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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2169 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In my book, giving this album less than a 5 star mark is a gigantic felony of underrate - I don't believe in death penalty, but I do believe in denial of bail, and I wonder what a sensible lawyer could argue in favour of his defended, anyway. Well. With the entry of Moraz replacing Wakeman and the solidification of White as Squire's partner in the rhythm department, Yes managed to articulate their recent jazz-fusion interests (born during their "Tales from Topographic Oceans"-era) into their main symphonic ground with a vengeance and supreme exquisiteness. The vengeance is well reflected in the ballsy interplaying and the aggressive sound of most guitar and synth solos; the exquisiteness is mostly provided by the keyboard orchestrations created by Moraz and Anderson's singing, which recovers the sense of energy he had clearly shown in the pre-"Tales" albums. "Relayer" succeeds in the same field that "Tales" failed - that is, the integration of diverse sonic sources into a cohesive whole that gathers the pompous complexity inherent to the typical Yes stuff and the adventurous excursions of jazz-rock, without losing focus and without falling into the trappings of self-indulgent chaos. The sidelong epic 'The Gates of Delirium' is one of the best Yes compositions ever, and definitely, one of the most brilliant cornerstones in the history of progressive music. It starts with an eerie overture, sustained on soaring rhythm guitar (courtesy of Jon Anderson, who now goes beyond his usual incidental percussion duties and adds rhythm electric and acoustic guitars, some audio generator, and also some fife somewhere in the entry passage of 'Sound Chaser') and spacey synthesizer textures, with Howe displaying some picked leads. Then, after a brief orchestral-like hard rocking interlude, the first main motif appears with the band in full swing, keeping a perfect fluidity in the links between the softer and harder passages. The multi-part instrumental section is majestic as it is fiery: Mahavishnu-inspired jamming by Howe and Corea- inspired keyboard layers and solos by Moraz give flaming life to the well articulated structure of this section, while Squire and White sustain the storm of complexity with full consistence - the last duels among the pedal steel and the synth are really metallic, despite them laying on a slow tempo. After a minimalistic second interlude, the pedal steel continues to assume the leading role while it kicks off the first lines for the 'Soon' section. One of the most emotionally charged Anderson-penned numbers ever, 'Soon' shines regally on its own: the overwhelming mellotron layers are the perfect landscape for this humanistic lament that refuses to lose all hope for peace and clings to a dream of a better world after the massacres of war. 'The Gates of Delirium' is a jewel that shines brighter than a thousand suns, and indeed, things will never get as good as this during the remains of this album - but again, the other two tracks are definitely nothing to be dismissed. 'Sound Chaser' is the jazziest Yes ever; this time, Squire and White are more highlighted in the mix, capturing the listener with their powerful interaction during the first implementation of the main motif. On the other hand, Howe takes the chance to explore his ever increasing fusionesque ventures further and steal the limelight for an amazing Flamenco-tinged electric guitar lead. He has so fallen in love with the pedal steel that he decided it should state the major guitar inputs for the main motif's reprise, while Moraz displays his absolute finesse in his solo for the funky-based jamming that takes place before the song's final act. 'To Be Over' goes to more serene places, with the electric sitar, pedal steel and organ painting shades of evening in a Hawaiian beach: the vocal harmonies and the intimate instrumental architecture bring back some of the old Yes magic from the days of 'And You and I' and the bucolic passages of "Tales". Anyway, a fusionesque interlude emerges somewhere in the middle: even though Howe seems to have earned a steady leading role, I must admit that, for this particular song, it is Moraz who impresses me more. The final chanting and pedal steel lines fade out, like carrying the listener straight to a realm of silent relaxation beneath the dark sky of a soft summer night. Unlike 'Soon', whose spirit is one of self-inflicted hope in a hopeless world that longs for peace, 'To Be Over' seems to convey the laid-back joy for achievement of peace of mind. A beautiful ending for a wonderful album: although this was Yes's only studio album with Moraz in its line-up, its grandiosity won't allow him to be drowned into oblivion - on the contrary, he will always be remembered as the keyboardist that was in the right place at the right time when Yes needed a clear focus for its post-"Close to the Edge" evolving path.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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