This arrived, happily, this evening from Sally Collyer. Great update about all things Tillison.
Happy New Year to everyone and first and foremost a huge thank you to all who supported Andy and the band last year, bought “The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery”, attended the live shows in Europe and the USA and voted for the album and band members in the PROG Magazine readers poll, huge congratulations to Andy for being voted number one in the Keyboard players category and to Jonas and Luke for gaining 5th place in the Bass Player and Guitarist categories respectively, the album “The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery” also achieved 5th in the best album category, all in all incredible achievements considering the wealth of talented output in the progressive music genre over the last 12 months, in addition to the fact that we have a policy of never asking fans to vote in polls, it was wonderful to get this news in the knowledge that people had chosen to give support without any outside influence, the music really did speak for itself!
That greatest and most mischiveous redheaded bard of the 21st century, Andy Tillison, has announced that this coming Monday, August 15, The Tangent will be releasing a new single and a film to go with that single.
The title of the single is “A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road,” and it comes in at over 19 minutes.
Having been privileged enough to have a glimpse of this new film, I can state that Tillison and The Tangent fully return the spirit of rock to the spirit of rebellion of the late 1960s.
This is blatantly art as protest.
Whether or not you agree with Tillison’s views, you will happily recognize the importance of what The Tangent is doing and the significance of the film itself in the history of rock. Tillison, who describes himself as a leftist-anarchist, has never shied away from expressing his politics in music. “A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road,” however, takes Tillison’s art and views to an entirely new level.
Again, whether you agree or disagree with Tillison, you should never make the mistake of NOT taking him and his ideas seriously.
Progarchy (and yours truly) is extremely eager to see where all of this leads.
Andy Tillison Diskdrive, DURCH (forthcoming, 2016). Pre-order available now.
Tracks: Machte es Durch; The Pursuit of Oil; and From the Steppes of Central Asia
Whenever I see or hear the name Andy Tillison, two thoughts immediately spring to mind. 1) Class. 2) Mischievousness. A contradiction? Not really. Most of the greatest artists in history have possessed various measures of each.
Tillison is a great artist.
For those of who have been fortunate enough (wise enough?–naw, too strong, even if accurate) to pre-order Tillison’s forthcoming solo album, DURCH, we already know what glory and amazement is in store for us, even if in attenuated form. The pre-order allows us to listen to the raw tracks.
Raw? If Andy Tillison had said, “Here, they are, just as I want them,” I would not have doubted him.
These three tracks are simply glorious. Track one, “Machte es durch” strikes me as a sequel to some of Soft Machine’s best work, though Tillison credits Camel for the inspiration.
Track two, “The Pursuit of Oil,” is atmospheric to the extreme, the soundtrack to a horror movie set within a a decrepit house for at least their first nine minutes or so. The piece screams moodiness. It, too, is glorious. Around the nine-minute mark, Tillison gets righteous, and we hear his voice for the first time, decrying the abuses committed against the eco system but doing so in a way that helps explain our current cultural mindset toward resource use. My words don’t do this piece justice. Tillison is nothing if not about justice in his very personhood, and this is the kind of piece that welcomes the imagination to explore the deeper ethical issues of our day without screaming at us to reform. In other words, in his music and lyrics, Tillison gives us art, not propaganda.
Finally, “From the Steppes of Central Asia,” the remaking of a piece originally written by Alexander Borodin, a chemist and composer. Despite the title–which invokes, at least to my mind, more of what I’d heard in track two–the piece is incredibly upbeat and jazzy in an experimental, fusion way.
Well, what more can I say?
I love Tillison as a man and as a artist and as a class act and as a mischievous character. If you’ve preordered, you’ve already experienced the immense joys I have from this master of all things prog, rock, and jazz. If you’ve not preordered, do so now. No, not then. NOW!
As most of you already know, Tillison suffered some very serious health problems last year, but his lovely equal, Sally Collyer (our prog person of the year) and the NHS kept him in great shape. In his own personal note accompanying the link to the new tracks, he wrote:
“As you may know, I had a full on heart attack last year and essentially the life I now have is all a bit of a bonus track on the album of existence.”
Whenever I write about Tillison, I have to end with a line stolen (and paraphrased) from Mark Hollis and Talk Talk. Rage on, Mr. Diskdrive, rage on.
