Another one of those album experiences that are permanently imprinted in the memory. It was a cosy winter’s evening. I had just bought Yes’ Fragile and Close to the Edge and was already roughly familiar with the former. I stick on Close to the Edge and let myself be washed away with the distant utopian sounds, until the jarring polyrythmic sections come clinging and clanging in. Stunned, amazed, I ask myself: ‘What is this crap?!”.
So, I stay with it for its sublime 18-minute lifetime and the piece of grandiose progressive rock reveals itself as a kind of masterpiece. Further listens and I still deem it one of the most transcendent uses of the studio since the inception of recording. Close to the Edge ultimately transcends the stigma of its genre to become something quite momentous.
To those who dismiss prog as utter pretentious tosh (and god knows some of it definitely is), just give this an objective listen. I can think of only a handful of records of this era that use the synthesizer and still sound fresh today without a hint of cheesiness. Of course, the lyrics sometimes smell of stoned teenage poetry, but also make perfect phonetic sense when played with the music. Sort of?…
A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace
And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace
Deep, man. As for the gatefold on the right, note its careful design – engineered for equal parts philosophical contemplation and herb-rolling. And You and I follows the title track with a gentler, acoustic tone…
Ah. I give up. I just can’t explain it. Maybe that’s why it is so brilliant. You know music has entered the realm of the ineffable when trying to describe it makes you sound like a blubbering idiot, desperately throwing superlatives at it. How about this: when I play it really loud, it boggles my mind that a group of human beings and some reels of tape made it. In other words; good prog.
100,000 Siberian Khatrus out of 10
I leave you in typicaly ostentatious style with John Martin’s The Plains of Heaven: