Posts Tagged ‘Andy Tillison’

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.

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Great Prog Music from Prog Magazine (the writing ain’t bad either)

May 11, 2015



Issue # 55 April 2015 (cover: Andrew Latimer)

Various artists


Notwithstanding how good the actual magazine is, these bonus/extra CDs that are included every issue are alone worth the price of the subscription.


Track 1: The Tangent/A Spark in the Aether (4:14)

I have already written on this track & album in a full review (  ) but must reiterate that this song is a prog classic. On the “gem” Andy’s keys simply soar into the stratosphere of joy while Agren’s drums drive this anthem like a charger (a horse) along a pristine beach. The chorus is infectious and the overall feel-good buoyancy suggest we may have the “song of the year” for 2015


Track 2: Gong/Tried So Hard (4:33)

If you don’t know Gong you don’t know prog. Go buy their back catalog. This tune starts off part psychedelia Beatles and CSN&Y before fully embracing Syd Barrett style Floyd. This is a mellow mood inducer that’ll have you smelling patchouli and weed. Put on your bell bottoms and granny glasses and thank the Lords of Prog for Gong. R.I.P. Daevid Allen, you will be missed.


Track 3: M-Opus/Different Skies (Excerpt) Every Day The Orbit (5:18)

What’s not to like with the opening lush wash of layered sounds mutating into a huge middle section of mid & far Eastern rhythms and sounds. With the sitars and tablas one conjures up the mysterious beauty of back-street markets and sub-Saharan sand-dunes. With the vocals mixed very low only the vocoder space-like spoken ending intrudes on some fine Eastern Prog cum soundtrack worthy instrumental art.


Track 4: Gavin Harrison/Hatesong-Halo (8:11)

Take the best jazz-rock fusion sounds of Chicago I, or Blood, Sweat & Tears (Al Kooper Mk 1 version), mix in some deft synth reeds (bassoon?) and concerto like complexity and you have Gavin Harrison’s delightful all instro mini-epic. Jazzy and symphonic with an almost Return To Forever flavor this is one of my favorite tracks on the sampler.


Track 5: Von Hertzen Brothers/ Love Burns (4:37)

Possibly my favorite track on the disc! This band, a relative new discovery—and fairly new group—explodes like a fireball or comet of Prog brilliance! Great vocals and great singing, are melded into a grand and melodic symphony of power-metal/prog metal that builds to a crescendo of sonorous bliss. The track makes one seek out the Von Hertzen Brothers album for another “fix” of this aural drug!


Track 6: Sanguine Hum/Out of Mind (5:48)

With the outer-space “bleeps” and “burps” coupled with the oscillating electronic gurgles the introduction slides into a gorgeous slow tempo number. The liquidy Mellotron sounds make me smile. “Buttered cats” anyone?


Track 7: Rian Adkinson/Pianoburn (3:35)

I like the heavy reverb in the drum opening. What starts off with a bit of an indie rock vibe goes “hard” at the 2:28 mark to produce an almost post-rock heavier ending. Not bad at all.


Track 8: The Gentle Storm/Shores of India (6:37)

Now THIS is my favorite track on the album! The Dutch musical project/collaboration between composer/guitarist/keyboard wizard Arjen Lucassen and vocal goddess Anneke van Gierbergen has given the world of prog one of the best albums of 2015. This particular tune opens with 45 seconds of flute only to be subsumed in a whirlwind of tablas and sitars. At 1:23 the guitars come in with Anneke’s vocals kissing the production at 1:38. Anneke has a marvelous instrument with her wide-ranging, octave spanning voice which alternates between a mesmerizing almost narcotic gothic delivery and a higher-range pure crystalline soprano so beautiful it cuts glass. Lucassen’s complex composition tethered to Anneke’s delivery, which at times is so warm and nostalgic to hearken back to Annie Haslam (Renaissance) at her peak, turns this symphonic track into “The” show-stopper. This can’t be recommended highly enough. I’m buying the album.


Track 9: Special Providence/ Kiss From A Glacier (4:36)

This in an all-instrumental piece that has touches of the brilliance of both Tangerine Dream and even Radiohead’s “Kid A.” The solid drumming and stellar guitar work morph into some nice jazz fusion in the middle section before rocking out with an almost Dream Theatre level of jamming at the conclusion.


