Here are some of the reviews of Golden Fragments by FRAGILE
FRAGILE Reviews 2020
- Xymphomania June 2020 Full review (translated from Dutch)
Fragile - When Are Wars Won? / Surely All I Need From “Golden Fragments” (own management, 2020) The band's name betrays a lot, of course. Fragile started out as a Yes tribute band. A number of editorial members even saw these Britons in action once in London, in the 90s. At that time we already thought that the musicians were too good to serve as a tribute band. Now Fragile has responded to that with “Golden Fragments”: a first album with own compositions that certainly do justice to the band name giver. Of course there have been some occupation changes over the years. Currently Fragile consists of guitarist Oliver Day (guitar), Max Hunt (keys, guitar, bass and vocals), Russ Wilson (drums) and singer Claire Hamill. Sure, the same Claire Hamill who worked with both Yes members and Wishbone Ash in the past and who later delivered a string of New Age-tinged albums. On a number of songs Clive Bayley also participates as a guest singer. He was once a member of the pre-Yes band Mable Greer Toy Shop. Now to the music: of course the Yes reveries will blow your mind, even the cover is inspired by the work of Roger Dean. You would almost say that the album is the missing link between "Relayer" and "Going For The One". Still, Fragile knows how to give it a twist. This is certainly due to the contribution of Hamill. Just fresh from the press is the news that there will be an album by Bayley and Hunt, which can already be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. We are now going to listen to “When Are Wars Won? / Surely All I Need ”.
English translation of Pierre's French review in Progcritique: Date of the article15 June 2020
FRAGILE, as its name suggests, obviously has a lot to do with YES, since it has been the European tribute band since the 1990s. Playing the music of others - after all that's what the so-called classical musicians do, and that of YES is probably not the easiest to interpret - is a great and beautiful thing, but why not throw your own ideas on music paper? Well, it’s done with a first album "Golden Fragments". The album cover is a beautiful painting, Sky Castle, by the American Steve Mayerson. Without doubt a first wink, graphic that one, in the direction of Roger Dean, who enchanted the oldest of us with our first vinyl records from YES and Asia. Obviously we immediately ask the question: is this album YES-like? Well no ! Of course, there are a lot of winks and you can easily recognize a few notes or sounds that are more evocative when you take a song. The first track juxtaposes 2 quite distinct parts / songs - "When Are Wars Won? / Surely All I Need", powerfully symphonic where we discover the superb voice of Claire Hammil, and the instrumental science of the group. A beautiful transition to the acoustic guitar takes us to the final air passage as possible, quite charged with emotion. It starts very strong I think. "Blessed By The Sun / Hey You And I And" begins with an intro with particularly successful synth chords, then Claire Hammil's voice embarks on an equally successful chromatic rise. This incantatory refrain will be repeated several times, before a rather unbridled instrumental end, and which also spares a nice chromatic rise on the keyboards to conclude. Lesser "Five Senses", with its very sustained, more rocky rhythm, leaves only a tiny breath in the middle, before leaving at full speed. Lots of elegance in "Heaven’s Core", which features guitar and piano, and the voice of Clive Bayley. elegant and bright! "Open Space" is the pretext for a short interlude of acoustic guitar, unpretentious, but offering a beautiful breath. "Time To Dream / Now We Are Sunlight" ... there, the nod to "Close To The Edge" (the famous piece of which you know) is huge! The voice of Claire Hammil, discreetly seconded by that of Clive Bayley, takes you once again very far and very high. Second rather unbridled instrumental part, which ends in a hovering decrescendo. "Old Worlds And Kingdoms / Too Late In The Day", launches a piano theme, which ends with a short quick passage borrowed directly from the "Awaken" intro. Then begins a heroic song which befits marvelously these ancient worlds and other kingdoms. And then everything calms down before ending in the initial joy. If the influence of YES is more than palpable, "Golden Fragments" is not one in the manner of ... Inspiration is not imitation. I've talked a lot about the singers but I would be remiss if I didn't mention Oliver Day, Max Hunt, Russ Wilson who do ... the rest! A very beautiful symphonic style, brilliant and sophisticated,… sumptuous! Group formation Claire Hamill (Vocals) - Oliver Day (Guitars) - Russ Wilson (Drums / Percussion) - Max Hunt (Vocals, Keyboard, Bass, Guitar, Percussion) - special guest: Clive Bayley (Mabel Greer's Toyshop) on Heaven's Core & Time to Dream / Now we are Sunlight. https://progcritique.com/fragile-golden-fragments/?
