TILES – Pretending 2 Run (2016)
Detroit’s progressive royals TILES will release next April 15 their sixth studio full-length effort, the massive 2xCD “Pretending 2 Run” album, the band’s first with prog powerhouse label Laser’s Edge.
Produced by Terry Brown (Rush, Fates Warning) and bearing an awesome artwork by Hugh Syme (Iron Maiden, Rush, Dream Theater), “Pretending 2 Run” is unquestionably Tiles’ most ambitious project to date.
Containing just short of one hundred minutes of music, the epic sees the band pushing their musical boundaries into new dimensions, and features a remarkable collection of guest musicians, including the first recorded father-and-son collaboration with Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, Dream Theater) and his son Max Portnoy.
Other notable musicians featured are legend Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), exquisite guitarist Mike Stern, Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson Band), Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Kevin Chown (Tarja Turunen, Chad Smith), Matthew Parmenter (Discipline), Mark Mikel (Pillbugs) and Joe Deninzon (Stratospheerius).
Tiles has always seemed to be one band where the expression “your mileage may vary” seems to apply. The band mix melodic progressive rock with some hard rock riffs here and there, and overall their style is quite unique.
Their sound can be very Rush like at times, and they’ve got some other contributing factors as well. We’ve seen Alex Lifeson throwing down a guest spot on a Tiles previous album, Hugh Syme doing the cover art for the fourth straight album, and having Terry Brown producing his third straight Tiles album.
But there is enough differentiation from Rush for Tiles for them carve out their own piece of the prog pie.
If you know Tiles from previous CD’s and like them, then “Pretending 2 Run” is likely going to be a welcome addition to your collection, as their signature style is all over the album, with a few new welcome additions.
If you’re not familiar with them, be prepared for a pretty captivating journey through elaborated yet melodic compositions plenty of twists, rocking passages and intriguing arrangements.
“Pretending 2 Run” is Tiles’ first album of original material since 2008, and given the amount of time that has passed they generated enough material to release a double album.
If you’ve never listened to a Tiles album before, here is what you can expect; well controlled vocals that possess a satisfying smoothness by Paul Rarick; catchy guitar riffs provided by Chris Herin; and a rhythm section that has crunchy bass and some well-timed keyboard work provided by Jeff Whittle, and solid work on the skins by Mike Evans.
The band also used a string section on many songs, providing another new dimension not previously found in their sound.
While “Pretending 2 Run” is a mammoth double CD, it never turns boring or dense. All tracks are good, interesting, with superb instrumentation and great production.
If I have to pick the highlights, maybe ‘Shelter In Place’, ‘Drops of Rain’, ‘The Disappearing Floor’ and the melodic beauty of ‘Weightless’ are my favorites, but as said, the whole thing is really satisfying.
“Pretending 2 Run” is a really good new extension in the Tiles catalog. It brings back a familiar sound to those who waited eight long years, and it has the potential to get a neophyte to explore their back catalog. My biggest kudo is that this is the most diverse sounding and most exploratory album by the band yet, without losing sight of their signature sound.
01 – Pretending to Run
02 – Shelter In Place (feat. Kim Mitchell)
03 – (feat. Mike Portnoy)
04 – Voir Dire
05 – Drops of Rain
06 – Taken by Surprise (feat. Adam Holzman & Mike Stern)
07 – Refugium
08 – Small Fire Burning (feat. Colin Edwin)
01 – Midwinter
02 – Weightless
03 – Friend or Foe
04 – Battle Weary
05 – Meditatio
06 – Other Arrangements (feat. Adam Holzman)
07 – The Disappearing Floor (feat. Mike Stern)
08 – Fait Accompli (feat. Max & Mike Portnoy)
09 – Pretending to Run – reprise 1
10 – Uneasy Truce (feat. Joe Denizon)
11 – Pretending to Run – reprise 2
12 – The View from Here (feat. Adam Holzman)
13 – Backsliding
Paul Rarick – vocals
Jeff Whittle – bass
Mark Evans – drums
Chris Herin – guitar, keyboards
Mike Portnoy – drums
Max Portnoy – drums
Adam Holzman – guitar
Mike Stern – guitar
Kim Mitchell – guitar
Colin Edwin – bass
Joe Denizon – violin, vocals