It’s modern prog rock versus classic prog rock. What would happen if you mixed the guitar and songwriting of Roine Stolt (of Flower Kings and Transatlantic fame) with the voice and writing of Jon Anderson (ex-Yes)? It sounds a lot like Yes, despite the pair’s insistence that it’s not their goal. But more importantly, it sounds glorious; it’s classic prog rock, but with a modern touch.
Jon Anderson’s voice is a huge part of that sound of course; it has that quirky, unique quality that drew me to Yes long before I ever started to listen to them seriously. Stolt’s guitar is not always upfront, but it plays all the right notes, and the songwriting has at times a bombastic streak that creates perfect counterpoint to the more contemplative nature of Anderson.
The pair complements each other perfectly. You can feel each other’s influence weaving in an out of the songs, never clashing but always making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The album’s four multi-part songs clock at over 65 minutes, so it’s more “Tales from a Topographic Ocean” than “Fragile”. Writing for the album happened over the span of a year and a half, with both musicians sending each other ideas back and forth, and it shows in the result. The arrangements are polished and every part is plays its role to perfection. Musicianship is never for its own sake, but always tasteful and in service to the song. Two generations of musicians coming together, taking with them the best of each to build a bridge between two eras of rock.
If this was a Yes album, I’d probably rank it up there with their best. It lacks a strong single to hook you in, but it’s worth diving into the whole album. Despite its length, “Invention of Knowledge” never feels too long. It just feels right.
Prog album of the year? Most likely. Anderson/Stolt’s “Invention of Knowledge” is out on June 24th 2016, and you can check them out on Facebook.