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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover

MAGNIFICATION

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 1094 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars In my opinion, Yes could have entitled this album Magnificent and it would have been fitting. For the first time since Time and a Word, the orchestra is on deck, playing alongside pioneers who blended their unique style with the rawer essence of rock. Steve Howe's guitars are manifold and diverse, both in style and texture alongside the swirling orchestra. Chris Squire maintains the low, but doesn't mind firing off a few outstanding riffs once in a while; yet it his background (and in one case lead) vocals that stand out the most. Alan White batters away, imbuing the music with great energy. Jon Anderson's voice is as elegant as ever, but the overall vocal harmonies with the rest of the vocalists is somewhat different than before- it sounds aged, I suppose, which in my opinion is a wonderful thing. If there was ever an album that didn't need a proper keyboard player, this is without a single doubt it. No other Yes album sounds like this at all; the sound has a darker quality despite most of the songs being generally uplifting and in high spirits as much Yes music is.

"Magnification" A stirring and gallant first song, this stirs my soul and stands out as one of Yes's best works in a very long time. The lyrics waver in that fascinating realm of nebulousness and fascinatingly true to the sound that Anderson weaves so well. Squire sounds amazing singing backup, and Howe's playing suits his style throughout the whole piece. While I normally would cringe at such a thing, this song degenerates into a barrage of noise- but that merely sets things up for the next piece.

"Spirit of Survival" Here is the aftermath of the destructive-like ending of the first amazing song. The heaviest of all the tracks, I imagine that this is what Yes would have sounded like had Anderson stayed with the group for Drama; that gritty guitar and those heavy passages, interspersed with quieter, floating movements, reminds me of "Machine Messiah."

"Don't Go" If the album had a single glaring flaw, this might just be it; it's on the border of typical Jon Anderson schmaltziness and the more ridiculous elements that made much of Keystudio (particularly "That, That Is") somewhat embarrassing to listen to. The big difference is, this is so much fun. Plus, the orchestra and band sound great. On top of that, the melody is catchy as all get out. So it's not so bad after all!

"Give Love Each Day" The classical opening is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard an orchestra play, nay, in my life. It leads into the song proper, which is somewhat dark in mood, with Squire's bass taking care of the main riff. Squire's deep vocals underneath Anderson's are phenomenal, showing what a great backup singer he is. Howe's electric in the background glitters even more so than it did on "Starship Trooper."

"Can You Imagine?" A leftover track from the long-abandoned group XYZ, this is a rare Yes track featuring Squire on lead vocals. It's a brief song, but expertly performed and with a beautiful melody. The orchestra has a prime role in this song. The vocals are quite frankly some of the finest Yes has ever done. For those who love Fish Out of Water, this is the proverbial "lost track" right here- brilliant.

"We Agree" Another outstanding and favorite song of mine, this one has a great introduction courtesy of Howe. White and the orchestra add to the introduction just before the singing. The refrain is absolutely wonderful- "There are the days we will talk about."

"Soft as a Dove" If there were a second glaring flaw, this two minute piece would be it. The lyrics are pretty bad, and Anderson is almost parodying himself. The Celtic passage makes up for it though, and it's only about two minutes- no problem.

"Dreamtime" A menacing round of acoustic guitar with bites of the rest of the band and the orchestra begin one of two extended songs. Following Anderson's softer vocal interlude, almost tribal-like music ensures. Amidst White's crashing percussion, Squire treats listeners to a short bass bit before Howe takes over with quiet acoustic guitar (the second time, it's a spirited electric guitar solo). During the final two minutes of the song, the orchestra assumes control in a deep, dark, nocturnal-sounding postlude.

"In the Presence Of" The highlight of the album, this ten minute song, in my opinion, shares the same echelon as Yes masterpieces like "And You and I" and "To Be Over," and to a degree, has a flavor that is a wee bit similar to those pieces. The arrangements of the various movements are shockingly tight, and this lovely piece leaves nothing to be desired. Everything about this song is emotional and fantastic.

"Time is Time" A third short song rounds out the album. This inoffensive ditty has Howe on both acoustic guitar and Dobro alongside a lone violin, and some lovely vocal harmonies. The ending is a few more moments of the string section of the orchestra in their glory.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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