English translation of Philippe André's review of 'Golden Fragments' at profilprog.com.
“We dedicate this first album to the memory of our old friend Tom DAWE who was the founder of the group, a long time ago ... 'Golden Fragments' is the first original album of FRAGILE, a tribute group of ... YES obviously present on European stages since the end of the nineties and who decided to launch into the deep end of original compositions all keeping the YES trademark in mind and in music. Note that singer Claire HAMILL has lent her voice to the albums of Steve HOWE, Jon ANDERSON, JON and VANGELIS or even WISHBONE ASH, so she is sailing on familiar ground. Without prejudging what follows, a minute and a half is enough to understand where we are going and how we are going! All the brilliance and the vista of the great British group are there, I said the great British group not the pale copy that is offered to us in 2020 and for a few years already ... longest of the album too, plunges us back into our past fantasies, everything is the six Howian strings held by Oliver DAY, the Squirian four strings handled by Max HUNT, the Wakemanian keyboards under the nimble fingers of the same Max HUNT and the percussive drumming of Russ WILSON which reminds more Bill than Alan ..... The whole thing is clarified by the magnificent vocals of Claire HAMILL as if Jon ANDERSON had mutated to the feminine with octaves inaccessible for most of the singers and singers that we meet usually (10/10). Obviously after this essential pearl, we need to go down a little bit to appreciate at its fair value the second piece 'Blessed by the Sun / Hey You And I And' whose title is a real reference to one of the pieces of anthology of the historic YES and miracle, there too, one would believe it, impressive mastery demonstrated by this FRAGILE (9/10). A little less exciting the 'Five Senses' which follows, perhaps because sung by a male voice in its first part, that of the omnipresent Max HUNT and simply vocalized by Claire in its second part under a plethora of guitars worthy of who you know (8/10). We shift to "Heavens" Core "with male / female vocals this time, predominance of the first name, and there it is rather the key instruments that hold the top of the block marrying the grandiloquence of the seventies with an overall sound much more anchored in the two thousand years, a piece that could have escaped from 'The Ladder' (8/10). Following the rigorous acoustic interlude 'Open Space', we will say that they could not help it ... (no note voluntarily). The penultimate track 'Time To Dream / Now We Are The Sunlight' or the return to history, with the exception of female vocals, with many, many synthesizers, in layers for the first three minutes and exploding brilliant and hot for the continuation under the pressure of the guitar of Oliver DAY which gratifies us with a sumptuous score of his instrument, all worthy of the best period of the big brother (9/10). The second epic which closes the album 'Old Worlds And Kingdoms / Too Late In The Day' has little to envy to the first 'epic' in terms of musicality, introduced by a delicate piano, well in a Yessian logic , before Claire Hamill ignites our senses with her high pitched voice, accompanied by the aerial guitar of Oliver DAY which multiplies in Steve style (sorry the comparison cannot be avoided), a very beautiful composition which reaches the best moments of the London troop at its peak, in short a progressive pearl in the feminine (10/10). I did not know what to expect from FRAGILE, let's say that success is there, beautiful and surprising satisfaction.” https://www.profilprog.com/chroniques-reviews-2/Fragile
English translation of Paul Rijkens' review of 'Golden Fragments' in edition 165 of iO Pages (
"Fragile is an English Yes-tribute band that has been around since the 1990s, nowadays, it is an original group that in a unique way pays homage to Yes. Golden Fragments is the first album with their own work. Fragile consists of Oliver Day (guitars), Russ Wilson (drums and percussion), Max Hunt (vocals, keys, bass, guitar and percussion) and Claire Hamill (vocals). Claire is no stranger and had made some nice solo records. The link with Yes is furthered by two songs that are sung by Clive Bayley from Mabel Greer's Toyshop and it looks like the cover by Steven Mayerson is a work by Roger Dean. How does Golden Fragments sound then? Well, not surprisingly like Yes. Already in the first notes of When Are Wars Won? / Surely All I Need we hear the special driving rhythm section of Wilson and Hunt. Then Rick Wakeman-like synth solos from