Yes - Close to the Edge (1972), 7/10

One of the more spirited, jubilant, and harmonious records of the seventies, Close to the Edge is one of the strongest examples of symphonic prog recorded. While it still suffers from the shortcomings of the genre in its grandiosity and flair for melodramatics, it is one of the more beautiful, endearing, and accessible yet musically complex records available. It also excels in fluid pacing and well-crafted storytelling in a way that few albums have accomplished since. Its popularity likely stems from its relative openness and approachability mixed with a slowly revealed depth through nuance in musicality both harmonically and rhythmically. The movements are identifiable yet differentiated by thematic shifts, still blending to form a remarkably rich experience. The peaks and valleys complement each other rather than coming across as jigsaw pieces and never revealing any cracks of disjointedness. This can be clearly heard during the third and fourth movements of the title track “I Get Up I Get Down” and “Seasons of Man”, particularly during Wakeman’s climax in dramatics followed by a return to original form and energy. The album’s commercial success is no surprise, and its longevity complements this peak in sales because of the wonderful detail to be discovered beneath the river’s surface. While the band flirts with limits approaching a space appropriately titled Close to the Edge during the colossal opening track and the handsome “And You and I”, they tread right past this metaphorical line with “Siberian Khatru”. Things take a needed turn toward a new perspective and with new textures. While the project never excels beyond the already explored limits of prog rock, it comes close to testing the limits of the genre as far as beauty and graceful symmetry is concerned. There are simply too many misguided tangents to consider Close to the Edge the perfect musical gem that it is regularly labeled as. Still, the album is one of the best instances of prog rock and has an extraordinary vision and immediate yet deep pull.