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Yes - Magnification CD (album) cover




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3.73 | 1093 ratings

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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!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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