Topographic Drama – Live Across America

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Rhino Entertainment, 2017)

Karakter: 5/6

YES Topographic Drama cover.jpgThe pioneering prog act Yes released this brilliant live album of theirs just a few months ago and if you have yet to acquaint yourself with this excellent opus, then I might as well tell you right here and now that you are in for a treat. Recorded at various venues across the US on the band's February 2017 tour over there, "Topographic Drama - Live Across America" showcases just how fearless, challenging, and wonderfully moving the timeless music of Yes sounds in a live setting these days. In other words, the musically reckless and wildly innovative ensemble has lost none of its drive or passion over the years as evidenced by the incredibly tight and atmospheric performances captured on tape for this album. The underrated 1980 effort "Drama" is performed in its entirety along with sides one and four of the classic "Tales from Topographic Oceans" album (1973) as well as a couple of fan favorites ("Starship Trooper" and "Roundabout"). What more could you possibly ask for?

While one could mistakenly be led to believe that the world hardly needs yet another live disc by these veterans, the fact of the matter is that this beautifully packaged 2CD might just be one of the very best ones to find its way into the market yet. Apart from a slightly lacklustre version of "Roundabout", there is not an ounce of fat to this album. Everything just flows together organically and with determination and just the right amount of pomp. With "Drama" being my favorite record by Yes (and one of my all-time favorite progressive rock releases of all time for that matter), you can probably imagine just how awe-inspiring it is to listen to these gentlemen plow through such stellar song material in such a disciplined yet lively and vibrant manner as they do here. It is amazing to sense and experience how much depth, texture, and meaning these tracks still hold four decades after they were originally conceived, There is nothing contrived or forced about these live renditions of masterfully crafted compositions such as "Machine Messiah", "Tempus Fugit", "Does It Really Happen?", "Run Through the Light", and "Into the Lens" that are to be found on "Topographic Drama". Another highlight is the mesmerizing "Ritual". The tunes still resonate with power and charisma while all the nuances and different shades of light and darkness that permeate and color the studio counterparts are brought to the fore with grace and confidence by this supremely talented 2016/2017 version of Yes.

In addition to the musical quality of this release, the artwork courtesy of none other than Roger Dean is absolutely stunning to behold. His otherworldly work is simply to die for and the sleeve that adorns this bold and amazing live offering is no different.

Ultimately, "Topographic Drama - Live Across America" is testament to just how extraordinary and daring Yes still are and that they are first and foremost to be experienced in a proper live setting. On top of that, it shows you how inspired and inspiring the Jon Davison/Geoff Downes/Steve Howe/Billy Sherwood/Alan White/Jay Schellen constellation truly is. The band has already lined up a number of European shows for 2018. Be there!

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