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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2147 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Since I joined ProgArchives back in 2004 when the century was still young, have reviewed almost 400 albums, and obviously the best releases of popular Prog bands like GENESIS, YES, ELP or PINK FLOYD were the first ones that I selected, probably because those were the ones I was more familiar with, being that I grew listening them.

But always was afraid to review "Relayer" despite it is probably my favourite YES album, the reason is simple, the album is so complex and unusual for the band, that if it wasn't for the annoying voice of Jon Anderson, I could have swear that it was an album by an excellent and unknown band that played in the limits of Symphonic, Fusion and Avant Garde....And honestly, trying to describe this in words is a challenge.

Now the reason why this album is so different has a name "Patrick Moraz", a fantastic keyboardist at least in the level of Wakeman, but with a much smaller ego, that allowed him to really interplay with the band, unlike The Cape Crusader, who is mainly a soloist who adds lush and elaborate keyboard passages to an already elaborate work. In other words, I feel that Wakeman is the cherry in the top of other YES releases while Moraz is one important piece in that complex machinery called Relayer, maybe less brilliant and surely less egocentric, but the responsible of the change in the sound of the band.

In Relayer, Moraz blends his keyboard with Howe's guitar and Squire's bass in such a natural way that during long passages the great trio sounds like a strange and complex instrument instead of three individual ones, creating for the first time in Yes story a dense atmospheres and a really aggressive, almost brutal sound that hits the listener instead of the usual friendly mood in which Jon Anderson adds the amicable and pleasant (for some) trademark of the band with his almost feminine vocals.

The album starts with he 22 minutes epic "Gates of Delirium" and the a soft keyboard intro that doesn't allow the listener to even imagine the brilliant cacophony that YES dares to present. from the first moment is obvious that when Wakeman played all the members tend to leave him alone to do his stuff while Moraz invites all the musicians to join him to create a complex but well oiled piece of machinery in which every element is as important as the others.

After a short vocal section in which Anderson well backed by Squire dares to be adventurous as never before, comes the festival of madness with Howe as clear leader but always complemented by Moraz, Squire plus an unusually strong and accurate Alan White who seems more comfortable with the freedom this album allows him.

Around the sixth minute to the end, you can simply expect anything, when any member is trying to do a solo, another member irrupts in a well intended chaos, as if they shared the control from one to the other, as never before the vocals contribute to this pleasant assault to the senses, while Howe, Squire and Moraz create a wonderful conflict of sounds that seems incredible to YES, with radical and unexpected changes, fugues and violence, this is the YES I like to listen because they challenge the listener in a level few bands dare, just perfect from the soft start to the complex development and brilliantly closed with the delicate "Soon" that puts the note of sanity in this breathtaking song.

Unlike the previous track, "Sound Chaser" begins deranged without warning, some sort of Jazzy Prog nightmare that is a wonderful attack to the senses, almost seems as if every musician was allowed to do whatever they want in some kind of Free Jazz, but if you notice carefully, there's a very elaborate structure in which every sound and note has a reason to be there, except for the disturbing "Cha Cha Cha Cha Cha" that seems a sign of Jon Anderson's usual cheesiness. But not even this unpleasant section takes merit from an otherwise perfect song.

The album is close by the friendly "To Be Over" that brings us back to reality and allows us to listen the amiable YES we are used to, with Jon Anderson taking the lead, but again the instrumentation and arrangements are so well done that can't affect the dark mood of the album and of course the vibrant coda closes the album with the perfection with which it started.

It's true I don't like disturbing "Cha Cha Cha" and that "To be Over" is not my cup of tea, but the rest of the album is so brilliant and audacious, that nothing can damage the perfection achieved, so I believe that less than 5 stars would be a crime against music, because this an unparalleled, chapter in the history of YES that deserves absolute respect and recognition.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |

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