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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2113 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars Three of a Perfect Pair - Classic Yes Brilliance"

"Relayer" is another Yes album with only 3 tracks, almost like a twin brother of "Close to the Edge" structurally, and while not quite up to the standard of that classic, this is a triumph on every level. Wakeman had scarpered off after being disillusioned by the motherlode of prog "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and was summarily replaced by new keyboard wizard, Patrick Moraz from Switzerland birth, who had come to the band's attention primarily through his involvement with Refugee. He left this trio to become unified with the Yes lineup in 1974. He had heard Soundchaser and said he was blown away by it. Moraz's sole contribution to Yes is captured on "Relayer" and makes this a unique album with his inimitable style.

The first thing you may note is the actual album cover that is itself a work of genius by the incomparable Roger Dean. The subtle discoloration is eye catching; the horses with medieval riders striding through the cavernous silent walls is eye candy for the 70s and one of the most iconic Yes images.

The music is fabulously grand and epic. Once the opening track, 'The Gates of Delirium' launched in to full orbit, the magic begins and I was mesmirized by the enchanting spell. Anderson is terrific in high falsetto as usual but those massive keyboard passages are transfixing. The guitars of Howe are beautiful and Squire's basslines are divine. Alan White is a master on drums. Anderson croons a lovely song when the 'Soon' section begins, with violining by Howe and sustained keyboard pads. The serenity is created by stunning music. This epic, this multi movement suite is divided into structural sections but these sections are unidentified in the track listing, a first for Yes. This leaves interpretation wide open for the listener. The lyrics are uplifting and memorable; "Soon, oh soon the light, pass within and soothe this endless night.... the sun will lead us, our reason to be here." During this haunting section, it almost sounds like orchestrated violins or mellotron. This epic is certainly worthy of hall of fame status as one of the best side long epics.

'Sound Chaser' is a jazz fusion electric guitar showcase with huge drum patterns with Squires relentless bass, and twinkling electric piano. Perhaps the most wildly experimental on the album, the time signature on this is odd, enhanced by clear vocals with cryptic lyrics, "Faster moment spent spread tales of change within the sound, Counting form through rhythm electric freedom, Moves to counterbalance stars expound our conscience, All to know and see the look in your eyes. Passing time will reach as nature relays to set the scene, New encounters spark a true fruition, Guiding lines we touch them, our bodies balance out the waves, As we accelerate our days to the look in your eyes." Howe has a huge guitar solo on this sans other instrumentation, and this is like a concert experience where the guitarist comes out alone and plays his soul out on the stage. The keys begin to pad out interplanetary sounds. Howe then indulges in a classical guitar style, violining the sound with the volume switch creating a solid ambience. The sustained pads are spacey and ethereal, I love what Moraz does here. The vocals chime in again; "From the moment I reached out to hold, I felt a sound, And what touches our soul slowly moves as touch rebounds. And to know that tempo will continue, Lost in trance of dances as rhythm takes another turn, As is my want, I only reach to look in your eyes." After this the drums crash in off the metronome scale, and there is a huge wall of sound with multi layered keys and chaotic bass playing. The time signature goes in to swing mode and the keys are brought forward in the mix. The astounding vocals crunch out a chant and we are driven into a freak out of keyboard wizardry. This is absolutely astounding. There are a myriad of solos on this giving band members time to shine. Another excellent track, my favourite on the album due to the innovative approach to the music. Howe has never been better. Pure prog bliss.

'To Be Over' is a slow paced piece of tranquility and the real star here is Howe with some absolutely blazing guitar solos of varying styles, from jazz to Symphonic psychedelia, and a touch of blues. The lyrics are surreal along the lines of "Shine like, soul dreamer, wondering, to seek in every night, to open two pathways... " the keyboard solo of Moraz is sparkling clean and refreshing. "After all your soul is still surrendered," the multi layered vocals of Anderson chime. I like the very simple lead break here that is effective, Squire's bass keeps a non structured rhythm and there are vocals that continue chanting as it fades.

So ends a fascinating album with three excellent tracks. Due to this high level of excellence and no filler material it would be remiss of me to award this anything less than 5 stars. Yes are an incredible band and they have many masterpieces; this is one of them.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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