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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 1681 ratings

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EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 5/10

"Tales From Topographic Oceans" has interestingly bold moments, but most of the time it feels tired and pretentious.

After the majestic triumph of "Close To The Edge", Yes figured that it would have been hard to top it. So they made "Tales From Topographic Oceans" more ambitious, more massive length-wise, and more experimental, in order to make it completely different from CTTE and thus make sure that raging comparisons with it's predecessor wouldn't be many. They succeeded in differentiating the two albums, but "Tales..." is not at all as enjoyable, brave or interesting as it should have been.

Musically, Yes still maintain a decent sense of melody at times, as well as keeping a pretty impressive level of experimentation: in some parts the sounds coming from the band are quite bizarre and brave, the instruments intertwine each other creating a very unique form of Symphonic Prog that Yes will never repeat again. There are also calmer, Folk passages which are easily some of the key moments here. But it is with the massive lengths and the really generic songwriting that makes most of the album sound tired, bored, and incredibly forced. The wild and overall pretty good instrumentation and musicianship are not at all enough to save the album from mediocrity, but just harms it more, to the point where it simply sounds pretentious and over the top.

In the end, one of the best things this album has going for are the conceptual lyrics, revolving around Eastern Religion (one of lyricist Jon Anderson's favorite topics) and big ideas such as Culture, Wisdom, and Knowledge. Anderson doesn't fail one bit in this department, and gives a touch of passion in the music, and makes it a little more entertaining. "The Revealing Science Of God" is possibly the best of the four tracks: very well structured, it manages to stay for the most part interesting, thanks to memorable melodies and great musicianship, and the fascinating lyrics. "The Remembering" however is completely excessive: if it ended after five minutes, it would have been a really good song, but unfortunately it seems to never end, showing barely any changes. "The Ancient" also seems to be quite forgettable and tiresome, but the final track has one of the strangest endings Yes has ever come up with: "Ritual" is the other interesting song of the album along with the title track. It's memorable, it has plenty of hard hitting oddities and is ambitious without being too pretentious, unlike a good chunk of the album sadly is.

An album I hoped was going to blow me away, that would redefine my concept of Progressive Rock music, however everything was way to the excess and overly ambitious. I can see people liking the album much more than I do, but after eighty minutes of music, I can't help feeling exhausted and at the same time dissatisfied.

EatThatPhonebook | 3/5 |

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