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Stateless Review

by Paul Simpson

Tangents are an improvisational group from Sydney, Australia who describe their approach to music-making as "post-everything," as it incorporates glitchy electronic processing, shimmering vibraphones/marimbas, guitar feedback, jazzy melodies, and numerous other elements. Their early material seemed difficult, alien, and perhaps a little bit pretentious. Stateless, their second album, is far more engaging. The selections here are more uptempo and accessible, creatively threading slivers of melodies through loose, easy-flowing circular rhythms. These pieces are very creative, as well as easy to listen to; some of them are lengthy, but they're not as demanding of the listener as much improvised music. It's almost inevitable that this album will incite comparisons to jazzy, electronic-friendly post-rock groups such as Tortoise and Fridge (especially since Fridge member Kieran Hebden [aka Four Tet] remixed the album's lead track "Jindabyne," and this album appears on Fridge's U.S. home Temporary Residence), but it doesn't seem like a rehash of any particular artist or sound. It also doesn't seem like the group decided to make more accessible music to pander to a mass audience. They've re-adjusted their flow or channeled their energy in a different way, and the music is all the better for it. Opener "Jindabyne" is sparse but resonant, with dubby echoes and drums that dance around without being the center of attention. 12-minute "Oberon" follows, and it's more playful and colorful, with panning polyrhythms and light melodic blips. It's busy and exciting, with several sounds interlocking to form a complex audio mosaic, but at the same time it's light enough so that it never feels cluttered or overwhelming. Eventually the piece loses the rhythm and becomes weightless, slowly picking back up with pianos and soft drums. Interlude "Directrix" reveals a playful sense of humor, while the galloping "N-Mission" introduces a bit of a Twin Peaks atmosphere without getting too haunted. Stateless is an incredibly refreshing listen.

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