Anderson/Stolt - Invention of Knowledge
Jon Anderson has been hard at work recently and quite prolific. He’s been involved in several projects and has produced some fine material. He’s worked on his own, with Jean-Luc Ponty, and he’s working with Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman as ARW. On top of all that he’s managed to find time to complete a wonderful project with Roine Stolt to produce Anderson/Stolt’s Invention of Knowledge. He’s a busy man!
Invention of Knowledge is in many ways a beautiful throwback to some of Anderson’s musical origins. He’s produced many albums over the years that I have truly enjoyed. But this one is a bit different. The song structures are different than his recent work. The music is both new and “old” at the same time. There is a power in this album that seems to have been resurrected. Back are the thematic extended songs broken into several independent but related movements, which is a style in which Anderson excels. Back is the dramatic and dynamic nature of the material we have always associated with him. There seems to be a comfort level present with Stolt’s enormous contributions that I have not heard in earlier albums. When I listen to Invention of Knowledge I say to myself, “Yes, this is what I’ve been missing!”
That of course is the sloppily telegraphed segue to what many are wondering and are already discussing. Is this the “new Yes”? Hmm … I will say that I have been a devoted fan of Yes since the early 70’s. I have also been a devoted fan of Jon Anderson’s solo work since Olias of Sunhillow. That noted, I do not hear the new Yes in Invention of Knowledge that many are saying. Frankly, I think that is understating this album. Don’t get me wrong, at times it seems like I’m hearing the “fifth track” of Tales From Topographic Oceans. But after all is said and done what I hear is Jon Anderson playing with Roine Stolt, and that’s a huge compliment. While I would love to see Anderson reunited with the supergroup he helped create and guide for decades, I think it is wrong to say this group and album are somehow a modern reincarnation of the group we grew up with and loved. Instead, I think what we are hearing is the enormous influence Anderson always commanded in the original group. Yes has changed without Anderson, and Anderson has changed without Yes. The threads that were once interwoven have been separated, and now we are given a clearer example of who contributed what.
We also are treated to the wonderful influence of Roine Stolt. The virtuoso of The Flower Kings and Transatlantic (a personal favorite) among others comes together with Anderson and seamlessly completes the sound. The two obviously share the same vision and love of the progressive style that Yes helped to create. The intricacy of his guitar work and the strength of his bassmanship (is that even a word?) takes this music to much higher levels. Another huge plus to Invention of Knowledge is Stolt’s production talents. This album is broad, open, and makes the music easy to take in. There are many symphonic-style dynamics that are allowed to get lush and huge. At the same time we are treated to several quiet, introspective moments that could easily get muddled in the hands of others. Best of all, Anderson’s voice and lyrics are never lost in the intricately constructed musical compositions.
So, is this the new Yes? Whatever. What I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I loved how it was composed, the musical format in which it was presented, and the overall feelings it inspired as I listened to it. You are free to call whatever you wish; I call Invention of Knowledge wonderful music that deserves to be valued on its own without comparison.
Invention of Knowledge - I. Invention
Invention of Knowledge - II. We Are Truth
Invention of Knowledge - III. Knowledge
Knowing - I. Knowing
Knowing - II. Chase and Harmony
Everybody Heals - I. Everybody Heals
Everybody Heals - II. Better By Far
Everybody Heals - III. Golden Light
By Roy Rahl