Tangent Project is the American duo Jeff Coulter (synths) and Harrison McKay (guitars), both based in the Philadelphia suburbs. On several occasions, they had the honour to play live on Chuck van Zyl’s Star’s End radio show.
“Surface” though is a studio recording they have been working on since very late 2008, but the bulk of it was composed and recorded in the spring and fall of 2009. For it, the duo made extensive use of a PC next to using lots of virtual instruments and plug-ins along with their arsenal of electronic gear.
The outcome is an electronic space music album containing four lengthy tracks of imaginary electronics. Their instrumental music is all about creating inventive atmospheres, which sees gentle synth washes with a vintage edge and expressive guitar licks implemented in circular and slightly repetitive compositional structures.
The album kicks off with “Then it Rained”, a complex recording featuring many layers of synthetic/sampled percussion sounds, nearly all of which have been extensively treated with various phasers and flangers and filters. Here, Harrison’s processed guitar work shows similarities to Manuel Goettsching’s output in his Ashra-period.
Next comes “Vortextural”, which actually started from the desire to use the unique, haunting “vibes” sound from a mellotron. The core of “Glass Block” is rooted in a couple of bouncing sequencer patterns that actually change very subtly as piece evolves, with Harrison providing layers of guitars textures and leads.
The 20-minute title track that closes the album sees Harrison working on some guitar textures and layers of delays, while Jeff plays a single keyboard sound on top of it, allowing the piece to just organically develop over time.
Tangent Project proves to have its own confident sound where it comes to fresh, expansive synth tapestries, sequencing and guitar work. The result on “Surface” is one of ebb and flow motion, ranging from mellow to more poignant and expressive space music.
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