Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Yes’ Magnification marked a turning point: ‘That was a bit of a nightmare’

Yes - Magnification.jpgYes had a Big Idea when it came to Magnification, a project that followed the latest departure by a keyboardist. They would return to a orchestral-based sonic feel that Yes had tried long before, on 1970’s Time and a Word, replacing synths with strings.

Big problems followed, as they often will with Big Ideas, leading to a grueling post-production process before Magnification finally arrived on September 11, 2001. It now stands as Yes’ final studio effort with co-founding vocalist Jon Anderson, and – more particularly – a reminder that sometimes less is more.

“Magnification was a different kind of creature,” Steve Howe tells us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “It was only completed through the relentless efforts of myself and a guy called Jordan who was with the management company, and I guess [Magnification co-producer] Tim Weidner — who I brought into Yes because he helped me on [the 1991 Howe solo album] Turbulence, and he was a very good engineer. He works with Trevor Horn a lot now. But, basically, that was a bit of a nightmare.”

An overstuffed soundscape made it difficult to pull out the album’s best moments, as Jon Anderson explored themes of war in “We Agree” and more personal themes on “Don’t Go.” Yes also returned to extended songcraft with the “Dreamtime” and the four-part “In the Presence Of,” both of which clocked in at more than 10 minutes. Maybe most interesting of all, Yes included “Can You Imagine,” a reworked track from a failed 1980s supergroup featuring Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Yes’ Chris Squire and Alan White. (They were to be called XYZ, as in eX-Yes/Zeppelin.)


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