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Yes - Tormato CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.97 | 1437 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Look in the dictionary under 'Curate's Egg' and you'll see 'Tormato'. While the album as a whole is rightly panned by reviewers, parts of it are excellent. Thing is, reviewers disagree on which parts.

So, why is this album panned? Because, unlike any other YES offering before now, this album is far less than the sum of its parts. The band were in a musical vacuum, unsure of themselves, and had assembled a studioload of gimmicry to try to make a 'new' sound. WAKEMAN unveils the dubious Birotron, while SQUIRE squeezes out a rather unusual tone from his bass. Compositionally the album is the definition of uneven: three slabs of the direst cheese, a couple of rather schmaltzy ballads, two hard rockers and (thankfully) one mini-epic in the tradtional YES style. The resultant lumpy feel and sharp sound of the album is difficult to like.

A candidate, then, to be cherry-picked; the better tracks will end up on your own playlists, while the rest will be discarded. 'Future Times/Rejoice' and 'Onward' (barely) make my playlist, while the two rockers are a pleasant listen once in a while. The rest of the album never, but never, gets played.

Ah, but 'Future Times/Rejoice' is such a misleading start. The two-part track lasts less than seven minutes but, in my opinion, is every bit as wonderful as the epics from 'The Yes Album', 'Fragile' or 'Close to the Edge'. For the first time since that latter album CHRIS SQUIRE is asked to play his bass as the lead instrument, and HOWE and WAKEMAN do what they do best: fill in the gaps. ANDERSON abandons the banal, direct lyrics of the previous album and teases us with deliberate obscurism, even reminding us of their 'hit' 'Roundabout' with the line 'ten true summers long'. But it's SQUIRE who dominates: listen to the octave-length slides as the song opens in jubilant fashion. During the song his bass spits and growls like a cornered leopard, while WHITE propels the music forward with an honest beat. I repeat: for the first time since 1972 the band's music has that astonishing depth afforded by SQUIRE's work. Up and down his range he goes, The rumbling backing the 'Dantalion' lyric is echoed a moment later at the 'hot metal' lyric, and I adore the sound he makes as ANDERSON counts away at the conclusion of the song.

But it is with the too-brief 'Rejoice' that the teasing is done in earnest. What a marvellous bass line! Where has that YES funk been? For me, this under three-minute track beats anything else they did post-CTTE. WAKEMAN solos away shrilly, and the song comes to a satisfying conclusion. Time for one last immortal SQUIRE run at the 6:20 mark as he soars up the fret, and the song ends. There's not a more uplifting song out there.

Which makes what follows all the more unpalatable. 'Don't Kill the Whale' is execrable. The lyrics are the main culprit: prog rock is complex rock, and such unforgivably banal lyrics trivialise both the music and the subject. 'They worship their own space/In a moment of love, they will die for their grace', ANDERSON says about the whale. Oh, really?

'Madrigal' passes in two underwhelming minutes, and might have sounded quite nice as a moment of respite between epics on a better album, but here it's completely irrelevant. 'Release Release' reprises the 'Going For The One' sound, harsh and angular, but with SQUIRE again in evidence. No idea what the point of the drum solo and accompanying canned crowd noise is: a SPINAL TAP moment, perhaps? This has got to be tongue-in-cheek - one would hope, anyway. As an aside, HOWE turns in an excellent performance here, but the composition's not good enough to make me care.

Oh dear, what have we here? 'Arriving UFO' and 'Circus of Heaven' confirm my opinion that ANDERSON ought not to try to make sense. The first of these tracks is quite acceptable musically, but with this track and the next, as well as the 'whale' track, YES throw themselves into the New Age arena, all beads and incense, wide eyes and intensity and fervent belief. Fine, it's a legitimate belief, but not so naively expressed. And what's this about: one the one hand ANDERSON tells us not to mistreat the whale, but he waxes lyrical about a circus. Sorry, Jon, have a think about that one.

'Circus of Heaven' is plain embarrassing. We're a thousand miles removed from the heights of the opening track.

'Onward' is a pleasant ballad, spoilt somewhat by the orchestration, and features a gentle love lyric. Can't argue with that. And the album finishes with 'On the Silent Wings of Freedom', a very good rock track with SQUIRE and WHITE ripping out some good work and HOWE and WAKEMAN earnign their keep. The only trouble is, it's not a patch on what they are capable of compositionally.

Look, this isn't the worst music ever committed to vinyl, but there are some stinkers here that mean listening to this from start to finish is a chore. Seven fabulous minutes and another fifteen of interest isn't a great return, but it's a mark of the band's loss of their core identity that they couldn't produce anything better. Curate's egg, indeed. I still think it's worth it, but understand those who don't.

russellk | 3/5 |


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