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Jon Anderson Olias of Sunhillow album cover
3.97 | 489 ratings | 66 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ocean Song (3:12)
2. Meeting (Garden of Geda) / Sound Out the Galleon (3:28)
3. Dance of Ranyart / Olias (To Build the Moorglade) (4:14)
4. Qoquaq en Transic / Naon / Transic To (7:03)
5. Flight of the Moorglade (3:22)
6. Solid Space (5:30)
7. Moon Ra / Chords / Song of Search (12:48)
8. To the Runner (4:31)

Total Time 44:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / composer, performer

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis with Dave Roe (illustration)

LP Atlantic ‎- K50261 (1976, UK)

CD Atlantic ‎- AMCY 18 (1990, Japan)
CD Arcāngelo ‎- ARC-8061 (2011, Japan)
SACD Audio Fidelity ‎- AFZ 156 (2014, US) Remastered by Kevin Gray

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Buy JON ANDERSON Olias of Sunhillow Music

JON ANDERSON Olias of Sunhillow ratings distribution

(489 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

JON ANDERSON Olias of Sunhillow reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Jon's best solo album. Written just after the 'Relayer' sessions, it features fabulous vocals and discreet instrumentation, both performed by Jon. The album is divided into many parts but all songs form a unit, a sort of concept-album. From the album cover to the music, everything is good. It may be classified as New Age, but Jon's vocals and music are much more ambitious than the average New Age artists. Jon plays lots of different instruments and vocals are better than in Yes. Highly recommended to all fans of the gentle side of Yes.
Review by loserboy
5 stars In 1976 YES lead singer Jon ANDERSON took us on an incredible journey into the fantasy land of "Olias Of Sunhillow". In my humble opinion, this is one of the best solo projects from the members of YES and is an absolute fine piece of work. Surrounding this whole album is a great concept story line which ANDERSON fills in with some amazing and memorable songs which are performed as you would expect with great care, feeling and precision. "Olias Of Sunhillow" explores many different moods and atmospheres which helps make this a real treasure. ANDERSON's vocals are angelic throughout and contain some amazing harmonies and choir passages. "Olias..." is a very delicate album actually and is a perfect Sunday morning plug-in. Like a great artist ANDERSON paints his musical magic through your speakers and will take you into another world for 45 minutes. Highly recommended and although is overused is a masterpiece in my humble opinion.

Review by lor68
4 stars Not all the stuff is equal to such score, but as from his great imagination and romantic mood as well, till the most innocent songs, the simplicity of his compositions makes this album another memorable work. Despite of being not completely essential, the major part of this solo stuff is quite inspiring and closer to the most imaginative moments within some songs by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN and HOWE, which is not strictly progressive, but fascinating and original too!!
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is ANDERSON's most complex and sophisticated album. It is rather floating new age, with progressive orientation. Maybe his best album too. The songs contain many floating loaded keyboards of the VANGELIS style. There are also lots of string instruments, such like harp. The album, regardless keyboards, is rather acoustic. Jon ANDERSON's vocals are great, as always. We can feel the exotic influence here, by just listening to the rythms. Sound should be cleaner.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A tale from a musically complex mind

Anderson's first solo album is in my opinion his best, and certainly his most progressive. He undertakes all vocal and instrumental duties himself which, given his limited proficiency with any musical instrument (especially when compared with his peers in Yes!), means that there are no scorching guitar solos or dexterous keyboard breaks. Anderson's does not however over-run the album with singing in the traditional sense, but rather uses his voice mainly as any other musical instrument.

There are straightforward songs, such as "To the runner", and "Flight of the Moorglade", and these understandably have hints of Yes about them. Many of the others however are more structured, while having an ambience which gives the album a hypnotic, relaxed feel.

When talking about this album in 1976, DJ Alan Freeman (who did more in the UK than anyone else in the 1970's to bring prog to the masses), spoke of the "musically complex mind" of Jon Anderson. That description fits this album well. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is well worth the effort. The LP had a nice double gatefold cover and printed inner sleeve too.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Spiritually on another level. This album is ' Astral travel', no doubt about it and it takes you to another dimension. Probably JA's single most important endorsement of the spacey spiritual beliefs he has been knocked for all these years. I cannot fault this album, Jon Anderson plays I think all the instruments himself and ' Olias of Sunhillow' is a very special work, a classic piece of music up there with the best! Just listen to Sound out the Galleon and decide for yourself.
Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A good album, an example of one being better than the sum of its parts. The final section from Moon Ra through to To The Runner is brilliant. My only gripe is the CD has only the outside of the booklet? You only get the beginning of the story in writing you need a magnifying glass to see. It needs to be repackaged with the complete booklet (if it hasn't already).
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is a nice artifact, which I recommend to be hunted down as a vinyl pressing, in order to get the cool gatefold covers with fine illustrations and texts. There's lot of ambience in the music, created by thick carpets of percussions, multilayer vocals, synthesizers and other interesting instruments. I think sincerely that this is Jon's best album and maybe best of the solo efforts of Yes members, telling a new age oriented tale of kindness, searching and enlightenment within a naivë but pretty context. This album would be recommended especially to the fans of classic Yes records, and also to those who are interested of any pretty neo hippie stuff. The music doesn't have any clear hit moments on it. songs forming an atmospheric compact set of elevating music.
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2,5 stars really!!!

