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Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow CD (album) cover


Jon Anderson


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3.97 | 453 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars If there is one album by Jon Anderson to deserve a classic status, it's this without a doubt. A 'must' for a collector of YES-related stuff. Rarely any solo album goes into such extremities in being a unique one man's brainchild: Jon wrote a fantasy story and made all the music by himself (with only technical help). Yes, he plays all the instruments here! Unfortunately the sleeve notes don't list them, but at least keyboards, guitars, harp and percussion are used. I bet if he had any drawing gifts he would have made the cover art too.

This album is, in a word, unearthly. It would most likely sound odd and clumsy to any non-prog listener - who couldn't even categorize it. It's not rock, nor is it New Age; it has this and that melted into one. World music from another solar system? That sounds true. I found the LP in the late 80's (I was very much into YES by then). I still have respect for this... er, piece of art, but frankly I listen to it very rarely. (If I had got it on CD, I probably wouldn't even have it anymore, so important is the overall package in this case. With this in mind I can't give more than 3 stars.) Some parts of it are extremely irritating, amateurish and low-fi, and the lyrics of which one hardly understands anything even without shamanistic lines like "mutto matto", don't really help to digest it. The story, including some beast-looking interplanetary vehicle called Moorglade (see the cover), also goes beyond me. But then again, it's best just to let go of all your expectations and let the music take you out of this world. Then you can enjoy its uniqueness and notice that some parts of it are actually very beautiful. The first two tracks are a nice and fairly accessible introduction, but are followed by the worst parts. The second side is better. In the end a dreamy, slow-tempo, New Age -type instrumental 'Song Of Search' is followed by 'To The Runner', which is like a basically simple Prog Folk song with an unusual soundscape: hypnotic rhythm pattern and a repeated high- noted synth riff, and it all ends with a serene keyboards-only finale that could be appreciated even in a work of a 'real' composer.

If Jon was once capable of doing THIS by himself, how can his discography be so full of weak material? Anyway, the very best song he ever did is the amazingly proggy 'Animation' from the album of that name.

Matti | 3/5 |


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