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Guitarist Roine Stolt and fellow members of Swedish prog rock masters The Flower Kings, Tom Brislin (keys), Jonas Reingold (bass), Daniel Gildenlöw (backing vocals), Michael Stolt (bass) and Felix Lehrmann (drums) align with one of the founding fathers of the British prog movement Jon Anderson (Yes) for a strikingly arranged rock and electro-orchestral program, fabricated with an artistic flair. Stolt and associates would theoretically assume the roles of the 'newer' post-90s extension of prog's glory days, where bands such as Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP and other notables set the paradigms for future explorations. Of course, Yes and others laid out the frontiers via an influential archetype that evolved over time. Here, Anderson's magical and wistful vocal delivery casts an optimistic state of consciousness by generating a polytonal dimension built on layers of synth strings, multicolored keys, and wistful soundscapes.
The ensemble's broadly textured backdrops and Stolt's resourceful use of electric and acoustic guitars are segmented into four primary topics or thematic vistas underscored by inferences to the album moniker. With forceful rock pulses, memorable choruses and Anderson's lighter-than-a-feather vocals, the musicality of this production rekindles the days of yore, stylized with a modern sheen. Most of these works are engineered with melodic hooks and a horde of subtle nuances and shadings, topped off by a supporting cast of background vocalists.
Stolt's sustain driven extended notes and articulately executed solo spots cover a wide array of influences, spanning jazz, rock, and blues inflected accents. He's also a colorist, especially when the musicians delve into ethereal interludes as Brislin and keyboardist Lalle Larsson intersperse full-bodied Moog synth passages into various parts, used for embellishments or when signaling a new sub-motif within a given piece.
On "Knowing," Stolt's heartwarming and stately acoustic guitar intro is followed by the integration of sub-themes, pastoral etudes, and lush symphonic treatments that seamlessly integrate into the grand scheme of matters. Hence, "Chase and Harmony" is another composition that offers a beautiful intro, performed on piano by either Brislin or Larrson that segues into a mid-tempo rock groove, adorned with a brief chamber passage and Anderson's harmonious singing.
" Know..." is the lengthiest work at 11:13, commencing with a jazzy vibe and Anderson's airy and up-tempo balladry that surges forward with several alterations of the primary storyline and Stolt's stinging, but concise leads. Without a doubt, this album is most assuredly one of Anderson's finest side projects to date, and perhaps one of his best outings since the glory days of Yes. Moreover, Stolt is a Renaissance man who helps shape these magnetic arrangements with a holistic slant, rounding out a top-flight group that envelopes the proceedings into an eventful sojourn that should gracefully endure the sands of time.
Track Listing: Invention of Knowledge: Invention; We Are Truth; Knowledge; Knowing: Knowing;
Chase and Harmony; Everybody Heals: Everybody Heals; Better by Far; Golden
Light; Know: Know.
Personnel: Jon Anderson: lead and backing vocals, synthesizer, percussion; Roine Stolt:
electric guitar, acoustic guitars, Dobro, Portuguese guitar, lap steel guitar,
keyboards, percussion, backing vocals; Tom Brislin: Yamaha C7 grand piano,
Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond B-3 organ, synthesizers; Lalle Larsson: grand
piano, synthesizer; Jonas Reingold: bass guitar, backing vocals; Michael Stolt:
bass guitar, Moog bass; Felix Lehrmann: drums; Daniel Gildenlöw: backing
vocals; Nad Sylvan: backing vocals; Anja Obermayer: backing vocals; Maria
Rerych: backing vocals; Kristina Westas: backing vocals.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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