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Yes - Keystudio CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.59 | 523 ratings

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3 stars A return to form?

"Keystudio" is a compilation of the studio songs recorded in 96 and 97 for the two "Keys To Ascension" live albums. The most durable line-up of Yes (Anderson, Howe, Squire, Wakeman, White) played on the "Keys To Ascension" tour, and recorded these songs. The producer was Billy Sherwood, who would later become part of the band on "Open Your Eyes".

I didn't want to risk buying any Yes' output of the 90's, since I had the impression that they had lost the track a long time ago. Anyway, I found this CD at a very cheap price, so I decided to give it a go.

At this time of Yes' career, all the ingredients were set for a full return to symphonic prog, as was seen on the selection of songs for the tour (no Rabin songs). Nonetheless, the result isn't the greatest. Indeed, the symphonic sound is present on the disc, but there is a lack of substance on most of the songs. Some of the compositions sound forcefully stretched. Another problem that I have with this album is the top-notch production, which makes the drums, and especially the keyboards, sound too clinical. This, along with other sounds and the lyrics, give, in some parts of the album, a new-age feeling. On the other hand, you'll be very surprised to hear that Jon Anderson's voice has aged quite well, and that the rhythm section is as tight as ever.

The album opener, "Foot Prints" is based on one riff that is twisted upside down, through the whole song. It's quite fun and upbeat, but not overtly progressive. Still the song holds up pretty well, with some good Howe's work. "Be the one" is one of the new-age sounding pieces. It also has some relationship with 80's music. Throughout the whole song there's only has one major change, and unlike "Foot Prints", the riffs aren't as fun, so it wears down after a while. The real treat on this album is "Mind Drive", which is an excellent epic, bombastic, with many changes and not too new-age sounding. It has some great riffing in odd timing. On this song, Wakeman uses classic sounding keyboards like the Moog.

"Bring Me To The Power" is another of the examples of too clinical production. The keyboards sound too atmospheric and modern. "Sign Language" is a fine, but also modern-sounding, instrumental by Wakeman and Howe, which is very short. The other epic is "That, That Is". This one, unlike "Mind Drive", is divided in movements, just like their classic epics, but isn't as great as "Mind Drive". "Children Of The Light" closes the album, with Wakeman making again an awful choice for the keyboards' sound. A part of this song is credited to Vangelis, which adds to the new age credentials. My booklet says that there is another song "The Second Time Around" but it doesn't appear on the CD.

"Keystuido" is a hit or miss. I haven't heard the other 90's albums, but I can say, that, in part, it is a return to form, but by sacrificing some of the substance. It almost sounds like contemporary retro-prog (Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings). Of course, if you forget your expectations for the exact classic prog, you'll find enjoyable music on this album, and be surprised by a couple symphonic jewels with plenty of substance. If Yes were to release some music in the vein of "Mind Drive", they could be on for a full return to furm. Also , the one thing you can expect in the entire record is an excellent performance by Steve Howe.

It's a lower than 3 stars album, but still it gets rounded up to 3.

RaślGuate | 3/5 |


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