[This (below the graphic) from Sally Collyer–the wonderful and incredible Sally Collyer, progarchy’s previous PROG HUMAN OF THE YEAR. I will admit, I’m secretly hoping that Andy’s new album, DURCH, is really a tribute of some kind to Geddy Lee–BB]
NEW MUSIC NEWS from Andy Tillison – you can still pre-order DURCH from www.thetangent.org and get an hour’s worth of new music from the album emailed to you personally by Andy ~ see Andy’s message below, he will be sending out the new tracks tomorrow evening (Thursday).
Just a bit of “DURCH” Info here… tomorrow I will be writing to everyone who pre-ordered the album with news of its status – (don’t worry. we’re late but not that far off!). Everyone who’s bought the album so far will have music to listen to – around an hour’s worth of this album which has turned out very different to that foreseen… My apologies for lack of presence here on FB of late, this is a personal choice – to make me concentrate on work!!
If you have ordered DURCH please check the email you used to place the order tomorrow evening. If you haven’t received a mail from me by Thursday, then please PM me here on Facebook.
On a different note (a lot of different notes) I have been asked by Progzilla to do a Keith Emerson tribute broadcast which I have of course graciously accepted. News of that shortly.
The Tangent, A SPARK IN THE AETHER (Insideout Music, 2015).
Tracks: A Spark in the Aether; Codpieces and Capes; Clearing the Attic; Aftereugene; The Celluloid Road; A Spark in the Aether (Part 2)
The Tangent: Andy Tillison; Luke Machen; Theo Travis; Jonas Reingold; and Morgan Agren.
Birzer rating: 10/10
“If Neal can find God. . . what’s in it for me?”
I’ve never hidden my admiration for all things Andy Tillison. I almost feel like I should always be writing AllthingsAndyTillison™ whenever I mention any aspect of him. For, as we all know, this redheaded and motorbiking mischievous Andy does nothing halfway. Like almost every person in the prog world—artist or fan—he’s a perfectionist. Andy’s not just a perfectionist, though. He’s a perfectionist-plus.
It would be nearly impossible to re-do or even try to top The Tangent’s 2013 masterpiece, Le Sacre du Travail, itself a celebration of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring from exactly a century before. The Tangent reached a fascinating peak (at least, thus far) with that one. It sold well, and well it should have. Le Sacre is a thing of true beauty and grace, a tangible piece of eternity, here and now. On it, Tillison combined—almost impossibly—the mundane with the sacred, and he did so in a way that philosophized without preaching. Not an easy task or accomplishment for anyone.
“Careful with that sax!”
Tillison is a restless man, and we all benefit from his need to make, to produce, to continue, to create, and to communicate.
Nothing stands out as much on this new album, A Spark in the Aether, as the almost-signature energetic restlessness of Tillison. This is not to suggest that we don’t also revel in his many satisfactions. Spark, however, ultimately reveals Tillison’s deepest longings, and his greatest (and quite lovely) imaginings and his desire for justice. Tillison is not just the definition of restlessness and perfectionism, he is also the spirit of charity itself. Whereas the last album considered the routine and liturgy of work, this album explores what might and what could be. It’s every bit as subtle as the previous work, but the subtleties are found in the musical passages, especially the ones that linger, rather than in the structure of the album as with 2013’s Le Sacre.
“Struggling with a Hammond until my fingers bleed. . . to an empty room.”
Tillison has rather famously proclaimed progressive rock as the sum of all music. You want jazz? So be it. 1950’s rock? Great. 1960’s bubble gum pop? Not a problem. Combine them in any way you see fit, and you have one of the many glories of prog, the ability to fuse and meld, the combination of infinite diversity within infinite possibilities. On Spark, one hears funk, funkadelic, rock, prog, jazz, and folk. There’s a bit more Pink Floydish influence than is normal for The Tangent, but, of course, it’s all done so very tastefully.
As mentioned above in the header, six pieces make up Spark. The first, “A Spark in the Aether.” Swirling keyboards and sax open the album. This is a rambunctious piece, a prime example of “prog n’roll,” as Tillison likes to call it. The title and the music fit together perfectly. Truly, there is a small fire that sets off something much larger than itself.
