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


Anderson / Stolt


Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 206 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 2016 finds a certain Prog God in marvellously rude health and top form. The aforesaid award for Jon Anderson was, in my opinion, thoroughly well deserved. There is a tour, long promised, with fellow Yes cohorts Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, which, to all accounts, seems to have been extremely well received. And, to start off the year, this collaboration with Roine Stolt, he of Flower Kings fame, with more than a little contributed by a stellar backing band, including the marvellous Jonas Reingold, Stolt's Kings collaborator on bass, and the wonderful Tom Brislin on keys (whose piano work especially on Chase and Harmony is clear and uplifting), this marking a return to working with Anderson.

The album was created over the Internet, Anderson's preferred method of recording, with vocals and musical ideas and compositions sent to each protagonist over the ether. The idea started when Stolt and the Transatlantic boys had Anderson singing Yes classics with them on one of those prog cruise trips which are in vogue at the moment.

Structurally, the album is, understandably, an attempt to recreate the feel of Yes classics from the Topographic symphonic heyday, although, perhaps more than many others who have commented on the album, I feel that Stolt and his unique Flower Kings sound and feel is also stamped over the work. It is not a collection of songs, as such, but a group of suites joining together to segue into a whole body of work. I also think that the Topographic comparison was, in reality, a clever marketing ploy to bring us classic Yes fans on board. They needn't have bothered, because the album stands up more than well enough on its own as a symphony of modern progressive rock, utilising the latest technology and loving production to bring a vision to life.

Does it work? Undeniably, yes. Those who do not buy in to Anderson's mystical view of life, the universe, and everything, will probably not be converted by this, because it is very much his lyrical creation, in keeping with many of his better solo albums. I do buy into this, so it is not a problem for me.

For the first few listens, in fact, you do feel that he is in danger of drowning out the music lyrically and vocally. It is not the case, however, when you become familiar with the album and allow it to wash over and influence you, for example allowing the sheer lifting beauty of We Are Truth, with Anderson sounding better than he has in years, accompanied by a choral backdrop, and the most beautiful soaring symphonic noise, extremely reminiscent of Stardust We Are period Kings (Knowing, by the way, could easily have fitted on that exceptional album), then you know that what you have here is classic progressive rock played by its leading proponents, classic and modern.

Listen to the orchestration on Everyone Heals, and then recoil at the power of Stolt's riff, before Anderson introduces the vocal with a fragile power one thought had been lost to us forever.

Some of Stolt's guitar work really is to be treasured (the delicate sounds produced on Knowledge with the sounds of the ocean waves lapping over it are simply wonderful), and Reingold has his fret fingers working as if it is the last thing he will ever do, and wants to go out on a high.

Both of them have promoted this album with vigour, and it quite clearly is a work of some importance to them. I heard Anderson on BBC Radio on more than one occasion, and he is clearly revelling in the autumn of his career. Given that it is only a few years since he almost died, I thank God that he has survived to carry on his musical legacy to the world. I also wonder what would have been had Squire and Howe showed just a little bit more patience, and allowed him the recovery time he needed, because one thing is for sure. This is a far better, rounded, and genuine "Yes" album than the debacle that was Heaven and Earth, or Fly From Here, as much as I enjoyed the suite on the latter.

This is an excellent album, which all lovers of genuine symphonic prog will want to own. For the PA rating system, four stars, but 4.5 if we had such a rating. I, for one, would like to see this collaboration continue to see where it takes them. To the stars, I think!

lazland | 4/5 |


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