Tiles
Tiles Special Edition
01/03/2004
As an integral part of a prog-rock wave that experienced its first commercial heyday some thirty years ago with acts such as Rush and Saga – and has found its most eminent contemporary representatives in Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree – Tiles from Detroit have been creating their own niche since 1993. Not only insiders consider the quartet surrounding guitarist and main songwriter Chris Herin as one of the most important acts at the interface of progressive hard rock and deeply melodic numbers. Asked about their unmistakable fingerprint, Herin explains: “A cross between Rush, Jethro Tull, Queensryche and Iron Maiden,” adding: “We tend to be a bit dark and thoughtful, sometimes moody.”

This description applies only to a very limited extent to Fly Paper, the band’s latest and fifth studio recording. The album impresses with eight phenomenal compositions (plus a bonus track) of between a tight 3:16 minutes (‘Passing Notes’) and lavish 8:09 minutes (‘Hide And Seek’), as multi-faceted and varied in their playing time as they are in terms of their structural density. “'Fly Paper' seems like a continuation of the direction we had with 'Presents of Mind',” Herin explains. “We made a conscious attempt to keep our epic tendencies in check – since we had thoroughly exorcised those demons on 'Window Dressing'. We wanted 'Fly Paper' to have an accessible song-oriented, almost melodic rock focus.”

To live up to this ambitioned claim, the band members Herin, Paul Rarick (vocals), Jeff Whittle (bass) and Mark Evans (drums), enlisted former Rush producer Terry Brown as leading sound engineer and producer. “Sonically, we asked Terry to help us craft a polished yet organic recording, something that the listener can reach out and touch – along the lines of Rush`s 'Permanent Waves', which Terry produced and mixed. 'Fly Paper' is the second recording Terry produced for us – plus he had mixed 'Fence the Clear' and 'Presents of Mind' – so we have an established and strong working relationship. He has a great instinct for knowing when we’ve done our best – and digital technology lets us save everything! We also wanted to stay focused on the guitar – with heavier sounds, more solos and fewer keyboards.” In line with this, the new Tiles album sounds correspondingly and suitably powerful!

When asked about Fly Paper’s concept and artwork Herin says, “The songs are connected by a theme of human vulnerability; how we as people are continually warding off threats to our well-being – and the emotional range we experience co-existing with friends, families, the world at large and even living with ourselves. After I discussed the lyrics with Hugh Syme he came up with the simple-yet-disquieting paper airplane floating over New York City – which represents an obvious sense of threat (in a post-911 world), while maintaining the whimsical notion that the plane is only paper. Yet the airplane is made of newspaper to depict that the printed word has its own historic sense of political and literary menace."

Furthermore 'Fly Paper' offers several luminaries of the scene such as vocalist Alannah Myles (‘Back & Forth’), cover artist Hugh Syme (keyboards on ‘Crowded Emptiness’ and ‘Passing Notes’), guitarist Kim Mitchell (‘Dragons, Dreams & Daring Deeds’), and one very special guest from Terry Brown’s past. The result speaks for itself: "Fly Paper" is an instant classic which features significant differences from its predecessor, 'Window Dressing', that bring out all the band’s strengths. “'Window Dressing' is a dark and demanding piece of music – it requires the listener’s undivided concentration. For 'Fly Paper', we wanted to lighten the mood and bring up the energy level – and stay away from our epic tendencies.” There remains only one thing to do: listen and enjoy!