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4 stars Get outta town!!!!

Roughly half of this album was recorded and produced by the band at a vacation home in Michigan called Three Dog Cottage (affectionately called Kamp Kiser for the weekend), which sits on the southern coast of Lake Michigan in the town of Lakeside. The setting allowed for few if any interuptions (family, phone, work, etc.) as Relayer poured out layer after layer of music, frequently using all 32 tracks to develop top-notch ear candy for their listeners.

Aspects of the weekend session (shorter than The Band's Big Pink, but in the same vein) included flying in an old-school friend Brigs (who has been a tertiary part of the band since its inception) from Colorado to support the group with food and beer runs, cooking, comic relief, and occasional feedback on the tracks. Recording time, by far, outweighed any other shenanigans that took place. From early in the morning to well past sunset, no less than 2 members and often all 4 members were hard at work tweaking virtually every aspect of each song recorded.

The lead singing and lead guitar were set off in a back bedroom while Tom Burke manned the computer and headphones for a majority of the time. Since Bill Kiser's percussion sections were already recorded, Bill spent much of his time offering his unbiased opinion on everything from the subtleties of the melodies to chord progression and synching the rhythm sections to the lead singing and guitar playing--sometimes his opinions were respected, other times they were respectfully dismissed, but by far, Kiser heard more of the recording than the other members. The entire crew did have a blast laying down the backround vocals late at night on Saturday, which included at some point or another every member of the band as well as Brigs and his tone-deaf pipes.

Interestingly enough, the DVD Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii was veiwed between recording days late into Friday night of the weekend session. Whether it was meant to inspire, divert, or influence the band in any way is unknown, but it was incredible to see the masters at work almost 35 years before. Other interludes included barbequing, utilizing the hammock, many visits to the firepit for smokes, a midnight shimmy to the beach, attempting to hail down a helicopter (with an ample spotlight), too much red wine, many many beers, partaking in a taste of the local fare, and walking through the serene forested, lakeside neighborhoods.

The remainder of the album was produced and recorded by the band in pieces over the next year until the masters were completed, but undoubtedly the weekend experiment of Kamp Kiser added some unique flavor to the often times mundane and taxing experience of recording, which hopefully resonates for the fans on the final cut of Facade.

Report this review (#167779)
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After a long hiatus, 1999, Relayer has finally returned with Facade. There are a few changes in the bands sound; growth as musicians and humans being the first thing I noticed. Maturity shines through, but the strong melodies and crafty song writing are still there, better than ever.

Relayer plays a fine line between hard rock, emotive ballads, and pop ditties with classic progressive rock flourishes. I detect touches of Yes, Rush, Queen and Pink Floyd slithering within the music. For me, the highlights are the soaring vocals of John Sahagian. Combining the range of Freddy Mercury without the pretentiousness and vaudevillian flamboyance, with gritty rage and schoolboy charm, Sahagian delivers a powerhouse performance on each tune. LaRoi's guitar playing is really picking up some individuality, shifting between powerchords and intricate fingerpicked melodies. I'm happy to hear Tom Burke's bottom heavy Ric-o-sound intact and a busy as on previous releases. Bill Kiser's drums still sound great pounding out polyrhythms to keep the band moving forward.

"Slipstream" opens with a Rush-like open chord guitar melody, before the vocals take over with hopeful, uplifting, "don't miss your time in the sun" lyrics. A spiritual tune, "My Damn Self," is beautiful and heartfelt song that is part Styx, part Queen. "LaRoi's guitar work contains some Gilmouresque qualities on more than a few tracks. LaRoi even takes some lead vocals on "Bring Home the Sun" and "For Future Days," acoustic based songs that would have found a place on Animals or Wish You Were Here. "Parabola" is a fine instrumental workout with LaRoi's searing guitar and Burke's solid Rickenbacker bass-lines playing off Kiser's super-charged drumming. "Freedom" begins with a loose drum machine track and eerie guitar effects and builds into a galloping romp, a perfect driving tune, relating the freedom from a bad relationship. "Liberator 24" is another powerful rocker which screams to be cranked whilst cruising on the nations highways, with it many twists and turns. "Hope in Fairytales" would sound great tracked between "Too Late" and Spread Your Wings" on Queen's News of the World. I can't help but think RPWL when I listen to "Murdered a Friend." The fingerpicked acoustic reminds me of some 70's singer-songwriter music. Tom Burke's bass is in your face on "Pretty Toy Guns" opening moments, propelling the music along before LaRoi takes charge with a churning solo. Lyrically "PTG" has some heavy political overtones. "Mid Day Moon" features a sweet synth underlay for the verse and deft piano work throughout.

Relayer's Façade should appeal to fans of IZZ, RPWL, Singularity, Queen, Styx, Pink Floyd and those who just love melodic thoughtful music. I'm happy to hear the new music and hope for more in future days.

Report this review (#170125)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars With a name like this, and labeled as symphonic rock I guess you would expect something similar to Yes, right? Well.I don'tknow about their earlier releases, but what I got from their most recent CD is much closer to classic rock them to prog, let alone symphonic. Very good music, of course. Elaborated, some complex structures, but much more guitar led and on the heavier side of it. Their main influence is no doubt Rush (around the time of Grace Under Pressure, but with even less keyboards). Styx and even Queen are another bands that come in mind sometimes (just the instrumental parts, without the vocal harmonies). I liked the acoustic parts too. Tim LaRoi is a guitarist who has a firm foot planted firmly on the 70´s, with licks and solos that have a strong blues and country overtones. Singer John Sahagian has a nice strong voice that fits well all the styles they embrace. The rhythm section is tight and versatile. The CD is quite varied and interesting: the instrumental Parabola is like a mix of Pink Floyd with Black Sabbath riffs, while Miracle has a Doors-like jazzy overtone.

Definitely eclectic and good. Although far from Symphonic (at least on this album), this is a fine record that grows with each listening. After the initial disappointment, I was delighted with their musicianship, songwriting and impeccable performances, specially on the latter half of the CD. If you´re into 70´s prog rock, with a modern twist on it, this is surely for you.

A band to watch for.

Rating: something between 3.5 to 4 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#1529555)
Posted Monday, February 15, 2016 | Review Permalink

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