I loved epic length track and Tales offer me a real feast. I was already a true fan, but with The Topographic Oceans I was a committed fan. I may concede that it is not perfect. However, the most important thing for me is that I still enjoy it. I have bought it in vinyl, in cassette and finally in CD format! I confess that I have not bought the 2003 remastered CD. Therefore my comment applies to the original version. The jacket by Roger Dean aptly captured the spirit of a long forgotten past.
This album is the debut of Allan White with Yes, a very different drummer than Bill Bruford who, in my opinion, is at that time better of with King Crimson. It is not that Alan is better than Bill, but he seems at that period more in phase with the group. The musical result of this new addition is for me evident: one of the best symphonic progressive rock albums of all time. I have liked their previous effort, but this one is a step higher, it almost defines symphonic progressive rock. Each track is interesting in itself, each has it's highlights.
What happen to this song we once new so well? "The Revealing Science of God" with its catchy chorus and all around superb musicianship open up a path to the mythic oceans, buried deep in the collective unconsciousness. On all the tracks, the bass of Chris Squire blend in perfectly. "The Remembering" is one of my all time favorite work of Yes with Awaken, South Side of the Sky and Close to the Edge. It is luminous, joyous and fun, a real gloom fighter. The keyboards create most of the ambiance; it is a Wakeman piece with superb nuances. "The Ancient" is a group song. Each member of the band had its moment. From the rhythmic beginning, the tune alternate between quiet dreamlike moments and more exciting one, with a nostalgic feeling sown in. And the accoustic guitar solo by Howe is memorable, certainly one of the highlight of this piece. "Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)" closed nicely this epic project with another upbeat mood. We are from the sun, a dwarf yellow class G star. Anderson seems fascinated and inspired by space and what it possibly could mean for us, he is certainly not alone in this endeavour. This piece offers us also the chance to appreciate Alan White talent as a drummer and percussionist in a solo with Wakeman, followed by superb guitar and piano with an almost unplug feel.
It may be a musical achievement not immediately accessible, but I still recommend it for all lovers of symphonic progressive rock. For me, it is a landmark. Finally, I find amusing that parts of the lyrics were at times so...obscure! So nonsensical! Those lyrics look like much of modern poetry to me! Even Jon Anderson has to admit that certain passages were difficult for him to comprehend and the rest of the group made fun of him for this.