Track 10: The Last Embrace/On My Own (7:33)

Another gothic Angelo Badalamenti-esque opening that is drenched in sultry and smoky vocals. The bleeding guitar and emotional lyric delivery had me thinking both Long Patrol (a great, great indie band) and David Lynch soundtracks. This is like Evanescence with substance and far greater musicianship. This beautiful tone-poem builds in intensity and transports the listener to a Stan Ridgway desert highway populated with sleazy dives, neon signs, and starry vistas.


You can’t buy this album sampler but you can and you should subscribe to Prog magazine today. Editor Jerry Ewing and his crack staff turn out a lavish product that does ALL of music proud.  And, it was a double bonus “coup” for me as Andrew Latimer (Camel) is the cover story.  Camel is my favorite band of all-time.  I am very happy.


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Speaking of The Tangent/Tillison

May 2, 2015

Sea of Tranquility is a great web resource for music reviews (they generously INCLUDE prog) and I have been reading Pete Pardo & co. for several years now.  One of the best interviews with Andy Tillison appears now on their home page.  Reviewer Steven Reid does a great job and Andy is eloquent, heartfelt and just cool.  I strongly encourage you read it:

And speaking of The Tangent, again– I’ll post this great YouTube video of Andy playing some original music inspired by my all-time favorite band CAMEL (i.e. Andrew Latimer).


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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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!


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ARGOS: A Seasonal Affair (a brilliant album…but only if you like Genesis, Marillion, Camel, and Big Big Train)

March 30, 2015


ARGOS: A Seasonal Affair (2015: MUSEA, Progressive Promotions Records)



Thomas Klarmann/ Bass, Flute, Keyboards, Guitars, Lead Vocals

Robert Gozon/ Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars

Ulf Jacobs/ Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Rico Florczak/ Electric Guitars

Guest Musicians:

Andy Tillison, Marek Arnold, Thila Brauss


This album (their fourth) is so good I guarantee it will be on many “best of” lists for 2015…or it would be if people knew of ARGOS and actually purchased/heard their new musical offering: A Seasonal Affair. Counting two bonus tracks it’s an 11 track disc that serves up a feast of not neo-prog, but classic goodness ala 1973/4.

Track 1, ‘Vanishing,’ starts with fantasy lyrics and real Porcupine Tree vibe but by the time that Hammond and synths arrive in Track 2 one is hearing echoes of Triumvirat. Track 3, ‘Silent Corner,’ though too starting with a Steven Wilson feel, morphs into a sound dialogue between trance-like meditation and jazzy instrumental fusion. This song is so perfectly constructed that it should be a Classic Prog standby tune!

Track 4, ‘Silver And Gold,’ keeps up the jazz/rock rhythms but adds some neat Gentle Giant like vocals. This complex syncopated style of choppy vocals makes another pleasant appearance on bonus track 11, ‘Black Cat.’ Track 5, ‘Lifeboats,’ may be my favorite song and all by itself it worth buying the album for. The song hearkens back to the great classics of Gabriel era Genesis or even Fish era Marillion. The squiggly Mellotron and synth keys put an actual smile on my face.

Thinking then that ARGOS had peaked; they delivered their magnum opus in the 12:32 multi-layered and multi-part epic ‘Not In This Picture.’ The interplay between synth strings, keys, and Hammond produce more Genesis brilliance with a touch of both Pink Floyd and, surprisingly, Big Big Train. There is a rural English countryside appeal to much of the vocal delivery. These Germans sound like a classic undiscovered Canterbury band.

This respectful nod to the Canterbury scene continues with Track 7, ‘A Seasonal Affair,’ as the beautiful melody and gorgeous piano hearkens back to Pete Bardens and Camel.

This is simply a groove laden album with handsome low-key vocals swathed in meditative and achingly beautiful washes of color and fragrance. It’s like Passport meets Yes with an extra dose of both Genesis and Steve Rothery guitar runs.

ARGOS, formed in 2005, and hailing from Mainz and Greifswold Germany needs to be put on a much larger stage as this album is Prog magic which should be part of every Prog aficionado’s collection.

A telling sign of how good it is (how good it MUST be) is that mega-genius and musical polymath Andy Tillison is one of the guest musicians (along with Marek Arnold on Soprano Sax and Thila Brauss on keyboards). This album truly bears that distinguished mark of excellence that is Tillison!

Progressive Promotions Records deserves to placed on the permanent radar of all Prog fans, and this album needs to sell. It is available for around $20.00 at, while ARGOS’ 2012 album, CRUEL SYMMETRY is available at CD Baby for a reasonable price.

ARGOS info at:


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Searching For Lost Chords


Christian Humanism in a Post-Modern World


Pointing toward Proghalla