The best Anderson solo album if you ask me (3*) but IMHO if you are a diehard Yes fan this might be of an interest for you (3*) and for others that appreciate Yes but not championning them, it is for fans only; hence the 2,5 * rating.

IMHO , yes my always more than the mere sums of its different parts and this shows especially when listening to the solo album. Clearly none come to waist height of say relayer or Going For The One, with the possible exceptions of Squire's Fish and Wakeman's Wives album (that one is a 5* but was also a fluke for Wakeman).

On with the music developped here: very athmospheric and full of treble frequencies instruments , this can quickly become very annoying if you are not in the mood for this or have a slight headache. There are of course lots of Yes influences and this album is vital for understanding Anderson's contributions to Yes music. You can clearly hear where he had much to say especially in the Going For The One shorter songs.

It had been 25 years since I had heard this album since last WE, and I had never had the feeling or urge to re-listen to it (and even less the following ones), and I just had confirmation of this. However , as I said above , for understanding Yes essence, almost every proghead should at least hear this album once.

Review by Zitro
5 stars An extremely inspired and creative new age album!!

Here, Jon Anderson first proves that he can be the 'oldfield' way (play all instruments) ... while his playing is not virtuosic at all in any instrument except his voice ... he created an absolutely beautiful and uplifting album! This is the solo album that is the most similar to Yes in my opinion (very spiritual and fantasy-like). The warning I would give about this album is that Jon Anderson vocals are very unusual (for people unfamiliar to yes) and sometimes, hearing him for the first time here can be overwhelming. So, do not stop spinning the disc because the singer sounds like an alien! You will get used to his voice. I think this is the most spritual album I have heard, keep a note on that. It also has somewhat of a soundtrack feel. The album begins beautifully with the vangelis-like Atmospheric song called 'Ocean Song. After the weakest track 'Meeting', he shows us how beautiful the harp can be in the first 2 minutes of Ranyart while ending the song gracefully with a short vocal dominated song that reminds me of Tales of Topographic Oceans'. Qoquat en Transit is a track divided in two segments. The second segment of the piece is very strange and is focused around a rhythm. 'Flight of the Moorglade' is a simplier track focused on vocal melodies/harmonies, and overwhelming amount of instrumentation at the end.

That is nothing compared to the beauty of the second side. "Solid Space" is mindblowing!! A great keyboard line is introduced, and it is played for about 5 minutes. However, that keyboard line is so brilliant and powerful that it doesn't feel repetitive. The music on the background is spectacular! Jon Anderson Vocals are at their best, and here, he uses his voice as an instrument : a crazy descending 'AHHaaAaaAaAAoooo' vocal riff. This song is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. I hope it is put as a sample MP3 here in progarchives. That song is followed by Moon Ra, the epic of the album. Beginning with strange vocal harmony done in chants, it captivates you from the start. Musically, this man alone can make music with such quality and brilliance as Yes' best moments. After 5 minutes of vocal showmanship (it gets intense near the end), the song undergoes a mellow and beautiful keyboard solo section. Then, more melodic vocals appear until a pretty acoustic guitar takes over the song in pure tranquility. After the guitar solo is finished, a new age section finishes the song. After all that beauty, I usually am almost about to drop a tear, and get lots of goosebumps, yet the album is not over ... the last song (many times considered the best song from the album) concludes the album perfectly. This song is a mid-tempo excellent song, and one of the most straightforward songs of the album, it still is incredibly complex in the background.

This is not just music, this is art! I highly recommend this album and I think it is essential to any collection of prog rock music. If you are a fan of Yes' spiritual works (awaken, close to the edge, soon, and Tales of Topographic Oceans), you will like this even more.

Highlights : Solid Space, Moon Ra

Let Downs : Meeting

My Grade : A-

Review by BaldFriede
5 stars What would one expect from a solo album by a Yes-member? Probably some intrumental virtuosity. But then Jon Anderson is the singer, and he plays ALL the instruments himself, so perhaps we should look for something else. And we certainly find it: Atmosphere.