The second piece, “Codpieces and Capes,” could lyrically be the sequel to “Supper’s Off,” the fifth track of the 2013 bonus cd, L’Etagere du Travail. Tillison’s lyrics are at their wittiest, a series of comments about pretentions among the first generation and wave of prog stars. Tillison rightfully mocks the self-indulgence of the era.
“Clearing the Attic,” the third track, is the most fantastic of all the songs, a carefully structure dream wondering (and wandering) what would happen if every thing went perfectly well for those Tillison admires and loves most. Interestingly enough, parts of the track somewhat resemble “Feelin’ Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel as well as Santana’s version of “Oye Como Va.” This, however, is 2015, not 1966 or 1970, for better or worse. In Tillison’s reality, Guy is famous, Cliff spins tracks for the BBC, and Sally gets to ride horseback across the vast and almost limitless plains of North America.
The fourth piece, “Aftereugene,” I misunderstood at first. I thought this might be Andy’s filler, as it were, a way to connect the first half of the album with the second. Upon several listens, though, I’ve come to realize just how complex this piece is. The best moment is Tillison whispering, “Careful with that sax.” The quality of his voice at this moment–the drama of it–is just brilliant, as is the atonal solo that Travis immediately provides. This is a sleeper song, and it will, I predict, one day be regarded as a Tangent masterpiece. It has everything a prog fan craves—weirdness, beauty, and a connection to our rather glorious prog heritage.
Perhaps the centerpiece of the entire album is “The Celluloid Road,” a full journey through and across America. Not the real America, but the America as understood by a non-American receiving his information from Hollywood. Every one from Clint Eastwood to Jesus makes an appearance in this song, and it really is the perfect road music for traversing the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains en route to the West Coast and the Pacific. The story ends in San Francisco, with talking apes and giant lizards destroying everything. As Tillison notes, he gets to observe it all from the haze of Yorkshire.
The last song brings us back to the first, and it becomes obvious that though Tillison has not created another concept album, he has certainly created a song cycle. And, the song cycle takes us back not just to the first song of this album, but to the very first Tangent album ever, The Music That Died Alone (2003).
As a crass American, I often wonder if the English realize how lucky they are to have Andy. I know the Germans understand his brilliance, as do the Scandinavians. The English-speaking peoples of the world have an incredible treasure in Andy Tillison. Add his significant other, Sally, and they’re basically unstoppable.
Andy, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. It’s such an honor to be a part of AllthingsAndyTillison™.
Well, Andy Tillison and Sally Collyer did, and we had an amazing, very good, awesome, wonderful time! They’re on their way home now, but the memory and goodness of their visit remains palpable. Tillison lectured as well as performed before a Boulder audience on Thursday. It was an amazing event, and I’ll report more fully about it in the next day or two.
In the meantime, pull out some Tangent, put on the headphones, and turn out the lights.
By Andy Tillison (taken without permission from his Facebook post yesterday)
Although it has been mentioned before I would once again like to return to Stephen Lambe and his book “CITIZENS OF HOPE AND GLORY – The Story Of Progressive Rock” which has just gone into its second edition. There have been a few changes, but one of the most obvious changes to us here is that the section on the Tangent has been somewhat updated. In the first edition the album selected to represent us was “A Place In the Queue” – however, this has now been replaced with “Le Sacre Du Travail”. Lambe describes it as “Magnificent” and speaks of it as bringing “Progressive Rock full circle” He finishes the article off by saying “Ten years into a career full of ups and downs, this is not only the finest album by the band but one which perfectly summarises all of progressive rock”. It’s pretty obvious that I’m very happy that Stephen felt this way – in fact I must admit I felt my bottom lip tremble a bit when I read it. “Sacre” was an album that divided folks a bit, and those people have had their say, and more importantly they have been LISTENED TO!!
I have just finished writing the new Tangent album which Inside Out have heard and agreed to release in early 2015. They are exceedingly enthusiastic about it and I can tell you that it is a very different style of album from “Sacre” with a very upbeat and optimistic flavour. It’s an album designed for live sets which we hope to do more of in the future. Very shortly we’ll be starting to harass you all to come and see one of the handful of gigs we are doing this year (still adding) – we’ll even be roadtesting one of the new songs.
