Yes, “The Quest”: album review

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Yes, I have spent the last half a decade looking back. On tour and on record, the prog giants have revisited their classic catalog not so much with renewed energy as with a fiery sense of honoring their long history. With over 50 years and nearly two dozen studio albums under their belt (not to mention the frequent line-up changes that have rivaled any band since the ’60s), there are plenty of miles to go.

It should come as no surprise, then, that their first album of new material in seven years – and the first since the death in 2015 of bassist Chris Squire, the only original member to appear on every Yes LP – plunges into the pool again. nostalgia. From Roger Dean’s cover art to long songs about thoughts and mystical places, The quest goes through familiar movements.

There are also household names here: guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes and drummer Alan White are joined by bassist Billy Sherwood and vocalist Jon Davison, who took over the lead vocals in 2012. And as the Most of Yes’s albums since the band’s beginnings. burst after its peak in the early to mid-1970s, The quest is more at the service of idea of the band than to the music the band makes. In other words, it looks like a Yes album if you close your eyes and to believe you are listening to an album of Yes.

It starts in the right place. The seven-minute opening “The Ice Bridge” is reminiscent of the classic Yes, right down to the cascading keys and Davison raising his voice to the heights of Jon Anderson. “Dare to Know” follows a similar route, with some additional tempo changes and a dramatic instrumental break. But then The quest begins to get even more serious and metaphysical in its reflections (“Minus the Man”, “Future Memories”), but without the epic grandeur of a “Close to the Edge” to back it all up.

Yet Yes has often been like that, and this backward-looking album is not about to deliver any twists and turns at this point in their career. The solos are accomplished and plentiful, the songs heavy and long; the closing “A Living Island” (and especially the three bonus tracks on a separate disc) even manages to envision a future for this group, at least until the last minutes, under a new name if they wanted. The quest don’t rewrite or even add history. It is simply a matter of following a well-marked path.

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