Posts Tagged ‘A Spark In The Aether’

THE BEST SO FAR OF 2015 (i.e. My “Faves”)

July 5, 2015

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for several weeks now. I was jostled out of my vegetative state by a couple of recent posts on the premier web site for all things prog: PROGARCHY: Pointing toward Proghalla (the only site you REALLY need to be following! ) I am constructing this list without the benefit of reading PROGARCHY’s own “The Best So Far” list for 2015 (even though it’s a list for primarily prog metal).

By way of embarrassed admission I must plead lack of funds for not yet owning the new Neal Morse album, Grand Experiment, and the new Steven Wilson album, Hand. Cannot. Erase. Although I have heard most of Wilson’s magnum opus one time from YouTube and other on-line sources, out of fairness to these discs I’m not going to rate them yet…I need proper and extended time with music before making “best of” lists.


As it now stands the two runaway albums for me are THE TANGENT: A Spark In The Aether (the genius work of Andy Tillison), and LONELY ROBOT: Please Come Home (the genius work of John Mitchell).   These two albums are almost sure to be in a neck and neck horse race photo-finish as December 31st looms closer and closer. Look for these to be in the 1 and 2 top spots.

Lonely Robot 2

And now, in no particular order, and without any real reviewing comments, I would add the following:

BIG BIG TRAIN: Wassail (sure it’s an EP, but I don’t care…it’s just that darn spectacular and it IS BIG BIG TRAIN…nuff said)

GLASS HAMMER: The Breaking Of The World

THE GENTLE STORM: Diary (the stunning collaboration between Lucassen and van Giersbergen will be near the top 5 I’m betting)

ARGOS: A Seasonal Affair

BEARDFISH: +4636 Comfortzone

ARENA: The Unquiet Sky (great music but also a great weird story inspiration)

JOHN CARPENTER: Lost Themes (I’m a sucker for Carpenter’s stuff but this disc probably will fade out of the top ten and maybe even out of the top 15 or 20; and it’s not really prog is it?)

KARNATAKA: Secrets of Angels

SANGUINE HUM: Now We Have A Light (a sleeper; darkhorse)

MAGIC PIE: King For A Day

My Top-Ten list for 2015 will no doubt have some, or most, of these wonderful slabs of sonic bliss. I can’t wait for the next 6 months of new releases. I can’t wait for the money to actually buy them.

Mellotron set to 11


More of THE TANGENT (always a good thing)

April 29, 2015

Lest I lose all credibility with my “out-of-the-banks” rave review of A SPARK IN THE AETHER (see prior post) I should say–I haven’t heard all that much of THE TANGENT.  The only other album I’ve heard from start to finish is COMM (also brilliant).  So admittedly I’m a bit new to Andy Tillison and his genius band (thanks primarily to Progarchy and Dr. B) and had not a large corpus to compare it to.  I have a feeling I’m in for a real treat in the weeks ahead as my 2015 CD buying progresses.

In the meantime I was delighted to find a 3 hour podcast featuring THE TANGENT over at Wilf’s (David Elliott) cool podcast, The European Perspective (episode #200 from 4-4-15), hosted by THE DIVIDING LINE.

What a smorgasbord of supernal sounds!  Check it out.

Mellotron set to 11

A SPARK IN THE AETHER–Album of the Year? Yes, I think so.

April 29, 2015

A SPARK IN THE AETHER: THE MUSIC THAT DIED ALONE, VOLUMETWO                                                                                         THE TANGENT                                                                                     Inside Out U.S. (21 April 2015)                                                          Band:                                                                                                         Andy Tillison: keyboards & vocals                                                       Luke Machin: guitar                                                                              Jonas Reingold: bass                                                                              Theo Travis: saxes & flutes                                                              Morgan Agren: drums


The rave reviews are starting to come in. And yes, there’s no real reason of worth or merit that gives me leave to review THE TANGENT’s new album (or any album for that matter). I have zero musical aptitude myself. I can’t “carry a tune,” play an instrument, or really understand rhythm, melody, or much else. I have a blog only because any albino three-toed sloth can have a blog. I post these “reviews” (air quotes, real quotes, ontological & metaphysical quotes) because they’re fun to write and my California best-friend enjoys them (or says he does).

But if I ever wanted, truly wanted, to review an album—THIS would be the one!

I just wish now I wasn’t “on record” (well, “record” for the three or so that read this blog) as saying earlier this year that the BEST ALBUM of 2015 was already a “fait accompli” with John Mitchell’s brilliantly stunning LONELY ROBOT, PLEASE COME HOME. But after hearing Tillison & company the “Robot” may have to settle for the silver medal.

