Backyard Levitation 2015
Prog by numbers from YES’ close associate who likes to go it alone and conquer.
Originally out digitally and materializing now on hard medium, Billy Sherwood’s black album is an example of false movement, its title defining an action without an actual change. Still, there’s something hypnotic to what can be seen as rather static compositions gathered here, from the quasi-orchestral wave of “On Impact” on, with typical YES harmonies and instrumental staples – as performed by Sherwood on his own and peaking in the excitingly intimate “Between Us” – but not enough hooks in the time-signatures and dynamic shifts.
As a result, the raga-spiked “Sphere Of Influence” might sound ironic, given Billy’s dramatic return to the band’s fold, albeit it’s hard not to sip the piece’s groove or not to savor the contrast between synthesized strings and heavy guitar riffs in “No Stone Unturned” which comes off as an epitome of the record’s lazy motion. And while cosmic keyboards float in time forming riveting patterns in “Sequence Of Events,” it takes repeated listens to notice these passages, “End Of An Era” being the only piece on display to show a surge of emotion. Introspective and filled with ennui, “Divided By One” may be a solipsist’s delight; outside of one’s cocoon, though, the album has a limited appeal.