Australian instrumental quintet Tangents return for the first time in almost two years with a brisk, breezy new EP for Temporary Residence Ltd. Emerging with some serendipity ahead of a new LP expected this coming September, Risk Reaps Reward presents an entirely improvised affair borne of a radio session mix-up at Melbourne’s Three Triple R. Packed uncomfortably into a tiny live studio, instruments abutting, limbs intertwined and laptops barely open, Tangents adapted in the way they know best and went for it – they jammed to their hearts’ content.
It was a jump worth taking. Densely laden but delicately arranged, the EP maintains a remarkable lightness of touch considering the confines in which it was created. Melding post-rock, folk, jazz and electronics with sometimes surprising detours into glitchy beat breakdowns, Risk Reaps Reward develops as calmly and carefully as you would expect from five musicians trying desperately not to elbow one another in the eye.
There is so much going on in Tangents’ music it can sometimes be hard to take in. “Ready” launches quickly, blooming with cello and bell out of a rapid electronic shuffle. Adrian Lim-Klumpes’ jabbed piano, happily reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” to start, eventually tumbles through with the spry fluidity of a Bill Evans chiller to dance around sly, jazzy bass and Peter Hollo’s darkly pastoral strings. “Reset,” on the other hand, behaves like the opening piece’s crooked hall-of-mirrors reflection, gently disassembling component parts until all that’s left is an abandoned pile of crackling wood and faintly resonating keys.
Tangents’ music develops with such natural elegance that its myriad crescendos are wont to overtake you. The closer you stare at the individual elements, the less likely you are to notice just how comprehensively it fills every possible space you have available. The communication between players is nigh-on telepathic, with each member’s technique honed to the precise point at which the very idea of composition itself begins to flake away like an entropic conundrum. As disembodied wails echo out across the kinetic skiffle that closes “Recast” you’re forced to pause and ask yourself how you got there: it was something – it still is something – but it will take minds aeons advanced to understand exactly how it came about and might yet again.
Risk Reaps Reward is available now via Temporary Residence and you can stream the EP in its entirety below: