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Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow CD (album) cover

OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW

Jon Anderson

 

Prog Related

3.94 | 268 ratings

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Australian
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Olias of Sunhillow is one of my favourite albums for many, many reasons chiefly because it is the first time where Jon Anderson really lets his mystical side go absolutely out of control. The result is something so breath-tacking that it is difficult to describe in writing. Further more supporting the great music is an odd, very sci-fi story which I will describe in detail later. To top out off there is amazing art which can ONLY be appreciated properly on the Vinyl version, which coincidently is the only version I own. The funny story is that I picked this up at a second hand CD/Vinyls/DVD store for just $8 Australian dollars. I was smiling all the way home and it seems to have never been played as the sound quality is amazing. Anyway the artwork is brilliant and the first cover depicts the Moorglade, a ship that is to carry Olias, Ranyart and Qoquaq's people to their new home.

The Vinyl tells the story in a very cryptic and hard to understand way but it can eventually be deciphered. There were three "riders" who came to the plain of Jallowcross and their dream. They came to a place between the gales and Gardens of Geda where they existed through wisdom and music. The riders were Olias: was to build the ship the Moorglade Mover, Ranyart: Was to guide the moments begotten lights and Qoquaq: a leader, a fashioner of peoples of Sunhillow. There were four tribes that lived on the planet through music and each had their own light from their music and stars. Ranyart started the exodus with beams of alternity and music which would carry him towards steams of passion.

Olias has been building the Moorglade by using metallic-trees and he used them to create the frame of the Moorglade. He then called to all the fish that lived in the oceans of Solar to come. They created the outer-shell of the ship. The people from the four tribes were set aboard the ship and she flew through space. The people had left Sunhillow because the planet could no longer support the tribes. Qoquaq sang to the lands of the East and Nagrunium was awoken who spread a feeling of love and hate. Qoquaq's song was so strong that all was attracted towards him and he travelled towards the Moorglade. The combined song of Olias, Qoquaq and the tribes forced the mighty winds of the Moorglade to move and she came alive.

The Moorglade was cast onto the sea, and the power within her forced her to race towards the stars. As the ship reached space Sunhillow exploded behind them, shattering all existence on the planet. Leaders Olias and Qoquaq put all their energy to piloting and guiding the Moorglade which left the tribes to assess their own situation. Suddenly Moon Ra, created of the people's fear showed its face and they begged for mercy from it. At that moment Olias woke and felt within him the fear of his people and he was able to overcome of creature of fear.

Ranyart had spelt out the passage where the Moorglade was to travel and he flow over the heavens, attracting the silent clouds, singing a song of search. The moorglade came to rest on the fields of Asguard. Their task now complete the three riders flew to the highest mountains and drifted towards the sun.

"Olias of Sunhillow" begins with the eastern music inspired "Ocean song" which no doubt describes the vast oceans of Sunhillow. The song is very obviously influenced by eastern music and it reminds me distinctly of Vangelis' style of eastern music. I suppose this is where the belief that Vangelis worked on this album originated from. "Ocean song" is entirely instrumental and is very atmospheric and mystical, a feel which is achieved through the blending of synthesizers, harp, guitar and percussion. If indeed this is a solo effort by Jon Anderson I'm very impressed.

"Meeting (Garden of Geda)" is the place at which the three riders came to reside and it captures the idea well. The song begins with a group of synthesized (I presume) vocalists before Jon Anderson's very distinct voice comes in with a repeated vocal and instrumental theme. The second part, "Sound out the Galleon" begins which is in English this time and is supported by acoustic guitar chords and harp. This is defiantly one of the major highlights on this album as it very well describes the mood of it.

"Dance of Raynart" is next which depicts the Dance of Raynart which gives birth to a new vision. The song features a lot of harp and some very mystical sounding keyboards giving the song an accent. There is a little bit of a lull in the song as it crosses over into "Olias ( To Build the Moorgalde)" which as the name suggests that Olias is going to build the Moorglade. This section begins with a very cheesy sounding synthesizer interlude, but after that all is well. The song is one of the first notable times where Jon Anderson sings in harmony with himself in his own, unique vocal style.

"Qoquac n Transic" is divided into two, the first of which is quite slow which an atmosphere which reminds me distinctly of "Tales From Topographic Oceans." The song begins quite slowly with a mellow tune and rhythm which takes over. Qoquac uses his energy of song to make the Moorglade move which is the subject of the song.

"Flight of the Moorglade" depicts when the Moorgalde flies for the first time. The ship begins its journey with the tribes on board to their new home across the stars. The song is again very harp and synthesizer orientated which is not out of the usual for this album. This song has a very distinct melody and the vocals are particularly good here.

"Solid Space" is perhaps the best song on the album and it is defiantly the most mystical and interesting. It opens with the chiming of synthesizers before a very memorable synthesizer melody comes in with electric guitar chords chiming in the background. There are also rings of percussion throughout this song. I have to admit that this song almost brought me to tears on some occasions, its that good. Jon Anderson's vocals are so strong and unique on this track as the repeating synthesizer melody chimes in the background. Some of the vocals are chilling and Jon Anderson can hold a note for quite a long time!

"Moon Ra" depicts the emergence of. Moon Ra, the monster created of the people's fear. The opening section of the song begins very gradually with the ringing of guitar chords and harmony vocals. "Moon Ra" is another very mystical and intruding song which captures the confusing story line magnificently well. The use of synthesizers is very subtle, but brilliant in this song. The song eventually slows down and slower vocals come in, before moving into a beautiful and breath tacking closing section called "Song of Search" which is Raynart's message to the Moorglade and it indicates the end of the story.

"To the Runner" caps of the album so very well, the chord progression is very effective and Jon Anderson's vocals are very mystical and catchy here. The song tells us that the tribes of Sunhillow have reached their home at their new world. The second section of the song ends the album off with a beautiful synthesizer section and leaves one amazed.

1. Ocean Song (4/5) 2. Meeting (Garden of Geda) (5/5) a. Sound Out the Galleon 3. Dance of Ranyart (5/5) a. Olias (To Build the Moorglade) 4. Qoquac n Transic (4/5) a. Naon b. Transic T 5. Flight of the Moorglade (4/5) 6. Solid Space (5/5) 7. Moon Ra (5/5) a. Chords b. Song of Search 8. To the Runner (5/5) Total = 37 divided by 8 (number of songs) = 4.635 = 5 stars Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

As you can tell I kinda' like this album. Everything about this album is what I'm usually looking for in a recording and there are few as good or as progressive. This has a great story line and the music from it influenced some of Yes's songs, most notably "Wondrous Stories" which a very successful single. However "Olias of Sunhillow" wasn't all that successful and a small number of people would have found it very intriguing. I'd recommend this album to all fans of Yes's mystical side, for everyone else it may be a little bit too heavy in terms of Jon Anderson-ness.

Australian | 5/5 |

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