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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover

MAGNIFICATION

Yes

Symphonic Prog


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4 stars The use of an orchestra is an interesting experiment and works well. Those who saw Yes and the orchestra live would generally vouch for that. In the Presence Of and Magnification have become the most played tracks live, but Dreamtime is probably the best and the most prog-like. Overall the album is a rewarding listen, but lacks a bit of edge and the closing track Time is Time is a bit of a throwaway. Lyrically it is one of Anderson's easier albums, with Spirit of Survival being about the plight of refugees.
Report this review (#14067)
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2003 | Review Permalink
Greger
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Yes album "Magnification" from 2001 is a proof that experience and more than 30 years in the music business can be a quality guarantee. Yes have never released a really bad album. Some albums are of course low-marks in their career, but compared to the music business overall, all of their albums are above average. I'm a conservative fan who think they were at their peak in the 70's with their lengthy complex songs, but their more melodic 80's releases and forward are really good too. "Magnification" contains a whole symphony orchestra, which makes the music very pompous and beautiful.

Yes is a band that you use to describe other bands with. They created their own unmistakable sound back in the 70's, and they're still in the forefront of progressive rock. They haven't lost their finger-skills through the years and they're still brilliant musicians. If I would compare this album with all the progressive rock, prog metal etc. that's released nowadays I would give it 10 out of 10, but compared to other Yes albums I give it 7 out of 10. Which is still very good!

Report this review (#14059)
Posted Sunday, January 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
koen.dejonghe
5 stars The album "Magnification" is before everything else a work of art of a rock-band with a classical orchestra. In the past there are many examples of it (Deep Purple, Zappa, Porcupine, The Beatles,..). Very often I had mixed feelings about the result because most of the time the orchestral arrngements were pretty flat. And most of the time the band with the singer is too loud in the balance. This is always a great problem for the engineers to get a nice result with so many different players with electric and acoustic instruments.

In the "Magnification" album there are nice orchestral arrangements that makes this album what I should call the classical one. The balance between the electric and the acoustic instruments is well done. Sometimes the woodwind is too silent for me and is the orchestra recorded too general. But never you get the feeling that one of the two groups are more important than the other one. As always there are the strong melodies of Anderson on the lyrics written in a very natural way.Strong pieces are "Magnification", "Give love each day", "Dreamtime" and the symfonie "In The Presence Of".

B.T.W. has anybody heard the bassoonsolo in the beginning of the title song "Magnification"?

Report this review (#14063)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
fivefishessco
5 stars Yes were made to make this album - playing with an orchestra, which effectively take the "Wakeman" parts, they sound great and fresh. Couple this with the live DVD "Yes Symphonic" and give your ears a treat. The orchestral arrangements are very good and played with commitment by a young and (judging from the DVD) mostly female European players - this is not a "jobbing" orchestra. Squire and Howe are both inspired to make major contributions playing against the power of the orchestra. This is in my top 5 or 6 Yes albums.
Report this review (#14069)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really like this album. The better things about this one are two: first of all, there is no Trevor Rabin (UGH) and second, the orchestra really WORKS.. The songs are beautiful again, the unique flaw are Jon Anderson´s songs (Time is Time, Soft as a dove). Give Love each day is one of my all time Yes favourite songs (pretty melody with passionate lyrics). I didn´t understand why some people insist in classify this one as a CRAP album. My concept about what is real crap is so different from this one....
Report this review (#14053)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Despite the fact that Wakeman is my favorite Yes-man over the years, there are plenty of proofs that a Yes album might be excellent without him (Relayer, the Ladder and this one...) and the other way round (look at Union... I really wonder where he was during the making of that album!!!)

Yes is my favorite band (as most prog and rock lovers) and I never rate a Yes album less than ***. In that case (like Union) I choose not to! This one really deserves a close look. I really don't understand those who rate this album with one or two stars... Guys, would you mind giving a few minutes (actually an hour and a quarter...) and listening to this MAGNIFICANTion piece? Forget about your prejudices, I used to think eveything done after 1979 was a piece of crap, but then I realised that it was 80's spirit (whatever it was) which spoiled the works around those days. Anyway, those days are fortunately gone, starting from nineties there's a rise in the quality of music. Just check Symphonic music of Yes (why isn't that included here, by the way???)

I do agree with some of reviewers who rate this album with **** on comparison with other yes albums, but we are living in the 2000's, not in 70's... I do think we have to compare this album to its contemporaries, and when I do so, I don't see many serious rivals around (apart from Wakeman himself!)

As for the tracks, the first 3 tracks and their orchestral sections blow my head. Though the album has a "pop" feeling, it's still Yes. Wish Wakeman was here, too! (Glad he's back, I'm impatiently looking for their next studio release)

I don't agree with the last lines of Yes' band description in this site... Though Yes entered a disorder period right after the release of Going for the One, they released other "great" albums after that.. This is one of them.

Whatever your musical taste is, just go for it!

Report this review (#14051)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album came as a surprise to me. Early in their career, Yes tried this idea and produced Time and a Word, an album that they always listed as a disappointment. I had personally thought that appraoching this concept again would not appeal to them, given the near- failure of the Time and a Word album (which nonetheless had many excellent moments). Inevitably, this set will be compared to Time and a Word and all the other band-plus- orchestra albums ever devised (Days of Future Passed, Unledded, etc.). The high quality of the recording and the complexity and sheer beauty of the ideas presented make Magnification a musical undertaking that both fulfills and surpasses any expectations that one might have. I hesitate to say that it is Yes's finest album because it is so different from all their others; but at the same time, if they were never able to record together again, this would be a good place to stop. Magnification creates its own world, and one that you must enter without compromise in order to understand. This is a quality which few pop albums possess (the second Oblivion Express album is another), and it is all the more powerful for it. The orchestrations highlight aspects of the Yes aesthetic in ways that the band could not achieve on their own. Obviously, many will hate this album, but that's only because people listen for and hear so many different things in music. For me, this album perfectly epitomizes the pop-rock-folk- jazz-classical continuum that Yes first established more than thirty years ago.
Report this review (#14072)
Posted Sunday, May 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars When a new Yes album comes out, I typically listen to it every day for a year. In the first three years after Mag's release, I've only been able to listen to the whole album in its entirety once.

The problems?

WEAK COMPOSITIONS: There's hardly a melody to be found - singer Jon Anderson saying words while the rest of the band does scales does not make songs.

WEAK LYRICS: gone are Anderson's delightfully mysterious word paintings like "sing bird of prey." These lyrics are painfully straightforward, and sound more like trite everyday conversations. Example: "She got a phone call saying her lover ran away, just another phone call, another bad day." Sad but true, Anderson consented to sing these words.

WHY AN ORCHESTRA?: The only time I like the orchestra on this album is when it's playing without Yes - and vice-versa. Yes has always sounded like an orchestra and thus doesn't need one. The band - especially brilliant guitarist Steve Howe - is often buried in the mix under a lot of people in tuxedos playing expensive instruments. Indeed it was not Yes but rather (management company) Left Bank that came up with the idea that Yes work with an orchestra. As ex-drummer Bill Bruford has often said, Yes has for too long marched to the beat of its management.

YES WITHOUT KEYBOARDS ISN'T YES: Even underrated Yessongs like "Into the Lens," "Going For the One," "Silent Wings of Freedom," and "Brother of Mine" feature brilliant keyboard runs that we now take for granted. With no full-time keyboardist and Howe's guitar subdued, there are no exciting leads or jams to be found at all.

WHY SO SOMBER? As evidenced by its name, Yes is usually a sunny affair, or at least a mix of light and dark. But this album is so locked down in minor key it sounds like the four Yes men are on their death beds and preparing to face eternal oblivion...

Report this review (#14073)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
christopher.n
5 stars This is an awesome album, probably their best composition since "Going for the One". After the disappointment of the "Rabin Years" it is great to listen to a Yes album which is truly progressive. The use of orchestra instead of keyboards enhances this album, since the departure of Rick Wakeman the keyboards on most Yes albums have been a secondary consideration. The whole album has a "Time And A Word" feel about it and the band are obviously enjoying themselves again after many mediocre years. Buy everything up to "Going for the One" and then this album, ignoring everything in between.
Report this review (#14074)
Posted Tuesday, August 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is YES at its best!!! Nobody does it better. This album should teach bands like, Metallica and Deep Purple how to work and use an orchestra! Though Deep Purple's work was apreciated, Time & A Word and Magnification is much more skillful, richer & (just) better. Thsi is not just this smug Rock Band-Orchestra -RockBand - Orchestra-Attitude (you know what I mean). What Metallica did, could be easily played on any cheap keyboard. Magnification is well structured, well arranged & orchestrated and works as a whole album.
Report this review (#14088)
Posted Thursday, August 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Actually 3 and half stars. I thought this showed promise of a return to form after so many years drifting here and there in search of something they are definately not. Or is it just that those different line-ups in the eighties and nineties weren't really Yes as many of us knew and loved 'em. Actually I thought that Keys Studio stuff with the old mid-seventies line-up started to get back on track with songs like Mind Drive. There were also traces of a return to form on The Ladder too.

I cannot help feeling that Jon could shed some of his pop-ish approach. After all he did it after Fragile and the next four albums were top draw Yes. The pop songs are the weakest on Magnification, although Don't Go is very catchy and has one of those great rolling Squire bass lines that pump up an average song into something of a groove. But even this is somewhat let down by a rather corny middle eight. The title track is brilliant and, for me, the one that works best with the orchestra...it is truly symphonic.

"Can you imagine" works well with the orchestra too. Wasn't this an old Squire song re- vamped? In any case I like it much more than the other "shorter" pieces on the album.

"We agree" is boring and "Dreamtime lacks development". But "In the Prescence of" almost makes up for them both by delivering a great melody and a fine arrangement. erhaps this is the one song that brings back some shades of past greatness (it makes me think of Th Yes Album and Going for the one in places).

I am very interested to see what they come up with for the next studio album...

Report this review (#14075)
Posted Thursday, August 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Im a fan of both old-days Yes, and the recent-days one. I was atracted to this album because of the orchestra, and Im glad I buyed it because the blend is perfect. This is very good pop-prog magnificated and beautified by an orchestra. The orchestra doesnt have much of a leading role, it just slides in with beautiful arrengements here and there. I bought this album yesterday, and Ive already heard it like 7 times: it is that accesible to the ears. I loved it right away from the start. That accesability is a good characteristic generally, but it has two down points. First, I suppose it will have little replay value on the long run. And second, in this case, that means it is VERY POP (Yet manages to be progressive) . And this last poppy quality I think its what nauseates lot of Yes fans. Theres not a hint of agressiveness here, all is happy and beautiful,and fun. So, if youre alergic to happy poppy lovely, yet good Progressive songs, stay away from this one. Go buy some Dream Theaters Train of Thought or someth.
Report this review (#14081)
Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ive been a huge fan of a Yes for many years now. This album didnt really disapoint me since i wasnt expecting much from it...but its not that good. It has its moments but until you get to the last song (In the Presence Of) this album fails in alot of places. In the presence of is the only reason this review got 2 stars instead of 1. Its the only song on the album i could actually see myself listening to more than once. Buy it if you need your collection filled...but if your just looking for a good Yes album dont pick up this one.
Report this review (#14083)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the most spiritually inspirational album I have ever listened to. Okay, call me crazy for loving an album so much. It put me at ease when I was going through a tough time in my life. I recommend that everybody listens to this album, and I will try to keep my reviews brief: (1st four tracks blend)

Magnification: Flute part is kinda Tull-ish, very complicated harmony parts from Chris, crazy good bass parts during bridge to next song. Stand out: Chris and Jon

Spirit of Survival: One of the few actual rockers, the orchestral fills remind me of a James Bond flick, but heavier, talks of refugees escaping. Stand out: Steve

Don't Go: Happy and bouncy, Beatlesesque harmonies in bridge, poppiest of the tracks, almost Supertrampy with the heavy, but sustained clairinet and guitar. Stand out: Steve and Jon

Give Love Each Day: Sweet but powerful, almost a ballad because of its uber-melodic tendencies. Stand out: Jon

Can You Imagine: Chris leads vocals, symphonic suite leads into full-blown pompous rock, very short but very good. My favorite track. Stand out: Chris and Alan

We Agree: My least favorite, but a good filler between songs. Good minor harmonies, though. Stand out: Steve and Alan

Soft As a Dove: Jon's absolute creation, a folksy little ditty reminescent of 'Olias'. Good peaceful imagery. Stand out: Jon

Dreamtime: Very cool epic song, complete with jungle-like log drums from Alan during a near-mantra chant. Fast-paced with a classical composition at the end. Stand out: Alan

In The Presence Of: Second favorite, can't describe it with words, you must listen to it. All I can say is the final part builds to a climax of epic proportions. Stand out: Steve and Chris

Time Is Time: Like Soft..., a quait little Jon ditty. It is kind of a weak ending track, but I like it. Kind of a guilty pleasure. Stand out: Alan (piano) and Steve

Report this review (#14084)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another excellent album from Yes in the 21st Century! The combination of band and orchestra works well, especially on tracks like Dreamtime. The music is full of Yes complexities which seem so effortless and fitting to each track, with the addition of an orchestra another level is added. The songs are all of high quality and beautiful to the ear, especially Dreamtime, In the presence of and Magnification. Few bands these days seem to write such high quality music that fits together so well. To many new prog. bands add the obligatory solos to tracks that have no bearing on the music, fit badly and feel like an after thought to the song. Magnification is well worth a purchase. Have listened to it about ten times to date and I am still finding new sounds from within.
Report this review (#14086)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
terrazasfamil
4 stars I was prompted to write this review after noticing the terrible bashing some of my peers had given it.Those who would bash a musical work such as this latest effort by Yes, show a remarkable lack of understanding when it comes to music and composition. This is a work that very few "rock" musicians could even conceive, let alone produce. The music shows a remarkable maturity in the development or progressive of the music of Anderson, Howe, Squire and White. I have passionately listened to Yes for the last 32 years of my life, and though it is Close to the Edge and Tales that spend the good part of the time in my player, I still could whole-heartily recommended Magnification to any true fan of Yes.
Report this review (#14091)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very much enjoy this album and agree with last reviewer. Would like to add this. Thought I read somewhere that Jon anderson was disappointed in the reception to this album. Read a similar point in an interview with Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks of Genesis that they were discouraged after reception to Calling All Stations, which I thought had some very redeeeming qualities. I very much believe that thes groups need encouragement by their fan base to keep at it. It's a joy to discover a Key studio or Magnification (and recently a brand new Strawbs album). I love this kind of music and want another Magnification any time. Hope the band is listening.
Report this review (#14092)
Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a new venture in the history of progressive rock: full orchestra replaces keyboard - the so called backbone of progsound. How does it go?

After a period of grown-up business, when it was hard to indulge oneself with a bit of prog music, I came to love YES once again after watching Yes Symphonic Live DVD. I was like keeping my mouth ajar watching and listening Yes and a full orchestra playing classic tunes such as 'Close To The Edge' and 'Gates Of Delirium', and songs that I did not knew (among other, 'In The Presence Of').

So I bought MAGNIFICATION (very late), and there it goes .. a new venture in the history of progressive rock. It was an undescribeable feeling to listen to this album for the first time (goosebumps on my whole body, almost crying with joy). I always thought that YES produces complex music with a majestic aura (not the period between 'Drama' and 'Talk' or 'Open Your Eyes'), a kind of classical music would imply. This keyboardless album with a full orchestra confirms my perception. I like this album very much!

'Give Love Each Day' (track 4) with typical Jon Anderson's lyric really showcases the usefulness of a full orchestra in building a progressive masterpiece. An outstanding track!! 'Dreamtime' (track 8) opens up with a nice intro that blends Howe's acoustical guitar with the orchestra, and when Anderson's voice came in, we were posed with a great amalgamation between rock (YES, that is) and classical music. 'In The Presence Of' (track 9) has a memorable melody (and choruses) where the bass, the guitar, the voice and the orchestra perform another YES classic. This is YES, the producer of majestic song in one of their best creativity moments. Each track has its moments and magic which should be discovered not by reading a review but by listening to it, you will be rewarded substantially! You will understand why YES is one of the greatest rock band on earth! (Nirarta, Indonesia).

Report this review (#14095)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars All bands seem to be doing this, now these days using orchestras. Even non-prog bands.

But this album, just dosen't give any good impressions. I compose music at A-Level, and have written orchestral arrangments before, and professionally from a musicians point of view: YES have tried, but it simply does not work, or rather it hasn't worked this time round, I'm not saying YES should abadon the idea, of orcheastra's though. Perhaps a re- working of this album is possible, however I believe that getting back to the days of 90125, will get YES going the way they should be. YES's Owner of a Lonley Heart is becoming quite a popular track again thanks to, Max Grahams Re-Mixed version. And also, in my opinion, the members of YES need to play there old songs again, whats the point of creating an album, and then never play the music live again just cause one of the band memebers didn't right it... (I'm looking at you Howe <(O_O)> ).

Report this review (#14096)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Wow, Yes has indeed revived with this album. While not a masterpiece, it is better than most neo prog of these times. They have used an orchestra like many other bands, but here their arrangements are made in a magnificent way so that the orchestra seems to serve the purpose of the lost keyboardist.

Magnification 7/10 : this is a little overrated in my opinion, and sounds nothing more than a nicely arranged symphonic pop song that ends with noise. The bass guitar line is very good.

