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Anderson / Stolt - Invention of Knowledge CD (album) cover


Anderson / Stolt


Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 206 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Close up of brightly coloured flowers. Zoom back to get the sun beaming down from an azure sky with a few billowy cumulus clouds drifting by. Pan to the sparkling river and then pull back to include the full view with green hills and Jon Anderson standing in white robes with his arms held out to his sides, palms to the sky, head back, eyes closed and smiling. Now raise the view higher and begin revolving the camera around him while choirs sing, strings and wood winds play, some uplifting lead rock guitar, keyboards, emphatic percussion...

When Yes released "Fly from Here" in 2011, Jon Anderson was not to be just dropped at the side of the road. Though he'd suffered vocal troubles due to an illness, he soon teamed up with Yes alumni and long time friend Rick Wakeman to produce an album which to my ears was slow, sleepy, pretty, and offered little to captivate my ears. Anderson's vocals sounded frail and shaky. However, a couple of years back I read about how Anderson was enthusiastically writing new music in the spirit of Yes. So when I saw he had teamed up with Roine Stolt, I reckoned that this should be an album with some "adventurous music".

After the first listen, I wasn't sure what I'd heard. At least not in detail. The album sounded like one extended journey through Anderson Land, a sweeping ride through an world of Love, Light, Life, and Truth. Bright smiling faces, vivid colours to lighten the spirits, beams of light, everything and everyone simply radiant. It took three listens before I began to identify a song or two that stood apart, and a fifth listen with full attention to learn to recognize each song for some outstanding feature.

The songs here are essentially sweeping, uplifting, spiritual messages both lyrically and sonically. Anderson's vocals are lead and backing with a chorus of background vocals. Though Stolt is an accomplished lead vocalist with a distinct voice, he's not obvious here. The only times I notice that Roine Stolt is on the album at all is at the albums opening when the music resembles a Flower Kings song (and we know that the Flower Kings are inspired by Yes) and in a few places where the guitar sounds like Stolt's style. As for the other guest musicians, everyone is swept into the sparkling rainbow swirl that is Anderson Land. At times there are classic Yes-like moments with a cascade of bright synthesizer notes, some cheerful guitar chatter, or some conspicuously placed bass notes. Classic Yes it is not however with only a slight resemblance to "Tales from Topographic Oceans", "Relayer" or "Going for the One". I personally feel there's more similarity to "Magnification", "The Ladder" or even "Keys to Ascension", though notably different due to the absence of Maestros Howe, Wakeman, and Squire.

Some reasons that the music all seems at first to be part of the same spiritualized hippy fantasy nebula is because a number of songs segue into each other while the songs have a free-flowing structure, shifting to new melodies and themes within songs and sometimes drifting through gentle atmospheres or rising up to powerful crescendos. One never knows so readily if a song has shifted gears or if another has begun unless you're paying attention, which is not easy to do as it's easy to get drifting on a glowing cloud while watching cherubim and rainbow-horned unicorns dancing by. There's also the fact that some songs reprise the lyrics and accompanying melodies from other songs, so with your mind sailing through radiant beams of light and love, you might be excused for thinking that "Knowledge" is still "Invention".

Nevertheless, this is not a bad album by any means. If you can handle about 65 minutes of "Love and Light" lyrics about truth, holding Jon's hand, standing together, and the Spirit coming to you, you are eternal, etc., and Anderson Land theme music, then fans of the force behind Yes music and what inspires The Flower Kings should enjoy this. This is where Yes could have / might have been by now if Anderson had stayed on with them.

Or this is just where Jon Anderson has always been traveling toward. Three stars, four stars, five stars all possible. If there's a two star rating or two I wouldn't be completely surprised. But you can't deny the greatness of the effort that goes into making an album like this.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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