Whenever I would buy something either it’s between Doug Larson Imports, Wayside Music, Kinesis, Syn-Phonic Music, or at The Laser’s Edge which has been my go-to site since 2008, I would always wait to see what new arrivals would get me going. It wasn’t until April of this year, I went ahead and bought on The Laser's Edge website perhaps my first introduction to the music of a band from Detroit, Michigan called, Tiles. Their sixth and new album in a 2-CD set is entitled, Pretending 2 Run which is released on The Laser’s Edge record label, is a song-crafting cycle of a story of a man who is blindsided and disillusioned by betrayal.
Formed in 1992, the band were on the heels of getting a production deal with the fire-breathing-tongue-wagging master of KISS, Gene Simmons. And their music is heavier and compositional combining the essence of hard and progressive rock rolled into a complete full circle. They have released five albums from 1994 to 2008. They took an eight-year absence after the release of Fly Paper.
Now in 2016, they are back with the release of Pretending 2 Run. With Terry Brown who worked with Rush, Max Webster, and Klaatu, is returned to the production side. He worked with Tiles on two of their albums (Window Dressing and Fly Paper). And now it’s his third collaboration on working with the band. For me, it’s almost as it’s a friendship that you can’t let go and always being there when the time is right.
Tiles considers Mark Evans on Drums & Percussion, Jeff Whittle on Bass Guitar, Fretless Bass, Keyboards, and Vocals, Chris Herin on Electric/Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo, Keyboards, Trumpet, and Vocals, and Paul Rarick on Lead and Backing Vocals. They brought along some help including Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs), Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, The Avengers, Steven Wilson), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree, Armonite), Matthew Parmenter (Discipline), and Mike’s son, Max (Next to None) to name a few.
It’s an amazing line-up that Tiles have brought in for a helping hand. And believe me, it works in various formats in the eight centerpieces that will give you a chance to as I’ve always said in my reviews, to take note. Voir Dire is a cross between heavy time-changes from the quartet. Here Chris’ riffs and lead sections come to mind of Alex Lifeson and the late great Dimebag Darrell Abbott of Pantera with pumped-up distortions.
And the last 44-seconds of the song features this cross between King Crimson’s THRAK-era, Diablo Swing Orchestra, and of course, Oingo Boingo as if Danny Elfman had conducted the last section with an odd twist for a stop-and-go change for a climatic end. Taken by Surprise is filled with darker territories with a fast-paced rhythm featuring killer riffs, and organ-driven danger of disloyal right in front of your very eyes.
There is a relevant scenario of Tool, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Deep Purple, and Rush that comes to mind. Inspired by the quote of Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince), Refugium features a chilling ominous choir done by the amazing Renaissance Voices and Con Spirito and brings forth of Italian Prog maestro’s Murple’s conceptual album, Io Sono Murple.
Adam Holzman’s synths on the Moog, gives an ambient atmosphere to bring the styles of Edgar Froese and Vangelis. As if he made a continuation between Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon and the score for the 1982 sci-fi cult classic of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner on Other Arrangements and The View From Here.
Jeff Whittle’s Bass comes center stage. He ascends from top to bottom whilst he is off-the-wall with a fuel tank ready to pump out the 4-strings as he and Mike Stern do a duel together. Mike’s solo is a scorching, heightened, and grasping improvisation that is like an all-powerful chainsaw ready rev up and cut down some trees that is ready to hit at the exact momentum on The Disappearing Floor.
Father-son duo Mike and Max Portnoy come into the drums with a Folk-Prog ballad done in the styles of the Strawbs, Yes, and Traffic’s Last Exit sessions. They work well together on the percussion as they help out with the string-section with a sentimental and heartwarming pastoral atmosphere. Both father and son help out in the waltz section finale on Fait Accompli.
Chris takes full control over his guitar on Uneasy Truce. Both rhythm and lead sections, he carries the twists and turns with a classical and virtuoso legacy. He is very much a conductor as if he’s giving Tiles the right moment on where he wants to go in the various time signatures as Joe Deninzon’s violin helps out a-la Eddie Jobson and Darryl Way style!
I’m very new to Tiles’ music, but listening to Pretending 2 Run with the amazing artwork done by Hugh Syme, who’s best known for his artwork with Rush, gives us a brilliant conceptual designs he’s brought. It’s almost as if he is paying tribute to the late great Storm Thorgerson and he nailed it. For me, this is an exhilarating, emotional, haunting, and powerful album I’ve listened to.
It will contain a few listens to sink in, and Tiles a gigantic home run for me of the conceptual song cycle. Tiles have shown they are back and are ready for another amazing adventure and seeing what lies ahead of them next.