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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3011 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A bit of a comeback for the lads after the noble yet ultimately failed experiment that was TALES. Rick Wakeman left in a huff, in utter befuddlement over the band's direction. In his stead came Swiss keyboard virtuoso Patrick Moraz, who had been in the somewhat obscure early prog-rock group Mainhorse, then aided the other ex-members of the Nice milk ELP's cash cow in the short-lived Refugee. Moraz is a more than able keyboardist, but at times his playing seems quite a bit excessive, even when compared to Wakeman. Oftentimes on this album it sounds like he's playing every keyboard in his very massive rig all at once, piling on overdub after overdub resulting in an impenetrable wall of sound. I rather prefer being able to hear the discrete tonalities rather than being pulverized by sound...but it's a minor point.

The group had returned to the tried-and-true CLOSE TO THE EDGE format of a long epic on the A-side and two mini-epics on the flip. Howe builds on the guitar-playing ideas he developed first on TALES, specifically on "The Ancient", resulting in a rather unique sound that appeals to me a good deal, but which has turned off some fans. It's definitely an aggressive, in-your-face type of sound for the most part. The album is on one hand like a miniaturized version of the best moments of TALES and, conversely, like it's evil twin; as sleek and knife-edged as TALES was torpid and dull. It's also as jazzy as Yes ever got, curiously after jazz-fan Bill Bruford was long gone. "Sound Chaser" is practically a jazz-fusion number!

The calm after the storm is reached in the soaring album-closer "To Be Over", announced on an electric sitar played by Howe. Moraz truly comes into his own on this piece, adding cascades of shimmering synthesizers which perfectly complement Howe's keening guitar tones. A fitting end to an excellent album.

Progbear | 4/5 |


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