Spirit Of Survival 7.5/10 : sounding like a spy flick soundtrack melded with hard rock, this is a very powerful track with the standout lyrics 'in this world the gods have lost their ways' which is something I never expected jon to sing. Steve Howe is the standout of this track.

Don't Go 3/10 : I always skip this track. This is as bad as the stuff from Big generator. The only good thing is the catchy chorus and the intro. It also feels long.

Give Love Each Day 9/10 : WOW, this is symphonic beauty. I never thought the words 'give love each day' could have such an imcat in the song's climax. It is a slow beautiful song like And You and I.

Can You Imagine 8/10 : A VERY catchy pop song of Chris Squire that should have been on the radio. Squire sings lead vocals, and jon sings beautiful backing vocals. The orchestra little riff is very memorable.

We Agree 6/10 : Very pretty guitar intro, but the song is a mixed bag, and it has a disappointing ending after all the emotion there was in the song.

Soft As a Dove 6/10 : very short pretty song that has a nice acoustic guitar break, but it is very short, and the song is not very memorable.

Dreamtime 9.5/10 : Oh My ... this song should be consirered a yes Classic! It has my favoruite intro in any yes songs beacuse of how the guitar melds with the orchestra. Then the song is full of strange 'rushed/tense' vocal melodies, nice instrumentation, great use of the orchestra, and on moments my favourite Squire riff of all times : descending bass notes crashing with the orchestra ... amazing! it eventually ends with an unecessary orchestra solo that hurts the score of this song.

In the presence of 8/10 : The intro is terrible, it is so much based around that uninspired melody and contains cheesy lyrics. It then intensifies and gets more interesting, like the ' what when I touch you there, you feel the words roll over you' melody over the midi guitar. The highlights of this song are the slide guitar solos, and the dark section with an ascending slow bass, and some choirs. This should have been the end of the album.

Time is Time 4.5/10 : a song about being old I think, and it sounds beatlesque and mediocre. I think they shouldn't have put this song in the album, since it is a weak closer of the album.

My Grade : B

Report this review (#39193)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Bob Greece
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This really is a prog rock masterpiece. Yes certainly have progressed with this album. They replaced the excellent keyboard playing of Rick Wakeman with an orchestra and this orchestra is really where this album stands out from their others. The orchestration is amazing. The songs are really good as well. There are a couple of bad tracks (Soft as a Dove and Time is Time). However, these are short and do not detract from the overall excellence of this album. It's hard for Yes to surpass themselves but they've really managed it this time.
Report this review (#39405)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes Magnification is a piece of work that still has the same line of previous Yes albums, but it really sounds different. It sounds different because of the acompanion of an orchestra, an to be honest, is not that prog as many fans would like, another big issue about Magnification is the lack of keyboards, Yes really needed the virtuosity of Rick Wakeman like no other album, and because of the absence of Rick, the sound of Yes Magnification wasn´t as progressive as previous Yes´s albums. Also, you can hear the lack of virtousism and solos, so if you are of those who like big solos and psicodelic beats, then try to borrow Magnification before you buy it, so think about that.
Report this review (#39970)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars When Magnification was released, I was surprised at how enthusiastically some members of the Yes community embraced it. Sure, it's got the consistant Yes sound that we haven't heard too often since 1980. Sure, the novelty of replacing the keyboards with an orchestra generally works throughout the album. Sure. the mood and the lyrics and the level of technical skill displayed on the album harkens back to Yes's glory days of the mid-'70's without sounding tired or retro. All of those are the things that make this a pretty good album. But there is nothing on here (with the possible exception of In the Presence of, which we may one day look back on as the last classic song Yes ever released) that lifts it above the level of being a pretty good album.

Let's break it down a bit.

Magnification: This is one of those songs where Yes takes a couple of very disparate themes and welds them into a slick (almost overproduced) production. Fortunately they didn't go qute as far overboard as they did on, say, Open Your Eyes off the album of the same name, which this reminds me of. Magnification is a good song and a strong opening to this album.

Spirit of Survival: Arena rock that harkens back to the ABWH/Union days. An ok song with a nice, energetic bass line. Not bad, but not what I buy a Yes album for, either.

Don't Go: Well, how to describe this one? This is basically a humorous Anderson novelty song, I guess, but it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. It's got the best backing vocals on any Yes album since Talk and Howe's little riffs on this one are truly awesome. It's offbeat, but it's worth listening to.

Give Love Each Day: Groupe (the orchestral arranger) gets to show off his stuff in the introduction to this progressive ballad. The rest of the song is one of those inspiring anthems that Jon can belt out when he's got the rest of Yes there to keep him from getting too syrupy.

Can You Imagine: Yet another experiment on this most experimental of albums as Chris Squire briefly takes over the job as lead vocalist. This a rather restrained and thoughtful song falls into the category of ok but not great.

We Agree: You could take the same adjectives from the last review (restrained, thoughtful, ok, not great) and apply it to this song too. The difference is that "not great" is a bit misleading, because this song really knows where it is going, building from a very simple beginning to an expansive ending both musically and lyrically.

Soft as a Dove: This is a song that I have a hard time evaluating, mostly because of the way the orchestral instruments interweave piecemeal between Jon and Steve's parts. Some days I think that it's a pretty nifty gimmick, some days I think it just doesn't quite work. Anyhow, categorize this one as another novelty piece like Don't Go.

Dreamtime: This is one of the two epic tracks on the CD. It's pretty good, even though it has to compete with the In the Presence of. Lots of energy, lots of spirit, lots of good taste throughout.

In the Presence of: The must hear song on the album. The best track over 10 minutes that Yes has released in quite some time. I think you could go all the way back to Awaken before you found another epic of better quality. (Yeah, this beats Mind Drive, That that is, and Endlesss Dream.)

Time is time: A cute, sappy closing song in the spirit of Nine Voices off The Ladder.

To sum this album up, there are really four things that you get out of it when you listen to it.

1. You get an album that is pretty close to the sound and spirit of all of those other Yes albums that you love.

2. You get to hear an experiment in replacing the keyboards with an orchestra which is largely successful.

3. You get to hear a future Yes classic in In the Presence of.

4. You get to hear some of Steve Howe's best guitar work with Yes in a very, very long time.

Report this review (#51172)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an EXCELLENT achievement for a band already over thirty five years into their career. Apart from Jons vocals been astonishingly great, the rest of the band really seem to be working so well with one another, Howe on stunning form in particular. This record (it may surprise you to know) features no keyboard player, but instead, The San Diego orchestra. The orchestra fills in a lot of the colour that would normally have been filled by the keyboards, and does a wonderful job at creating the moods and textures to match Andersons wonderful words.

This album does contain some of Yes' best material, including the seventies greats. The opener "Magnification" has powerful vocal melodies, great guitar and a crashing outro that would remind you of King Crimson. The song drifts right into the following "Spirit of survival", which altogether has a much harsher edge and a fantastic bass line from the always excellent Chris Squire. Some may feel that "Don't go" is a bit of a useless pop song, in truth it IS a pop song, but a great one, A nice catchy chorus and again strong vocals between Squire and Anderson. The only fault in this track is the rather cheesy guitar part at the beginning. "Give love each day" is yet another highlight, it is particularly on this track that the orchestra shines, the intro being stunningly beautiful and immediately reminding me of some of the work from Tchaikovsky I have heard. As the band enter Howe plays some excellent almost "edgey" guitar, but as most tracks on the album do, sounds uplifting and positive. "Can you imagine" features Squire on lead vocals and although short, is a strong track revived from sessions that took place in the eighties.

The two longer tracks "Dreamtime" and "In the presence of" are powerful, the latter including some beautiful piano from White. It is on this track that Anderson really shines as a lyricist "If we were flowers we would worship the sun so why not now? This light is burning brightly, brighter than before", maybe he is referring to the bands stunning return to form? and on the magnificent "Dreamtime" Howe opens with fast, inviting spanish guitar and has some excellent moments (Particularly the big change with odd funk elements, and tribal sounding percussion). Though the album as a whole is strong, there are a couple of songs that do seem almost pointless to include as the album is already quite long, "Soft as a dove" and "Time is time" (which closes the album) two short songs that although not bad (Howe plays fantastic acoustic guitar on soft as a dove), one would still wonder why they were included in an already long album.

None the less any Yes fan should have this album in their collection. It as an amazing achievement, and I hope Yes release another album as good as this.

Report this review (#63673)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars this album (and i imagine any new Yes album) is hard to review without bias. when people buy a new Yes album, they play it and try to find what they loved about the '70s Yes albums, but the nature of all things is constant change. i ran into this trouble when i first got it. i wanted Yes to be "back" and i wanted a 3-5 track album with epics etc. but one day i listened to it without thinking about the past and just listened to it as if it were a new band's debut album or something. and when you do that, then the album can shine. imaginative writing and playing, with some great lyrics and of course there's the orchestra. the whole orchestra with rock band works really well here. i think they've done an excellent job here, especially seeing that they're one of the oldest bands around today (in the age of the band and their own individual ages!). anyway, every Yes fan should have this album. i suppose i wouldn't say it's essential for music fans in general, but it's essential Yes. and with that said, a true music fan would enjoy this album anyway because it's simply very creative sound arrangment!

peace and love

~Adam

Report this review (#63711)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars I played some of this last night, & I didnt know whether to laugh or cry. To think that Relayer is the best rock album I've heard, this album is probably the worst. Well you can't accuse Yes of doing an okay album. The music is soppy to the point I feel like throwing up. The lyrics speak of an idealistic world that can never exist. And if it did, I'd like to see it NUKED. The problem is they've become so soft I'm sure they think they're living in a world where suffering never occurs. To quote another of their disaster albums 'Open Your Eyes' Relayer relates to real life because it's about war. Conflict is everywhere, both within & without us. Wakeup Yes men.
Report this review (#66833)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, I wasn't expecting much, in spite of the good reviews I had seen and many long time Yes fans telling me it was the best thing since Close To The Edge. I really didn't believe that was possible, given the horrible Open Your Eyes. I did think the Keys studio material was quite good and boded well for the future..........but then Wakeman left again.

Taken on strictly musical terms, this is not a bad album. The compositions are generally pretty solid, and some actually stand out as being pretty decent when held up against the impressive body of work this band has put out over their many years and incarnations. Songs like Dreamtime and In The Presence Of make you think that this band still has something to offer.

So why the low rating? Well, I have always enjoyed Jon Andersons singing on all the 70's material and the Keys albums as well. I'd have to say that this is the first album that he sings on in any format where I actually find him annoying to the point of ruining the album for me. There is just SO MUCH damn singing! It never seems to stop and takes up 99% of all the music on the album. And the lyrics are trite to the point of sillyness. Where are the guitar solos? Where are the instrumental breaks that Yes is famous for? Buried under the endless vocals, I guess. None of the songs really gets to breath under the constant stream of singing. Had there been half as much singing, I think I would have given this 4 stars. As it is, it is too difficult to focus on the music underneath all the singing (which, as I said, is some of their best in a while) for me to really be able to enjoy this album. I just can't see myself wanting to sit through this very much in the future, if at all. 2 1/2 stars is all I can muster, and that just for the songwriting and playing.

Report this review (#66836)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm surprised this album is underrated many times on the net. Of course, it's not their best album, but is has some wonderful moments on it. Give Love Each Day contains beautiful orchestral work and an excellent chorus. I also love the positive lyrics. As many other bands nowadays sing about political problems and [&*!#] in this world, Yes sings about hope, love and faith. Dreamtime is the best track for me, as it keeps attention for the full 10 minutes it takes. Other long-piece In The Presence Off is a little dissapointing as it does not contain exciting moments or stunning melodies. Anyway, some passages (like the first part Deeper) are quite nice.

I think the studio-material from Keys To Ascension (collected on the 2002-release Keystudio, highly recommended for classic Yesfans!) is the artistic peak of Yes between Going For The One (77) and this record. (with AWBH as exception) Rick Wakeman is really missed on this album, as a complete orchestra is needed to replace him. I prefer keyboards.

Report this review (#66982)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is absolutely a crime that I picked up this fantastic album for only $3.23! I think it is one of Yes' finest albums. Before I had listened to this, I was already a Yes fan, but I think even if I wasn't, I would have been drawn to their music by listening to this album. The whole album, is, overall, very upbeat like much of Yes' music is, with "Don't Go" probably being the most upbeat (probably my favorite song on there.) "Magnification" is very good, and "In the Prescence Of" is superbly beautiful. The songs all flow nicely into each other, and the orchestra was used more as an accompaniment to make up for a lost keyboard player. By doing this, Yes has more than made up for this missing element in their music. "The Symphonic Music of Yes" CD is worth a listen, although the orchestra is basically playing the song, not accompanying the band. "Magnification" has ties to the "Yes Symphonic Live" DVD which is spectacular... definitely worth buying! Please give this one a shot... it's a masterpiece.
Report this review (#68639)
Posted Monday, February 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After a long period of prog drought Yes created the stunning and new age prog- Like album Keystudios, but that is a different story. Following Keystudios was another prog album Magnification which was of a good standard but was not much compared with Keystudios or any of their other work. On the upside it easily topples stuff like Talk and Big Generator and it did feature strong connection with their other work from the 70's .

In Magnification there is no Rick Wakeman and the band was reduced to Jon Anderson, Alan White, Steve Howe and Chris Squire. To make up for the lack of a keyboard player there is an entire orchestra, a pretty good trade off in my opinion even Jon Anderson contributes by playing guitar in some parts of the album as well as lead vocals. There are some mellow songs and some interesting and good songs the best being Magnification which is the gem of the album in which both Steve Howe and the orchestra show interesting sections. Other okay songs are Dreamtime, The Death of ego and Spirit of survival. The Death of Ego features Alan White on piano, all in all it is not a great song but it is better than some of the other stuff. Spirit of Survival is a very interesting and cool song and it is stronger than most of the other songs, again the orchestra is put to good use here.

Magnification I by no means an essential album but there are elements about it which are worth having if you really like Yes. Don't be deterred by the low rating It really not all that bad but I do admit it is just a tiny bit boring in some parts. Not much has happened since then so this is in fact the band's most recent work.

Report this review (#68993)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars C'mon everybody!

This is the best Yes album since Drama (and i think it is better then TORMATO). Beautiful sounds, songs and lyrycs.

The orchestra ads a new vision at the wonderful Yes world.

Excelent...

Report this review (#69070)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes is a music band, as well as an institution. Which cares a lot for earning money. So in last few years they published a lot of concerts, remixes etc - probably enough to earn for bread and jam. The quality of all this stuff is a different thing... Yes I know they have managers, but the band really takes the responsibility for all that. If You want a new material from Yes, You have to go back 5 years... here it is - the last Yes album. Not very good. About the same quality as "Ladder" or "Keys...", far superior to "Open your eyes" (which is just a disgrace. shame on them!). Instead of keyboards we have an orchestra here. I think that most of art-rock bands never really managed to make a good ensembles with orchestra. Arrangements here are not good, in my opinion. These songs somehow retend to be serious woks, but what we have got here in fact are simple, rather nice, songs with rchestral arrangements, but it is arranged in a rather popish manner. Melodies are rather banal (take the title song or "soft as a dove") - solos good, but not surprising. Generally, nice, listenable album from an old dinosaur. Yes, dinosaur. Not dead, but heavy and weak from many years. I think that a selection of best tracks from all their 80-90ies albums could make 3 or 4 good albums. But I will not be very sad, when Yes will (in the end) cease to exist. Will it ever?
Report this review (#70441)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this album a few days ago and I like it a lot. It's almost as good as their old stuff but not the same. Well at least I didn't spend much on it.

The best songs are: "Spirit of survival", "Give love each day", "Can you imagine", "Dreamtime", "In the presense of". The others are ok but not as good.

Over all this is a good album but it shouldn't be an introduction to the band , its more of an addition. But it is worth getting, though.

***update.. After having not listened to this album in years I decided to listen to the album again. After listening to it many more times, I really do not see what i liked in it. It just Does not have that yes feel to it that i once thought it had. many of the songs seem really lame and cheesy. The album is not really bad, it is just okay. I guess i just hold Yes to a higher standard. I have to give this 3 stars, down one from 4.

Report this review (#71061)
Posted Saturday, March 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes, I'm going to say it. A masterpiece of progressive music. Sometimes, we have to consider the context of present day. Yes seems to have long abandoned the crazy avant garde-like approach to their songwriting so trying to even compared to CTTE, TFTO, Relayer era is absurd. So we have to at least give due to the album as if we'd never heard those albums.

Actually, Magnification reminds me of everything that makes us Yes fans. Symphonic rock with soaring vocals and some crazy guitar work by a true magician. Each song on this album is nearly an instant classic. There's not a rebellious attitude about this album like those early classics, but there is a more matured sound that doesn't include the cheese that often accompanied Yes's 90s releases. The title track is a monster of a song with some great sounding orchestral work not different from what you'd expect from a great movie score. Spirit of Survival is a monster of a song. I've created 3 new Yes fans from this song alone upon introduction to the band. Give Love Each Day is about the best pop-like track one could ask for. It's truly vocally moving.

