The Tangent


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Addressing the effect that technological advances have had on society during the past 100 years, British prog rock outfit the Tangent's sixth studio album, Comm, shows that the band's ever-changing lineups haven't diluted their epic prog rock ambitions. Their first release since guitarist Luke Machin and drummer Tony Latham joined bassist Jonathan Barrett, saxophonist Theo Travis, and ever-present frontman Andy Tillison may only feature five tracks, but clocking in at nearly an hour, doesn't exactly suffer from a shortage of ideas. The cleverly titled opener, "The Wiki Man," is a sprawling 20-minute fusion of '70s proggy synths, vintage winding guitar solos, and dial-up modem bleeps, complete with several instrumental breakdowns, that highlights the pros and cons of the Internet age, while the equally lavish closer, "Titanic Calls Carpathia," is a 16-minute cinematic symphony that tells the story of the sinking ship's attempt to communicate by Morse code. While these mini rock opera bookends are undeniably thought-provoking and showcase the band's impressive musicianship, two of the three less complex song structures provide the album's most captivating moments. "Tech Support Guy" is a humorous tale about the chaos that ensues in a company when the go-to IT man goes missing, set against a backdrop of Hammond organ wizardry, fluttering flutes, and breezy sax hooks, while "Shoot Them Down" is a rare but convincing venture into melancholic territory with its warm mellow synths, bluesy riffs, and Tillison's gentle somber tones. "The Mind's Eye," a discordant and rather messy blend of frenetic rhythms, post-punk vocals, and metal riffs, suggests the bandmembers were wise to stick to their electronica-based strengths, but it's the only misfire on a challenging yet rewarding record from one of the contemporary British prog rock scene's most consistent and uncompromising outfits.

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