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Anderson, Jon: Open

Jon Anderson has an identity almost synonymous with epic suites. As one of the chief songwriters (as well as the vocalist) for Yes, he helped pioneer the album-long piece in progressive rock. Taking this into consideration, it comes as no surprise that Anderson recently released a 21 minute opus entitled Open. Full of spirituality, beautiful falsetto harmonies, and lush, complex orchestration, it's most remarkable for its production; however, fans who don't enjoy his overabundance of optimism may feel deterred.

Anderson explains the piece by saying,
…I am always remembering my true musical journey. To create this work, I sat with my 19th Century guitar and strummed ideas last spring 2010. Songs just poured out of me that week, and before I knew it I had created a long form musical idea…

Coupled with the wonderful orchestrations of his friend and neighbor, Stefan Podell, Anderson has crafted music that lives up to the description of "a pioneering effort that weaves intricate melodic and harmonic themes within a classical music framework whilst showcasing Anderson's iconic vocals and timeless melodies throughout." As any Yes fan knows, Anderson is a master of juxtaposing bombastic music with calmer passages (just listen to the final segment of "The Gates of Delirium," for example), and while "Open" never builds up to similar intensity, its synthesis of orchestration and melody is still precise.

Broken into four "movements," it flows effortlessly from one section to the next, and often times, a melody that was played on one instrument is recalled on either another instrument or through Jon's voice. Perhaps the most striking element of Open is how Anderson's voice sounds almost identical to how it did 40 years ago; while many legendary vocalists have succumbed to the ill effects of aging, Anderson certainly hasn't. As for the music, it's full of crashing percussion, royal horns, staccato strings, and dozens of other exciting eccentricities.

If there is any downside to the piece, it's that the melodies, while very conducive to the music and message, aren't strong enough to stand on their own. They sort of act as a final blanket to cover the music rather than demand the spotlight (like so many other melodies Anderson has sung over his career). Still, because his voice is so unique and affective, the very fact that he sings at all is a benefit.

Overall, Open is arguably as ambitious and personal as anything Anderson has ever done, and it's inspiring to know that he's still so in love with his art and his spirituality after all these years. Naysayers of his aesthetic may find Open to be a bit too flowery and joyous, but one can't fault someone for being too happy, and Anderson certainly has enough prestige and fans to warrant such a creation.

Track Listing
1. "Open" 21:00

Added: November 8th 2011
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1821
Language: english

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