In the Clearing
Sugarfoot’s latest represents a branching out: Unlike the Norwegian band’s earlier releases, the overall feel of the music has become “country prog” (for lack of a better term) more than simply “country rock.”
Relatively fresh off his amazing 2016 collaborative album with Jon Anderson (“Invention of Knowledge,” under the moniker Anderson-Stolt), Swedish prog vet Roine Stolt perhaps takes a cue from his experience of reassembling bits of unfinished Anderson songs that had accumulated over the years — this time applying it to his own odds and ends dating back 15 years or so.
For all intents and purposes, this is “Yes meets the Flower Kings.”
Jon Anderson has been saying for years that he wished to return to creating what he calls “Yes Music” — the long-form, epic style of progressive rock epitomized by that band on such albums as “Close to the Edge,” “Tales From Topographic Oceans” and “Relayer” in the 1970s.
Ever since the collaboration between Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty was announced as a Kickstarter project last summer, prog and fusion fans have been anxious to hear how these icons would sound together. The end result far and away exceeds anyone’s expectations.
Taking inspiration from his recoveries following several events in 2008 (a near drowning while swimming in the ocean; an almost fatal respiratory attack that cost him his job as lead singer of Yes; and liver and pancreas surgeries), Anderson has culled an array of songs from recent online collaborations to create his first studio record of new material since 1998 as well as one of his finest albums.