The Tangent

A Place in the Queue

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The release of the Tangent's third album was preceded by a strong buzz -- the record label was probably desperate to draw attention away from the fact that one of the group's lead figures, Roine Stolt, had parted ways with Andy Tillison. If the strategy worked, then all the best, because A Place in the Queue actually is the group's strongest effort to date and a serious contender for best progressive rock album of 2006, even though it came out in early February. The Flower Kings' guitarist has always had a strong musical presence. With him gone, sax/flute player Theo Travis is free to take up more space, and that turns out to have a very positive impact on Tillison's songwriting. Less Flower-ish in sound (although Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar are still on board), closer to the darker personality of Tillison's Parallel of 90 Degrees, A Place in the Queue will give you a run for your money: strong progressive rock, filled with intelligent arrangements, solid musicianship, complex time signatures, tidbits of humor, a touch of obligatory self-indulgence, and even the episode of bad taste so many legendary prog rock records are known for. The 20-minute epic "In Earnest" sets the bar high: it has pretty much everything a prog rock fan can hope for in an epic and, truth be told, it should have been placed later in the queue, because no other track on the album can match its beauty and intensity. Still, "Lost in London" is a very nice humorous track with a Caravan feel. The one-two punch of "DIY Surgery" clearly makes a point (it's two minutes long!) and succeeds in doing so. Also short, "The Sun in My Eyes" feels much longer, unless you enjoy the strings-drenched sound of vintage Electric Light Orchestra. Tillison should have kept this pastiche for the bonus disc of the album's special edition (yes, even though it actually contains a longer alternate mix already). The 25-minute title track is a satisfying epic, but it accumulates themes and sections in a cumbersome way, whereas "In Earnest" reached a higher level of cohesion. Throughout the album, Travis' saxes and flutes bring in an Ian McDonald/Mel Collins touch that has become a defining feature of the group's sound. The regular edition of A Place in the Queue is 79 minutes long. If you still want more, the special edition adds 47 minutes worth of outtakes on a second disc.

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