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Yes - Fly from Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.42 | 1157 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars If nothing else, one of the things 2011 will be remembered for is the year that a bunch of classic-era prog acts decided to release new albums. What is possibly the most highly anticipated of them all is Fly From Here, Yes' first album in a decade. While the anticipation was met with skepticism at the lack of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman, the album is generally pretty good, and is a fine release from the boys.

First off, let's cover the two changes to the lineup: Benoit David on vocals, and Geoff Downes on keyboards. David is a good Anderson clone for the most part. There are a few times when I get so into the music and his voice that I completely forget that it's not Anderson and I really don't have a problem with that. He's a good singer, and fits in with the rest of the members, and that's good enough for me. Downes on the other hand is a bit of a different story. His keyboards are mainly reserved to the background, with his handful of leads being less than memorable; one of them being pushed extremely far down in the mix and the other sounding not quite Wakemany enough to get away with it. I enjoy Downes' contributions to the atmosphere, but the lack of more solos is pretty apparent.

The other members all play their parts, with Steve Howe being the strongest on guitar. In general, the music is softer and at a slower pace than the Yes I'm used to, but the composition remains strong. Yes manages to sound like Yes, but without quite harking back to the sound of the 70s. Having not heard anything since Awaken, however, this could just be their 80s or 90s sound in a new era. Regardless of what decade this music sounds like, it's really nice to listen to, even if the band does show their age a bit.

The focus of the album is the 6-part titular suite which gets things off to a good start. It doesn't approach the grandiosity of the epics from yesteryear, but it's consistently good. Even though the subsections are very distinct with only a few lyrics and motifs being shared between them, it still manages to feel like one song. The transitions between them are also quite rough, which is the biggest disappointment of the suite. The individual tracks are all solid, with a lot of good ensemble play and vocal passages. The harmonies are my favorite part of the whole album, and it seems like the band has retained this aspect of their music the best. While the penultimate section is pretty goofy, the final reprise is pretty satisfying and concludes the suite really nicely.

The next three songs are much shorter affairs, and are the low points of the album. They all have a couple of decent moments, but overall are quite weak when compared to the opener. The "good" thing about this is that the trio is right in the middle, so you're at least not left with the mediocrity as a final thought. The last two tracks are really good, and come at a time in the album when it really needs it. The first, Solitaire, is a beautiful classical guitar piece by Howe, and the second is a really energetic song that reminds me the most of classic Yes. These two close out the album with a bang, and leave me with a great feeling.

Even though I don't care for the three tracks in between the opener and Solitaire, there's still a good amount of really solid music to be found here. Of course, if you put this album up against Close to the Edge, you're never going to like it for what it is. However, if you manage your expectations you'll find that Fly From Here is a really good album, and a strong 2011 release that proves that the band has still got it.

m2thek | 4/5 |


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