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Anderson / Stolt - Invention Of Knowledge CD (album) cover

INVENTION OF KNOWLEDGE

Anderson / Stolt

 

Symphonic Prog

3.68 | 199 ratings

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freyacat
3 stars I was overjoyed when this collaboration was announced. I have been a fan of Jon, his voice and his lyrics, for decades now since first listening to YES changed my ears and my mind forever. I have been an avid follower of Roine Stolt and the Flower Kings since their inception in the 90's. I recognized in their work the continuation of a tradition brought to life by YES in the 70's, and sometimes felt like the Flower Kings played YES music better than YES did anymore.

So a partnership like this sounds ideal. Roine could finally have the voice he has been writing for all these years, and Jon could have the musical backing that can equal the richness of his unique voice. I also hoped that these two working together might correct each others excesses of late. Perhaps Roine and his extended family of accomplished prog-rock musicians might put some punch and urgency into Jon's light-pop new age ramblings. And perhaps Jon's hopefulness and life-affirming outlook might drag Roine Stolt back from the brink of dark brooding where he's been writing lately (see Desolation Rose.)

I knew that my hopes were impossibly high for this record, but I am surprised to see that for the most part, these hopes are not dashed. We were told to expect a long-form composition in the tradition of "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "Olias of Sunhillow," which seemed way too good to be true. It was, but these two have given us a unified hour of music which has coherent musical and lyrical themes.

It is fun hearing some of the familiar compositional elements used by Roine Stolt with Jon Anderson singing over them. The musical style is very much in the tradition of the Flower Kings, perhaps "Adam and Eve" or "Paradox Hotel" era. The pace never gets too fast, and the music never gets very hard-edged, but a variety of textures weaving in and out plus melodic changes keep your interest.

My main complaint is that the phrasing of the vocals and composition of the lyrics somehow make it evident that these two are not in the studio together. It is like Roine Stolt sent Jon completed instrumental tracks, and Jon just improvised vocals over them. This leads to Jon repeating words and phrases just to fill up space, and can be a little distracting at first. I see so much potential in what was coming together musically, and I wish that this album could have been polished by a couple of weeks together in the studio, with Roine Stolt perhaps even guiding and grounding the composition of the vocals a little more.

That being said, this is the best that either of them has sounded in years. I will treasure this album as a meaningful but flawed gem.

freyacat | 3/5 |

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