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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Cruising to the Edge


Cruise to the Edge took place on the MSC Divina, shown here at port in Cozumel, Mexico. The expansive, state-of-the-art ship has 16 floors, a baker’s dozen restaurants and lounges, a casino, and a spa. Photo by Robert Juckett.
The 11-minute opus that closes Yes’ 1971 album, Fragile, begins with an urgency and chaos of frenetically blended guitar and bass notes that lead into a gentle coo of rolling, rhythmic waves.
With a flick of a wrist, maestro Chris Squire breaks the soft groove with his unusual lead bass guitar, punctuating everything with intensely building lines and a haunting melodic immediacy. The two musical ideas furiously dance until suddenly the former dangerous vibe becomes infectious, and the unpredictable mystique and intrigue of the climb peaks. It’s as if the song is trying to tempt a listener to come along—make the voyage.

“Heart of the Sunrise,” is an appropriate soundtrack to set sail with on Cruise to the Edge, a progressive-rock themed tour of the Caribbean that travels from Miami to Honduras and Cozumel, and back again, in five days. It first set sail in 2013, making its second run in early April this year.
“I think most artists that have been involved in prog have generally been more clever players than is necessary to be in a lot of rock ’n’ roll, which is all about feel. We in Yes have always developed our interest in that as well, to promote the feel side of music as well as the musicality.” —Chris Squire
Yes, the band that started it all, are gracious hosts. The spectacle includes mood-setting touches both subtle (like the iconic psychedelic artwork of Roger Dean, which made its way from projector screens to fest-goers T-shirts, to the art gallery at the ship’s top deck) and over-the-top (wizard-themed nights encouraging cruisers to wear capes around the deck).

More than 2,000 guests sailed with about 25 bands, so it appears prog-rock is alive and well. Yes is releasing Heaven & Earth on July 8, with the lineup of guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and Geoff Downes on keys and programming. It’s the group’s 21st studio album, and the first with new vocalist Jon Davison. The plethora of friends they brought along for this boat ride—Marillion, UK, Queensrÿche, Saga, and Italian proggers Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM), to name a few—are enjoying similar late-career renaissances.

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t said they were happy,” said guitarist Steve Hackett, reflecting the general sentiments of the prog-rock passengers. “Besides perhaps those who’ve fallen over and been horribly injured,” he joked, referring to an apparent mishap on the first Cruise to the Edge in 2013. “Mind yourself on those corridors, the stairs, and the wet patches.”


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