August 25, 2021

Watching the twin towers collapsing on September 11th 2001 triggered conflicting emotions and responses in different people. For ex-Yes man Tony Kaye, watching in the US, it triggered a desire to want to express his feelings and emotions in music. He stated: ‘The day after, I unpacked my keyboards for the first time in a long while. I didn’t know what I was going to do, it was just one of those things, inspiration on a musical level’. The end result, several years later, is this album, to be released on September 10th, with 10% of the profits being donated to the Gary Sinese Foundation, which supports first responders.

End Of Innocence is intended as a requiem for the thousands who perished on the day. It’s primarily an orchestral piece which, in places, is beautiful and emotive, but also with an accompaniment of dark undertones of the sinister and malign forces reflecting the dark happenings which are about to occur. Listening to the 9/11 Overture brings up images of sunrise over Staten Island, but with a feeling of an impending … something.  But what gives the album its poignancy is the accompanying notes, when the events of the day and the outcomes are described and, once read, they give the music greater intimacy and relevance as the images can be more clearly imagined.

The album begins with the sounds of a storm – appropriate given that the night before, New York City experienced the tail end of storm Erin – and then Dani Torchia, Tony Kaye’s wife, sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The juxtaposition is immediate … we know what horrors are on the horizon, yet it’s the innocence of a nursery rhyme which leads us to it.

From here onwards Tony Kaye takes us on an emotional journey, with the occasional use of voices to give greater impact to the music and the significance of the event. It’s an album of contrasting moods and feelings which captures the incredulity most felt when the twin towers came down, and when some of the human tragedies became known, the man working his last day at the world trade centre before moving to a new job, for instance.

The music is dramatic, occasionally melancholic and evocative of what the situation was at the time, with Kaye creating vivid sonic images of life around the World Trade Centre on 285 Fulton Street. Even more evocative is, on Flight 11, the story of the plane being about to crash into the north tower; the actual voice of the flight attendant, telling American Airlines flight control she thinks the plane’s being hijacked and other flight attendants have been stabbed, is merged into the music and it’s chilling.  Heroes, about first responders, is a very moving piece, Hope & Triumph, with its spoken intro to the US constitution, is ‘a patriotic anthem’ and Ground Zero is ‘the hope for the future.’

I’d have liked The Sweetest Dream, sung by Dani Torchia, to have been the closing track, with its line ‘it’s faith which keeps me getting through’  as it’d make an appropriate ending, but this album demonstrates, despite some time away, Tony Kaye hasn’t lost his touch.