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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3023 ratings

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5 stars Once again the lineup shifts; this time, it's keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman who takes his leave, joining Bill Bruford in the camp of 'not liking where the band is going'. The remaining members of Yes continued to develop their next album, eventually bringing in keyman Patrick Moraz, from Switzerland.

The album they would come out with was Relayer. They had a section in Tales from Topographic Oceans where they sing about a Relayer, and one thing they said in that section was: "Relayer, we advance we retrace our story."

That is exactly what Yes is doing here. They are retracing the format of Close to the Edge (one sidelong epic + 2 half side tracks) but advancing it. This may be the technical peak of Yes as a band; while their playing is almost always excellent, it is not always this complex. Steve Howe in particular shines on this album, but respect must be given to the entire band for their amazing playing on this album.

This was actually my second Yes album, after 90125. I had enjoyed the former and, looking through the Yes section at my local record store, saw this and Close to the Edge. I was fascinated by the format, although I had no idea what prog rock was at the time or what I would be getting myself into. I picked this album over close to the edge because I liked the album art better (remember, CTTE has a green to black gradient on the front, the awesome Roger Dean art is on the inside). That night, I put it in my CD player, and gave it a spin. I clearly remember thinking the following: "I am listening to music crafted by genius."

It would be years before I would have any sort of grasp of the album, and in a sense this gave me a chance to appreciate it anew a second time.

The album starts with Gates of Delirium, a song about the ravages of war and how people are effected by it. And not just those whose homes and lands are ravaged by war, but also those who do the violence themselves. There are many Yesfans who prefer this track over Close to the Edge, and it is not difficult to see how.

Patrick Moraz' keyboards sound excellent in this track, and once again Yes finds themselves growing thanks to their newest member. The textures and sounds Moraz produces are quite different than those that would have been on the album had Wakeman been behind the keys, and as much as I love the albums with Rick, I can't imagine how this album would have sounded with him.

The song starts off strongly, with war sweeping across the land. Then the wronged become warriors themselves, with one of the most chilling lines Yes would pen:

"Kill them give them as they give us Slay them burn their childrens laughter On to hell"

Their is a large instrumental cacophony representing the battle, with some more excellent and great sounding playing from each member of the band, before the battle is over, and suddenly Yes is in softer territory, singing Soon (which would be released as a single on its own), looking over the destruction wrought by the battle and feeling sorrow that it came to this, but optimism towards the future now that the battle is over.

With a track that strong, Yes really could have ended the album and earned a five star review. But no, Yes said, we can do more. And so they did.

Sound Chaser is a breathless, frantic, forward moving piece. There really aren't words to describe it; all the band is shining on this one, but this, to me, has always been Steve's song. He has some of his most frenetic playing on this track, moving forward with such speed, only to slow down, before speeding up again. He is often given a lot of space, playing guitar alone with either bass or no instrument support, with the other instruments popping in at just the right time.

Somehow, the lyrics to this track seem almost wistful and gentle, despite the frenetic pace of the rest of the song. "As is my want I only reach To look in your eyes" Despite this, they don't sound out of place with the music at all.

If Soon was the quiet section of Gates of Delirium, To Be Over is the quiet section of the album. In a sense, it is a sad song, for Yes would never reach quite as far as they did with this album again either; it is almost a lament to their most experimental era. Nonetheless, it is a peaceful way to end an album and bring it to a close, and fits perfectly with the other music presented here.

Overall, this album is Yes' masterpiece...even more so than Close to the Edge, in my opinion, although I'm sure that many disagree. There is no question about what this album deserves. It is a five star album, all the way.

TheGazzardian | 5/5 |


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