It takes a keen ear to connect the music of The Tangent Project between the live and studio releases - and to the very early work in the 1980s, back when known simply as "Tangent". Jeffrey Coulter and Harrison McKay play synthesizers and guitar in the present incarnation and have been performing out live to positive audience reaction and critical acclaim. Their concerts for the STAR'S END and MUSIC WITH SPACE radio programs as well as at The Gatherings Concert Series have been triumphs of musicianship and shown this duo reaching for a well developed musical vision. Where their concert performances are about being in the musical moment and sharing it with an audience, their impressive studio album Surface is more a concise musical message - one that has been meticulously rendered from conception all the way to the physical CD. The compositions on Surface are tightly arranged and immediately engaging while recordings of their live concerts evolve slower and with a different, more cerebral energy - which is impressive, as there are not many artists out there equally proficient in these two environments. The CD Live on STAR'S END 12.06.09 is the audio document of the live to air radio concert by The Tangent Project. The three sections were designed by Coulter using an array of synthesizers, modules, sequencers and effects. The opening moments are full of twirling and chirping synth modulations which sets the mood for a more propulsive atmosphere. With sequencers running the majority of the time, Coulter keeps occupied executing minute real time changes in the patterns which gives the music interesting accents and turns - drop a note, change the start point, add a line of e-percussion, add a rest, fade in a countering bass rhythm, all these subtle manipulations animate the music and makes for a more fascinating listening experience. While the lines of patterns cycle along, McKay's guitar is unwinding a ribbon of melody above. From thin and steely to warm and fluid, his lead lines take flight and gently narrate the dreamy brilliance of these pieces. Coulter's pitch perfect keyboard solos cut in from time to time, as do Mellotron strings, flute and choir. The result is a sense of expansion, music in constant motion. Without traditional musical signposts the listener must rely on internal signals - and is left to extract guiding themes on their own. Coulter and McKay know where they want this music to go. Their influences and inspirations may be out of the minimalism, prog-rock, avant-garde and spacemusic genres, but it is their unique talent and relationship to their instruments, audience and to each other that makes the music of The Tangent Project so distinctive.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 24 June 2010