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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2371 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I wanted to like this album. I mean really, really wanted to like it, if only to prove snotty critics wrong. Turns out, much as I hate to admit it, I was the one who was wrong.

All right, TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS isn't "the worst album in rock history", or whatever other hyperbolic anti-prog B.S. churned out by Dave Marsh and his ilk. It is, however, a chaotic mess of an album with very little of what made Yes so appealing. It's also a textbook case of what can go wrong when one has a concept for an album without having set a note of music down yet.

So much of the album feels forced. For a band that made their name with dramatic, bold ways to open an album, the lackluster, monochromatic opening to "The Revealing Science Of God" (with Anderson reciting in a monotone) can't help but come as a letdown. Some parts of the track do eventually grow on you, but there's still an awful lot of filler, clearly present to stretch out the track to fill an album side. It doesn't prepare you for "The Remembering", where the filler starts taking over, and one begins to wonder if this really was the same band that brought us CLOSE TO THE EDGE.

Disc Two is an improvement. "The Ancient" finally gives us something a bit lively, opening with a powerful (if a tad overextended) guitar solo and maintaining a "Siberian Khatru"-ish level of intensity until the acoustic coda. Likewise, "Ritual", which still suffers from the stretching all the other tracks do (not least of which the percussion/synth section, which is at least not your typical drum solo) also features moments of greatness that bring back bittersweet memories of CTTE. The closing minutes, featuring a gloriously emotional guitar solo from Howe, is particularly sublime, emphasizing everything that's great about Yes.

In spite of the high points late in the disc, Yes really dropped the ball on this one. It's one of those ideas that sounds better hypothetically than in real life; the idea that this SHOULD have been "Close To The Edge" 4, but sadly it wasn't anywhere close. I suppose disappointment was inevitable, considering they'd already attained the summit with CTTE.

I must say, though, I never expected them to fall off a cliff afterwards.

Progbear | 2/5 |


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