Record of the day: Yes, "Close to the Edge"

Record of the day: Yes, “Close to the Edge”

Close to the Edge (Cd Atlantic/Rhino 8122-73790-2)

Progressive Rock was one of the most important musical movements during the 70s in Europe. Groups like Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Ven Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull gave life to a complex style where influences ranging from classical to folk music came together, with additions of sometimes violent and experimental rock; a common characteristic of these groups was the rejection of the typical song form.

Many pieces of this style lasted several tens of minutes, and the passion for suites that connected different pieces for
giving life to very large compositional structures has sometimes reached elephantine proportions, as in the case of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” by Genesis and “Tales from Topographic Ocean” by Yes, which even occupied double albums.

In these cases the accusation of gigantism and love of excess was difficult to avoid, but there are numerous others in which the taste for epic proportions and for songs that had a different breath from the usual pop songs gave more convincing results which can still be listened to with interest today; one of these cases is the famous album “Close to the Edge” by Yes, from 1972.

From the initial crescendo which from very light natural sounds culminates in the song that titles the album, the musicians demonstrate one
technical security and a clarity of ideas that leaves its mark. Driven by the formidable drummer Bill Bruford and the liquid bass and
restless by Chris Squire the other members of the group build a complex tapestry divided into numerous chapters.
Rick Wakeman's keyboards stand out as they superimpose virtuosic figurations, Jon Anderson's beautiful voice with a diaphanous timbre, Steve Howe's guitar fits into the ensemble with contrapuntal skill, dispensing solos of fearsome difficulty with naturalness.

What stands out is the compositional intelligence of the group, which avoids both the collage effect and the excessive trombones into which they themselves (but not only) will fall in the following years; in “Close to the Edge” everything still has its own balance and its own reason for being.

Stupidly dismissed as dinosaurs by the punk generation, these musicians have instead demonstrated that they know how to resist the passing of the years thanks to the solidity of their musical writing.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.