This could get messy. I’m tasked with scribbling a few lines about the upcoming journey into the “Y” Universe undertaken by 2 legends, Prog heroes that 99% of you reading this know more about than me. Yes, it’s part of “That” band’s DNA, as expected. It shares that “Y” chromosome, with the “X” supplied by the Flower King and his court.
I’d say that it distils the “Yes”sence, the very DNA of that home world and that if the CD underwent a Paternity test, the answer would be in the affirmative.
It could be a fragile creature born in the heart of the sunrise, floating on silent wings of freedom. It could be the owner of a lonely heart…
Oops sorry about that. That’s too easy and a cheap shot. Jon Anderson is a unique and individual vocalist and sounds like, well, Jon Anderson no matter what the setting and here it’s on a grand scale. Mister A and Mr S, with help from Mr R have created a great sounding album that deserves to be played loudly through proper speakers. I am willing to bet that the vinyl sleeve will be at least a gatefold, probably a triptych of Roger Dean Acid fried surreal dreamscapes, and such is the warm 70’s vibe that even the mp3 files radiate.
There are ethereal voices, orchestras, layers of guitar and Big church organs, all heralding back to the heydays, the golden summers of the seventies, when Prog was king and boys (and girls) sat, rapt at the feet of the minstrels playing and singing for them.
The music takes you to this parallel place, you get lost in the swirl of words and notes. The language is a familiar one, but the meaning? Well, “be nice to each other on your journey” seems to be the best my babel fish can provide after listening a couple of times.
To be honest, it’s the whole rather than the sum of the parts that we are celebrating here.
I could break it down, track by track, note by note but I’m neither anal enough nor knowledgeable enough to try.
It’s a thing of beauty, ethereal and floaty. It’s the joy of living rather than documenting. More abstract art than selfie.
Timeless, resonant with that which has gone before, there are echoes of the old- that warm semi hollow body guitar sound, the thunderous bass runs, the big church organ that all go to make up the language of the affirmative.
There are also flashes of the other parents – those vocal harmonies, that guitar sound, that break with just bass and keyboards- Very Flowery, but ultimately this is a celebration of a particular band, and it works beautifully.
The first time I played it, it was a grey and cold day and the warmth of the music felt at odds with my mood. Today, it’s bright, sunny and hot and the ambience suits the music, it feels “right” for summer’s day. The perennial optimism of the lyric lifts the soul, although the deeper meaning passes me by, I get a feeling, rather than a definite statement.
At the final analysis, this is a labour of love, the sounds and vibes are faithful to the era that it celebrates. However, I must confess that the excesses of the period that allegedly spawned punk are echoed here, with it all merging into a body of work that works on one level, but it’s a bit like angel delight. Tastes good, you get stuck in and before you know it, you’ve overindulged and are suffering from indigestion. There are some lovely parts – A lovely piano piece at the climax of Everybody Heals has just caused me to pause from scratching this to listen to it in full, but this album has that marmite potential. Part of me loves it, but another part says to the inner 15 year old that there is more to life than gatefold sleeves, Science Fiction tinged lyrics and everything including the kitchen sink tracks.
So, hit or myth? I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with this album. It is particular exercise in nostalgia for a world that I was just too young to be a part of, an elder brother’s world whereas I was the eldest. I tried. At the time I adored “Going for the One”, the first album I remember hearing / buying by Yes. I’ve filled the gaps in my collection sporadically over the years and this will join them on that shelf. It will get played, I am looking forward to seeing the artwork and hearing it in its full uncompressed digital glory, but I’ve moved on and whilst the inner 15 year old me will be enraptured, 40 years of exposure to the world outside of Yes means that the modern me will wax nostalgically for the world that this invokes, encourage the artists to be true to their muse by purchasing their efforts and accept that I’ve moved on.
Yes world – a great place to visit, but would I want to live there? I’m an urban dweller now, flouncing around slaying dragons, tripping away across summer meadows to the minstrel’s tune is a dream of an Arcadian land that I’m a stranger in. It’s an aspirational holiday destination; one that for the duration of your visit is perfect as it’s totally removed from day to day living.
Released 24th June 2016 – Europe, 8th July 2016 USA/ROW.