This much anticipated album from ex-Yes frontman Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt of the Flower Kings has been billed as an album similar to epics like “Olias of Sunhillow” and “Tales of Topographic Oceans.” Believe the hype. People who have wanted a new album from Yes that would harken back to their best work from the 70s will love “Invention of Knowledge.”
Jon’s voice might be a little thinner as he has aged but his range is fully intact. Every track on this album is a showcase for his trademark vocals. Not to be overlooked is Roine who provided the musical landscape for Jon to work his magic. Roine even manages to sound a bit like Steve Howe every now and then. From using the volume knob to bring notes in the way Howe does (right from the very first notes on “Invention”) to the more jazzier side of his solos.
Credit also to former Yes sideman Tom Brislin for his keyboard work along with Lalle Larsson. I’m not sure who takes which parts (no liner notes!) but they are able to give the tracks enough of a Wakemanesque vibe to make it magical. The bass playing of the incredible Jonas Reingold channels that Rickenbacker sound of Chris Squire. But is this just a Yes clone?
The difference between what Yes did with “Heaven and Earth” and what Anderson / Stolt does with “Invention of Knowledge” comes down to the songs. “Invention” is a prime example. It’s big and beautiful with excellent hooks. I also love that Roine enlisted backing vocalists to add vocal harmony, a trait that Yes always had. “We are Truth” is a statement song which could be the hit song…if this were the 70s. I love that Jon says “woooo” a few times on this album. It shows how much he is IN this music.
“Know…” is probably my favorite track. I’ve listened to this album over and over, non-stop and that song really makes a perfect closer. The synth solo on it is incredible and yes it is what Wakeman might have done. I suppose “Invention of Knowledge” is a fair estimation of what Yes might have done had Jon and Chris reconciled. It also makes it quite clear that Yes is not Yes without Jon Anderson.
“Invention of Knowledge” is the Yes album that I’ve wanted since “The Ladder.” Yes fans should have much to cheer about with this album and Anderson Rabin Wakeman touring. Chris Squire is missed and effectively took the Yes name to the grave with him. “Invention of Knowledge” is the light and soul of Yes still shining brightly in the person of Jon Anderson. Thank you to Jon and Roine for making this old Yes fan very happy.
2. We Are Truth
5. Chase and Harmony
6. Everybody Heals
7. Better by Far
8. Golden Light
Label: Inside Out Music