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RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2101 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

frenchie
Prog Reviewer
4 stars By 1974 Yes had grown to be one of the best progressive rock bands of all time, especially with their album "Close to the Edge". "Relayer" continues a similar concept to "Close to the Edge" which opens with a side length epic and is followed by two songs lasting around 10 minutes long each. This would be a daring thing to do for any other band (except maybe aqualung's "Thick as a Brick" and Rush's "Hemispheres") to do, but for Yes this was no problem at all. However, Yes were missing one of their key ingredients, Rick Wakeman. Patrick Moraz serves as the keyboardist on this album and to be fair to him he does a damn good job filling in. Moraz is the bands second best keyboardist of their career in my opinion.

Relayer is probably the most underrated Yes album of their entire back catalogue, which is even pointed out in the booklet of the new remastered digipak version. Some Yes fans love it and some hate it, similar to Tales from Topographic Oceans from the year before. I personally can't see how some people think this is bad work for there is not a bad moment on the album. It is better than the previous double album due to the face that Tales from Topographic Oceans took too long to build up and lasted too long (even though the musical content was up to par). Relayer manages to pull the listener in from the very first few seconds just like The Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge.

The album opens with the 21 minute "Gates of Delirium". This gives Patrick Moraz a chance to warm up at the begining but he really gets his chance to shine when the guitar and keyboard battle comes in, probably one of the best examples of this technique in their career. Moraz is able to proove that he can play to Yes' unique style and be a worthy successor to the legendary Rick Wakeman. Steve Howe is also incredible here as the band switches from the frantic battle and subtley starts to mellow out. Howe introduces some excellent emotional guitar solos with a sort of chiming effect, which are later reintroduced in "To Be Over". This beautifully progresses into Anderson's amazing vocals as "Soon" begins. This gently lulls the song to its close with Howes tremendous guitar work often creeping above Anderson's incredible harmonies. Gates of Delirium is a fine song that even gives "Close to the Edge" a run for its money.

Suddenly, the quiet ending of "Gates of Delirium" explodes into the alarming keyboard, guitar and drum thrashing intro to "Soundchaser". Alan White starts the show with a class Drum solo until Howe and Anderson step in. The vocals here are a good step up from the first track but they are definitly underrated compared to the last 4 albums. The sound that Yes make as a unit here is incredible though, this is the most rocking song since "Siberian Khatru" or some parts of "Ritual". The sound can only be described by the lyric "relay to set the scene", which it does brilliantly, as if each instruments sounds are bouncing off the walls and relaying across the room, and the listeners ears. The amazing solo's from Howe are top stuff picking up the strange vibrating and ringing effects. This leads into some quieter pieces lead by Howe's weeping guitar solo's. This quiet patch leads into a build up of drums and keyboards, taking the listener to new heights of Yes. "Soundchaser" may soun a little silly at times, especially with Anderson's "Cha Cha Cha, Cha Cha" which leads into something that sounds like an early game of Space Invaders. It is brilliant stuff and relative to the sounds of "5% For Nothing", "Cans and Brahms" and "Long Distance Runaround" from "Fragile". "Soundchaser" definetly goes off as one of the bands stranger moments but it definetly succeeds in sound chasing and relaying as the titles suggest.

"To Be Over" ends the album with an more impressive displays of weeping guitar solo's and great keyboard work from Moraz, showing off his mellower side compared to the huge melees on the first two tracks. Anderson definetly improves his singing here as he starts to perform up to par, like he did on his previous Yes works. This song does well in providing a mellow outlook yet having its more upbeat parts to give balance.

Relayer is probably the final yes album that can be described as a masterpiece as nothing after this came close to matching the masterpieces that were "The Yes Album", "Fragile", "Close to the Edge", "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "Relayer". Even "Going for the One" didn't do it for me but that was still a good follow up. Relayer has elements from both Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans but mainly relies on its relaying sound technique. Having these elements will mean that Relayer will go down well with fans of Edge and Oceans, and for those who didn't like oceans, they will probably prefer this one to it because it of its Close to the Edge elements. Another brilliant piece from Yes. Don't let Rick Wakemans absence sway you from this album as Patrick Moraz really is brilliant here.

frenchie | 4/5 |

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