We get to hear Chris Squire sing on Can You Imagine and then in duet with Anderson. This track could have been a great radio hit with it's short time...but we can't expect anything this good to be on the radio. Don't Go is probably the weakest track on the album, with some fairly cheesy lyrics ("we were supposed to be together forever"). Up against the power of Give Love Each Day's "You are the song through the book of time." Dreamtime and In the Presence of... provide 2 great closing tracks, the latter being able to rival some of Yes's most beautiful work.

I'm thankful that Yes realized what made them great when they made this album. They had forgotten that for awhile but seem to have reacquired the spirit for inspiration (giving Homeworld a break for amazingness) that requierd to make you really grab a hold to the idea being put at your feet.

Report this review (#74458)
Posted Sunday, April 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars this was the album which made me listen to rock again after long long time. when i was teenager i liked yes, genesis, marillion, vdgg pink floyd, rush, all the groups which others sorted as progressive. later on i focused more on the classical music. but when this album appeared, my brother gave me a note, i tried and was enchanted. afterwards, i collected all the new albums of yes, rush, marillion, and i was very far from being dissapointed. they all are getting better and better as growing older. magnification is now my most favorite yes album, with no hesitation. the best orchestra in rock music i have ever heard. wise and beautiful music.
Report this review (#79308)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A welcome return to form for Yes, although not quite the triumph many fans welcomed it as (but who can blame them after the many, many missteps of this once-great combo?).

The marriage of Rock band to an orchestra has very rarely lead to anything interesting or even listenable, since the orchestra tends to not only dull the impact of the band but also highlight the banality of much Rock composition. Somehow E-A-G doesn't sound quite as cool when played on violins as on a distorted guitar.

But here the orchestra works, and it's because it often takes the opposite role of what it usually does in experiments such as this. It adds much-needed depth to Yes' compositions, giving them a textural quality they've been missing for about three decades.

The New Old Yes (the one with the "classic" lineup with Wakeman and Howe) seems to have completely forgotten how to layer many ideas on top of each other (much less vary, develop and reinvent them). Nowadays they mostly do one theme or concept at a time for 8-16 bars, string a few of those together, repeat three times, toss in a solo and call it an "Epic" (viz. "Mind Drive" or "That, That Is").

Magnification doesn't do that, and I suspect this is not much Yes' doing. This is music that has been cut apart in Pro Tools, rearranged by the producer(s) and then embellished with an orchestral overlay by Tim Weidner. It works, because what Yes fans like about Yes today remains, and what they liked about the Yes of yesteryear has been artificially added on top.

That some of the source material is weak does shine through from time to time, such as in the childishly banal piano opening of "in the Presence of". Other times, it is masterfully masked and painted over such as in the chorus of "Give Love Each Day", which could easily have been as sickeningly sweet and repetitious as ABWH's "Order of the Universe", but is saved by clever chord work underneath Jon Anderson's increasingly simple melodies.

The question is what this says about Yes' ability to create anything lasting today. With a brand new "Best of" compilation hitting the top 10 in the UK, they may well revert to being just a nostalgia act.

If they decide to put out new material nonetheless, they do need find a way to yet again make music with depth, longevity and power as a five-man operation. I'd be very surprised if they have it in them.

For now, I am going to consider this Yes' swan song, and as such it could certainly have been far, far worse.

Report this review (#79351)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
theisatanicma
4 stars Recenty I got Yes albums since 90125, and I couldn't believe my ears. One after another, they were even hard to listen the first songs.....Finally I tried Magnification, and this was exactly what I was looking for! Songs are strong and catchy, the use of an orchestra reminds of the legendary Time And A Word album, which really is among their best. Of course, with absence of Wakeman, the expectations weren't high, but when I heard it, I knew that Yes are finally back! God bless....
Report this review (#80359)
Posted Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Suprisingly good, this one. I never was a fan of Wakeman and the orchestra does his parts with more style and finesse than he typically did. A solo cello or flute also provides a more humane and effective contrast to the rest of the band than Rick's machines.

That said, the band sounds a bit tired and the compisitions are not among their best. Jon's voice is really good but he lacks some of his old range. To those interested in late Yes I would recommend The Ladder and Keysstudio before this one but for anyone who likes those albums, there's no reason to hesitate.

Report this review (#85262)
Posted Monday, July 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars After hard trying I finally managed to get Magnification.

Magnification is indeed very different Yes album, it has no Wakeman and actually it doesn't even have keyboards, only in some parts, but always in very minor role. Yes albums after 70's have varied from fair to terrible, but they never reach anything "good" in progressive ears. Magnification is a clear step towards prog after mid 90's when Yes briefly tried but mostly failed. The sound of Yes is very different on this album, new but you still can easily hear that its Yes.

Keyboards are mainly replaced with an entire orchestra. This could really turn out to be an exellent idea but unfortunately I just feel that Yes did not try hard enough. The album does have some really good songs such as In The Presence Of, which by few has been considered as Yes song after Awaken. In The Presence Of is propably the best song in the album. There are few other particulary good songs such as Magnification and perhaps Dreamtime. Then there are many songs that are just "nice" but leave no greater impact to listener. Then, last and the least, songs just seem to fillers or just pop songs that don't work. Especially Soft As A Dove is a good example.

Magnification is a great improvement from their previous album The Ladder. It has moments that actually have same power and glory that Yes had during 70's. But many decades of pop has left an ugly stain to Yes. This album has lots of potential but unfortunately it never reached the finish line. For Yes fans this album propably offers good moments. For others it might just be nice to listen to. However if Yes continues to more proggy direction and makes such a leap like they did on Magnification related to The Ladder then we mave something big on our hands.

For Yes fans who already own all the essential or even a bit essential albums then Magnification might be a nice addition. For others just fair music, partly actually very good, but never start to listen to Yes with this album.

3 Stars: Good, but non-essential.

Report this review (#85934)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a YES that is softer and more bombastic as we usually know it (who wonders that it's bombastic, after all they recorded this CD together with an orchestra). Each song on its own is good, especially the outstanding songs "Don't Go", "Give Love Each Day" and "In The Presence Of". The lyrics are often about love on this album, but they are not cheesy, no way, YES didn't lose it's intellect, don't be afraid. MAGNIFICATION conatins lots of great instrumental passages and convinces with a use of many different instruments. There are just two things I criticise: There is no real great, long solo of STEVE HOWE (though his work on the the guitar is awesome) and the brilliant RICK WAKEMAN is completely missing on this album, so you won't find any truly virtuosic work on the keyboard instruments. Anyhow, this album is good and shows, that YES will never have a lack of ideas.
Report this review (#88276)
Posted Sunday, August 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Australian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars People underestimate old bands that have new, bright sparks, particularly Yes as everyone only ever thinks of the 70's Yes era. There is another 30 or so years of Yes music out there, during this time unappreciated albums such as 'The Ladder' and 'Keystudios' have been released, all of which can rival any "classic" prog album. They may not be the same in terms of sound, but creativity is defiantly there as the band continues, over thirty years after their debut to challenge standing styles of music, this time incorporating an entire orchestra which, in a way defies their own musical styles. What's the point of being a symphonic band who synthesizes the orchestral sound and using an actual orchestra? For me, this means that Yes doesn't care too much about their standings, now, as their careers are drawing to an end they are just making music that can be enjoyed, nothing dark or too meaningful, just music. I like this idea, the band has nothing to aspire to and have not pressure to write any chart-toping hits which gives them great freedom in the composing department.

Indeed, the compositions on "Magnification" are very different from the 70's, but who cares? Different though they may be they are of no less intrigue. Different styles and moods are provoked by the backing orchestra, and songs like "Spirit of Survival" use this large array of instrumentalists well. The orchestra gives a backing like no other, just listen to "Give Love Each Day", better than any melltron, hu? Another point to make it that there is no Rick Wakeman, just like on 'The Ladder', he is not needed, but he did do a good job on Keystudios. Coincidently there is little keyboard work and the orchestra more than makes up for this vacancy. Alan White plays piano during "Magnification" when needed.

"Magnification" really deserves more than 3.5 stars, with songs like "Magnification", "Spirit of Survival" and others it's worth at least four. I don't see anything wrong with this album and I see many people say, to support their ratings "not as good as classic Yes albums", as The Eagles would say "get over it." You can't give a rating solely comparing to another album, it's criminal and unfair. Steve Howe is the stand out on "Magnification" and he actually makes the banjo blend in with the music towards the end of "Magnification." Generally his guitar work is fantastic.

1. Magnification (5/5) 2. Spirit Of Survival (5/5) 3. Don't Go (3.5/5) 4. Give Love Each Day (3.5/5) 5. Can You Imagine (3.5/5) 6. We Agree (4/5) 7. Soft As A Dove (3/5) 8. Dreamtime (4/5) 9. In the Presence of (4/5) 10. Time Is Time (3.5/5) Total = 39 divided by 10 (number of songs) = 3.9 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

"Magnification" requires several listens before one grows accustomed to this different style of Yes music. I wish more people would realize that all great yes music isn't from the 70's. I'd recommend "Magnification" to anyone, the only advice I'd give you is to give it a chance.

Report this review (#89736)
Posted Friday, September 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Sadly this may be the last real studio album of new music Yes fans are likely to see. And that’s actually kind of too bad, since the band managed to reincarnate themselves to a certain extent in the 1990s and early in this century. Beginning around 1994’s Talk, Yes slowly re-emerged as a viable symphonic band, culminating with the flurry of fabulous activity surrounding the Keys to Ascension² (and related Keystudio) releases.

True, Keystudio, Open Your Eyes, the Ladder and this album are a bit more subdued than the band’s grandiose early gems. But the music shows a definite maturity, a sense of purpose, and a real appreciation for the art of making music. Magnification is probably closest to Keystudio in tempo, although there are no keyboards per se (unless you count Jon Anderson’s MIDI guitar). But there’s a whole orchestra backing the band up, which is very cool and in some ways makes this a more adventurous project than much of what the band had produced in the decade or so prior to its release.

The opening track pretty much sets the tone with understated orchestral strings, mellow acoustic and some electric guitar, and a subtle beat. Anderson’s voice is finally starting to show just the slightest hint of wear, certainly understandable considering the man’s age and number of years he’s been at this game.

“Spirit of Survival” is a bit more driving, with Alan White thwacking away behind Steve Howe’s undulating guitar licks. Chris Squire lays down a kind of Dragnet-soundtrack bass line that has to be heard to be appreciated, and the orchestral strings fill in the gaps quite nicely. The distinctly Golden Earring-esque backing vocals could have been dispensed with, but this is a minor point.

Anderson kicks up his MIDI player on the intro to “Don’t Go” and pairs that with some bantering vocals alongside Squire. This is probably the most bland track on the album, and was perhaps intended to be a single – who knows. Fortunately it’s not a long song.

The orchestra on this album was conducted by film composer Larry Groupé, and it shows on “Give Love Each Day”, which opens with a long string section that sounds like the opening soundtrack to a rainy French chick flick. Beyond that Howe’s guitar work is intricate, slowly building along with the strings into a rather majestic and melodic composition. This is a perfect example of the more accessible, mature sound Yes have evolved to over the last decade.

“Can You Imagine” was actually an XYZ composition, the ill-fated project Squire and White formed with Jimmy Page shortly after the Drama breakup. The opening is almost operatic, and a bit more brooding with White’s somber drums and Squire taking the lead on vocals. This one eventually picks up just the slightest bit of steam, before ending rather abruptly. I would have thought the band could have easily developed this into a much longer and more interesting work.

Anderson’s vocals are quite solemn on “We Agree”, and are made even more so backed with the string section and acoustic guitar. I guess this one is about a breakup – “we agreed to turn our backs, we agreed to turn our face away”. This is actually quite beautiful, even with Anderson’s goofy MIDI sequences worked into the lulls. This song sounds nothing like Genesis’ Wind & Wuthering, but reminds me of it nonetheless. I guess it’s the pallid mood the orchestration and guitars set.

Howe’s acoustics accompany the string section on the short and peaceful “Soft as a Dove”, a short bit of filler that is pleasant enough. There’s a bit of flute here as well that’s quite nice.

The album closes with two rather long (ten minutes or so each) works that combine some featured violin over the top of a subdued string section with a rhythmic acoustic/ bass combination that kind of sounds like a Godspeed You! Black Emperor song without the angst or solemnity. And of course with Anderson’s vocals, but that’s a given. “Dreamtime” is the stronger of the two with some strong vocal interplay and a few promising but ultimately shallow crescendos, and culminating (so to speak) in a Peter- and-the-Wolf kind of lethargic ending.

“In the Presence of…” is a four-part story-song of Anderson’s that takes us off into that fantasy place that only he really fully comprehends. This is a rather majestic work, full of lush strings and swirling guitar sounds, although the fadeout at the end is quite disappointing. “Time is Time” is a short little vocal treatment that serves to cap the album off at least.

Like Keystudio and even the Ladder, this is the work of a group of supremely talented and aging musicians who can probably put out higher quality music in their sleep than most artists can at the tops of their games. It’s much more understated than the band’s top early works, but is quite symphonic and listenable, especially considering the orchestra. I hope this isn’t the last of the band’s long studio career but if it is, they ended on a decent enough note. This is not a masterpiece, but all things considered is a quite decent work. 3.4 stars.

peace

Report this review (#93273)
Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Do you read FORTUNE magazine? If not, it's okay, don't buy that magazine with respect to a review of YES "Magnification" album because it's not there at all. I just want to make a point with regards to The Excellence Issue of Fortune no. 19, November 6, 2006 where there is an article on "What It Takes To Be Great" about Robert Trujillo, Metallica's bassist. "While the lead guitar may get all the glory, the bass player, along with the drummer, is the foundation of a band, providing the backbone and the pulse of the music." "The bass is also the connective tissue between the beat and the melody line. It's really the engine of any band ." [quoted from the magazine, written by its reporter Andy Serwer]. Well, even though I'm not a big fan of Metallica, I was very happy to see rock musician being featured in this business magazine. I know couple of years ago the magazine put Rolling Stones as cover story as well.

So what is the relationship between Metallica and Yes? Nothing is really connected. But on bass issue, I really buy the idea written with respect to Andy Serwer write-up about the role of bass player (Robert Trujillo) for Metallica. My point is pretty clear: the bass player is very important to any composition of a band. Specific to this Magnification album by Yes, the same is true: the role of Chris Squire with his virtuosity bass playing is very important. I could say that Chris Squire bass guitar work is quite dominant throughout this album - it's probably nothing else more interesting than his basslines. I am not saying that Howe's guitar work is not good at all- it's just not measuring up to how inventive Chris plays his Rickenbaker.

The best track to catch how wonderful his dynamic basslines is on track no. 8 "Dreamtime" which has become my favorite. By composition standard, this is an excellent track as it combines excellent work of Howe acoustic guitar, violin /cello and orchestra and transparent voice of Jon Anderson. On percussion issue, there is latin / brazillian nuance created over here. No one would argue on how beautiful the composition of this tune - it can be considered as top notch composition. This composition might represent Yes music in the new millennium as this tune has taken shape with some elements of old Yes music. The other excellent track I could mention about this album is second track "Spirit of Survival" which has dynamic melody and structure.

Other tracks to me are like Jon Anderson's solo album but this time the accompanying band is Yes. Composition-wise, most tracks are good: right balance between complexity and melody. However, most tracks do not create something that stimulates my emotion but those two tracks I mentioned before. "In The Presence Of" can be considered good one but it lacks its peaks that stir emotion. On production issue, this album has a top notch sonic quality. My CD is Strictly Limited Edition number 11250 which has bonus CD containing "Deeper", "Gates of Delirium" (Live), "Magnification" (Live), and CDRom Track. For those who own a copy of Yessymphonic DVD don't need to have this Bonus Disc. The Bonus Disc includes interview with Jon Anderson on the rationales why Yes needed to do a concert with an orchestra. It's basically because of Yes music was created with an orchestra in mind (according to Jon Anderson).

Overall, no do doubt that this album has good composition featuring the right balance of Yes music with orchestra even though the results do not create something that stimulate the mind. Imagine when you were listening to "Close To The Edge" or "Gates of Delirium" for the first time thirty five years ago. You definitely found something "inspiring" with the songs. I cannot find it here with this album. That's why I rate this album with three stars: good but not essential. For Yes lovers, it's a must owning this CD. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#96053)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris H
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have to start off by saying I don't think many people thought this album would sell very well, hence the $2.99 price tag. But boy were they wrong as this is probably the best album of the new millenium so far in my book!

The album starts out strong with "Magnification", a majestic and regal sounding piece that flows smoothly into the heavier and bluesier "Spirit Of Survival". "Spirit of Survival" is my favorite Yes song on this album, but not by much because it is so hard to pick. Then the sogns start to turn uber sappy, examples being "Don't Go", "We Agree" and "Soft As A Dove" and these are all songs that are easily forgettable.

After these songs pass by, the two longest songs on the album "Dreamtime" and "In The Presence Of:..." make up for the ground that was lost by the previous tracks with some thoughtful music.The albums ends on a high note with "Time Is Time", one of the only good soft-ish songs released since the late 80's.

If you are looking for an extremely great bargain, go and pick up this album right now, you can buy it pretty much just with pocket change!

Report this review (#103077)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Two years after the "The Ladder" yes produced an album without keyboard player (imagine a Purple album without guitar player or the Tull without flute) ! Alan even plays piano ! Instead we get lots of orchestration which has never been my cup of tea. The first time I heard the title track, it was during the "Full Circle Tour" (in Brussels, on June 22nd). I remember that I found it quite good. But on stage, Rick Wakeman was back and there were no such orchestral artifices. I guess it was due to the emotion of having one of my beloved bands in its mythical line- up in front of me (last time was in November 1977), because when I listen to the studio track I have a mixed feeling.

