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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2348 ratings

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4 stars ''Close to the edge'' marked the last work of Bill Bruford with the classic Yes line-up, as he went on to join King Crimson.While touring with Joe Cocker, drummer Alan White was asked to fill Bruford's shoes.He had three days to learn the band's repertoire, as the band was about to hit the road for another exhausting tour for the promotion of ''Close to the edge'' (resulting to the triple live album ''Yessongs'' in May 1973).While in Japan, Jon Anderson was caught up by ''Autobiography of a Yogi'' by meditation guru Paramahansa Yogananda and was instanly impressed by its spiritual content.In April 1973 he explained his intentions for a lengthy work to Howe.Upon returning to UK and after some rehearsals at the Manticore Studios in Fulham, the band recorded the album during a 4-month session at the Morgan Studios in London.It came out in December 73' as ''Tales from topographic oceans'', a double-vinyl issue, highlighted already from the start by Roger Dean's futuristic cover.

''Tales from topographic oceans'' has been the most controversial album of Yes' complete discography, a journey to the world of pretentiousness, excessive pomposity, egoistic virtuosity and unexplained self-confidence.It contains four lengthy pieces, close to or over 20 minutes long, each caught with one of shastras' classes.My opinion on this album is that Yes' were in such a creative orgasm at the time, that they couldn't do wrong by recording and releasing such a super-ambitious project.In fact the opening disc with ''The revealing science of God'' and ''The remembering'' sounds almost flawless to my ears.It's certainly exaggerate, symph-based Progressive Rock, but contains tons of brilliant moments, it's one of these rare times that superficial ego's are good with the composing levels.No less than two excellent, multi-parted suites with atmospheric textures, surprising time signatures, symphonic orchestrations and irritating mono- and multi-vocal harmonies.Superb guitar work by Howe, just listen to his lovely acoustic spices, no doubt his electric bursts are beautiful and complicated as well, and even Rick Wakeman, who ended up close to refer to the album as the bottom of the barrel, performs amazingly with some incredible Mellotron, organ and synth flashing, and those flute strings are really awesome.There are no trully bombastic orchestrations to be found, but the material is extremely rich, personal and inventive.

The second disc is a bit weaker, the reason being ''The ancient'', which unsuccesfull predates/immitates KING CRIMSON's experimental edges at some point.Yeap, part of this sounds like experimental/Avant-Garde/Ethnic Music nonsense with the dominant percussion prevailing , it's not even coherent enough, but even this hole contains some brilliant moments, Howe qualifies here as a a top world guitarist with his neurotic and jazzy plays and his interplays with Wakeman are among the best in the league.''Ritual'' is a winner, this is Yes at its best, awesome Symphonic Rock with full-blown Mellotron and synths, great melodies, superb tempo changes and moods' switches and Anderson performing in a confident and convincing way.I don't know if this the best composition in here actually, but I love the sound and arrangements, Squire's bass is awesome and White comes as a real monster behind its kit with his proulsive drumming.And those soft atmospheres and spiritual soundscapes changing with the emphatic, complex symphonicism is mind-blowing to say the least.

I really like this work.Three out of the four tracks belong among Yes' top 10 highlights in my opinion, even ''The ancient'' contains some nice stuff as well, despite being too experimental.Highly recommended, I won't say this is a masterpiece, but it's Progressive Rock at its most epic delivery.

apps79 | 4/5 |


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