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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2028 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans [1973]

Rating: 10/10

No classic prog album divides opinions as much as Tales from Topographic Oceans does. Some view this monolithic recording as the embodiment of everything good about progressive music; others view it in the exact opposite way. The album was panned by critics upon its release and was used to insult prog as a whole; it was labeled as excessive and pretentious. Pretentious: yes. Excessive: no; I don't think a minute is wasted on TfTO.

The album contains four side-long compositions; each with unique compositional structure and emotional overtones. "The Revealing Science of God" begins a-cappela and is dominated with celestial guitar and keyboard work. "The Remembering" is probably the lightest song on the album, with melodious acoustic passages and glowing Mellotron. "The Ancient" is probably the most abstract song Yes ever recorded. The first section has a strong Middle-Eastern feel, with exotic percussion, cacophonous keys (similar to those on the Close to the Edge overture), and absolutely fantastic slide guitar; this is one of Howe's finest and most creative moments. The second section of "The Ancient" is a gorgeous acoustic/vocal piece with an oddly melancholic feel. "Ritual" is the final epic. Anderson sounds wonderful on the "Nous Sommes du Soleli" passages, and the strange middle section - which contains more exotic percussion - is quite interesting. None of these brief synopses do justice to the compositions, but describing each and every facet of these songs would be an arduous and unnecessary task.

I highly doubt that anybody could enjoy/appreciate TfTO upon first listen; many will not do so after repeated listens, either. Whether or not you like this album, it cannot be denied that Yes were pushing musical boundaries here. Like most of Yes's material, this boundary-pushing perfectly gels with my sensibilities. TfTO may be pretentious, but pretention is certainly better than uniformity - and in this case, it gave us this cavernous masterpiece.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |


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