This album is not as worse as some of their work in the eighties ("Big Generator", "Union") but it is not as interesting as "The Ladder" (just to compare what is comparable). Little to none great songs ("Give Love Each Day" is probably the most elaborate one here together with "In The Presence Of". Since they are ones of the longest of the album, it is OK. A few bad ones ("Don't Go", "Can You Imagine"). "Dreamtime" has very nice acoustic guitar moments but in general it is flooded with strings, trombone and orchestration. The finale is pure orchestra. What a pity !

This will probably be the last YesStudio album : at the time of my review (I am writing it on December, 26 - 2006 but will post it a little later), there are no information at all on their web-site in terms of future projects. The only message in the "News" section is : "The members of Yes are taking a break from band activities. Though members are in discussion about their next steps there are no firm plans for the future".

My only wish is that they still will be touring to allow me and other YesFriends to see and hear them again and again, because it is always a marvelous YesExperience. I understand that it might sounds as pure nostalgia and Yes, it is !

I will rate this album two stars.

Report this review (#106663)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a wonderful suprise...Yes making a great studio album in the 21st century; music that is both modern and still shows strong links back to their past glories. And it's one of the few albums that really does successfully marry a rock group with an orchestra - they really do compliment, rather than fight against each other. A little inconsistent in places, but some great melodies, good arrangements, and excellent production. Not "yer typicall" Yes album but for this devotee of Yes in their golden years, a wonderful find. Although the group are credited with all compositions, you can hear Anderson's influence on tracks like "Time is Time", and "Can You Imagine" is clearly a Squire effort, in the style of "Hold out your Hand" from Fish Out Of Water. A worthy candidate for best prog album of the new Millenium....? Well certainly worthy of your consideration!
Report this review (#108995)
Posted Friday, January 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yes is, for me, one of the five most importants band of the progressive rock history, and this last album, after doing some albums that are not really good, for example "Drama" or "90125", and after this albums, "The Ladder" appears, as a beginning of a new yes era, and so it is.

Magnification, is, for me, the best album of yes since some years, and a little better than "The ladder".

The most interesting thing of this album are the orchestral arrangements, wich made this album a beautiful peace of music, with some songs that are really interesting, and beautiful, and some of them, the least, that are not great, but they are still good.

To remark, the first track, Magnification, as the album name, is a powerful song, full of orchestral arrangements, and makes me remember the yes 70s era.

Then we also have some very good songs as Spirit of survival, and the amazing Give love each day. Both are great songs, but the last one, is really spectacular, the orchestra is perfect, beautiful lyrics, Jon Anderson in a magnificent vocalist moment (HE IS ALWAYS LIKE THAT!), and Howe showing us why he is one of the best guitar players of history, if he is not the best one.

The end of the album is also amazing, Dreamtime, In the precense of and Time is Time, are also great songs, that make this album really difficult not to listen it over and over again.

The worst of the album, songs as Dont go and Can you imagine, that are quite cold, and almost enjoyable for our ears.

Magnification is a great Yes album, some songs will make anyone remember the "golden" era of the band, and the orchestra, I insist, is amazing.

To finish, I love this album, it may be a 5 stars album, but being objective, and noticing that not all the songs are really good (two of them are almost enjoyable, as I said before), its a 4 stars album, an obligation to every symphonic rock lover, and Yes fan of course

Report this review (#115383)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Guys, I think this album is a masterpiece... maybe the BEST record Yes has ever produced. And please don't say that I should get into 70's stuff 'cause I'm completely "got" into it. I admit "Tales From Topographic Oceans" is stunning, "Close To the Edge", "Relayer" and "Going For The One " also get within the very dungeons of my mind, but... "Magnification" thrills my heart every time I listen to or just remember any single chord from the album.

I bought this CD during my trip to USA in 2005. I remember I spent all my money on discs, So I returned to my country having bought just bunch of CDs and some toys for my sister, a fact which upset my parents very much, but that does not matter... I wanna say when I was running short of money (only four or five dollars left) I wanted to buy the record which would fit in this price so I went to 3.99$ row. and I found a disc with writing - Yes. Wanting so desperately to buy just anything I grabbed that CD not having even looked the name of the album. I was thinking that, since it was Yes, even if I already had owned that, it would not be bad anyway to buy a second copy for such a price.

Well I came home and read M A G N I F I C A T I O N. I didn't even know about this release. But when I first put the CD in my system I just ran over the tracks and couldn't catch anything special. But then I returned to my country and started playing it at late night when I went to bed. Oh my god... It was a night spent in heaven. Don't laugh please! I can't even describe the dreams I had after listening.

Such a beauty... that orchestra... guitar... voice...

1. Magnification = Magnificent 2. Spirit Of Survival - great concept musical and lyrical too 3. Don't Go - Guys why nobody likes it? what pop, which pop, it's a grotesque type song. 4. Give Love Each Day - Makes me want to do so every time I listen to/remember it. 5. Can You Imagine - Can You Imagine that such song could be unreleased for years? 6. We Agree - Man, how inspiring, Agree? 7. Soft As A Dove - Soft and innocent like a maiden whom this song is sung to. I love to play it on my broken guitar. Well, honestly not Howe... yet:) 8. Dreamtime - A song every music lover should dream of (IMHO) 9. In The Presence Of - The Four Part Epic. Guys, I think The Epic doesn't mean a song where should be at least 1000 themes and 500 tempo changes... It's enough much fewer ones if it's done with a taste. 10. Time Is Time - Maybe least deep but decent and easy to get. My sister loves this song and I do too.