We’ve had some critics, we’ve had good and bad things happen to our band over the years. With Stephen’s book, it’s our turn to feel pleased and know we managed to move some people in the way we intended. Some folks from this list have once again been invited to beta test the album as it currently stands. They’re usually frequent contributors and friends, but I also send copies to people who aren’t so keen on the band and people who don’t even like the genre much. Pretty soon we’ll be working out how we’re gonna do the “get involved” bit – we ain’t gonna be going for an established thing like Kickstarter – once again we’ll try to let people hear what we’re up to and allow them to hear stuff as it develops. One person listening to the album at the moment is David Longdon…….
In the meantime – please feel free to check out what PROG magazine calls “An Excellent Read” – “Citizens Of Hope And Glory” by Stephen Lambe published by AMBERLEY. if you have the first edition you’re OUT OF DATE!!!
Progarchists, our good friend and hero, Andy Tillison, has just released a video and a special download, The Snow Goose Project, inspired by Camel. The money raised for this will go to help those fighting cancer. A worthy cause if ever there was one. Please support Andy and Sally and their wonderful cause. Plus, you’ll get some fabulous music.
Subtitle: “Or, How Plato Made Me Realize We Need to Love 2013. And, If We Don’t, Why We’re Idiots.”
A week or so ago, I had the opportunity to list my top 9 of 11 albums of the past 11 months. Several other progarchists have as well, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking at their lists as well as reading the reasons why the lists are what they are. I really, really like the other progarchists. And, of course, I’d be a fool not to. Amazing writers and thinkers and critics, all.
I’ve been a bit surprised, frankly, that there hasn’t been more overlap in the lists. I don’t mean this in the sense that I expect conformity. Far from it. We took the name progarchists—complete with the angry and brazen red anarchy sign in the middle—for a reason. We’re a free community—free speech, free minds, free citizenship, and free souls. We have no NSA, CIA, or IRS. Nor would we ever want any of these. And, we’ve really no formal rules. We just want to write as well as we can about what we love as much as we love. Any contributor to progarchy is free to post as often or as infrequently as so desired, and the same is true with the length of each post.
I, as well as many others, regard 2013 as the best year of prog in a very, very long time, perhaps the best year ever. I know that some (well, one in particular—a novelist, an Englishman, and a software developer/code guy; but why name names!) might think this is hyperbole. But, having listened to prog and music associated with prog for almost four decades of my four and one-half decades of life, I think I might be entitled to a little meta-ness. And, maybe to a bit of hyperbole. But, no, I actually believe it. This has been the best year in the history of prog. This doesn’t mean that 2012 wasn’t astounding or that 1972 was less astounding than it actually was. Being a historian and somewhat taken with the idea of tradition, continuity, and change, I can’t but help recognize that the greatness of 2013 could never have existed without the greatness of, say, 1972, 1973, 1988, or 1994.
In my previous posts regarding 2013, I thanked a number of folks, praised a number of folks, and listed some amazing, astounding, music—all of which, I’m sure I will continue to listen to for year to come, the good Lord willing. And, I’m sure in five years, a release such as Desolation Rose might take on new meaning. Perhaps it will be the end of an era for Swedish prog or, even, the beginning of an era for the Flower Kings. Time will tell.
So, what a blessing it has been to listen to such fine music. My nine of 11 included, in no order, Cosmograf, The Flower Kings, Ayreon, Leah, Kingbathmat, The Fierce and the Dead, Fractal Mirror, Days Between Stations, and Nosound.
And, there’s still so much to think about for 2013. What about Sam Healy (SAND), Mike Kershaw, Haken, Francisco Rafert, Ollocs,and Sky Architects? Brilliant overload, and I very much look forward to the immersion that awaits.
No one will be shocked by my final 2 of the 11 that have yet to be mentioned. If you’ve looked at all at progarchy, you know that I can’t say negative things about either of these bands . . . or of Rush or of Talk Talk. Granted, I’m smitten. But, I hope you’ll agree that I’m smitten for some very specific and justified reasons. That is, please don’t dismiss the following, just because I’ve praised them beyond what any reasonable Stoic with any real self respect would expect. No restraint with these two, however. Admittedly.
