Not since Time And A Word have Yes utilized an orchestra on an entire album. Much of the credit goes to longtime Yes fan, composer and conductor Larry Groupé. Touring with the group, Groupé and a series of pick-up orchestras were initially brought in to replace the keyboards. On Magnification, Groupé has introduced new textures, filled in the gaps, invoked harmonies and counterpoints, and positioned enraptured symphonic movements throughout. The opening title track draws out the ensemble as Anderson and Squire croon the chorus, and Howe discerningly sustains and bends each note amidst a tumble of strings and horns. The pop facade of "Don't Go" is much more reminiscent of what the band was churning out in the 80s, although the harmonies and Howe's guitar once again cut through the glut.
It is, however, no match for what comes next. Boasting a rich overture and a vibrant vocal courtesy of Anderson, "Give Love Each Day" may be the most mesmerizing Yes track since "Awaken." Squire asserts a more prominent vocal on "Can You Imagine," but falls short of taking the CD any further. Howe's eloquent acoustic guitar adorns "We Agree," "Soft As A Dove" and "Dreamtime," a palatable excursion that gives Anderson an opportunity to rattle off a metaphysical line or two. The minimal shades of "In The Presence Of" and "Time Is Time" merely call attention to the band's ability to reinvent themselves while remaining true to their roots.
~ Shawn Perry