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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3116 ratings

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5 stars An all around better album than their previous effort, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer is ultimately an essential record. This is the first and only album with keyboardist Patrick Moraz, who would later join The Moody Blues. His playing here, as already noted by others, is much more loose and improvisational than Wakeman's. It would have been interesting to see what the band would have turned into, had he stayed longer.

The record has the exact same structure as Close To The Edge. Three songs with the longest song being on side one and the shorter songs being on side two. This may seem like a retreat, but it isn't. Musically, it couldn't be any more different than CTTE. First off, the synths have a bigger role and the tone is more aggressive. There is some sitar in "To Be Over" just like there is a bit of sitar in "Siberian Khatru" off of Close To The Edge. A lot is conveyed in the three songs.

I think "The Gates Of Delirium" goes above and beyond anything from Topographic Oceans. The composition is loosely based on War and Peace by Tolstoy, and tells of a large scale battle and the aftermath of the slaughter. The opening of the song is reminiscent of Tales, the battle section is an onslaught of sound, and the part at the end titled "Soon" is overwhelmingly beautiful. More so than the finale of "And You And I", "Ritual: Nous Sommes Du Soleil", or "Awaken". The section was released individually as a single but I don't think it has the same effect on its own. It works best as a juxtaposition to what came before it. So after all this, after the song is over, you're left emotionally spent. This is an epic and a good reason for buying the album.

"Sound Chaser" is full-on jazz fusion. The guitars, drums, electric piano, and synthesizers are all frantic. There is even a "cha-cha" bit with the vocals. It is pure craziness, but enjoyable all the way. "To Be Over" stands out as the most relaxing song on the album. As I mentioned before, there is a bit of sitar in the song. The lyrics are hopeful and optimistic; just the thing you need to pick you up when you're down.

There is a contrast between the last song and the first two songs on the album. "The Gates Of Delirium" is an intense emotional trip, "Sound Chaser" is free-form musical insanity, and "To Be Over" is like floating down a river. A definite high-water mark. Too bad their next album "Going For The One" would signal their move towards more commercially friendly music.

thebig_E | 5/5 |


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