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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 2964 ratings

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If Close to the Edge was Yes' greatest work of pure prog rock perfection, then Relayer was their most ambitious, mind bogglingly complex, utterly dazzling album in the Yes canon, and possibly in the whole canon of progressive rock.

That statement will immediately tell you that I regard this album as one of the greatest albums ever created, and an absolutely essential masterpiece of the genre.

Gates of Delirium is a pure adrenalin fuelled roller coaster ride of emotion, that pushes musicians and instruments to their very limits. It will send you soaring to the stratosphere, whilst leaving your nerves in shreds and your head spinning. The first time I ever played this track I felt so dizzy listening to it that I thought I was going to pass out, and it still has the power to blow me away more than thirty years later.

The soft synths of the "Soon" section bring calm to the piece after the battle is over and provide a beautiful contrast against the raging storm of music that preceded them.

Then we move into one of my favourite tracks of all time, "Sound Chaser". This begins with Moraz playing chromatic scales against Alan White's rolling drum solo, before White hits a steady beat and the rest of the band pile in behind him. A fantastic opening to a track that delivers in every way. Steve Howe shows his amazing guitar virtuosity with incredible guitar scales of his own. A softer section prepares the listener for the full onslaught of the final synth and bass fuelled section that you just don't want to end. The "cha cha cha" section can be a bit jarring on first listening, but after a while it can be appreciated as a necessary and somewhat humorous interlude providing the required punctuation to the track.

"To Be Over" feels like a bit of a come down after the intensity of the previous two tracks, but this is a beautiful piece with lovely vocals from Anderson and some wonderful guitar work from Steve Howe. A strong but calming track after the madness of the first two tracks, but with huge musical depth and intricacy. A fitting end to one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time.

The album is not without flaws, and is not perfect in the way that, in my opinion, Close to the Edge is, but it's power to dazzle and amaze renders it totally compelling and utterly essential.

If you have never listened to this album then you are in for one hell of a ride. Just be ready to scrape the shattered fragments of your brain off the ceiling.

Chaser | 5/5 |


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