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Yes - "Tormato, 1978 re-release"
Rhino Records 2004

"Tormato" is an excellent continuing of a new sound and style orientations set with "Going For The One" (1976). Yes where for the first time without producer, dealing alone with all faders and other studio devices. "Tormato", with having in mind we are still deep in the seventies, surely delivered revolutionary sound standards influential in defining eighties pop rock sound.

With "Tormato" people are losing too much energy over discussions how should it sound and how band should compose material for this special record. It makes quite sense to me that when band chooses it's own creative freedom, it'll tend towards perpetual movement onto new musical horizons yet to be discovered. So, as far as I am concerned, it would be of great damage if they'd tried to produce another "Fragile" (1972) or another "Tales From Topographic Oceans" (1973) album. "Tormato" has been sacrificed as an album where all sort of wicked words are spoken from mouths of fans, music journalists and even band himself. With "Tormato" Yes were heading further in assembling rockier, shorter and round shaped pieces with heads and tails. Seventies magic of cerebral albums was merely exterminated but instead of that new qualities were brought into Yes fresh musical face.

Album has for seventies era very modern sound. Instruments are clearly divided, and whole album gives impression of covering merely higher sound sequences. Almost each and every track from "Tormato" has different production. Just listen to drum beat in opening track Future Times/Rejoice with snare "all troops are marching" drive and compare it to Arriving UFO which is truly very special song. Steve's guitar sounds on Arriving UFO especially during his soloing or in certain passages when he and Rick are doing twin harmonies and soloing crossfires very polished and Rick who abandoned his Hammond organ long time ago proudly shows all his enthusiasm over new sound technologies that were brought in rock with development of synthesizers or moog sounds if you like. Impression is that in Arriving UFO Yes are having two keyboardists in line up, because of twisted "alien" sounds deriving from Steve's guitar. So, what might disturb over spoiled ears here is usual sound contrast between those two instruments, which is lacking here. Arriving UFO is a highlight because it shines out most brightly band's experimentations. Here band shows all it's incredible feel to paint the chosen picture alive. I mean, it is not hard to imagine colonization of little green creatures that are landing down from Mars, when you'll listen Arriving UFO..

Even Chris's Rickenbecker has been more controlled and a bit flattened than on previous records. So there has been a lot of space left for Alan's drums, which are sounding splashier in rocking pieces (Release, Release, Don't Kill The Whale). So contrasts between instruments are again very colorful. I mean colorful on a very special way. Not only sound contrasts make this album so special but also compositions bring in huge dynamics. Revolutionary opener Future Times/Rejoice and than rockier songs like Don't Kill The Whale or Release, Release (with pure rock'n roll rhythm drive), up to dreamy fantastic ballads like Onward with genuine orchestral arrangements, which shows that Yes story started where The Beatles story ended, or moody Madrigal with harpsichord arrangements, acoustic guitar and special Celtic cold breeze captured. "Tormato" ends with most progressive experience on this record On The Silent Wings Of Freedom, where explosive rhythm line with Chris's Rickenbecker and Alan on drums in pulverizing position is surely pivotal, while Rick and Steve adds some fine arrangements with sometimes nearly ethereal effect. This song has some truly powerful and rockiest touches from band so far, which shows musical directions yet to follow on next Yes record. It is shocking the way it ends. In the middle of very hot soloing crossfire between Rick and Steve just when you are beginning to believe that Yes will carry on for about next ten minutes.

"Tormato" truly sounds as an album arriving from some distant galaxy. And people are not used to accept quick changes, especially when they are used to follow certain living patterns which bring them kind of safety feel. And when suddenly this living pattern has somehow been disturbed, people are forced to adapt to the new and sometimes revolutionary things. And they won't take this risk at any cost. Even if there is surely a guarantee their way of life will improve after that. So they are not prepared to release, to let go some things that happen. And among them are many that are not important at all even if they seem to be important. And here we are, facing again band's poetry (Release, Release). Accept the differences between you and me. Still so hard to do it, to make a first step, cause we are so uncertain what this change might bring. Answer is quite simple, as usual. It can bring peace and love. Language in poetry became more direct. But anyway, where is the difference between verses with "rounds" in Rejoice or Future Times and "get ups/downs" in Close To The Edge, after all?

Band delivers again strong messages. I mean, band's preaching hasn't changed much. The language is the same, only chosen words are different. Celestial travelers who are here among us and who are constantly arriving from outer space and leaving the planet Earth, try to bring a message that we need to set ourselves free. And change is not possible unless we abandon and loose all our hate and fears that tear our hearts apart and prevents love to enter and fulfill our emptiness. Also a strong message of their unique "green language" was delivered through verses of Don't Kill The Whale. Verses here are sounding as if they would emerge from the mouth of an Indian chief. Only Indians were worshipping those animals. Animals? Not just animals, but great spirits in the material world, all equally accepted by Indian people. However, Indians got nearly exterminated and we fully forgot about wondrous stories we once knew so well and to respect wisdom.

Okay I nearly forgot to mention that this re-release contains 10 bonus tracks. Merely demos, of a great importance for the biggest fans and collectors, but in general, no one would miss them. After all, they are all short pieces, very simple framed rock'n roll, impossible to imagine that this arrives from a band that created an album like "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Interesting song is Countryside. This song was originally written back in 1970 by Steve Howe and was used for his solo album "Turbulence" as an instrumental titled Corkscrew. You can also find a version of this song called Resistance Day on his "Homebrew 2" (2000) with Steve doing vocals. Now we got also a version played by Yes band. When comparing all three versions it becomes clearly transparent how Anderson's vocal is important in music, because it brings and creates so special chemistry and mood in it. Very interesting is also Everybody's Song, which is early version of Does It Really Happen from "Drama" (1980). It captures completely different band's working chemistry as it turned to be two years later. It is much more experimental in comparison with it's more pop rocking final "Drama" version. An orchestra instrumental version of Onward is a true bliss and relaxing moment for listener's ears which closes this reissue.

"Tormato" is critically underrated album written and composed by band's golden era line up. It shows band on crossroads. The era of classic Yes has been finished and "Tormato" delivers new winds that will totally change band's identity and spirit in future, when Yes will mix very successful some new trends that appeared on a rock scene at the end of seventies. "Tormato" means therefore a real tornado!

Author:   Aleš

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