This Album is incarnation of beauty. And I think that progressive is in beautifully crafted melodies (I don't mean sloppy-poppy tunes easy to forget) than in scary numbers of tempo changes. That's why I think that's It's Yes' most Progressive thing (maybe with "Tales") ever done.

~~~~~ ~Yes~ ~~~~~

Report this review (#119056)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to be honest about this album. It is, in my opinion, Yes' best album. There is not a single thing about this album that I don't like. In fact, I love every song.

The orchestral accompaniment fits in with the songs seemlessly and really adds a greater level of complexity to the music. The album creates a scene of tranquility in my mind. Whenever I listen to this album, I feel calm and soothed by it. The music is so beautiful and satisfying.

In terms of virtuosity, I will agree that Rick Wakeman's absence is noticed here, but it certinely doesn't take away from the quality of the album. Jon Anderson's vocals are in top form though, as is Steve's guitar work and Chris' bass playing.

I highly reccommend that any Yes fan listen to this album. If you have never heard Yes before, then I would say to start with either the album Close To The Edge, or Fragile.

Report this review (#121937)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars HOPEFULLY, NOT A SWANSONG!!

To this day (July 07) this is the last studio album from YES. Already 6 years old !!! and the YES members in the meantime are not getting any younger. JON ANDERSON is close to ...64 now! He even said a few years ago that YES might not record new music as no one is buying anyway.But if MAGNIFICATION was their swansong, they will leave with a bang! I am surprised by the relatively low rating this CD is getting on PA. Did anyone really listen to it??

We don't have a keyboardist on this album; RICK WAKEMAN is upon to return, but later and the great IGOR KHOROSHEV is missing in action. Instead we have a ......full orchestra!!! You know how it works when you mix classic with rock music. It can be successful or it can be a plain disaster. Luckily, we are on the good side with this album as the orchestra never meddles too much with the band and takes a back seat adding a lush sound in the background! The orchestra never overwhelm the music , just adding nice touches of paint on a perfect picture.

The strength of this album is the high level of quality of (most) the songs. We're having true jewels on MAGNIFICATION. Just listen to the beauty of ''Give love each day'' and tell me this is not great vintage YESmusic!! As good as it gets!! as good as anything produced in the 70s. Do the same with ''Dreamtime'' and the grandiose ''In the presence of''. TRUE YESclassics

Great melodies- great instrumentations- and Yes great vocals from Jon AnDERSON, back to being himself again. Yes we have a 3 mns poppy number''don't go'' , but it's funny and the chorus is well catchy; Even Chris SQUIRE is singing correctly his own tune''Can you imagine''.

If this is the last album YES will record, this will be a wonderful testament to YESmusic and the best way they could find to leave the stage. They would leave on the top!! But we still can hope for the future as YES is planning to reunite again in 2008;and hopefully with a new album! (and Jethro Tull as well)

A necessary addition to any serious YES collection. Thanks YES! No less than 5 stars as there is nothing i dislike on this album! 5 stars

Report this review (#127268)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The first Yes album of the 21st century marks an entirely new direction for band. The most remarkable thing about Magnification is that Yes did it without a keyboard player (with the exception of drummer Alan White playing some piano). Instead of seeking session musicians, the group instead used an orchestra. And, to my surprise, it worked! Furthermore, it was the most refreshing thing I think the group had ever done.

The album is really mixed well, with the exception of Steve Howe's guitar being overwhelmed in a few places. Squire's bass playing is on par with some of the best stuff he's done and Anderson's voice fits this "new" Yes just as good as the classic Yes. Squire even performs lead vocal duties on one short song. Lyrically, it is just as good as the Key to Ascension studio material. Musically, this is a very inspiring work. I guess I was really surprised with this gem as I was expecting more of a style akin to that on The Ladder.

Magnification isn't a masterpiece. A couple of the songs are a bit dull, most likely CD player skippers. The rest of the material is amazingly well done. Enough for me to assign this excellent CD a four-star rating. Highly recommended and an excellent addition to a prog rock collection. A must-have for Yes fans.

Report this review (#130936)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Strings attached

With the Yes keyboards playing position becoming something of a revolving chair following the departure of Igor Khoroshev (and Billy Sherwood), the band decided that for this album they would replace the keyboards sections with a full orchestra. Strangely however, the orchestra does not receive an explicit credit, with only composer, arranger and conductor Larry Groupė being mentioned. The orchestration for the most part works well, in as much as it fits in with both the music and the sound of the band. While Yes had used an orchestra previously on parts of the "Time and a word" album, that was more a case of applying the additional sound after the tracks had been completed (As happened to the Beatles "Let it be"). Here, the orchestration was planned in advance, hence coming across as an integral part of the music.

The success or otherwise of such a venture is however ultimately down to the strength of the material, and this is where the album falls a bit short. Had the songs been of the quality of the tracks on "The Yes album", "Fragile" etc, we could be talking here of a masterpiece. Unfortunately, they are not. The dominant tracks here are the opening "Magnification", with the chanted mantra of the title, "Dreamtime" and "In the presence of..". "ITPO" has been retained in the band's live set, and is certainly the best of the bunch here.

One of the main issues I have is that the album is too lyrical. There was a real opportunity here to exploit the space available through extended orchestral passages, and for Steve Howe to add some considered guitar solos. It is however the voice of Anderson which dominates pretty much throughout. Lyrically, he moves between the schmaltzy ("Don't go", "Give love each day", "We agree", "Soft as a dove") to the refreshingly obscure. "Spirit of survival" includes such verses as "The younger the older the wiser become, recover misfortune this true life as one, our genius is shining the past has all gone, what's left is the clearest perception of one".

The song "Can you imagine" is interesting as it started life as a song called "Believe it", a demo off which was recorded by Alan White and Chris Squire with Jimmy Page when they briefly get together as XYZ (ex Yes and Zeppelin). Here, Chris Squire gets a rare chance to step up to the microphone as lead vocalist. The track has the sound of a "Fish out of water" outtake, perhaps not surprising given the fine orchestration of that album.

Apart from the brief coda "Time is time", the album concludes with two strong 10+ minute tracks. "Dreamtime" is a dynamic, progressively structures piece which I suspect would actually have sounded better had the orchestra been replaced by swirling synths and driving Hammond organ. "In the presence of" is a wordy piece but the strong melodies and intricate arrangement help it to stand out from its peers.

Overall, a positive album from Yes, which sees them trying hard to rekindle the magic of their early material. While this album is not up to the standards of those halcyon days, there remains much to enjoy here.

Yes continued the collaboration with orchestra on their YesSymphonic tour which followed this album. Many of the old favourites were given a new lease of life by the tour, which demonstrated all too clearly that the newer songs are decidedly second rate when presented alongside them. At the time of writing, this remains Yes's latest album. Hopefully, we will see exciting new product from them in 2008.

Report this review (#147885)
Posted Monday, October 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an hour of wonderful, uplifting songs and vocal/musical arrangements from Yes. I bought it from Amazon in the amazingly priced 'Essentially Yes' boxed set and it is my favourite album they have recorded since 'The Yes Album'.

The vocal melodies are catchy without being overly cheesy and the song structures are complex but subtle on the whole (with the odd exception). The American AOR feel of their 80s and early 90s stuff has gone, replaced by a mature mild-prog sound.

The orchestra blends well with the group. On the whole, the orchestra pads out the sound of the band, allowing Squire, Howe and White to take main stage. The bass is high in the mix (in a similar way to 'The Yes Album'), Howe's intricate and clever guitar work is as effective as ever and White's drumming keeps it all together (but is it a drum machine on 'Give Love Each Day'?). But it is Anderson's and Squire's vocal melodies, harmonies and arrangements that are given pride of place (as with much of 'The Yes Album').

Many Yes fans will miss Rick Wakeman's keyboards, and whilst it would have been good to have had the maestro throw in the odd solo, I have often found that his arrangements behind the vocals often detract from the songs.

If you are new to Yes, this album is a good one to give you an insight of what came before but without being as inaccessible as some (TFTO and Relayer) or as AOR as others (90125 or Big Generator).

Report this review (#149102)
Posted Monday, November 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is the classic Yes in the 21st century!!

When you think they don't have IT anymore,they surprise you with something like this... This album will soon become a Yes classic.Why? Main reason: It has 2 epics-- In the presence of - it brings me back to songs such as CTTE in terms of form.Masterpiece! -- Magnification - the title track,which contains the whole idea of the album... Spirit of survival is maybe too suggestive song with it's steady rhytm,but I like the way it blends with the title song Don't go maybe sounds like a pop track,but I like it.It contains some strange vocal harmonies in the chorus,which are sung by every member of the band,even White :) It's a song that always makes me happy for some reason I don't know...? Give love each day has more orchestral arrangment with modern harmonies (intro) which fit excellent to this song,as well with the whole album. Anderson's and Squire's vocals are very well recorded. some parts are multi-vocal,and they sound like a choir...!!! amazing... Can you imagine is a Squire song. He sings the lead, and Anderson sings (multi) backing vocals.This combination sounds (suprisingly) very good... There are no drums on this track.Just piano,strings and a bit of Howe... :) We agree-it's very simillar to Give love each day...the whole dark mood of the song is turned around with the chorus if we are one... - a nice contrast!

Soft as a dove...Howe with acoustic,flute,Anderson's vocal... it has a nice pastoral mood,and it's totally different to other songs on the album... Dreamtime is a dark piece with true modern orchestration.It lasts more than 10 min! Very good- I like :) In the presence of is the masterpiece on the album,and it proofs that Yes is still around... It's written in classical form(more or less),and it has storming crescendo to the very end...An epic! Time is time sounds like an Anderson's ballad...It's easilly performed in acoustic set. Anyway,it's a nice closer for the album.

Who knows how the next album will be like ? :)

Report this review (#158320)
Posted Friday, January 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The difference between Yes and lesser bands is that there is a creative spirit behind the music that makes the musicianship, the lyrics and the performance to combine to generate something that speaks to the soul. That creative spark that seemed to have alluded Yes in the late seventies has returned. Magnification for me is the evidence of the return of the creative spark.

In one dimension, its lyrics, Magnification is superior to albums of the Classic era. While the lyrics are unmistakably Yes, there is a refreshing simplicity and coherence to many of them "If we were flowers we would worship the sun, so why not now?". Is this evidence of a clearer and more mature outlook on life?

Another highlight is Jon Anderson's singing and Chris Squire's vocal arrangement. While some find Jon Anderson too dominating, I think of his voice as another instrument. The harmonies are as strong as ever.

The orchestral arrangements add to the mix. They are never too intrusive. Sometimes they add to the rich aural soundscapes - for example the fat sound of the brass.

As for the songs, "In the Presence of" is magnificent. It combines an instantly catchy melodic theme with more complex passages. It also represents a return to the epic songs of "And you and I" length. The arrangement is at times clear and spacious and at others more symphonic and climactic.

"Soft as a Dove" offer a contrast and is delivered with crisp clarity. For me it is heartwarming to listen to their music as a young person and now to hear them singing of the experiences that I share as a father.

We Agree is another superb composition, again growing from melodic simplicity and clarity to a strong climax. Chris Squire's bass and Steve Howe's guitar compliment each other beautifully through the middle stages of the song. Like many great songs the structural complexity of the song belies the melodic unity. And listen to Steve Howe's majestic solo backed by that fat brass sound!

I have rated this as a 5 because of the phoenix like return of Yes. Magnification builds on the excellent work started in "The Ladder". Songs such as Don't Go don't achieve the same standard as those mentioned above, but overall Magnification is magnificent and destined to become a Yes classic.

Report this review (#159763)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars That's the spirit of survival...!

The Yes boy's final (so far...) album is a good one, not their best, but it was never destined to be anyways. it is impressive, however, that a band of their age could still manage to produce such a caliber of music, this release even holding a couple true YesSongs. The absence of any kind of keyboards will definitely throw off some old fans, but the orchestra added in it's wake is actually a nice replacement (at some points)! As said before, this release actually holds a couple classics, some weak tracks as well, but the good tracks balance it out to make it one good album.

The album opens with a bang. MAGNIFICATION is a wonderful track with some great vocal melodies by Anderson accompanied by some soothing guitar by Howe until we reach the chorus at which point the song really picks up and carries to the end. Good track, this one seems to pass faster than the seven minutes that it is. The second track, SPIRIT OF SURVIVAL is, actually, even better, especially for the hard rocker crowd. A hard bass line accompanies Anderson as Squire pumps out some of his heaviest stuff to date. This is another track that seems to end faster than the track listing time would suggest. Moving along and shifting gears is the calm and almost beautiful GIVE LOVE EACH DAY, a song that takes full advantage of the newly acquired orchestra, but seems to lack a bit in the lyrics department, which at some points come off as cheesy love lyrics. That's okay though, since the music makes up for it, really. WE AGREE is another good song, again a bit heavier (or maybe just louder), this one, however, a little less memorable.

There are a lot of good tracks, but what about great? What about poor? Well, let's see...

A couple tracks on this album are... how you say.... lacking. DON'T GO is a fairly annoying song that was obviously the band searching for some kind of commercially acceptable song to release as a single. On this album, however, it sounds quite strange and out of context. One thing that's not so bad about it is the fact that it's quite short. CAN YOU IMAGINE, voiced by Squire, is an alright song, another short one. Squire has really always been a background vocalist at best (with the exception of his superb solo effort) and this song comes off as an alright rock song at best. SOFT AS A DOVE and TIME IS TIME are a couple songs that have nothing really going for them, they're short, quiet, and basically forgettable. So while each of these particular tracks have a certain charm to them they really wind up falling flat on this album.

The two longer tracks are the ones that really are what stands out on this album. IN THE PRESENCE OF... is a bit of an overrated song, but it's still great. It's a fairly soft one that has a couple of really good moments and is one of the alum's high points, but not one of Yes' classic epics. DREAMTIME, however, is one of Yes' finest works to date. It's a heavy, aggressive, and yet at the same time fairly modest song that is good from any angle you look at it. These two songs definitely demand attention and really show that the band still has potential to impress.

The bonus CD that comes with some of the editions of this album feature 3 live tracks, Close To The Edge, Long Distance Runaround and Gates Of Delirium/Soon. These are song fairly interesting symphonic renditions that sound a lot different than the originals. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, Gates Of Delirium is definitely worth the listen as this live rendition is quite good and lively. Same goes for Long Distance Runaround which seems to benefit greatly from the symphony. Close To The Edge, however, comes off as fairly weak. Strange, yes, but somehow true.

So, in closing;

Is this a classic YesAlbum? No, certainly not. However, it is very good with a few moments of true shining glory. 3 stars would be the rating this album shall receive! Recommended for those who want some good Yes outside the 70s or those who want to hear the band without keyboards.

Report this review (#159779)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'll be the first to admit that I've been, for a long while, a backsliding Yes fanatic. The younger generations probably have no inkling as to just how fervidly devoted the followers of the band were back in their heyday. In my circle of acquaintances there were about 20 of us "Yessers" that thought they hung the moon and the stars. In fact, upon learning that the '74 tour for "Tales from Topographic Oceans" would only bring them as close to North Texas as Oklahoma City, we convinced/bribed Donovan Reese to borrow/steal and pilot his Dad's oversized RV to transport us all up I-35 for the show we couldn't bear the thought of missing out on. (Unfortunately, 3 or 4 of the passengers partied a little too hardy during the 4-hour trip and, instead of seeing our idols put on a fabulous show, spent the evening passed out in the RV; an unforgivable sin they most likely never recovered from.) But the insult that was "Tormato" struck a death blow to the majority of us and the magic spell Yes held over us was broken. Just as well, for we were starting families, getting real jobs, relocating and scattering, etc. and the prog bonds that had tied us together fell to the wayside. In my case I just lost track of what the various incarnations of Yes were creating and they slid to the periphery of my life for decades. Recently I noticed some very favorable reviews of "Magnification" here on the site and decided to revisit Jon & the gang to see how their music sounds in the 21st century. I am very pleased to say that they are still vital, alive and well.

How ironic it is that the outset of the album is nostalgically reminiscent of their last collaboration with a real orchestra, 1970's "Time and a Word." But, while that project was uneven at best, this time they got it right. The Larry Groupe-conducted symphony swirls around and through the band as it did back then but here they're more of an integral part of the machine rather than seeming like some kind of add-on. "Magnification" features very strong, confident vocals from Anderson and Squire and crisp drums from Alan White as he guides the group through the tune's many feel and tempo changes smoothly. It even has a great big, fat classic Yes ending to savor. "Spirit of Survival" shows Jon's voice to be in as fine a tone as ever as the band takes things up a notch and delivers a hard rocker based on a metallic, creeping bass/guitar riff. Steve Howe's work on his Strat is too cool for words and I just can't say enough about how fantastic the orchestra sounds. It's hard to imagine Yes without a bank of synthesizers or a Hammond organ but this is one of the best blends of symphony and rock bands I've ever heard.

Those first two tunes are impressive but "Don't Go" marks the start of four songs in a row that are exemplary. By now it's clear that this album is more song-oriented than just being a platform for individual virtuosity and it is amazingly refreshing. The clever intertwining harmonies and countermelodies on this track are fascinating and the catchy chorus of "don't take love for granted" will stick in your head for days. "Give Love Each Day" begins with a superb score from Groupe that brings to mind the compositions of Aaron Copland before they segue further into this wonderful song that epitomizes everything I've ever loved about Yes. These boys may have aged some but they haven't lost a step. Those of you who are like me and cherish Squire's first solo LP, "Fish Out of Water," will be delighted by "Can You Imagine" which showcases his unique voice. The ingenious harmonies floating around and Howe's slinky steel guitarisms are terrific and White even gets a chance to toss in some hot drum fills here and there. Two of Yes' trademarks, unabashed lyrical optimism and Jon's emotional singing, is very much in evidence on the stunning "We Agree" as he sings "I believe in our lives/these are the days that we will talk about." Hearing this makes it difficult to believe that over 30 years have passed since first hearing the "Going for the One" LP.

"Soft as a Dove" is a short, sweet ballad that's a bit of a come-down after the excitement of the previous quartet of tunes. Howe's acoustic guitar backed by the orchestra serves as the intro to "Dreamtime" before the song breaks loose in an aggressive tribal drumbeat. Steve then supplies a ringing 12-string riff that the symphony bounces off of while Jon and Chris deliver intense vocals over a very dynamic arrangement. The orchestra performs alone at the end and at first it almost seems like an afterthought but upon further listening it turns out to be another outstanding musical segment arranged by Larry Groupe. "In the Presence of" begins with Anderson alone with a piano but then starts a long yet dramatic build-up. Here they cleverly reprise several of the lyrical themes from earlier on the album and once they reach a peak they start over again with another climb constructed atop Squire's bass and Howe's steel guitar. They should have stopped right there but adding the embarrassing "Time is Time" to close the CD makes no sense at all. It not only sounds like a demo but it's also one of the most banal tunes they've ever recorded. I could go on but I think it's best if you just act like it isn't there.

The bonus live CD is well worth mentioning. Their 2001 rendition of "Close to the Edge" is a better engineered effort than the one on "Yessongs." Howe lights it up on guitar, the band is tighter than rusty lug nuts, Anderson is in great form and Squire demonstrates why he's considered a true master (and monster) of the Rickenbacker bass. What's curious is the fact that they fail to give any credit whatsoever to keyboard man Tom Brislin who does a more than adequate job here and even manages to throw in some subtle but interesting twists on this classic. (If it weren't for one of the resident geniuses here on the archives I still wouldn't know his name. I mean, come on fellas, he at least deserves a nod on the CD sleeve!) "Long Distance Runaround" gets the full orchestral treatment (the only one of the three that does) and it's a delight. You can tell they were having fun on this one. After Jon explains that they haven't played "Gates of Delirium" in 25 years they bravely venture into that epic gingerly and without the confidence needed for a tune like this. While it's an improvement over the horrible version on "Yesshows," I'm beginning to think that this song is just a real booger to pull off in concert. They don't come close to approaching the majesty of the studio original on "Relayer."

