Tales From Topographic Oceans
Often cited as embodying the worst excesses of progressive rock, Tales From Topographic Oceans was Yes’ conceptual double album. Based entirely on a lengthy footnote on page 83 of an obscure religious text, Tales From Topographic Oceans shows Yes stretching their ideas too thin over four side-long tracks. The songs are less arresting; there are less obvious dynamics, and the sections drift into each other.
The obvious highlight is opener ‘The Revealing Science of God’. It’s not as action packed as other side-longs such as ‘Close To The Edge’ or ‘The Gates Of Delirium’, but it still justifies its twenty minute length well enough with a nice melody. ‘The Remembering’ has more nice melodic ideas, and the “relayer” section is arguably the most hook-laden aspect of the entire album. The only place Tales From Topographic Oceans does become something of a chore is ‘The Ancients’ which takes the band into atonal territory for an entire fifteen minutes.
I’ve seen Tales From Topographic Oceans described as the ultimate love it or hate it album, but that’s hardly accurate; it’s certainly not the place to begin an exploration into Yes, but if you’re already a fan it’s perfectly enjoyable, if a little sedate.