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RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2108 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Trying to Get Back to the Edge

There are many on this site that rate Relayer above Close to the Edge. The comparison is completely natural as Yes modeled the structure of Relayer after their masterpiece, hoping to get back on track after the polarizing Tales from Topographical Oceans. And in that they succeeded in their goal. Relayer is an expansion on the CTTE formula based on the more expansive (and indulgent) explorations of TfTO, reined in to more digestible size.

By Relayer, the boys have lost the legendary talents of Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford and replaced them with the extremely solid Patrick Moraz and Alan White. This doesn't slow down the sound at all, and if anything the music is crazier than ever. Steve Howe, especially, is allowed very wide berth and he is at times explosive and at others beautifully lyric. In fact, I think that one's opinion of album lies in your taste for exploration and tolerance for improvisational meandering. Those who like it will think Relayer is CTTE with more fire. Those who don't are going to hear too much indulgence, too little of the magic interlocking genius that made CTTE what it was.

Not that the compositional brilliance is gone. There are still sections of uplifting beauty where the band touches that little piece of the other plane that we all love them for. Scattered in the "Gates of Delirium" are true doors to another existence. But you almost feel the band clutching to keep the channels open, frantic in a way, trying perhaps too hard once they take hold of that light. Alas, when that light hits you, you have to just ride while it lasts. The "Soon" section of the opener comes closest to that magic, and rightfully remains a mainstay of the live set. But even that is not quite the transformative experience of the CTTE title track.

"Sound Chaser" ratchets up the energy and tension of the band's sound to an even higher degree. Driven by Chris Squire's busy bass line, Howe again gets both Rockabilly-on-smart pills solos and atmospheric moments. Though the song is more intense, I get a sense that the piece doesn't have quite as high ambitions as the opener, and thereby better succeeds in its goal. Complete with a "cha cha cha" vocal interlude that makes perfect sense in context, the song is indeed a road race in a sonic candy store. The newcomers get a chance to stretch out also, and both more than keep stride with the veterans.

The disc ends with "To Be Over," a slower, more melodic piece. The composition is more structured, the instrumental parts more classically complimentary. Steve Howe gets another extended solo spot, his pedal steel a little more spunky this time. The song is a bit bland, however, especially given the intensity of the rest of the album.

Relayer is a good 3+ album, in my opinion. I don't often get a desire to play this disc specifically, but it's certainly in rotation when I go through my Yes phases. It's surely part of the Yes canon and a must for serious fans of the band. I think any prog fan would enjoy this, and so the "excellent addition" is more apt than "non-essential."

Negoba | 4/5 |

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