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Tangle Edge - 1983/2011 - "Dropouts"

(122:50 2CD, ‘Tangle Edge’)


Prolusion. TANGLE EDGE is a Norwegian band that was formed in the early ’80. They have seven full-length albums to date, although this double CD, “Dropouts”, consists of their archival recordings from their earliest sessions.

CD-1 (55:00)


1.  Space-Party 0:41
2.  Broken Heroes are Hard to Drown 3:45
3.  New Refreshment 5:10
4.  Slow Essence 4:06
5.  Crash-Ride 4:36
6.  The Game Watcher 3:00
7.  Escapement from the Twangy-Man 14:53
8.  Born to Bell 1:47
9.  Resistance & Resonance 7:40
10. Angoraphobia 2:15
11. Scratches of Pain 5:22


Ronald Nygard – el. guitar; drum synth
Hasse Horrigmoe – bass; penny whistles
Tom Steinberg – drums; drum synth; voice
Analysis. Musically, Tangle Edge has been compared to many outfits, but never to Black Sabbath, a highly-influential English band, hailing from Birmingham. To my mind, however, it’s nothing other but the instrumental content of the B Side of the Brummies’ self-titled debut LP (where there is no Doom Metal, as you might remember) that has served as the main source of the trio’s inspiration, at least at the time of creating this material. The members of the trio all sound so sufficiently distinctively, so to speak, that it even seems to me at times that I hear some pre-Sabbath staff that Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward recorded without Ozzy. There are eleven tracks on this disc, and five of those, Broken Heroes Are Hard to Drown, New Refreshment, Crash-Ride, Escapement from the Twangy-Man and Resistance & Resonance are all very similar to Wicked World and Warning by the Sabs, alternating classic hard-rock moves with kinda psychedelic jams – mainly bluesy improvisations, some of which appear as unnecessarily long and fairly meaningless as well, like those on the latter two pieces. (Here, I must note that while Black Sabbath is my most favorite band ever, I find the Side B of its self-titled debut LP the weakest part of its entire work.) On each of the above tracks the band sounds as it is – as a guitar trio recording their material at one sitting, just at a stretch, and so the music is often lacking in structural density. Bearing in mind their studio conditions (think restrictions), they had to invite another, rhythm, axeman who would thicken up the riffs, and then, when the lead six-stringer went into a solo, there would be no drop in power. Born to Bell is certainly an excerpt from some longer composition – a short over-eclectic jam that appears as if from nowhere and has no proper finale either. Scratches of Pain is of a similar musical nature, but comes across as a much more cohesive thing, perhaps because it is basically slow-paced. Space-Party finds the guitarist (or the bassist, not sure) eliciting effects from his guitar (or bass) pedal, throughout sounding almost not unlike FX from the Sabs’ “Vol. 4”. As for the remaining three tracks, The Game Watcher, Slow Essence and Angoraphobia, each of them contains some real playing, but is overloaded with electronic effects, albeit some of the ‘pedal’ ones (still in Black Sabbath’s manner) are sometimes clearly heard as well, in all cases.

CD-2 (67:50)


1.  No Doubt 5:46
2.  Banana-Raincoat in the Chicken Garden 7:28
3.  Floating Arts & Crawling Flutes 1:46
4.  The Bone Variation 6:34 
5.  Cutaway View 5:20
6.  Subjective Evaluation 17:04
7.  A Walk for the Hero’s Guitar 4:38
8.  Tangosial 6:05
9.  Creeping Midnight 5:02
10. Deep-Swimming Hog 2:25
11. Morning of the Scapegallows 4:15 
12. Outradius 0:42
Analysis. While there are a lot of grains of Black Sabbath’s genetic code in this disc’s musical structure too, it leaves a better impression than the set’s first item. Four of the twelve tracks here, The Bone Variation, A Walk for the Hero’s Guitar, Tangosial and Morning of the Scapegallows, are stylistically similar to the ones forming the main bulk of Disc One’s contents, but are on most levels stronger than those, especially when the band starts jamming, as then it does really give a further, proper development to the style the Brummies played in on that very Side B. (I’m happy that they did never return to it in their further work, trying to improve it.) The pieces like No Doubt, Banana-Raincoat in the Chicken Garden and Creeping Midnight all consist predominantly of bluesy-psychedelic moves which, however, vary in pace as well as structurally, the musicians all soloing differently, yet rarely at random. Good stuff. And by the way, the last of these is the only track in the set that, as its curtain falls, reveals some classic doom-metal arrangements. Cutaway View and Subjective Evaluation are both basically slow-paced, developing similarly to Scratches of Pain from the first disc, which works not very well in the latter case, since the piece is long (17:04), whereas the – rock – improvisations that it’s made up of are for the most part fairly plain or, to put it more precisely, never really sophisticated. Of the remaining three cuts, Floating Arts & Crawling Flutes is acceptable, whilst Deep-Swimming Hog (a drums-based piece with a strong synthetic flavor) and Outradiu (where there are nothing but some odd flute solos) both come across as fillers.

Conclusion. This is a pretty strange collection, coming into the world from the dusty attic of the band’s work. The sound quality varies from track to track, but is below average overall. The tracks themselves vary in quality too, but only about one third of those are, say, above par compared to what I personally see as Black Sabbath at its most embryonic :-). The band's previous effort, "Serpentary Quarters" from 2006, is way better than this one.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: December 15 & 16, 2011
The Rating Room

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Tangle Edge


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