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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 1989 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Using a similar album setup to Close to the Edge, Relayer features one long piece followed by two shorter songs. The first two of these make this album one of the noisiest Yes has ever given birth to. From the "battle" sequences in "The Gates of Delirium" to the barrage of the rhythm section in "Sound Chaser," the mood has the frantic feel of a locomotive with no brakes. This is not to say that the album is without respite; some of Yes's most beautiful work appears on this album, in the form of "Soon," a soft and uplifting section that concludes that chaos of "The Gates of Delirium," and the final track, "To Be Over," a gentle "sailing down the calming streams" that leads to one of the greatest closures in all of progressive rock.

"The Gates of Delirium" One of Yes's longest songs opens with a misleadingly calm part: Shimmering keyboard and electric guitar harmonics. But just under two minutes in, there is a loud indication of where this piece will be heading. Jon Anderson sings lyrics partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace that build until the long and loud instrumental section. There are a number of well written themes recurring throughout this song that do run the risk of being repetitive, but they are played with enough variation (especially in Chris Squire's bass) to stay fresh throughout. Anderson singing "Listen" begins a different melody that is reminiscent of the bass guitar in part of the introduction, and it allows a meditative break to reflect on the collateral damage of warfare. Then, after eight minutes, there is a full seven minute instrumental section that frankly requires some degree of fortitude to listen through. It is loud pandemonium meant to depict a chaotic battle sequence. Drummer Alan White added a rank of junk from a junkyard to batter away at during this segment, and at one part, even pushed the entire rack over. Thunderous as it is, it is a well-orchestrated part that finally gives way to the peaceful and steel guitar-laden "Soon." Typically, a good epic piece would end in a climax only befitting such a long song, but here, as they have done successfully on previous records, Yes ends the song delicately- first mournfully, and then on a note of hopefulness.

"Sound Chaser" Intermixing Patrick Moraz's ghostly keyboard runs with cacophonic bashing from White and Squire, this one kicks off and rarely lets up. It has a great vocal melody, and crazy guitar work. Speaking of which, there's a solo spot for Steve Howe in the middle of this one, although this time (unlike "Leaves of Green" from the album before), he plays various runs on a crunchy electric guitar, and it is more of a cadenza than a transition. There are a couple of parts (like the "cha-cha-cha" bits) that serve as ridiculous transitions; these should have been omitted, really. Later, Moraz gets to properly demonstrate his abilities with a synthesizer solo over a chunky bass riff.

"To Be Over" Even when parts of this song lead the listener to believe that they are in store for yet another heavy instrumental section, they taper off to reveal another layer of musical finesse and beauty. The song fades in with quiet guitar and sitar, repeating the theme several times before the singers enter, singing some of the most relaxing lyrics in Yes music. Howe exercises both his abilities on electric guitar and steel guitar, while Moraz gives his best synthesizer solo heard here. The Mellotron is lovely, as are the vocal harmonies the appear here and there throughout the song. The last lines are amazing: "After all, your soul will soul will still surrender; after all, don't doubt your part- be ready to be loved." The song ends with vocals over the a spirited variation of the beginning. This is one my favorite Yes songs.

Epignosis | 5/5 |

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