To sum it up, if you had (as did I) pretty much written Yes off I urge you to reconsider and add this album to your collection ASAP. They achieve in spades what many other groups have tried with wildly varying results in combining rock music with a full orchestra. And the more I listen to it the more impressed I am. They sure don't sound like musicians in their late 50s and early 60s, that's for sure. While it's not on the same level as the legendary albums they were producing in the early/mid 1970s, it beats the jeans off most of the questionable material they put out in the 80s and 90s. After hearing this one I can only hope they ain't done yet. A very solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#162586)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars From the very first sound the listener hears on this album they will know that Yes has finally-- after the boundless mediocrity of the '80's and '90's-- returned! Magnification possess a powerful energy for music which utterly recharges the band's performances; every member truly sounds better here than they have in decades. The result is an album which-- although admittedly sappy and unchallenging-- shines with enthusiasm and enjoyable songs.

First off, the writing is head-and-shoulders above "Ladder"," Keystudio"... you name it; these pieces are thoughtful and memorable with big instrumental passages and soaring vocals. The opener explodes with sound, leading into the dynamic contrasts of Spirit of Survival where savage riffing contrasts expertly with tender textures. There are certainly a few bits of filler here, but they do little to take away from the power of the standout tracks-- Dreamtime is worthy of standing side-by-side with some of the band's finest work.

Secondly, is the AMAZING difference in quality of the musician's playing from previous albums. Anderson's voice is clear and strong while Squire and Howe deliver their strongest works since Relayer. Even if the song's pale in comparison to the ambition and genius of classic albums, the fact that they are played with such a renewal of energy makes them very enjoyable to listen to. Be warned though, that the lyrics to these songs are straddling the line between cosmic and Christian (In the Presence Of... come on), and are in many cases examples of Anderson preaching his own brand of new-agey spirituality.

The inclusion of the orchestra is done very tastefully, and comes off much classier than Wakeman's contributions in the recent past. Strings and winds are incorporated into the band's lineup very effectively, often changing the carrier of the melody and adding a terrific level of depth to the songs.

The result is an appropriately epic one, and will not disappoint fans of the band.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#168780)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Magnificent!

Even if, at the present moment, some eight years have passed since the release of Magnification, this is still Yes' latest album and possibly the last Yes studio album we will ever see. If this is the case, they surely left us with a magnificent studio finale (but they kept touring for several more years after that and the present status of the band is unclear).

While the previous incarnation of the band, who produced The Ladder, had featured as much as six band members, they are down to only four for Magnification. Among these four we find two original members - mainstays Jon Anderson and Chris Squire - as well as Steve Howe and Alan White who has been with the band since 1971 and 1974 respectively. This is a significant portion of what is often referred to as the classic line-up. It is immediately noticeable that with only these four members there is no keyboard player. However, Alan is credited with playing piano.

The lack in the keyboard department is remedied by the inclusion of a full symphony orchestra. This marked the first time Yes had included an orchestra on an album since the Time And A Word album from 1970 - more that 30 years earlier! I am often sceptic about such rock band and classical crossovers; they very often don't work at all and come off as too bombastic. But here it works extremely well, I think! Indeed, I would gladly say that this is the best such album that I have ever heard (and I have heard a few)! The orchestra is perfectly integrated in the music and it is never allowed to dominate the music. I strongly suspected that I would miss a Wakeman or Moraz here, but I don't. This album is as it should be.

While The Ladder had been backward looking in many ways, with the producer explicitly trying to capture that which made albums such as Fragile so great (according to the interview with him on the House Of Yes DVD bonus feature), Magnification breaks new ground. But it is at the same time very much an album in the classic Yes tradition. This is exactly right! It is amazing that a band that had been around for more than 30 years still could try out new things and evolve.

The sound of this album is very powerful. Indeed, I would call this something of a sonic masterpiece. The bass is especially powerful, which makes this album perfect to try out new sound equipment. Chris Squire's distinctive bass sound is always powerful, but here it is exceptionally so. Jon's voice is as clear and great as ever but interestingly Chris handles lead vocals on Can You Imagine - he too is a great singer. Steve is my personal hero and he is great here, as he always is. He does not restrict himself to just electric and acoustic guitars this time either; he plays steel guitar and mandolin to great effect - everything he touches having his distinctive sound. And Alan proves himself once again on the drums. As far as I understand, Alan took a greater part in the writing of the material this time as well as playing piano. So much hidden talent in this band it is simply amazing!

The material is very strong and several songs from this album were played live on the subsequent tours. There are no weak points really but In The Presence Of is perhaps of particular interest to fans of 70's Yes.

Magnification is in my opinion just as strong as The Ladder. This makes it in place to say that this is one of the best Yes albums since the 70's. Magnificent!

Report this review (#176991)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars -=AT LAST YES RECORDED A REAL MASTERPIECE!!!=-

No doubt, this is a comeback of a real, classic Yes sound that we all know since 70's! At last Yesfans got a great album from a new Yes! And it's essentialy fantastic!!! Jon vocals sonds more progressive, Steve's gitar is amazing, and the orchestra is a thing! Other musicians (Alan and Chris) are also good. The band returned into the past and recorded the album with a symphonic orchestra! And what a pleasantly unexpected result! Even without keyboardist (Rick), only accompaned by orchestra they created a real masterpiece of sympho progressive music! This charmful album even surpasses also very brave early 70's Yes sympho album Time and a Word, that i rated 5 stars as a sympho prog masterpiece. This is the continuing but much better and more qualitatively! Yes shows us that in the 21st century they can white a perfect comeback album and return the deserved respect among Yesfans!!!!! Even without a veteran member Wakeman!!!

1. Magnification is the opening title song on this record and it realy blows up my head!!! I imagine Yes had a journey to the past time (1970) at the time of Time and a Word and came back with a lot of impressions! Also this is the most memorable and finest song on the album. 5/5 2. Spirit Of Survival begins with quite charming vocals by Jon and fading into a clockwork sympho song, backing orchestra and vocals are at the top of perfection! 5/5 3. Don't Go is more usual song but also have those elements of rest proressiveness that we have on the whole album. 5/5 4. Give Love Each Day begins with a great symphonic movement. Some influences from classic music and a good calm music. Also genious stuff! 5/5 5. Can You Imagine is a short one with Chris on lead vocals, and keyboards here are charming. Then we hear the whole band and the orchestra in work, only hear it!!! 5/5 6. We Agree is a real good ballad on this album, qualitative soloing from Howe and orchestra. Music with a soul, as a whole album of cource! 5/5 7. Soft As A Dove is one realy poor piece from this fantastic LP. The orchestral background and Howe's playing are perfect but the son is very short, Can you imagine is more qualitative. 4,25/5 8. Dreamtime - un this track we hear the routine of violinists, other orchestra musiciants and of cource Steve. And Jon also performs bery well. In this album all at a high level, what here still to speak? 5/5 9. In the Presence of (Deeper/Death of Ego/True Beginner/Turn Around and Remember) is one and only epic on this album. Yes shows us that they don't forget about those years of long songs and the epics is a realy interestic element of the album compositioning. And this one isn't a dissapointing thing! High quality!!! 5/5 10. Time Is Time as a closing track last only for 2 minutes. Good vocal parts and guitar section. And this is it: the end, unfortunately...

Well, this is a very-very-very excellent Yes album, such inimitable as their 70's masterpieces like Close to the Edge, Relayer and others. A real comeback from a real masters of progressive rock music!!! Last album at the time and one of their best ever! Now thas is what i call well-experienced prog rock band!!! In my opinion this album is their finest work since ingenius Going fot the one (1977). Later almost 25 years they all the same were possible manage the present masterpiece of progressive music!!! And I am proud of them!!!!!

Do not deliberate, pick this album and you are convinced how much the group has revived with it!!! A real progressive rock masterpiece and one of their BEST!!!

Have a nice day!!!

Report this review (#178697)
Posted Saturday, August 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Magnification is so far the only Yes album which I have picked up from beyond the great wall that is "Going for the One". I am for the most part favourable to it, heck the title track is truly Yes on form. The problem begins there after. Good chunks of the album feel unfortunately forced same-y. If I am to use the "Yes Album" through to "Going for the One" as a bench mark of what Yes is capable of. Magnification is but a shadow of what was. The great crawling sound of Steve Howe's guitar isn't there as it was in the past. And while the orchestra is superb I can't help but get the feeling that it is under utilized. It almost listens more like a crossover than an all out symphonic prog.

Listening to Magnification is always bitter sweet for me. On one had it is a solid and listenable album, but on the other it is Yes and I am afraid I am forced to hold them to a higher standard. It is a satisfactory album. I wouldn't 'poopoo' any one for loving it either. It simply isn't great.

Report this review (#180659)
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I can see why this is likely the last ever studio album from YES. Not because it is poor - far from it - but because if such a sterling effort wasn't financially viable, what return do the band get for all their hard work? Yes, you would buy a new YES album, and so would I, but the fan makes up a tiny portion of a product's market.

Let's deal with the myth first: no, 'Magnification' doesn't sound like classic YES. The YES of 1970-1972, at their peak, had a distinctive sound generated by their rhythm section, with SQUIRE playing bass as a lead instrument and BRUFORD drumming his peerless jazzy rhythms. We don't get BRUFORD here, and SQUIRE just plays as a bassist - albeit a very good one - and not as a transcendental god of light, as he did when his sound was at the heart of YES's sunrise. So, not like classic YES in sound, but a few of the compositions are very special. From the title track, with its outstanding chorus and momentum that builds to an excellent finish, through to the two substantial tracks at the far end of the hour, this is at worst solid and at best - well, magnificent.

There are still vestiges of 80s-90s YES, but on this album the band have abandoned any attempt to write something AOR or that sounds like it could have been on an ASIA album. Instead, they come up with some memorable music. Unfortunately, though, the album is front-loaded: the best two tracks come first, and much of the rest of the album can be tedious to listen to. The title track is simply splendid, and is equal to all the hype one reads about it. Aside from the lack of keyboards - the orchestra simply doesn't have the balls of a spitting, grinding Hammond - 'Magnification' has everything. It is followed by 'Spirit of Survival', a song made by the rumbling bass line reminiscent of an ART OF NOISE number. Of the rest, the short 'Can You Imagine' is excellent, and the two longer tracks manage to hold the attention without rising into the stratosphere that YES once commanded.

The orchestra is largely pointless, especially when given its head, such as at the beginning of 'Give Love Each Day'. Once again we are reminded how very difficult it is to mesh an orchestra with rock instruments: one or the other is usually left sounding insipid. Here it's the orchestra.

Very nearly a four-star album, but still a worthwhile listen. Another YES album that contributes to a five-hour YES playlist, while seldom being played in its entirety.

Report this review (#180843)
Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Magnification" is YES' last album, and after some very rough recordings, it's a pretty good way to seal a solid, legendary, if a little uneven, career.

After such a mediocre album as "The Ladder", "Magnification" ("Keystudio doesn't count) is a fantastic achievement that easily towers over anything the band had done since 1980's "Drama". 21 years had to pass for YES to be able to release another really good record. The wait was long but, luckily for all of us, the band's last wasn't a disappointment. It would've been sad if the last studio album proper would've been "The Ladder." The group that produced "Close to The Edge" surely deserved a better end.

The music is back to the progressive-rock realm. The album doesn't have a keyboard player. In his stead, YES included a full symphonic orchestra to replace the irreplaceable (Wakeman), and the experiment worked. The orchestra here is not just a mere background object put there to add some big sounds to the 4-piece rock set, no. The strings and woods and metals are there to share the stage with guitars, basses and drums (plus vocals) in the same level, adding atmosphere, magic, and some passion to the music.

The music is not as complex as in YES's glorious years. True symphonic-rock "Magnification" probably it is not. The symphonic structures of "Close to the Edge", and also the jazzy elements of "Relayer" aren't here. But what we have is a collection of excellent songs of longer-than-average length with multiple instrumental sections and a very artistic approach to songwriting. This is progressive-rock no question about it. It's just not the progressive-rock that YES gave us in the 70's.

The album is very good even though halfway through I think it loses power and becomes rather bland. But the start is excellent, with a very powerful, almost-metallic "Magnification" followed by the very atmospheric "Spirit of Survival" and "Don't Go" to reach its climax in the superb "Give Love Each Day", the best song YES had written in more than two decades. It's also a rare melodic moment for the band: it has probably the most memorable chorus in their whole career.

The musicianship is excellent as expected. There's no need to discover the skills of Howe, White or Squire, but now they're more free to shine a little bit more. It doesn't hurt things the fact that Jon Anderson, whose voice is really an acquired taste, has one of his most enjoyable, least-irritating performances ever.

In the end, YES's last album is a success. It's not perfect by any standards, nor is it in the same level as the two masterpieces of the 70's ("Close to The Edge" and "Relayer"), and it's probably a little more uneven than "Fragile" or "Going for the One". But it's better than pretty much everything else in their catalogue (including "The Yes Album" and "Drama") and leaves this listener with a good taste in his ears, happy because a legendary band was able to leave the theater stage after a fantastic encore. YES' legacy lives on, and "Magnification" is a proud and worthy part of it.

Report this review (#183354)
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The most recent studio album by Yes to date,but I hope this will not be the last for them! Very appropriate for first album in XXI century. Really creative and beautiful album with orchestral arrangement.I should say that the title is good for the previous album,that marks the big return for Yes. And this maybe had to take the name re-magnification. This album shows that Yes will never spend. They can make something bad,but they are always capable of returning back to form. The album is opposite in mood direction to the previous album - The Ladder.In The Ladder it is positive and joyful,while in Magnification it's nostalgic and melancholic,probably because of the orchestra.3.75 stars really from me about Magnification!
Report this review (#184858)
Posted Monday, October 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh Yes!

We left Yes with The ladder a good album, and better than their works in the last 20 years, so after a while they have made another album, is this good as the previous? It is. We have only 4 Yes now, Anderson Squire White and Howe, but they have hired a full ochestra with a complete different sound, so this is like a particular album? No it isn't. And finally which kind of music they have made here? Yes music not more nor less than good music from the legendary guys that wrote Close to the Edge. To be honest there are some parts that sound wrong to me (for example Don't Go that sound almost as a Rabin era song), but almost the whole work here is good enough to worth some time to listen. In detail we got 10 songs, almost full of the orchestral work (used here as an instrument), with Howe playing his guitars as the lead of the whole thing (the intro of We Agree is perfect, even the song don't give the same feeling) in pair with Anderson voice that for me here works as an instruments, finally the songs have a kind of charge given to them from the couple of Anderson and the orchestra itself, it some passages have some emptyness typical of an album without keyboards. Even with these points Magnification doesn't achieve the status of a masterpiece, why? The reason is simple: we got 10 song of course, leave Don't Go (the orchestral work don't aid here), skip Can You Imagine's words (Squire is not Anderson and his voice don't works as istrument), skip Soft As a Dove (since it doesn't have music just a weak solo, not prog), so we got a nice group of song and some lesser works, that's the main reason for not being a masterpiece of prog. Conclusion? 3.5 stars, again rounded to 4 as The Ladder. Yes it is music, and Yes still it is good, not a masterpiece.

Report this review (#191000)
Posted Saturday, November 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This it is the last album that Yes has released until today (November 2008). And it seems to me that this album was the way of Yes to close a successful career with an incredibly good album. Without telling to the absence of Wakeman, the line-up is "the classic" line-up of yes. And that is another peculiar thing, because in this album there is no keyboard player, only in some songs that include keyboards that play Alan White, the rest of the music is complemented with an orchestra. The album consists of 10 songs, which the majority is "long" songs with the exception of "Can you imagine", "Soft as a dove" and "Time is Time", but really this is an album that is not necessary to hear it carefully to be able to realize of which it is an excellent album.

The album opens with his emblem song, "Magnification". It is a song that catches to you from the first moment at which it begins to sound. The mixture of elements is almost perfect, and the song begins with very pleasant arpeggios of guitar that soon open passage to all the mixture of instruments. Score: A+

The song that follows is "Spirit of survival", that goes united with "Magnification". Due to this, this song has similar essence but it has its own details. It opens with Anderson as the center of the song. Score: A+

Continuous with "Don't go", this is different from the previous ones, but it continues being a good song that is not 100% progressive one but it has a good style. Score: A-

"Give love each day" is a very pretty song, begins with the orchestra that soon opens passage to Yes, the letter is a little repetitive but it continues being very pretty and the song at this moment leaves a good taste on the album. Score: A-

"Can you imagine" is the first one of the short songs of the disc. And in addition, following with the style of the songs of the disc, an excellent song, she is very melodic and the letter adjusts very harmonically with the music. Score: A+

To this point of the disc "We agree" is a song that sounds a little repetitive, the song is good but to hear it single or of 2 or 3 in the disc, because it has a very similar style and I dare to say that almost copied of "Magnification". Score: A-

"Soft as a dove" is another smooth song that has a pretty lyric, but unlike "Give love each day" is a very short song and with a lyric unvaried; I believe that it is the only song that would not have to be in this disc. Score: B+

The one that follows it is "Dreamtime", this is to my taste the best song of the disc, and is one of the best songs than Yes has composed. With each song that was going I found myself hoping to arrive at this one. Howe opens the song, and later the orchestra is gotten up to him. This song has an almost perfect mixture between the chosen lyrics and the particular rhythm of the album. This song has only a point that does not favor it, that as of the minute 8:45 Yes leaves the song to the orchestra and begins to give another different sound to it. If this song were only 8:45 min was far better of which already it is. Score: A++

"In the presence of", another excellent song of this disc. Is probably most progressive by the fact that it's divided in several parts and to last 10min, I don't have too much more to say that what already I have said. Score: A+

And the disc closes with "Time is time" that is another short song and of very little letter. It's quite slow and it has one melody pleasant. Score: A

Score of the album: A

Report this review (#191144)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes' second orchestrated album (the first was Time and a Word), it is a real proof that "a king never loses his majesty". Even after 30 years passed, Yes gives us this great gift, a great Symphonic/Progressive Rock album, even on the 21st century.

We Agree: reasonable song. The worst in the album. 2,5 stars.

Dreamtime: the title and the length (10:45) makes us think it is a masterpiece, but, in fact, it's just an ordinary song. Some good parts, but nothing special. 3 stars.

Spirit of Survival: great bass, great orchestration again, good lyrics. It follows the title-track, being part of a "medley". A little bit heavy for my taste, but nothing exaggerated. 3 stars.

Time Is Time: a good song, but very simple and not much memorable. 3 stars.

Soft As a Dove: calm and melodic song, with acoustic guitar and flute... Jon gives us his angelical voice in this beautiful song. 3,5 stars.

Give Love Each Day: grand orchestration, with a great intro. Good lyrics, great vocals, a very positive song. 3,5 stars.

Can You Imagine: very good song, great orchestration here. Something rare: the lead vocalist on this song is Squire ! And he does have a great voice, although not as powerful now as on Fish Out of Water. 3,8 stars.

Don't Go: people say this is a bad song, but it is not, absolutely. Ok, it's a Pop Rock song, the "poppiest on this album, but it is really good, it has great bass and guitar lines, a catchy beat and many more... I love it. 4,5 stars.

In The Presence Of: this song was mostly written by Alan, and, if I'm not wrong, he plays some piano/keyboards on this one. It is very beautiful, or more than this: it's very touching. Incredible melodies are heard through this song, especially the intro. Howe made a great work with his guitar (including the Pedal Steel Guitar), Squire gives us one of his melodic bass lines, always matching with the rhythm of the song, and Anderson sings very sweetly. The end is extraordinary. 5 stars.

Magnification: it really deserves to be the main song on the album. It starts with some kind of strange acoustic guitar, similar to the one used on I've Seen All Good People. The song has constant time changes, which reminds us of the old Yes songs. It is very complex, harmonic, has a great structure, the orchestration is incredible, the lyrics are good and the end is fantastic (a big 'crescendo' mixing several instruments and orchestration, including Steve's Pedal Steel Guitar). Listening to it, you think for a moment that you are listening to a 70's song, from a classic Yes album. At least, that's what I feel. 5 stars.

Although it's far from being a masterpiece, it's a good album. 3,5 (3 here on PA).

Report this review (#201467)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Founding Moderator
4 stars I just wanted to add my two cents (and four stars) to some of the recent reviews by listeners who have either discovered or re-discovered this album. And for those who have never heard it: anyone who thinks that a Yes album cannot be great (yes, great) without Bruford and/or Wakeman; scads of non-standard time signatures; and/or ultra-textured layers of atmosphere, needs to listen to this absolutely remarkable, joyous album.

