Band Website: www.tiles-music.com
Label: Standing Pavement Recordings
Release Date: 2014
Tiles are celebrating their 20th Anniversary in a rather unique way. They’ve decided to pull out musical treasures from their back catalog and re-do them in a live fashion “off the studio floor”. This is their second set of tunes following this procedure, hence the - 02. The quartet Tiles is made up of Mark Evans (drums), Chris Herin (guitar), Paul Rarick (vocals), and Jeff Whittle (bass). To have maintained a steady line-up over the course of 20 years is a worthy accomplishment in itself. To be able to boast of a vast catalog of great music is a huge bonus. Fans of heavier progressive rock should be pleased.
As I said Off the Floor 02 is the second instalment of their celebratory releases and it consists of ten tracks; a mix of long and short material taken from the band’s five studio albums. The idea was to take the older material and do it live, but taking the opportunity to freshen up certain elements inserting new instrumental segments; to take something familiar and put a new-ish face on it. The music of Tiles has always been on the heavier side of prog, some have said Rush influenced (their early work more than their later material) but that said we’re still treated to a number of softer, delicate interludes featuring Mellotron sounds such as half-way through “Hide & Seek” [8:10] one of the longer songs. The other thing they’ve injected into these tunes is a fair-bit of instrumental improvisation which again tends to elevate the familiar material to yet another level. The band are clearly familiar with the material. It’s well played and while they sound comfortable there are plenty of musical twists and turns for the listener to get a sense they’re doing more than just sleep-walking their way through the performance.
Off the Floor 02 is a unique package of music that will delight existing fans and will at the same time provide a great primer for new ones. With music straddling a style that mixes elements of Rush with Dream Theatre but then adds their own years of experience the music of Tiles clearly shows a high degree of maturity both in terms of composition and performance. The special edition release also includes a DVD featuring some live tracks from the 2005 Rites of Spring Festival along with a couple of studio videos. All in all it’s a great package with strong material. Recommended to fans old and new.