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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 1153 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Magnification" is YES' last album, and after some very rough recordings, it's a pretty good way to seal a solid, legendary, if a little uneven, career.

After such a mediocre album as "The Ladder", "Magnification" ("Keystudio doesn't count) is a fantastic achievement that easily towers over anything the band had done since 1980's "Drama". 21 years had to pass for YES to be able to release another really good record. The wait was long but, luckily for all of us, the band's last wasn't a disappointment. It would've been sad if the last studio album proper would've been "The Ladder." The group that produced "Close to The Edge" surely deserved a better end.

The music is back to the progressive-rock realm. The album doesn't have a keyboard player. In his stead, YES included a full symphonic orchestra to replace the irreplaceable (Wakeman), and the experiment worked. The orchestra here is not just a mere background object put there to add some big sounds to the 4-piece rock set, no. The strings and woods and metals are there to share the stage with guitars, basses and drums (plus vocals) in the same level, adding atmosphere, magic, and some passion to the music.

The music is not as complex as in YES's glorious years. True symphonic-rock "Magnification" probably it is not. The symphonic structures of "Close to the Edge", and also the jazzy elements of "Relayer" aren't here. But what we have is a collection of excellent songs of longer-than-average length with multiple instrumental sections and a very artistic approach to songwriting. This is progressive-rock no question about it. It's just not the progressive-rock that YES gave us in the 70's.

The album is very good even though halfway through I think it loses power and becomes rather bland. But the start is excellent, with a very powerful, almost-metallic "Magnification" followed by the very atmospheric "Spirit of Survival" and "Don't Go" to reach its climax in the superb "Give Love Each Day", the best song YES had written in more than two decades. It's also a rare melodic moment for the band: it has probably the most memorable chorus in their whole career.

The musicianship is excellent as expected. There's no need to discover the skills of Howe, White or Squire, but now they're more free to shine a little bit more. It doesn't hurt things the fact that Jon Anderson, whose voice is really an acquired taste, has one of his most enjoyable, least-irritating performances ever.

In the end, YES's last album is a success. It's not perfect by any standards, nor is it in the same level as the two masterpieces of the 70's ("Close to The Edge" and "Relayer"), and it's probably a little more uneven than "Fragile" or "Going for the One". But it's better than pretty much everything else in their catalogue (including "The Yes Album" and "Drama") and leaves this listener with a good taste in his ears, happy because a legendary band was able to leave the theater stage after a fantastic encore. YES' legacy lives on, and "Magnification" is a proud and worthy part of it.

The T | 4/5 |


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