No, it's not The Yes Album, Fragile or Close to the Edge. But it occasionally comes closer than one might expect, and is as good as any of them in its own way. For one thing, it is more heart than head, and all the more uplifting for that. It also has some of the most well-crafted compositions since the Tales/Relayer period. Indeed, even the shorter songs have multiple sections, expertly intertwined. And everyone is in fine form: White is as good as he's ever been (occasionally sounding quite Bruford-esque); Howe is his usual tasty self; Squire is featured here more than he has been in some time; and Anderson's voice has rarely been as solid and expressive.

And although there are no keyboards, it is amazing how little one misses them, particularly here, since the orchestrations are superb: neither overwhelming nor overly sparse, but perfectly appropriate and well- written. In fact, not counting the Moody Blues (who basically wrote the book here), I would say this is the best blending of rock band and orchestra after Wakeman's Myths & Legends.

Taken on its own terms, this album easily ranks alongside Time and a Word and Going For the One - and in places equals the best of Yes' albums - i.e., the things we love to love them for.

So go ahead, don't be shy. If you've never heard it - or haven't heard it in a while - put the CD in, put on those headphones, and be prepared to smile.

Peace.

Report this review (#203417)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's hard to believe that this, the last studio LP made by what is probably the most popular band on this site, is now eight years old. If it is, indeed, to be their swansong, it is certainly a fine way to go out.

Howe had got his way by having Sherwood kicked out, and certainly unlamented by this reviewer, Khurushev had left, and Wakeman was still having one of his, by now, regular stints of not talking to the band, so they were left without a keyboardist and decided to take symphonic prog to its natural level by replacing keyboards with a full blown symphonic orchestra. The results are very pleasing.

The title track kicks things off, and is really a natural follow on from the excellent commercial stuff done on The Ladder.

Spirit of Survival features a magnificent Squire bass line, whilst Don't Go actually features Anderson using a megaphone. I'm not sure why, but it is not unpleasant.

Give Love Each Day starts off as pure classical music, and it is fantastic, with a lovely brass piece accompanying strings to the backdrop of a simple Squire bass. The main Yes piece features a fantastic Anderson vocal. Certainly, The Ladder and this LP resurrected my faith in my favourite vocalist - he once again sings with passion, and this whole piece really is fantastic as he and Squire hold together a great harmony, with all band members playing at the top of their game.

Can You Imagine is a great surprise for me. This is a left over from the brief songwriting project Squire & White undertook with Jimmy Page, XYZ, and you just marvel at the incredible tone of Squire's vocals. The orchestra accompanies very well, with a nice piano backdrop to the song. An incredible performance, with Anderson very nicely playing the background vocal harmony for once.

We Agree starts off with a nice acoustic guitar, with a pulsating bass line and orchestra accompanying Anderson. The track then becomes more expansive before ending more thoughtfully again - I like this track a great deal.

Soft as a Dove is the shortest track on the LP, and is basically a pleasant quiet Anderson & Howe collaboration. It harks back to the days of yore, with Anderson reflecting upon his own personal journey, rather than bigging up LA gangs as on the Keystudio tracks.

Dreamtime is the first of the ten minute plus epics, and has many different moods and tempos, but never feels like anything less than a coherent whole piece of music. White especially comes up with some fantastic percussion, and the orchestra, especially strings & brass, make you wonder why we ever had keyboards in the first place.

In The Presence of is the second epic, and I think it is excellent, and was even better live. It starts off with Anderson solely accompanied by a piano, before Squire plays the most exquisite bass line. We are once again worshipping the Sun - oh happy days! It really is literally like going back in time to the '70's. Howe and Squire combine superbly. Again, the track consists of many pieces melded into a whole, the trick they frst learned to such great effect on The Yes Album. The Standing on Sacred Ground section is simply awesome. The only word I can think of to describe this track is majestic. Guitar, strings, voice, slide guitar combine to create an incredible piece of music.

Time is Time ends proceedings, and if this really is to be the last ever studio track we hear from Yes, it is a fantastic way to finish. The acoustic live version on Tsongas is also superb.

There are, I know, a great many people who gave up on Yes after the '80s or '90s. I would urge them to return to the fold and get this LP, most certainly the most effective traditional Yes LP since Going for the One, even if it doesn't feature Wakeman. In fact, the orchestra really do make up for his absence, and Howe, most certainly, was being truthful when he declared that this was the music that Yes absolutely had to make.

Four stars - an excellent addition to any Yes or prog collection.

Report this review (#207741)
Posted Thursday, March 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Like many older bands, Yes was looking for their niche after the glory days of the early to mid 70's had ended. The band had fractured and regrouped several times in the years that followed and produced several albums over the next 2 decades, with different styles and varying results. While never producing a terrible album with their last home run being 1983's 90125, in the recent years Yes had produced some quite good albums (Keys 1 & 2, The Ladder) along with albums that were more miss then hit (Talk, Open Your Eyes). Expectations were not running high for 2001's Magnification.

The first thing I heard about this album was from Steve Howe, who came out saying he did not like it.

Wow, what a shock to the system (sorry)! Magnification's lineup did not have a keyboard player and instead incorporated a full orchestra. Jon Anderson vocals have never sounded better. Chris Squire's bass and especially his vocals have been rejuvenated. Alan White gives his usual solid performance and Steve Howe's guitar was very tastefully done. Larry Groupe and the band melded the orchestra's musical color and texture perfectly with the bands playing. It's not as if the orchestra was dropped on top of the album when it was completed. The bands instruments, vocals and the orchestra blended and traded places in the spotlight effortlessly with excellent results. The sound quality is breathtaking.

The only slight complaint is that Magnification should have ended with "In The Presence Of" (my fav track) and that the lyrics can get a bit lightweight, but these are only minor complaints. I'm guessing that Howe's knock on this shiny disk is that his guitar was not as front and center as often as usual.

Unfortunately, Magnification did not sell well and barely dented Billboard's Top 200 List. Jon Anderson was quite disappointed with the dismal sales and stated that it might not be worth the effort to record another studio album again. It has been 8 years and counting since Magnification's release, so if this is Yes' swansong, it is one heck of a way for this brilliant band to go out.

5 Stars!!

Report this review (#221411)
Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars In my opinion, Yes could have entitled this album Magnificent and it would have been fitting. For the first time since Time and a Word, the orchestra is on deck, playing alongside pioneers who blended their unique style with the rawer essence of rock. Steve Howe's guitars are manifold and diverse, both in style and texture alongside the swirling orchestra. Chris Squire maintains the low, but doesn't mind firing off a few outstanding riffs once in a while; yet it his background (and in one case lead) vocals that stand out the most. Alan White batters away, imbuing the music with great energy. Jon Anderson's voice is as elegant as ever, but the overall vocal harmonies with the rest of the vocalists is somewhat different than before- it sounds aged, I suppose, which in my opinion is a wonderful thing. If there was ever an album that didn't need a proper keyboard player, this is without a single doubt it. No other Yes album sounds like this at all; the sound has a darker quality despite most of the songs being generally uplifting and in high spirits as much Yes music is.

"Magnification" A stirring and gallant first song, this stirs my soul and stands out as one of Yes's best works in a very long time. The lyrics waver in that fascinating realm of nebulousness and fascinatingly true to the sound that Anderson weaves so well. Squire sounds amazing singing backup, and Howe's playing suits his style throughout the whole piece. While I normally would cringe at such a thing, this song degenerates into a barrage of noise- but that merely sets things up for the next piece.

"Spirit of Survival" Here is the aftermath of the destructive-like ending of the first amazing song. The heaviest of all the tracks, I imagine that this is what Yes would have sounded like had Anderson stayed with the group for Drama; that gritty guitar and those heavy passages, interspersed with quieter, floating movements, reminds me of "Machine Messiah."

"Don't Go" If the album had a single glaring flaw, this might just be it; it's on the border of typical Jon Anderson schmaltziness and the more ridiculous elements that made much of Keystudio (particularly "That, That Is") somewhat embarrassing to listen to. The big difference is, this is so much fun. Plus, the orchestra and band sound great. On top of that, the melody is catchy as all get out. So it's not so bad after all!

"Give Love Each Day" The classical opening is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard an orchestra play, nay, in my life. It leads into the song proper, which is somewhat dark in mood, with Squire's bass taking care of the main riff. Squire's deep vocals underneath Anderson's are phenomenal, showing what a great backup singer he is. Howe's electric in the background glitters even more so than it did on "Starship Trooper."

"Can You Imagine?" A leftover track from the long-abandoned group XYZ, this is a rare Yes track featuring Squire on lead vocals. It's a brief song, but expertly performed and with a beautiful melody. The orchestra has a prime role in this song. The vocals are quite frankly some of the finest Yes has ever done. For those who love Fish Out of Water, this is the proverbial "lost track" right here- brilliant.

"We Agree" Another outstanding and favorite song of mine, this one has a great introduction courtesy of Howe. White and the orchestra add to the introduction just before the singing. The refrain is absolutely wonderful- "There are the days we will talk about."

"Soft as a Dove" If there were a second glaring flaw, this two minute piece would be it. The lyrics are pretty bad, and Anderson is almost parodying himself. The Celtic passage makes up for it though, and it's only about two minutes- no problem.

"Dreamtime" A menacing round of acoustic guitar with bites of the rest of the band and the orchestra begin one of two extended songs. Following Anderson's softer vocal interlude, almost tribal-like music ensures. Amidst White's crashing percussion, Squire treats listeners to a short bass bit before Howe takes over with quiet acoustic guitar (the second time, it's a spirited electric guitar solo). During the final two minutes of the song, the orchestra assumes control in a deep, dark, nocturnal-sounding postlude.

"In the Presence Of" The highlight of the album, this ten minute song, in my opinion, shares the same echelon as Yes masterpieces like "And You and I" and "To Be Over," and to a degree, has a flavor that is a wee bit similar to those pieces. The arrangements of the various movements are shockingly tight, and this lovely piece leaves nothing to be desired. Everything about this song is emotional and fantastic.

"Time is Time" A third short song rounds out the album. This inoffensive ditty has Howe on both acoustic guitar and Dobro alongside a lone violin, and some lovely vocal harmonies. The ending is a few more moments of the string section of the orchestra in their glory.

Report this review (#229943)
Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Actually, 4.5 stars. During the 1970s, Yes was my favorite band, but Going for the One turned me off to them (sorry, I don't love Awaken), and the 1980s stuff just made it worse. Recently, in anticipation of seeing them in concert, I started to listen to their later work. In my view, this album, Magnification, is really the gem of their later music. While it is not up the to the heights of Close to the Edge or Relayer, this album is quite good, as good as the other very good Yes albums.

At first, I found some of the songs a little goofy at times ? for example, Jon Anderson singing "to give our ego some pleasure time" In the Presence Of ? but, of course, Yes has always been that way (remember those Cha-Cha-Chas on Relayer). One of the reviewers says that each of the members plays over his head on this album, and I think he is right. I didn't love the album at first, but I have found myself listening to it over and over, and just not getting tied of it. The symphony orchestra in the background also adds quite a bit to the album, and makes up for the absence of keyboards.

If you doubt that Yes has done good work since the classic days, give Magnification a listen.

Report this review (#236415)
Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Magnification is the 17th ( I count Keystudio (2001) as a compilation album not a "real" studio album) full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Yes. Down to a four-piece Yes now consist of Jon Anderson on lead vocals, MIDI guitar and acoustic guitar, Steve Howe on acoustic & electric guitars, steel, mandolin and vocals, Chris Squire on bass guitars and vocals and Alan White on drums, percussion, piano and vocals. Note the absence of a keyboard player in the lineup. Yes chose to include an orchestra instead. The orchestral parts are composed, arranged and conducted by film composer Larry Groupë. Comparisons to Yes second full-length studio album Time and a Word (1970) are inevitable allthough many things have happened to Yes sound after 30 years. Magnification was produced by Yes and Tim Weidner.

The music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Yes. Jon Anderson´s distinct and strong vocals, the great harmony vocals by the other members, the excellent bass playing by Chris Squire, the strong drumming by Alan White and the innovative guitar playing by Steve Howe. All accounted for and present. What sets Magnification apart from most other releases by the band since Drama (1980), are the strong melodies and memorable songwriting. All songs have several hooks and highlights which means that they stick in my mind long after I´m done listening to the album. Something that´s been sadly missing on many of the preceeding albums from the 80s and 90s. It´s quite obvious that Larry Groupë usually composes music for movie scores because there is an epic orchestral element in some of the songs that could well serve as soundtrack music. An example is the full orchestra section in Dreamtime ( one of several highlights on the album that song). Other times the orchestra almost work as a keyboard would in the music just with that pleasant organic sound that only "real" instruments create. I don´t miss a keyboard player that´s for sure. The album features one pearl of a song after another and quite surprisingly for me, I even enjoy the mellow/ folky Soft As A Dove. Other highlights are the strong opening title track and Give Love Each Day. This is through and through quality material though. There are no sub par songs on the album.

The musicianship is as always outstanding and the production is professional and warm.

To be honest I feared how the inclusion of orchestration instead of keyboards/ synths would fit Yes sound. After all I´m not the most enthusiastic fan of Time and a Word allthough I do find that album enjoyable to some extent. Compared to Time and a Word the orchestration works much better on Magnification though. It´s a part of the music and not working against it. After 20 years of sub par and mediocre releases with only very few progressive highlights, Magnification is actually quite the surprise for me. This is an excellent album by Yes and should this turn out to be their final studio effort they certainly went out with a bang. 4 stars are fully deserved.

Report this review (#260906)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Almost ten years on this remains the latest Yes studio recording we have, and is perhaps the last that will feature the immortal Jon Anderson as lead vocalist. Igor Koroshev, their previous keyboard player, was out, and replaced with orchestral arrangements by Larry Groupé and a bit of Piano work by Alan White. The result is actually quite enjoyable, a marked improvement from their second recording, "Time & A Word" which had also incorporated orchestral backing. The song-writing is not as bold as some of their early works, and they certainly don't break any new ground, yet there is an apparent maturity musically and lyrically that does work very well. Steve Howe does not roar or clatter about much on guitar, and neither does Chris Squire on bass, so the general atmosphere is a bit subdued. Despite the lack of youthful exuberance, we have instead grace and expertise, refined vocal work, skillful arrangement, and some fine playing. "Magnification" may not be an essential Yes disc, but it's certainly a fine selection from their catalog.

Highlights: "Magnification", "Spirit Of Survival", "Dreamtime", "In The Presence Of"

My rating : 7 out of 10, or in ProgArchives speak, ***1/2

Report this review (#266509)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The last offer from this legend in Music, what i can say about this work? it really enjoy it, is nice to my ears, interposing the violins and orchestra by Rick Wakeman's keyboards, offer us an album full of classical instrumentation, epic and even at times sounds like opera, and rock bases with themes of divinity as we have always been praparated, catchy choruses and always, good melodies, symphonic changes, really memorable moments.

as I mentioned earlier, the basis of this album is the orchestra, voices that are attached to the melody of violins, guitars, giving a tone that totally changes the atmosphere of music, a good job, great cooperation from all musicians in general.

Top songs:

spirit of survival: a spiritual song, heavy, dynamic, linear sound with excellent bass, and the simphony behind everything..

Can you imagine: changes symphonic, catchy choruses, a letter in retrospect really deep into our inner being, great song.

dreamtime: the masterpiece of the album begins with a medieval sound, masterful, and at times may seem angelical, then with a sudden change that gives the arrival of something new, hoping for a change to eternity, a piece dreamtime where jon andersson shows that despite its Age does not matter the talent, the voice will always be present in this great artist, we are lost in this dream of the day, large letter, if you have the chance to check out this excellent composition go step by step reading the lyrics, the drum of the beginning, impressive bass, this is one of the pieces that I liked most of Yes for the moment, with great changes, and finally a incredible acceleration, low giving a pattern while Steve Howe's guitar doing his own business, and final part is awesome.

4 stars for this good album.

Report this review (#266957)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This holds a place in Yestory (portmanteau of ''Yes'' and ''history'') for the band does not have a proper keyboardist here. Instead, they use an orchestra; initially, that sounds like a horrible idea, but the way everything is arranged makes the orchestra sound like a separate instrument, as if the keys weren't really missing.

The compositional output has improved on this album compared to the effort on THE LADDER; only one bad pop song in ''Don't Go'' and two unmemorable tracks in ''We Agree'' and ''Soft as a Dove'' are MAGNIFICATION's only faults. However, if you're looking for blowaway tracks akin to ''Awaken'', ''Close to the Edge'' or ''South Side of the Sky'', you're in for a lame surprise.

The two epics here are the best the album has to offer, but neither achieve the compositional heights Yes's 70's classics do. ''Dreamtime'' has many interesting rhythmic interplays, but the two-minute orchestral-fest at the end knocks it down from essential Yes listening. The title track is the closest thing to a Yes classic with a ''Schizoid Man'' type of ending.

Like I've said before, the compositional quality is not quite there compared to when Yes kept dumping out classics. A song like ''In the Presence Of'' sounds quite ''ordinary'' in the Yes- canon even if it still has a magic to it. If you're new to the group, put this album on the backburner until a few of their classics are acquired. Yes fans should own this, but it's not a strong classic album.

Report this review (#271898)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Time and a Word', you are no longer needed!

This is the product of 10 hard years of work trying to get rid of unwanted band members, going from about 200 on Union to a splendid 4 here. And all of them are survivors from the "classic" period. So, what do you do when you can't quite sway your most beloved keyboard wizard? You do the next best thing of course. Replace his array of sounds with the 70 something timbres of a symphony orchestra. And this time it worked!

Every song on 'Magnification' has at least one good attribute, and many have more. The orchestra is perfectly integrated as an extra band member, providing counter- themes and melodies that actually help build the songs rather than simply decorate them. This is no last-minute embellishment job. The strings, brass, and woodwind are all essential to the compositions, providing a refreshingly high-quality symphonic album, that for once doesn't scream "mid-career crisis". 'In the Presence of' is special enough to have a place in the classics; the band's first truly amazing song since 'Awaken'. It's beautiful and powerful, incorporating that all-important contrast between light and dark. This song could have easily been on 'Close to the Edge'. 'Dreamtime' is almost as great, with very energetic and emotive playing (although it does seem dangerously close to the "world" style that was prominent on 'The Ladder'). 'Give Love Each Day', 'Magnification' and 'We Agree' are very good songs covering an array of structures and colours. But even the least significant material isn't bad, providing much-needed relief inbetween chunkier songs, and demonstrating the effectiveness of Squire on lead vocals, and the importance of Howe's acoustic guitar tinkling.

'Magnification' is a very solid, only very occasionally drab, long-lasting selection of orchestral delights. It's worth 4.5 stars really.

Report this review (#279124)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Out with the keyboards and in with the orchestra. Yes made a bold move and somehow it paid off very well. Of course few bands have more credentials and experience with having the guts to release a studio album with a backing orchestra. Mind you Caravan did do it in the early 70s! So Magnification starts with the title track which is excellent too. Great bass, drum work, understated vocals from Anderson and Howes guitar work superb especially as he plays out the song with what sound like a banjo playing." Spirit Of Survival" has good raw energy and backing vocals.The old trademark sound is back! Viva Yes! Anderson does not strain his voice too much and the vocal harmonies of Howe and Squire work a treat throughout. They should do more orchestral work with their music because it segues naturally for them. Let's face it they are classical in their own right." Give Love each day" delivers a sincere message without being cheesy and Howe displays some great moments." Can You Imagine" has Squire leading the vocals, he is so damn good too. One reviewer mentioned this track was from the Drama fallout era, well I am glad they waited before releasing this. I have heard plenty bonus material from Tormato/Drama CD remasters and this pearl thankfully escaped being released on the Drama reissue." In The Prescence Of" the only weak point on Magnification. Sadly I think this was their last studio release with Anderson, but it certainly finished on a high note.
Report this review (#297243)
Posted Friday, September 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I guess by this stage Yes had realised that most of their fan-base was middle-aged and created this work according. The sensibility is that of "time and a word" filtered through modern recording techniques and some of the clichés Yes had learned in the 80s.

Oddly I had just been previously listening to the 'symphonic music of yes' an album of arrangements of Yes classics which inhabits a sound world similar to this; inoffensive orchestra dominated by high strings, Carpenters-like choral singing etc. But not many people consider that a 5 star album.