So, let me make my huge, huge claim. The following two releases are not just great for 2013, they are all-time great, great for prog, great for rock, great for music. In his under appreciated book, NOT AS GOOD AS THE BOOK, Andy Tillison offers a very interesting take on the current movement (3rd wave) of progressive rock.
The current, or third wave of new progressive rock bands is as interesting for demographic and social reasons as much as for its music . . . . Suddenly a wave of people in their late thirties began to form progressive rock bands, which in itself is interesting because new bands are formed by younger people. . . .
I’m not sure how much I agree with Andy regarding this. I’m also not sure I disagree. I just know that I’ve always judged eras or periods by what releases seem to have best represented those eras. Highly subjective, highly personal, and highly confessional, I admit. But, I can’t escape it. For me, there have been roughly four periods: the period around Close to the Edge and Selling England by the Pound; the period around The Colour of Spring, Spirit of Eden, and Laughing Stock; a little bit longer—or more stretched out—period around Brave, The Light, Space Revolver; and Lex Rex.
Of course, I’ve only listed three. We’re passing through the fourth as I type this. Indeed, the fourth is coming from my speakers as I type this. Over the last year and a half some extraordinary (I’m trying to use this word in its purest sense) things have happened, all in England and around, apparently, some kind of conflicted twins.
When asked about why he participated in latest release from The Tangent, Big Big Train’s singer, David Longdon, replied:
Amusingly, [Tillison] has said that The Tangent is Big Big Train’s evil twin.
In this annus mirabilis, does this mean we have to choose the good and the evil? Plato (sorry; I’m not trying to be pretentious, but I did just finish my 15th year of teaching western civilization to first-year college students. And, I like Plato.) helped define the virtue of prudence: the ability to discern good from evil.
Well, thank the Celestial King of the Platonic Realm of the Eternal Good, True, and Beautiful, we get both, and we don’t have to feel guilty or go to Confession.
Aside from being the Cain and Abel of prog, The Tangent and Big Big Train offer the overall music world three vital things and always in abundance of quality.
First, each group is smart, intelligent, and insightful. Neither group panders. The music is fresh, the lyrics insightful—every aspect is full of mystery and awe. The listener comes away dazzled, intrigued, curious, and satisfied, all at the same time.
Second, each group strives for excellence in every aspect of the release—from the writing, to the performing, to the engineering, to the mastering, to the packaging. And, equally important, to interaction with fans. Who doesn’t expect an encouraging word and some interesting insight on art, history, and politics—always with integrity—from either band?
As maybe point 2.5 or, at least, the culmination of the first two points, each band has the confidence to embrace the label of prog and to embrace the inheritance it entails without being encumbered by it.
In Big Big Train’s English Electric Full Power, there are hints of Genesis and, equally, hints of The Colour of Spring and Spirit of Eden. But, of course, in the end, it’s always Greg, Andy, David, Dave, Danny, Nick, and Rob.
In The Tangent’s Le Sacre du Travail, there are obvious references as well as hints to Moving Pictures, The Sound of Music, and The Final Cut. But, of course, in the end, it’s always mostly Andy.
Regardless, each gives us what David Elliott masterfully calls “Bloody Prog™” and does so without hesitation. Indeed, each offers it without embarrassment or diversion, but with solidity of soul and mind.
Finally, but intimately related to the first two, each band releases things not with the expectation of conformity or uniformity or propaganda, but with full-blown art. Each band loves the art for the sake of the art, while never failing to recognize that art must have a context and an audience. Not to pander to, of course, but to meet, to leaven.
Life is simply too short not to praise where praise is due. Life is too short to ignore the beauty in front of us. And, no matter how dreary this world of insanities, of blood thirsty ideologies, of vague nihilisms, and of corporate cronyism, let us—with Plato—love what we ought to love.
The Tangent and Big Big Train have given us art not just for the immediate consumption of it, or for the year, 2013,—but for a generation and, if so worthy, for several generations, perhaps uncounted because uncountable.
[Ed. note–if there are any typos in this post, I apologize. I’ve been grading finals, and I’ve been holding my two-year old daughter on my lap. She’s a bit more into Barney than Tillison or Spawton at this point.]