I know that even though most readers (my “three” again) eschew reading track by track commentary I nonetheless want to share some thoughts.

Track 1: A SPARK IN THE AETHER (4:20)

What a smart “call” to open the album with this grand and soaring instro (for the first 1:12 or so) which then delivers a killer chorus of the earwig variety! A driving and surging middle and end propels the rest of the disc onward and upward. An A/A+ track.

Track 2: CODPIECES AND CAPES (12:34)

This 5-part mini-epic is, well, EPIC! Shredding guitar riffs by Luke Machin, a chiaroscuro maelstrom of synth/keys and drums, and some biting bitterness in the lyrics make this lengthy song both complex and compelling. An ultimate rating of A++

Track 3: CLEARING THE ATTIC (9:35)

Okay by now I’m just shaking my head in incredulity. Each of the first three tracks ALONE (by themselves) is worth the full price of the album. The soft flute of Theo Travis entrances the listener for the first 30 seconds or so before the keys and drums kick in. Morgan Agren is rock solid on the drums and Tillison…well, more on him in due course. The track has a nice middle section that is jazzy and fusion sounding which almost flirts with a Bossa Nova vibe. The song mixes funk with flutes in a Mahavishnu Orchestra maestro/musicianship tapestry. Tillison’s masterful compositional skills give us another A++

Track 4: AFTEREUGENE (5:47)

A tasteful flamenco-style acoustic solo starts the track and is soon joined by flute and keys. At the 2:20 mark the song morphs into a Floydian space-scape with almost a minor hint of MEDDLE like sonar pings. This wonderful homage to Waters, Gilmore & company has but one spoken lyric: “careful with that sax” and then trails off with a Coltrane like wailing. A+ rating (catching the trend?)

Track 5: THE CELULOID ROAD (21:37)

This is the albums piece de resistance. This 6-part analysis of American media culture (movies & television) is classic jazz/prog fusion but also art of the highest order. This is a tune worthy to be played with SUPPER’S READY.  Vibraphone synths, Reingold & Agren jamming out with Frontiere/Schifren referenced TV scoring, and some of the finest lyrics I’ve heard in decades ensures this song will be listened to repeatedly and with total attention each time.  Is Tillison fairly critiquing American consumerism and the Potemkin facades of hedonistic hypocrisy? Is he cynical and almost vicious in a schadenfreude voyeurism? No.  Tillison has penned a love letter.  This is a tender and yet muscular elegy to the ideals and idea of America and the entertainment (Hollywood, Broadway, and Tin-Pan Alley) hopes and dreams, as well as the actual physical grandeur, of the continent. His words demonstrate an inner hurt yes, but also a truly sympathetic prayer for a land and its exports in wonder that have enriched and bedazzled so many Britons and Europeans over the last 70 years.



After the prior magnum opus, The Tangent is almost showing off how incredibly good they all are. This is the perfect coda to a noir-like movie of loss and redemption. The soft and jazz piano opening builds to a deep and cavernous classical jazz/prog finale. Reingold gives the best bass for the last song and Tillison is so beautiful in his playing that calling him the Mozart of Prog is not hyperbole. As the chorus comes back again at the close the listener is surrounded by triumphant closure.


This loosely fitting but tightly knit (a dynamic tension of paradoxical poetry) concept masterpiece will be remembered years from now alongside CLOSE TO THE EDGE, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, THICK AS A BRICK, and IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING. It’s that good. Its almost “Future-Shock” like cornucopia of sounds and ideas overwhelms the senses leaving the listener with a silly smile and the urge to literally standup and applaud when the album is over.

A sui generis aural epiphany! Thank you Messrs: Tillison, Machin, Reingold, Agren, and Travis.

Mellotron set to 11

Who’s The Band That Gets All The Chicks?

April 19, 2015

The TANGENT…you’re damn right!  🙂

The lyrics to this masterpiece of funky Jazz-Prog are so incredibly cool, that I’m back in 1968 with my Mustang 🙂

Mellotron set to 11





Tillison Interview

April 11, 2015

You may have already heard this interview with the amazingly cool ANDY TILLISON…but if not:

A special “shout-out” to THE PROG REPORT, a darn fine web site that I recommend.

Be sure to purchase the new album by The TANGENT, A Spark In The Aether, which will be released 21 April!


Mellotron set to 11



Searching For Lost Chords


Christian Humanism in a Post-Modern World


Rockin' Republic of Prog