Hunt and we hear guitar from Day as if Steve Howe is playing. An intermezzo with piano and acoustic guitar really sounds like Yes. The second part is also quite acoustic of nature. The second track, Blessed By The Sun / Hey You And I And (that's what it's really called) also has a very recognizable electric Howesque solo at the end. Hunt sings in Five Senses, supported by Mellotron. His voice is somewhat like Chris Squire's. In Heaven's Core we hear Bayley for the first time. Early Yes can be greeted here, and that I think it is strong, given that Mabel Greer's Toyshop was a pre-Yes band. Here we also hear strong again synth solos. Bayley is also participating on Time To Dream / Now We Are Sunlight whose beginning is comparable to the central piece of Close To The Edge. In perfect Yes tradition, Open Space is an acoustic guitar solo. The piano melody used by 'Old Worlds And Kingdoms / Too Late In The Day' is very strong. Hunt can approach Wakeman well. The number has beautiful melody lines that wouldn't out of place on a Yes disk. That counts for most of Golden Fragments. Paul Rijkens iO Pages."
Golden States – Fragile by Michelle Johnston / love of Yes music blogspot Fragile is a Band in the tradition of Yes. They know the language, how to form the words, construct the sentences, organise the paragraphs tell the story. What happens if you start with a blank sheet of paper do you create something new or merely a facsimile, a copy?
When Are Wars Won It begins with a brief swift acoustic unison run from guitar and piano, great production, lots of energy and excitement. There is a light playfulness to the music, in the blink of an eye it switches to electric and the drums swing propelling the music. Then a switch back to a wonderful acoustic guitar shuffle vaguely Spanish and the keys hint at the next melody and bring it right down, contemplative. I recognise the language, the methodology the construction so is it a neat copy? No, and for several reasons. The drummer is his own man I am reminded more of Mike Hough of Flash than either Bill or Alan. Lots of rolls, marching, top kit but no attempt to self consciously drop beats or play the melody. When the battle sequence starts deep into the piece you can hear some Gates riffs but it's more self-disciplined and those marching drums suit it perfectly. There is no Bass Guitarist the Keyboard player Max Hunt wisely plays the Bass more in a Mike Rutherford style. The odd forward phrase, the support to the battle sequence but the base of the music is more often taken by the Keys. This decision avoids pastiche with a vengeance. What of the top line. Oliver for me like Billy is actually playing better than his hero. He has a great sound, the projection of the guitar in the music is firm concise but has a real attack. But like Steve, he has something else a broad palette and when he plays acoustic or pedal steel it's for the piece not "equipment utilisation." The Guitar is mixed a la Eddie on Fragile. Keyboards are the poisoned chalice of the genre. Fripp never used them and whenever bands wanted to deny their past they were barely present. Musicians must feel they are wedded to not only a genre but a time. However, there is a timeless non-generic element in all of this which was criminally underused by all of them in the seventies the Grand Piano. Oliver Wakeman has proved with John Holden that rhapsodic Piano playing of the themes within a well-disciplined format has ageless charm and Max applies the same approach. As for the electric work, the sound isn't spell bounding unique but as Chris used to say about Geoff Max listens to the music and plays for the piece. But there is also audacity and cheek in the playing he throws in curved balls and draws you in you cannot guess where he goes next unlike a certain other Wakeman who has been offering stock responses for years. The other big plus which Max has real skill with is in defining the emotional fabric of the music. The soundscapes and atmospherics are superb creating moments of wonder and magic in a way that no other genre ever has. The real terror for an arrogant and opinionated Yes fan like myself is the Vocals. Jon and Chris took the 5th Dimension and Association and layered it into the most demanding arrangements imaginable and no one came close to it. They were the perfect foil for each other and had a unique British Sound. Unless you simply want to pay tribute to that and end up in the shadow of the past you have to do something different particularly with newmusic, that was my real fear with this project. The answer is they knock it out of the park.
