Music

Tangents' 'New Bodies' Is Unlike Any Other Record You'll Hear This Year

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Shapeshifting Sydney quintet Tangents burn the genre maps and follow their impeccable improv instincts on New Bodies.

New Bodies
Tangents

Temporary Residence Ltd

15 June 2018

Tangents' post-genre intentions were clear on their 2016 album, Stateless. New Bodies, their third full length (and second for the Temporary Residence Ltd. label), carries their poly-mode over into seven instrumental, improv-fed showcases of their increasingly ambitious work.

No doubt the 'new bodies' that the shapeshifting Sydney quintet are contemplating in the album's title are not mapped and rigid like the land masses we inhabit, and not uniform in structure like the human forms we all occupy. Exploration of celestial bodies is an apparent possible theme, yet those are still so far out of reach as to remain a visible but untouchable ideal. Tangents do boldly go places few or none have quite gone before, but they do handily get there. Bodies of water, then, surely. If their music were to be rendered in physical form, it could only be in liquid.

This is not to say that New Bodies is formless or anarchic. Rivers may spill over but stay on their path, bend and bend back again but constantly push toward their ultimate destination. Tangents don't trade in the chaos of change purely for its own sake, and for all of the pivots and headstands that they do, their music is not ADD at the moment but surprisingly patient over the long term. Some strains of electronic music enable and encourage the hyperactivity of glitchy cut-and-paste composition, but Tangents are five individuals who have to take every turn together and hold one another accountable for all of the creative micro-decisions that they make, of which there are dozens each in bold, multifaceted pieces like "Lake George" and "Terracotta".

The fluidity of Tangents extends to the kind of (pop) cultural settings they can hang in, though it is all in varying strata of the upper-middle to highbrow. They can hang out on either side of post-rock, illustrated by their having played shows in recent times with both Tortoise (original rock-instrumentation-for-non-rock-purposes post-rock) and MONO (latter quiet/loud-epic-rock-music post-rock). They can play shows in respected art galleries, and attract minds like that of Jim O'Rourke, who recently remixed "Terracotta", drawing out the original's eight minutes to an earthly yet otherworldly 11.

They don't use a saxophone (at least very often), and they aren't "jazz rock", but they are undoubtedly jazz-adjacent. Unlike in jazz, the members of Tangents don't spend much time trading off solos. When they build from the quiet base toward propulsive improvisation, they do so together. Drummer Evan Dorrian, who seems to have a hidden arm somewhere that allows him to pull off the intricate and animated rhythms that move New Bodies, does regularly lure and center the listener's attention on the beat, but he does so through dexterity rather than mere flash. It is a testament to him and the other Tangents -- Shoeb Ahmad on guitar, Ollie Brown on electronics, Peter Hollo on cello, and Adrian Lim-Klumpes on keys and bars, all of whom come from other experimental music units -- that the desire to stand out among a crew of this pedigree doesn't get the better of any of them to the disadvantage of the whole.

It isn't all that much of a stretch to say that New Bodies is unlike any other record you'll hear this year, or even any other record the band themselves will create again, yet Tangents make catching the equivalent of an entire jar full of fireflies sound like second nature.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

‘The Avengers’ Offer a Lesson for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.