You've got to hand it to Yes. No other progressive rock band has chosen to re-invent themselves so many times as this legendary act, and Magnification is no exception. The buring question is how well the groups legion of fans will take to another change in direction.
The big issue over the last few months was who would be the bands new keyboard player. Well, the answer is basically no one. Instead Yes chose to hire composer Larry Groupe' to add layers of orchestration in place of where a keyboard player would normally fit in. The results, while different and immediately shocking, really work after repeated listens. Many of the songs included here are reminiscent in structure of the longer, more progressive and complex tunes from the bands last CD, The Ladder. This should come as welcome news to Yes fans. The soaring melodies from Jon Anderson, the acrobatic guitar of Steve Howe, pounding bass and aggressive backing vocals of Chris Squire, and nimble drum work of Allan White, are all present. Six of the CD's twelve tracks exceeds six minutes, and a few of the highlights are "Spirit of Survival" and "In the Presence Of." While there are a couple of more pop flavored numbers that will remind of tunes from Open Your Eyes, such as "Don't Go" and "Soft as a Dove", these tracks are kept short and generally saved by intriguing melodies and Steve Howe's guitar work. A good expample of pop meets classical is on the engaging "Give Love Each Day", which features a lovely vocal from Anderson augmented by a soaring string ensemble. A rare Chris Squire lead vocal can be heard on "Can You Imagine", a witty and upbeat song that ends way too quickly.
A good way to classify this CD would be to imagine a cross between 90125, The Ladder, and Going For The One, minus Rick Wakeman/Tony Kaye/Igor Khoroshev, with lush orchestrations in place of the keyboards. A truly fascinating listen, but it will take a few spins to fully appreciate the treasures contained within.