The trump card of this project is to give the Lead Vocals to Claire Hamill. The moment she enters you know you have a unique and singular voice speaking for the music which is absolutely a thing of its own bravo! As regards the lyrics once again Flash rather than Yes come to mind. Uplifting positive but the voice is another instrument and the precise meaning of the lyrics is less important than the mood they create. The lyrics ask questions, invoke exotic images and just occasionally offer down to earth humanistic concerns metaphorically. So what of the other six pieces? Blessed By The Sun It begins with great atmospherics from Max, before Claire offers a gorgeous hypnotic contralto and then moves into one of those complicated chorus structures where all the forces join in. A little more Bass on this piece even some wah wah but nothing derivative. Nice changes of pace and slightly phased vocals and throughout the drummer sticks to his plan, rolls, keeping the beat for Oliver and one or two statements to lift it through an ascending section a little like Wurm but not wurm. The synthesiser gets a ride out not to short not too long and then a sprint a nice surprise to end with. Five Senses Bursts into life with a lovely melodious musical male voice, some lovely dancing synthesiser and Claire flirting around it. Wow, it's Clive Bailey great vocals and as the piece goes nuclear he glides over the top. There is so much music he could have sung on, Patricks "I" for one. Then we move onto the language of Yes Claire and Clive chant "Starlight' and "Universe." One element I really enjoy is that the vocals are inside the music and often leave the instrumentalists to do their thing. That is reminiscent of the methodology of "The Yes Album." Heavens Care An echo of a 90125 intro "It Can Happen" then some great in the tradition of Association Unison/Multi tracked vocals from Clive with counterpoint from Claire. Max thwacks the Bass for an ascending run a la late period "alright squire." Then a lovely acoustic piano over a shuffle. This is light airy uplifting music and reminds one of Yes, TAAW and Magnification. Very musical but far better execution and stronger more sophisticated musical ideas than the aforementioned and the vocals are so self-disciplined, nothing wearing or fatiguing. Clive and Claire are mustard on this and of course, it all sounds like something else about the seventies Yes...English. This is a lovely slow burner with repeated listens and like the best Progressive Rock, it gets better and better. Open Space The Acoustic Piece. Say no more lyrical full of pathos grace and beauty. The man from Devon would approve. I have always loved these miniatures on those seventies L.P.'s. There is one at the beginning of Side 2 of Foxtrot. Every album should have had one short. Time to Dream "Reaching a beauty deep inside" isn't that what we all did with the third movement of Close To The Edge. This is a wonderful inversion. If all of the project was this close it would have not worked for me. But this is exquisite and of course, what follows is quite different actually the super-fast quote puts me in mind of "That That Is" but fully realised. Then a wonderful lopping beat some solid organ sounds and great robust spindly guitar but the stamp of authority comes with Clive's "Time to Dream." He, they own this, it's them not them being someone else, and to finish. Old Worlds and Kingdoms By this stage, they are a Band with their own personality. A dancing rhythm lot of syncopation everyone is playing the melody and everyone is harmonising. The bass pops up, then the guitar, a drum roll and then Claire. This is entirely different from Siberian Khatrue but works in the same way. The instruments rush on chasing each other down. A fantastic never before heard guitar sound from Oliver, drums prodding, then a lovely out of time support from the keys before a brief solo and then quiet thoughtfulness a gorgeous mandoline sound, I am almost in tears its so beautiful and moving and then a surging church organ sound this is so good full of emotion, mystery, its provocative, searching and then Claire returns a roll on the drums and the music recapitulates but there is more. It twists it turns high energy runs but all this convolution never undermines or confuses. It always enlarges the singular coordinated experience of the piece. Then one final hectic run as the music beckons us to change before its too late. Somehow that desperate rush to the end of the piece with questions abounding feels so appropriate particular these last counterpoint lines. "I can hear the wind of change blowing at my window pane." The CD was completed in February how prophetic. So we know the language but this lives in its own space and has its own thrilling separate unique voice.