Presents Of Mind


Magna Carta Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Ever since Rush hit the big time, it seems like there has been a push every once in a while to name some band with a progressive bend to them as the next Rush. I think they once tried to stick that label on Triumph, though they were closer to the metal vein than they were progressive rock.

Now, another claimant to the throne comes to challenge. Detroit-based Tiles steps into the forefront with their third album (and first for the prog-rock label Magna Carta) Presents Of Mind, a disc that occasionally comes forward to challenge your way of thinking about this kind of music, but often falls prey to overambition and not enough muscle to deliver the goods.

The band - vocalist Paul Rarick, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Herin, bassist Jeff Whittle and drummer Pat DeLeon - try to harness the magic of Rush not only by utilizing Hugh Syme (who has created the album covers for Rush since 1975) to do their cover, but also by snagging Terry Brown to mix the album. Okay, all fine and good, but what does the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 music sound like?

That's where a little trouble comes in. It's not that any member of Tiles isn't technically competent on their instrument; indeed, each member demonstrates both incredible skill and good judgment in not trying to hog the spotlight with gaudy, overdone solos. It's just that the excitement level of this album never hits a frenzied level, something that I would have expected with all the hype that people have tried to drum up about this band.

There are the moments of genius on Presents Of Mind, such as the 11-minute opus "Reasonable Doubt," which keeps my interest throughout the course of the song, and the instrumental "Ballad Of The Sacred Cows". Moments like these show the potential that Tiles has, while allowing them the opportunity to find their own voice away from the ghosts of bands like Rush and Phish, to whom they've been compared.

Unfortunately, Presents Of Mind is not able to maintain this level of brilliance, as many songs just seem to fall short of the marks. Tracks like "Facing Failure," "The Learning Curve" and "Safe Procedures" don't open any new doors to discovery, and the band doesn't throw as much life into these songs as one might wish they did.

Tacked on to the end of Presents Of Mind are two unmixed live tracks taken from a television appearance. This normally would be an interesting inclusion (especially seeing that the bonus tracks only appear on the American version), but there is a noticeable sound quality drop on "Patterns" and "Token Pledge" that is very distracting. I know these tracks should serve as a portrait into the band's coming of age, but I find it hard to believe that something couldn't have been done to improve the overall sound.

Not really progressive and not really metal, Tiles straddles the line between the two genres and, on Presents Of Mind, creates an album that causes a little more confusion and disappointment than joy. Fans of the genres may wish to pick Presents Of Mind up, and who knows, you just might enjoy it. But save the gift receipt, just in case.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Magna Carta Records, and is used for informational purposes only.