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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 1718 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars Sometimes less is more

Reading a thread about "Tales from Topographic Oceans", discovered I had not reviewed this controversial album, and I say controversial because for some people it's a masterpiece, while for others is a pile of manure. As usual the truth can't be found in extreme positions, art is not just black and white, there are different tones of gray, so let's try to see what's the issue with his album.

"Tales" had a great problem from the start, being that it's predecessor "Close to the Edge" , the standard by which YES is judged. Any posterior release (Except Relayer) would had paled in comparison, specially it's successor that tried to be an ambitious double release, with an extremely weak concept that fails to provide the coherence required for this project

But that's not all, one of the most representative band members (Rick Wakeman), felt uncomfortable with the process of recording this album, this is a real problem, because "Close to the Edge" success was highly based in Rick's solos, and he was obviously not giving his best for this record

But the question remains...Is "Tales from Topographic Oceans" a masterpiece or a piece of crap? I believe the answer is in the middle of both positions, the good parts are simply brilliant, but the problem is that too many sections of the album are simply boring and seem to have recorded only to fill enough space for two albums.

"Tales" begins with "The Revealing Science of God (Dance on the Dawn)", which I believe is the most solid of the four suites, mainly because they seem to rely in team work rather than in the usual solos, despite the internal problems, YES seems as a band more than as five virtuoso musicians adding their talents without restraining their egos. The extremely acute voice of Jon Anderson is moderated by the good backings done by Chris. The lack of many solos is replaced by an intelligent team work, maybe some Wakeman magic is missing.

"The Remembering (High the Memory)" starts with a nerve breaking introduction where Jon is more annoying than usual, specially when Chris is not there to hide the high pitches that hurt my eardrums, but the main problem is that this intro takes nowhere, it just keeps going around endlessly without any coherence, and when you think it has ended and at last the song is going somewhere, they start again with his tedious prologue.

Only around the fifth minute, the track seems to reach something, but it's a mirage, and it's absolutely unrelated with the intro, as if they had broken the song in two. But the real problem is that the rest of the song is extremely weak and seems as a boring Sunday afternoon without soccer, baseball or football.

"The Ancient" (Giants Under the Sun)" is really the peak of the cheese, despite a strong start it turns into a big mess and absolutely boring, without feet or head, except for a nice acoustic guitar passage ruined by the terribly annoying voice and lyrics by Jon Anderson, nothing can redeem this track.

The album ends with "Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)" is by far the best song of the album, absolutely vibrant and at last a bit of coherence with Wakeman in one of his finest moments on this album.

But it is too late, "Tales From Topographic Ocean" is one of the most uneven albums I ever heard, it's obvious they didn't had enough material for a double release and the concept is so vague, that practically doesn't exist......"Ritual" alone can't save this less than average YES album.

Two stars for the good moments that could reach 2.5.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 2/5 |

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