The title track introduces an acoustic opening with vague hints of 'world music' it what sounds like panpipes accompanying until high strings add sweetness. This is the basic archetype for all the subsequent songs although what sounds like a banjo (?) delightfully adds piquancy near to the end.

'The spirit of survival' is a harder edged piece. This has some progressive aspirations but only in the context of the post-1980s Yes.

"Don't go" sound like it come off either of Yes's first two albums. The punchy string accompaniment is however effective.

"Give love each day" brings with an orchestral introduction which reminds me of the Peter Knight arrangements on the Moody Blues' Days of future passed. Then some vague 'world music' sounds and slick electric guitar. The song itself is actually pretty decent.

"Can you imagine" is a brief filler. Its very bland and sung by Squire.

"We agree" has some classical guitar and woodwind. After this imaginative opening, the song is not very good.

The charming "soft as a dove" is sadly too brief. It has some subtle writing for woodwind and solo violin.

More classical guitar (this time with hints of Albeniz) and solo violin make a good start on 'Dreamtime' but then disappear. Then full orchestra and somewhat African drumming. I'm reminded of Teakbois from ABWH, a low-point on that album. I think this lasts even longer. The orchestral postludes is one of the more interesting things here.

The piano intro to "In the presence of" is easily the most memorable tune on the album. It is probably the outstanding cut but the Yes of old could have made so much more than the bland mush here. It is dutifully divided into 4 sections like Yes songs from the past, as if to emphasize its importance.

The short "Time is time" is another one which could have come off an early album. It is a good tune and makes an agreeable finale.

In the end this is an easy listening album. But it is not progressive or very varied.

2 and a half stars.

Report this review (#302821)
Posted Friday, October 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh, Magnification ... a return to good way of Yes

This is a farewell album from Yes? Then they departed as well! Accompanied by a wonderful orchestra (in the absence of a keyboard, although Tony Brislin cover this deficiency on the tour), they give us gifts like "Give Love Each Day", "Dreamtime, ","Can you imagine"(a great surprise for me ,with Squire on vocals)," We agree " and "In the presence of". About "Dreamtime", I did not give him much attention when first heard, but when I listened again, I fell for it! The others are no less excellent, especially the title track, which opens the album in great style.

This album definitely deserves listen.Can not be a masterpiece like "Close to the Edge" or "Relayer", but it's great!

Report this review (#319932)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars You would think that after over three decades, Yes would be running out of good ideas for new music, but here they prove that they still have some fine progressive compositions left. No, this isn't a perfect album, just a good , solid Yes release.

This album has an orchestra in place of the usual keyboardist. ANd the orchestrations are wonderful. For the most part, the keyboard parts aren't missed. The only problem is in the recording of the orchestra. It seems that they didn't use enough microphones, and recorded the orchestra from a distance. It all has too much of a roomy sound, and doesn't blend well with the well-recorded electric instruments.

The highlights on the album (and songs that should be new Yes classics) are: Magnification, Spirit Of Survival, and Dreamtime. In The Presence Of, one you get past a weak intro, also is a very good song.

I highly recommend this one.

Report this review (#372535)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Magnification" is an interesting and ambitious release in the Yes catalog in that it includes the usage of authentic orchestral instruments backing the band, making the music heavily symphonic in sound. The orchestral arrangements really enhance the atmosphere, and is an extremely refreshing addition to the sound Yes adopted. Aside from the orchestral elements, this album seems very much like an amalgamation of all previous Yes-styles; the pop sounding songs are still here (Don't Go), some songs sound close to Yes' '70s compositional styles (Give Love Each Day, Soft as a Dove, Dreamtime), and most of the songs are in the '90s rockier compositional style (We Agree). There are some oddball songs, though - "Can You Imagine" sounds like a symphonic Scorpions ballad and "Spirit of Survival" gets fairly heavy for Yes.

I'd say this is a great album for Yes fans who want to hear something a little bit different from one of the masters of the symphonic prog genre. Besides the huge orchestral addition that makes this all sound very organic, there isn't much else new here from Yes. So, getting into the feel for this album shouldn't be hard, and the music is very uplifting.

Report this review (#429362)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fine songs: "Magnification", "Spirit of Survival", "We Agree", "Give Love Each Day", "Time is Time". Missing here is the keyboard sound of Rick Wakeman or Patrick Moraz, and in their place is an orchestra. And it works! This is a pretty good Yes album. I am not too thrilled, however with the 2 longer pieces- "Dreamtime" and "In the Prescence of". Neither sends me the way the other songs here do. Except for "Soft as a Dove" which is typical Jon Anderson twee-fairy stuff. Overall, though, a pretty good Yes effort. This is a fine example of Yes being accessible and unique at the same time. I have to go with nearly 4 stars...3.8888 maybe. Too bad it was the apparant end of Yes in the studio.
Report this review (#449166)
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally: An Album That Magnifies Nearly Everything We Love About Yes

If there's one Yes album that comes close to reaching the musical caliber of the band's masterworks of the 70s, it's Magnification.

True, there's no keyboard wizardry to complement Steve Howe's immaculate guitar and Chris Squire's melodic bass. Rather, the keyboards have been replaced by a full orchestra--brilliantly.

Few bands, I believe, have the talent to meld traditional rock instruments and elements with a full orchestra. I can't help but think that Jon Anderson is the force behind this effort, as some of the instrumental themes are reminiscent of his orchestral solo effort, Change We Must.

The album ranges from hard-driving to ambient and moody, but no track falls short of the high standards the band set in its golden age. Magnification is a must for all fans of superb progressive rock.

Report this review (#492068)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah, Magnification. I remember when I first heard the album, I knew it was going to take a while to get into it, and it does in a lot of ways. Partly because it's not as immediately accessable as any of the recently preceding albums, and additionally because it's unique in sound for them. It's the only Yes album without a keyboardist, the orchestra taking over what would be played by Tony, Rick, Patrick, Billy, or Igor, and there's not as much variation in sound as what we're used to from them in general, but it's a very rewarding album. The band works with the orchestra very comfortably. All of the compositions are very sophisticated, ranging from real vintage prog in "Spirit of Survival" and title track, and especially the multi-part "In the Prescence Of" to superbly written and emoted ballad's like the excellent, "We Agree." Everything is at a very high level, compositionally, and although it's not an album that I get excited about putting on as often as their revered classics, it's thouroughly interesting to disect, and one that I have very much respect for.
Report this review (#594443)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good! I was curious about the most recent albums of Yes, because I've only listened to their ultra classic Fragile - one of my favorite albums of all time. Magnification is a truly "symphonic" album: the keyboards were been replaced by real orchestration, conducted by Larry Groupë with maestry. This gave a more organic feel to this album, a very positive achievement in my opinion. This album have many highlights: Spirit of Survival (good lyrics), Magnification, Don't Go (nice lyrics too), Give Love Each Day, the epics Dreamtime and my favorite, In The Presence Of. The short songs are interesting too, there's no filler in this album! I recommend Magnification to all the fans of symphonic prog.
Report this review (#775948)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When I read that Yes was recording a new album with an orchestra I wasn´t very interested, so when it was finally released my interest to buy it didn´t improve. It was until much later, and really until I went to see Yes playing in one venue in my city ten years ago (in early December 2002) when I saw them playing two songs from this album ("Magnification" and "In the Presence of") with Rick Wakeman on keyboards that my opinion changed. But it really was until I bought their "Live in Montreux 2003" DVD that I finally saw them playing these songs very well that I finally became interested to listen to this album as a whole. Also the price was a bit expensive in comparison to other new CDs which were released then, so it really prevented me to buy it. I really expected a "quiet" album, but while it is still a "soft" album in many ways, it still has very good songs. At the time of the recording of this album Yes was without a keyboard player, so they decided to replace the keyboard parts with the use of an orchestra. While I didn´t like very much the use of an orchestra in their "Time and a Word" album from 1970, the use of the orchestra in this album is very well done, with the orchestra really working very well with the rest of the instruments played by the band, and it was very well recorded and mixed, so you can listen to everything having a "space" without "buring" any instrument as it happened in their "Time and a Word" album (which has some good songs and some good orchestral arrangements, and maybe the problem in that album was that Peter Banks´guitar playing can´t be listened very well and some of his guitar parts and some of Tony Kaye´s keyboards parts were duplicated by the orchestral arrangements). In comparison, in this album the orchestral arrangements are more complementary to the other instruments, so they work very well together. Alan White plays a bit of piano (I remember hearing his piano playing in at least two songs: "Can You Imagine?'" and "In the Presence of"), and I think that he plays the piano very well, and I don´t understand why he doesn´t compose songs more often or his songs are not recorded more often by the band or for a solo album, because he said in one interview that "In the Presence of " is mostly a song composed by him, and in my opinion this song is the best from this album. I remember that I liked this song very much when they played it in my city with Wakeman on keyboards, who for the two songs they played from this album he played the orchestral arrangements on the keyboards while reading scores, doing a very good job. I think that the presence of Jon Anderson in the songwriting and in the lead and backing vocals makes a very clear difference to the Yes´albums which were recorded without him. He and Squire together on songwriting (althought all the songs of this albums are credited to all members) and backing vocals (althought Howe and White also sing backing vocals) make the Yes´sound to be more "authentic" to the original concept of the band, in my opinion. Anderson´s lyrics talk more about love and other "warm" feelings more related to the music of the sixties and seventies, and this band was founded in the late sixties, so the messages are more "authentic" to their "essence". This is a very good album, not comparable to other very good albums they have recorded before, but still enjoyable.
Report this review (#876562)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Magnification' - Yes (79/100)

In so many ways, Magnification rides on the precedent set by The Ladder. As was the case on The Ladder, the strong epic tracks may not be quite enough to excuse the inconsistent pop songwriting, but Yes truly sell their 17th album on account of the passion they've put into arranging and executing it. Even without the full orchestral treatment, I think Magnification could have held its own against anything the band had released in over twenty years.

Whereas so much of Yes' post-Drama material is cumulatively shat upon by their fans and critics, the short period beginning with their Keys to Ascension duology and ending with Magnification escaped the brunt of the storm. After how bad things got with Open Your Eyes (a next-to-worthless AOR album if ever I've heard one!) Yes seemed to get the message, and decided to turn their sound around for the better. The fresh studio material on both Keys to Ascension 1 + 2 was well-intentioned and proggy, but lacked soul and inspiration. In spite of a few weak tracks, The Ladder aptly demonstrated that Yes were still capable of releasing great prog in their fourth decade of existence. Magnification, then, is the next logical evolution in this short Yes renaissance. Not having employed a full-bodied orchestra since 1970 with Time and a Word, the fact alone that Yes were bringing symphonic prog full circle was pretty audacious, particularly for a band who, earlier on Union, didn't sound like they had a clue where they wanted to go.

Most of Yes' orchestral experiments have felt superficial to me- Time and a Word only used the symphony in spurts, and the Symphonic Live orchestral renditions of classic material rarely did more than shadow the guitar and bass lines. In any case, Larry Groupë orchestral arrangements here proved to be a wonderful surprise. Although the focus remains almost always on the band themselves, these songs were clearly written with enough 'fill in the blanks' room for Groupë to make the orchestral contribution relevant. These songs could have existed well enough on their own, but the symphonic arrangements make them come alive.

Using a symphony (even as background accompaniment) in rock music is always ambitious, but it doesn't often work. Even if the orchestra holds the potential for intensity and bombast that rock musicians often strive for, people have become too desensitized by the fanfare of action film soundtracks to make it so exciting when the symphony is made to sound as energetic as their rock counterparts. The Michael Kamen-conducted orchestral rendition of Metallica's S&M is an example of the hokey bombast Yes cleverly avoided here. There are times when Groupë's orchestral arrangement gets bold alongside the guitars, but the beauty of the arrangement lies in the fact the symphony transcends a merely supportive role. Although the rest of the song isn't particularly well written, the two minute orchestral to "Give Love Each Day" is as beautiful and tender as anything on the album. The fact that so much of the spotlight is given to the orchestra makes the symphonic experiment so much more than the ego trip it usually is for bands.

Although the symphony adds an expected sense of grandeur to the proceedings, Magnification may very well be the most laid-back album Yes have ever released (I'm not going to give Heaven and Earth the credit of mention here). The passion from The Ladder is here, but there's nothing here as wacky and caffeinated as "Homeworld" here. There is a confidence and sense of purpose on Magnification I don't think Yes had experienced since even before Tormato in 1978. While the soft epics ("Dreamtime", and "In the Presence Of" especially) still comprise the best the album has to offer, the quality of the regular songs has considerably increased over The Ladder. Despite its mid- tempo pacing and orchestral overlay, "Spirit of Survival" is one of the hardest rocking tunes Yes had done in ages. The title track has a pleasantly 'classic Yes' feel to it, and the beautifully pastoral moments on "We Agree" more than compensate for the cheesier AOR influences. "Soft as a Dove" is short, but it's a gorgeous showcase for Jon Anderson's voice, who sounds just as he did thirty years prior.

Sadly, not everything shines so brightly on Magnification. Other songs are less successful; "Don't Go" sounds like a pop tune you might hear on "Big Generator"- it's catchy and cheerful enough, but ultimately feels out of place on the album. While I've already mentioned how much I love the first two minutes of "Give Love Each Day", the rest of the song is dampened by a chorus that is far too do-goody to be saved by the confidence Yes performing it with. Also, while the rose-tinted lyrical imagery doesn't really detract from the album, given the fact that Jon Anderson was once writing lyrics about massive battles, Hindu vedic shastras and the exodus of alien peoples via mythic Moorglade, I might have hoped a Yes album this good would have been given some more fascinating narrative material.

Whatever Magnification's faults may be, they're far outclassed by the major strides Yes achieved here. It's a brief period of inspiration and clear-sightedness you wouldn't expect to see from a band that had been going for so long, much less a band that had spent the better part of the decade prior writing wallpaper rock. In some cruel twist of fate, the album on which Yes finally 'got it back' would be their last, at least until the Benoit David-fronted Drama-wannabe Fly From Here a decade later. Oh well. The important thing is that the post-Tormato era released at least one great Yes record. At the time, I think that was more than any of us were rightfully expecting.

Report this review (#1294475)
Posted Monday, October 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Magnification is the seventeenth (or eightteenth if you count Keystudio as a studio album)studio album by the British symphonic progressive rock legends Yes. The artwork is rather simplisctic, clearly only the band's logo was done by Roger Dean. The album has 10 tracks it has about 60 minutes of playing time.It is their last album recorded with singer Jon Anderson in the band, and their only one recorded as a four-piece and without a proper keyboardist. Drummer Alan White plays some piano parts , we can hear Jon Anderson's MIDI guitar, and a full symphonic orchestra, which is actually not credited in the bookle, only Larry Groupé for orchestral composition, arrangements and as conductor. The orchestrations are excellent and keyboards are mostly not really missed. The performance of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire (RIP) and Alan White is outstanding as usual. The music is more simple as it was in the glory days between 1971 and 1977, but basically this is the beautiful, complex, uplifting smyhonic progressive music, which made Yes famous. I only have some problems with Don't go, which drifts seriously in "silly pop" territory, and they could finish the album with a more memorable track than Time is time. My favourite is probably Dreamtime, Give love each day, We agree, and the opening title track. Magnification may be not a rival for Fragile or Relayer, but a very nice offering of this legendary band towards the twilight of their career. Four solid stars, in my opinion.
Report this review (#1821766)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Magnification" is the followup to the mildly successible "The Ladder" with a lineup consisting of Jon Anderson on lead vocals, acoustic & MIDI guitars, Steve Howe on pedal steel, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, Chris Squire on bass, Alan White on drums, percussion, and on keyboards we have... NOBODY! This is the only Yes album without a keyboardist. Heck, even Alan White has a go on piano at one point but can a Yes album survive without a Wakeman or Downes on the keys? Yes it can. The most striking thing about this album is it boasts an absolutely beautiful symphonic orchestra conducted by the likes of Larry Groupé, Bruce Donnelly and Frank Macchia. The result is a cinematic soundscape that opens the music of Yes into grand territories. Yes also have returned to their progressive sound and there are a few tracks that are absolute masterpieces such as In The Presence Of.

The album cover is another misfire sadly as Roger Dean made their other albums look so attractive. I ended up getting this on cassette after avoiding it for many years. I was absolutely delighted that it is an excellent album throughout. I first heard tracks from this on the live "Tsongas" DVD as they were touring it at the time. Magnification opens proceedings with a grandiose prog filled track. Infectious hooks and powerful singing are accompanied by sweeping orchestration and a wonderful outro that segued straight into Spirit Of Survival. This second track has a funky bassline and very cinematic orchestrations. I am absolutely loving the orchestra intonationas and the lead guitar of Howe is phenomenal as always. This is a very dramatic song and lifts the spirit with lyrics filled with hope. Don't Go is a catchy thing with Anderson imploring us not to be cruel or dark and not to go as we were supposed to be together forever, but them's the breaks. It is a more commercial feel compared to the opening tracks but the orchestra and Howe's quirky guitar licks keeps it interesting. Give Love Each Day opens with somber orchestra sweeps like a movie soundtrack, glorious it its composition. The bass chimes in and Anderson has some reflection in his lyrics; "Standing here on sacred ground, Some days it's a mad world let it be, Words of promise fill the air, empty voices, How long have we waited? And every time I hold your hand, You bring to me this promised land, I live for you this promised land." It may remind some of Queensryche who had an album about the Promised Land. I like the harmonies Squire provides too, and his bass is exemplary. The outro is a Beatles soundalike passage that works perfectly like Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields revisited. Can You Imagine is a short track compared to the rest at 2:58, and works as a beautiful tribute to Chris Squire who sings on this along with Anderson some potent lyrics "can you imagine what it is like seeing life from the other side". Again the orchestra is simply stunning on this track. We Agree is Yes in a quiet mood with a lot of sweeping orchestrations and a strong theme of believing in the days we will talk about, an optimistic lyrical content throughout "we will perpetuate this song of love".

Soft As A Dove is a lovely song with gorgeous flute and acoustic over violin strings. Anderson has a very good vocal and the lyrics are heartfelt.

Dreamtime is an epic 10:45 track and has a progressive structure beginning with an intro of off kilter musicianship, the after a lovely verse, very upbeat percussion and bass pluck out a very intense rhythm. The orchestra is at its most dramatic and augments the very strong bassline. Howe's guitar finesse is hitting a peak here, and I adore the melody and Anderson gives this everything he has in the tank. This is a hiddden gem in the Yes catalogue undoubtedly ready to unearth for those willing to dig it up. The orchestra at te end is as good as any movie soundtrack and is a powerful addition that really grabs me on every listen. This is a brilliant track, dammit, why couldn't they do this on their previous albums during the 90s?

In the Presence of is the 10:24 epic that appeared on a few compilations and live concerts. It was the only song I owned from the "In A Word" box set and I played it often. Arguably it is the best way for the band to farewell their studio recording days and indeed it was the last for this lineup and Anderson was replaced 10 years later by David Benoit. The song opens with a beautiful Anderson vocal, and is that Alan White on piano? Squire comes in soon and then that orchestra makes the soundscape soar into the heavens. This is a great track, the live performances never disappoint and of course it is the most well known track on this album as a result of the live approach.

The last track though is a short thing called Time Is Time. Perhaps this is Yes saying Goodbye, the lyrics may suggest this. I saw this track live online with Wakeman at the keys and its better than this version as a result, but still its a way to go out on a very good album that stands the test of time.

The complexity, inspired originality and downright bombastic approach of Yes returns on "Magnification" and were'nt the prog community pleased? The orchestra is an embellishment in a similar way to the live Symphonic Yes that is a masterpeice DVD so get hold of that if you can. Those who come to this album may be disappointed if they expect it to be in the vein of the prog giants of yesteryear, but the members still generate that Yes sound that has made them legends of prog. Hopefully this album will lead newcomers to their past masterpieces, namely their albums "The Yes Album" right up to "Relayer", where they really transformed the face of prog rock.

Goodbye Yes.

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Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Review Permalink

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