Remember "The Dark Side of Oz?" Well, it was bound to happen that someone would eventually turn Roger Dean's Tolkienesque album-cover art for Yes (and other bands) into a major motion picture, but this time the movie would be calibrated to the music. That film, I strongly believe, is James Cameron's Avatar. Like many folks, I was underwhelmed by the plot of Avatar, which seemed too much like a Dances With Wolves redux, but was duly impressed by its visuals (especially in 3-D). I also couldn't help but notice stark resemblances in the film to Dean's various Yes landscapes (floating mountains, "Keys to Ascension"-type arches, etc.). So over Xmas, following a discussion about Yes with my brother on the "organic" qualities of Close to the Edge (there was a very funny thread here recently describing the dilemma of people who like Yes which prompted me to create this thread), he suggested I try to sync Avatar to Yes music. The results were astonishing! Using visual cues from the film related to Yes song titles and content, this is what I eventually came up with (approximate time references are to the single-disc DVD): 1.) 00:00:26 Start with "Revealing Science" from Tales from Topographic Oceans - This first part is, after all, where we learn about the avatar science. Because I knew I would be using both CTTE and Relayer, the most logical next album choice was Tales given that it is the studio album released between those others. As an album, Tales remains as inaccessible as ever, but as incidental film music, its lengthy numbers work brilliantly well. Using the extended intro version, you should hear the sounds of waves (wind?) when the first film visuals appear. I suggest beginning the disc about 5 seconds after the 20th Century Fox logo disappears. This song ends as Jake is speaking to Colonel Quaritch but about a minute or so before the first real foray into Pandora. 2.) 00:22:56 "5% for Nothing" from Fragile - This was actually the last sync-up I did mainly to fill-in dead space. As it turns out, the short "song" works here as an in-joke (at least for Yes fans) because this is where the Colonel is making a sort of "deal" with Jake. 3.) 00:23:41 Start Close to the Edge and play the album in its entirety. It seemed pretty obvious that the title track would begin at the point where you see a flock of purple-ish birds flying over nearly the exact waterfall featured, if memory serves, on the original album's inner artwork. The trick, though, is to actually begin the disc slightly before that, namely when the previous scene shifts to Dr. Max preparing Jake for his link. I won't spoil the fun for you, but I will say that it was the success of this first sync I did (particularly during the "I get up, I get down" sequence) that encouraged me to continue matching up the rest of the film. Note: I used the '80s CDs for all Yes albums, except Tales where I used the '03 remaster. If your CD has different time breaks/indexes between songs, simply use the (again approximate) DVD start times I have provided as a guide. 4.) 00:42:25 "And You And I" from CTTE - This song should start as Jake is untying his legs from a rope. 5.) 00:52:35 "Siberian Khatru" from CTTE - This song should start as Jake "plugs in" to a (Siberian?) horse creature. 6.) 1:01:40 "The Remembering" from Tales - Start this song when you see a close-up of the viper wolf family. Because I had already used the first track from this album, it made sense to continue with the second one here. Also, this is right about where Jake has to "remember" what both Neytiri and Norm are teaching him, and there is a scene where the Na'vi children "remember" Grace as she returns to the Omaticaya clan. 7.) 1:22:32 "Ritual" from Tales - Start this song when Jake "plugs in" to the sacred willow(?) tree. Although this is the last track from the original album, I chose it here because the previous song ended with the ceremonial "ritual" of Jake becoming part of the Omaticaya clan, and this track begins with the mating "ritual" of Jake with Neytiri. (I don't recall that they ever actually "plugged in" to each other! I guess if they had, then the film would have received an "R" rating instead of "PG-13"! ) 8.) 1:44:25 "The Ancient" from Tales - Start this track with the aftermath following the assault on home tree, which was an "ancient"; the initial cymbal crash should be heard when the tree crashes to the ground. It was not too difficult to choose this one because it was the only unused track from Tales. The track ends with the death of Grace under another "ancient" tree. 9.) 2:03:06 Start Relayer and play this album in its entirety. Like CTTE, this was one of the first Yes opuses I thought to use because the climax of the film depicts a global battle ala "The Gates of Delirium." That track is self-explanatory, but I find it works best when started roughly at this point where Jake declares to the clan "And we shall show the Sky People...." 10.) 2:25:00 "Sound Chaser" from Relayer - This track should begin as the Colonel is flexing his fingers. Another viewer commented on how the music intensified the violence, rendering it less cartoony. I agree that both "Sound Chaser" and "Gates" can be brutal pieces, but they are very effective here for the final confrontations. 11.) 2:34:30 "To Be Over" from Relayer - This track should begin right after Neytiri kisses Jake. It plays, appropriately enough, over the closing credits with about a minute to spare. To reiterate, in order to "Say Yes to Avatar" you will need: Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Relayer, and optionally Fragile; plus, of course, the single-disc Avatar DVD. While I fully understand that the brain makes connections to any music being played to visuals, even my brother (who still says "no" to Yes) enjoyed the uncanny accuracy of this experience. In fact, I really wouldn't be the least bit surprised if an "official" sync version is released sometime in the near future at a hefty premium. In the meantime, please do share your thoughts on Avatar, Yes, or any other fine-tuning suggestions you might have. Coincidence? You decide! Happy New Year!