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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3020 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Opposite end of the same spectrum.

Relayer is a very different album by Yes. Most easily comparable to their grand masterpiece, Close To The Edge [CttE] (thanks to the structure of the album) the sound on the disc is more different than anything they'd ever done before. First ad foremost, while normal Yes is characterized by lush soundscapes and incredibly clean melodies, Relayer is defined by a sound that's almost hollow and almost electronic. That is not bad by any means, but listening to it right next to CttE points out a lot of differences simply in tone. The band's standard long-symphonic compositions are still there but don't expect something warm and welcoming like their previous outings -- indeed, expect something almost cold.

Like CttE, this album is home to three sprawling compositions, one side long and two mid-long. The styles of these are, again, much different than most other things by Yes. As mentioned before, while Yes usually structures everything to the -enth degree, Relayer comes off as more jammy. Especially the second track, SOUND CHASER, which starts with a full minute of chaos before starting the song which, as it turns out, is simply organized chaos. This is the song that really epitomizes the album in terms of style. If you want to listen to one song to get the gist of Relayer -- this is the one. A great track, this is one that's kind of hard to stomach for those that are used to the incredibly clean style of symphonic music that Yes normally plays. Even the soloing bits in the middle feel a lot more twangy than Howe's parts on other albums.

However, the main attraction to the album is still the disc's opening track. THE GATES OF DELIRIUM is a 21-minute sprawling epic which proves that Yes could still keep people's attention with the longer stuff. Wakeman isn't there to add his copyright sound, but Moraz proves that he's good enough to fill in the gaps. Same goes for White's take on the gap left from the departure of Bruford. Really, it seems that these two members are what changed the sound of the band so much, with Bruford's jazz and Wakeman's classical influences gone the music started to take on an almost mechanical state. This is still good, however, and THE GATES OF DELIRIUM remains an essential Yes track from start to finish. Especially notable is the ending segment SOON, which would go on to be used as a single to promote the album. Quiet and reflective, this is the part of the song that brings back the usual YesSound, if only for a moment. Excessively evil and down to earth in terms of lyrics, this is a song that's truly at the other end of the Yes spectrum from their normal works... and it still sounds good.

Closing off the album is one of the slower pieces put on tape by Yes. After the chaotic SOUND CHASER, TO BE OVER seems almost out of place with its ethereal approach and delicate guitar and synth melodies. If there was a hint of CttE era sound left in Yes by this point this is where it shines through. Including all the lush sounds familiar to YesSongs. Still fairly out of place because of it's brother tracks, TO BE OVER can come off as a bit tedious when one wants the same kind of energy released on the first tracks. However, after a few spins this song sinks right in. Howe's bluesy guitar and Moraz's synths blend nicely over Anderson's subdued vocals to make a very blissful track that has some heavier moments coming right into the center. (Including some decidedly classic Howe soloing.)

To conclude:

Very different than Yes's previous works to this point, Relayer still stands near the top of the genre despite the criticism it sometimes receives. Certainly not one of Yes's best albums, this is still a classic that deserves 4 shining stars for overwhelming creativity and musicianship.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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