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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2354 ratings

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mr.cub
5 stars Well this is certainly a controversial album- criticized by some, praised by others, but ultimately one of those albums which everyone has an opinion in form or another. I'll get it out of the way and say that I adore this album. I'll also admit that it is a tedious chore to get through. However, I just love the lush and orchestral sound the band achieves on this album. I also cannot get enough of the arrangements, the linear progression within the individual songs is tremendous as nearly a dozen different themes are explored in an single track. Personally, I feel Wakeman's mellotrons and keyboards provide a beautiful backdrop for the music and allow the pieces to develop as they merge the different pieces.

When I first listened to this album I considered Revealing the Science of God as the best track (particularly the ending which features Howe and Wakeman tradings wonderful leads before Rick just busts out a searing moog solo). However, the more I listened, the more I found in other tracks. The Remembering-High the Memory for me is the highlight; where this piece starts and the intensity it reaches as the song progresses is just excellent. Wakeman again provides some incredible keyboard work as paints a beautiful tapestry using his wide range of keyboards. He's able to present themes and variations of the melody in a very skilled manner, filling the music and pushing it further.

The Ancient-Giants Under the Sun features Alan White's percussion alongside a very free form guitar solo by Steve Howe. The first few listens can be difficult as this piece is probably the most 'out there' of the four on this album, and that's saying a lot. Throughout the piece, White and Squire add an intense edge to the music, counterpointing the mellotron and airy guitar work of Howe. There's an incredible riff or two played by Wakeman on the mellotron in the core of the piece. The final side of the album features Ritual (Nous Somme du Soleil) and really brings themes from the previous three pieces together while bringing in new ideas as well. Howe's ending solo to this piece just blows the roof off for me- melodic, blistering, and just a great way to end this beast of an album.

I guess the best advice for someone looking to get this album is to be patient with the music. This album isn't for everyone and certainly has its weak moments but when it peaks, boy are they high. Its a unique album in Yes' catalog because it really sounds nothing like Close to the Edge, sure it's the same band but the approach is for something more orchestral and grandiose. The songwriting to me is crafted very well, with multiple themes developing and building around each other. Overall, a very good album and an excellent part of anyone's prog collection. I'm thinking 4.5 stars but I'll round up

mr.cub | 5/5 |

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