Tiles Off the Floor 02...

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Tiles devised the "Off the Floor" project as both a career retrospective and their first official live recordings. Opting for the controlled environment of a soundstage, the band delivers "live in the studio" performances that offer new perspectives of standout tracks from each of Tiles' five studio recordings. Noted producer Terry Brown (Rush, Fates Warning) renders the final mixes with a refreshingly natural and powerful sound that harkens back to classic '70s live albums.

Picking up where 2012's "Off the Floor 01" left off, "Off the Floor 02" gives the listener more than a carbon copy of the studio versions and includes a healthy dose of improvisation, a bit of re-imagining and even a little new music in the form of a bass & drums interlude. For the initial "OtF02" 2-disc Limited Edition version, Tiles dug into the archives and dusted off a few tunes unique to their appearance at the 2005 Rites of Spring Festival featuring the last of only two full performance of the epic "Window Dressing." Also included are two bonus videos from the "Off the Floor" sessions.

Admittedly this is not your typical live CD since the band opted instead for the controlled environment of a 'soundstage.' But have no fear..., "Off the Floor 02" is truly live..., just live in the studio. And even though you could count the audience on two hands there's no shortage of energy as Tiles delivers no-frills renditions; even leaving in the few "jazz" notes and other imperfections to retain a stamp of authenticity. It's clear the band has fun taking risks and wisely rejected the temptation to turn either "OtF" into a polished studio production.

The set list represents a portion of what the band played in support of 2008's "Fly Paper." What's interesting is hearing the band's lifetime Detroit residency seeping out of their complicated prog rock constructions: a bit of garage rock looseness, Nugent abandon, Motown pulse, and a healthy dose of Elvin Jones' controlled chaos courtesy of Mark Evans' jazzy underpinnings. Lofty (and seemingly unrelated) references to be sure, but meant only in humble recognition of the inspiration and influence they provide...

In today's world of predictable and homogenous sounding recordings wholly lacking in character, the magic ears of mixing engineer Terry Brown render a refreshingly organic sound. Harnessing the performances captured by Tiles' confidant Bob Phillips, Mr. Brown pulls it all together and puts everything is in its proper place. Serving up the audio equivalent of a Van Gogh where everything interacts, blends and magically comes together to create the big picture.

"Off the Floor 02" and the previously released "Off the Floor 01" provide a fresh look at some old songs, add a few new things and give Tiles fans something to tide them over until the next studio release (finally) appears.

Les Johnson