Once again, Trent Gardner has assembled a plethora of progressive rock musicians to produce an album under the heading of Explorer's Club. This time, the notable participants include drumming legend Terry Bozzio (UK, Frank Zappa, Bozzio Levin Stevens), bassist John Myung (Liquid Tension Experiment, Platypus, Dream Theater), Kerry Livgren (guitarist for Kansas), Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) and keyboardist Mark Robertson (Cairo). Marty Friedman (best known for his work as guitarist in Megadeth) also makes his presence known. Gardner brings both vocal and keyboard talents, along with his songwriting work, to the project. The vocalists rounding out the recording are Steve Walsh (Kansas) and James LaBrie (Dream Theater, Mullmuzzler). If the first album by Explorer's Club (Age of Impact) prompted comparisons to Yes' Close to the Edge, then this release would be Explorer's Club's Tales From Topographic Oceans. Much like that Yes album, this one is a meandering sort of work that although it contains some awesome passages, doesn't work so well as an overall piece. Although the album is divided into four sections, much like Topographic, Gardner considers it to be one piece, as Yes vocalist Jon Anderson envisioned their release. Among the things that work really well on the album are those aforementioned vocals, most notably Walsh's. The segments on which he sings are among the best of the disc. Some of the more coherent musical passages are quite impressive as well -- especially those that call to mind Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The album just doesn't gel all that well, though, and some segments leave the listener scratching their head just a bit.
AllMusic Review by Gary Hill