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Yes - Close To The Edge CD (album) cover

CLOSE TO THE EDGE

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.65 | 3162 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

JuLs10
5 stars Seasons will pass you by, I get up, I get down...

Be prepared to live a musical experience beyond imagination. You're looking at one of the most brilliant, elaborate and wonderful pieces of not only music, but real ART. A compilation of creativity never before seen, and that would be hard to even reach.

The name? Close To The Edge

One couldn't help but think what's so special about it. If you're starting to dive into the deep waters of progressive or classic rock, you're probably unaware of the kind of world you're getting into. It is rock in another lever, sure; but what makes this level go beyond any barriers, that can hardly be reached? I can tell you that: you get captured from the very beginning to the end.

Before I start to talk about the music, we should see the album as the final product. The cover doesn't show that much: a shade of green with bright and intricate letters. The beauty inside the mystery is slowly revealed, once you open the package. A beautiful landscape, with astonishing waterfalls that seem to float in the sky, gives a better idea of the edge the title is talking about. The way nature is exposed gets you breathless.

How about the tracks themselves? What's with the fact that there are only 3 tracks? Breaks all the rules! I want my money back! Well, not so fast. Let's try to put ourselves in the art's position. There's a reason why we have this number; we wouldn't need any more tracks if these 3 can build up a whole experience. Like you wouldn't need to paint extra trees or houses in a canvas that already has everything you're looking for. Not listening to any tracks yet, we must trust the artist on this one.

OK. Now it's time to get into the music. What we're here for. Now I must recommend that, if you're listening to this album for the first or the 100th time, it works best if you stay in a quiet room, get a good pair of headphones or some nice monitors, and close your eyes. The way your brain connects with your ears and what they're getting is essential to really appreciate what's going on with this album (and for the experienced, it might help to find something you hadn't listened before).

Close To The Edge, track number one, starts with a peaceful, natural selection of sounds that start to build up as the seconds go by. This is crucial for the connection between the visual artwork and the music. As your getting more and more comfortable with the landscape, The Solid Time Of Change comes in. What we can consider as an intro is really a masterpiece by itself. Strong and confusing at the same time, the tension created by this point suggests a strong entrance, with each instrument playing an important role of the song. Each pause that the vocal harmonies give to the instruments helps to focus the attention on the beat, and you start to get lost with the riffs, even though the guitar keeps developing the solo. Once you reach the first big pause, you start to feel curious about the rest. By the time the first lyrics start to roll, you're already connected and aware of each instrument, and the ups and downs between blocks through the transition to Total Mass Retain seem natural (although, musically, represent a complexity never before seen in rock music). This is also the part where we hear the essence of the album's concept, a spiritual journey, throughout the lyrics. One can't help but wish that this part didn't end so fast, because the connection is getting stronger as we speak, but as I Get Up I Get Down starts and the vocal polyphony develops, your spiritual side feels peaceful and the lyrics start to flow. The organ interludes match with the vocal's highest point, and as it comes down again one knows that it should be uphill from here. Then, suddenly, the organ starts to fall and the keys rise, and you start to feel the change. Then, again without awareness, the song changes radically, and returns to a variation of the main theme, eventually leading to the key solo, which is the musical climax of the song. One must give credit to Mr. Wakeman for creating such wonderful piece, that may feel sometimes exaggerated but never too much. After that, the song returns to its main structure but a little different; the way you associate the first verses tells you that, knowing that nothing is like you thought it would be. What we call Seasons Of Man is nothing but a rising way to end a magnificent song, where the instruments collide into an epic closure fading out to the original natural sounds. By now, you should feel relief and satisfaction, as you have witnessed one of the most wonderful pieces of music. Congratulations, you made it through almost 19 minutes that, if you did it right, flew by as if they were 8 or 9.

Next we have And You And I. A beautiful song, the "lightest" of the 3, starts with little preparations in an acoustic guitar. Remember you just got back from an intense journey through almost 19 minutes, and its important to let your brain rest for a while. However, this doesn't mean the song's weak; au contraire, it's still powerful and brilliant. As you continue through Chord Of Life, the song starts to build a solid foundation, giving you the opportunity to take back everything you left behind on track 1. As it enters to Eclipse, you feel the vocals and instruments connecting each other in an epic way. This piece doesn't last too long, but makes a wonderful connection between each sections, without which would sound weak. Remember this is about taking a journey, a path, and each step is as significative as the previous one; it doesn't matter if they're long or short. By the time you leave this sensation behind, the acoustic guitar hits again, in a way that can't help but resemble Roundabout. But during The Preacher, The Teacher you get a more comfortable feeling, that somehow you're in the right direction. The song develops and the lyrics return to Eclipse, giving the feeling that you're closer to the end. Apocalypse ends the song the same way it started: in peace and calm. It takes the lyrics back to the Chord Of Life ones, but in a soothing and relaxing way, with the final notes hitting before you get the chance to notice it's gone. Again, you've returned from a 9 minute journey that wasn't quite long as you thought. And can't help but want to ride it again.

[NOTE: Personally, I prefer the Alternate Version of this track over the original, which features slight differences in the music, but the lyrics remain the same]

Finally, we reach our final track, Siberian Khatru. This was the first track I really enjoyed as a prog newbie, as it features more animated and less complex parts. That doesn't mean its the best, but its probably the one you could get caught with the most. Each part of it has a strong theme that you can remember easily, and they don't change as quick as the ones in the other songs. So be prepared to listen a different and yet entertain piece of greatness. It starts with a nice classic-rock guitar riff. Like I said, this is so memorable that gets you from the very beginning. The whole band takes its place, and slowly begins to take you up and running with the classic 15/4 theme that follows you through the song. The way the guitar keeps raising the octaves one by one makes you grow the same way the bass did in CTTE. When the riff completes its cycle, the song goes into a powerful theme, full of energy. The harmonies flow naturally on top of the music, giving a somehow slower mood. The "chorus" then comes (Even Siberia...) and the polyphony shows its first sight, anticipating what would come next. Another verse and chorus show up, taking the same energy. The vocals extend for a couple of bars, giving us a sensation of fullness, as we were expecting it from the previous chorus. This part is now complete, and we should be prepared for the next section. The instrumental interlude seems quite an epic by itself. The transition from the sitar sound to the harpsichord to the slide guitar to the electric guitar solo sounds amazingly well performed, even though it only lasts for less than a minute. There's plenty of material to talk about in this piece of music, but we'll leave that for another occasion. The intro hits with more distortion, and then the vocals display the most important phrase, which actually links with the chorus and gives the whole content a real sense. By now we're able to get the concept of the song. But there's no space to think about that; the song's already taking us back to the main structure. So let's keep going. By the next chorus, we're missing the first important lyrics. This makes us think that somehow feels different, but still right. The small phrases develop in the right atmosphere, and that's were we hit the first theme again. We know that after this cycle something should show up and drives us to the next exit. We find an answer soon enough. Although the guitar keeps playing the main theme, the vocals and drums play in a very unusual way that may cause confusion and distraction. But don't worry, we're going back very soon to the main course. The guitar solo keeps going all the way as the song fades, taking the wheel in a journey that, again ended before we could realize it.

There you go. We have successfully been able to listen to a rock masterpiece, and the journey has made us more than satisfied. Our souls have been fulfilled, our ears have been blown, our hearts have been pumped up to a level we never though we could achieve by just listening to music. It would be hard to recover from it, but we'll make it. And remember that, every time you need to take this ride, you can take it as long as you're aware of the world you're getting into.

This is the Close To The Edge experience.

JuLs10 | 5/5 |

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