Until “Presents Of Mind” (Inside Out, 1999), I thought Tiles was just another band, one more on the long list of 70’s tribute bands and Rush impersonators. I guess Chris Herin has done a very hard work during the last five years to achieve the results shown on “Window Dressing”, by far the best recording on the band’s discography. Again, there’s Terry Brown on the experienced controls and the brilliant Hugh Syme showing his creative visuals, but their names are not just an act of mimicry and nostalgia alluding the canadian trio. Tiles benefits from such illustrous names to give an extra prestige varnish to their excellent new album, a good piece of hard rock with a symphonic heart which, in spite of not hiding its multiple influences, has an evident charm.
CD opens with “Window Dressing” (17.11), probably the best song the band has written on its entire career. This is a magnificient epic, articulated in three sections which flow naturally and never fall on reiteration. The structure of this piece is atypical, as this isn’t the usual crescendo which is trademark of these epic compositions; the song gets to the point as it starts, tracing seven initial minutes full of distorted guitars and syncopated rhythms. The following section is an excellent melodic interlude, with a certain pastoral flavor, which leads the song to a closing movement which is even more dynamic than the opening, with driving percussions and fat guitars to close the track with majesty.
After this great start, “Remember To Forget” (4.58) reminds us of the sound on “Presents Of Mind”, but perhaps here ideas are more cohesive and the product is more satisfactory than on that CD. “All She Knows” (4.35) is a slightly poppy track that sounds clearly close to Rush, and would fit perfectly between the songs on “Signals” (1982).
The epic sound returns on “Capture The Flag” (8.54), but this time it’s not as good as the first track. The same goes to the last track on the CD, “Spindrift” (9.25); both are songs full of good ideas but they lack an elaborated structure, lasting about two minutes more than they would need to maintain interest.
What really give “Window Dressing” that brilliant touch are its instrumental tracks (which doesn’t mean the vocal job is bad; not at all). Just when it seems that the album is going to fall in some comfortable monotony, after five quite similar tracks, “Stop Gap” (2.53) appears to give the CD a new direction, with its violin sounds and percussions. The change arrives with the wonderful “Unicornicopia” (5.10), a classical piano piece, with a certain jamming atmosphere, which takes Tiles away from prog-metal clichés to reflect some interest not only circumscribed to the accumulation of decibels. “A.02” (1.14) and “Slippers In The Snow” (4.05) continue with this melodic feeling, benefitting of acoustic guitars and other string instruments to expand the sonic palette of an album that, in the hands of any other bunch of symphonic amateurs would fall into repetition.
Tiles have found the formula for, in their next work, achieve a really brilliant recording.