under the radar, they have justifiably earned the respect of peers and fans across the planet.  Playing like Weather Report one minute while emitting top notes of ELP and Genesis the next, The Tangent walk a fine line in extremely large shoes.

Of course the journey continues on as the search for all things prog moves closer to folding the calendar shut on what has proved to be a most incredulous year.  The Closet Concert Arena looks forward excitedly and with much anticipation...until next time...