"Olias of Sunhillow" is a concept album about space travel with a ship (yes, a ship and not a spaceship). From the very first second the listener realizes this album has very little to do with Yes, except for the vocals (Anderson sings in a multi-playback chorus with himself). This album does not rock, althiough there are some rhythmical passages with lots of percussion, but if you listen to it by candle light and close your eyes, you will be teleported to the faraway planet where Olias and his brothers reside and follow them on their mystical journey.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars The idea to record solo albums by the members of the YES `"Relayer" album line-up was suggested by Jon Anderson. He had a long time to record his first solo album, a real solo album on which he played and recorded all the instruments plus singing all the vocals himself. Maybe Vangelis` very brief involvement with YES in 1974 (he was asked to join YES after Rick Wakeman left the band, but he didn`t stay in the band) and Anderson`s singing as guest in Vangelis`"Heaven and Hell" album in 1975 influenced a lot the way in which Anderson created "Olias of Sunhillow", because it sounds more like a "New Age" album with a lot of keyboards. The music has a lot of fantasy for the listener,and the old L.P. cover design is one of the best I have seen. This solo album is very good and maybe it shows years before how Anderson`s partnership with Vangelis in the Jon & Vangelis albums was going to be.
Review by Australian
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 Ën 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 Ën Transic (4/5) a. Naon b. Transic Tö 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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I think the key word here is unique. Although other words I would also use to describe this record would be intricate, floating, atmospheric and drifting.

The songs all flow so seamlessly, and during the first song "Ocean Song" there is this Mike Oldfield vibe going on. The elements that make up the sound here are synths, percussion, harp and acoustic guitar and of course Jon's vocal, that don't appear until part way through the second song "Meeting (Garden Of Geda)". There is an Eastern sound to the next two songs, and the vocal arrangments on "Dance of Ranyart" are pretty amazing.

Part way through "Qoquac En Transic" the percussion dominates, and there are also some unique sounds that come and go. "Flight Of The Moorglade" is a melodic, slower paced song with some harp, as well as cool vocal melodies. "Solid Space" is very spacey and the soundscape builds.The vocal melodies are again so well done. "Moon Ra" opens with an explosion and then vocal melodies come in. The conclusion of the song is very spacey. "To the Runner" is catchy for the most part and closes with synths.

I have to hand it to Jon Anderson for creating something so different from YES. This really isn't my favourite style of music to listen to but I think every prog fan should at least check out "Olias Of Sunhillow".

Review by ghost_of_morphy
5 stars Olias is probably the best solo project that any of the members of Yes has ever released (and they all were recording decent solo projects in 1975-1976.) This one stays close to the spirit Anderson has infused into his lyrics for Yes songs, with surreal and fantastic lyrics that seem to tell an epic story but never get so specific as to interfere with the storyline running in your head. I don't think that the music sounds particularly like Yes, though. Jon's interests in chant and world music subtly raise their heads here for the first time, and the music is very atmospheric with a hint of space rock. These are great compositions, but with nothing really technically challenging in them and nothing that really pushes the envelope except for the fact that Jon apparently performed everything himself in the studio. Still, Olias holds up better than almost anything else in Jon's solo catalog and remains an enjoyable listening experience to this day. This one gets 5 stars as Olias of Sunhillow is one of the three must hear solo projects from the members of Yes. (The other two would be Journey to the Center of the Earth and Fish out of Water.)
Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars A highly enjoyable journey through the spacey aether and mystic textures of the celebrated vocalist's creative mind, rife with beautiful sounds and moods. Jon uses a wide variety of instrumentation as well as experimentation with many-layered vocals to create a rich tapestry of music which will easily please fans of Yes, as well as those seeking sweeping/delicate soundscapes. The few moments which "Olias" that creeps into new-age or meditation type music hardly tarnishes the journey the listener will take, and by the end I can almost guarantee a pleasant feeling of serenity will be your reward to taking in what is probably Anderson's best solo offering, and many times more enjoyable than some of Yes' disastrous misfires. "Olias" is an album whose beauty grows with time and sensitivity to its legitimate beauty.

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 3 Style/Emotion/Replay 4

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars Olias of Sunhillow is really the best solo album by a Yessman. (Patrick Moraz's Story of I is a close second.) This album is a solo album in the true sense of the word. It's a pure studio creation with Jon Anderson playing all the instruments and writing all the music, very well I might add. No credits on the actual instrumentation are offered though. There's definitely percussion, keyboards, guitars and vocals going on here and Jon plays them all with great skill. The music is kind of classic Yes music blended with world music. I don't think Jon has done any other projects like this. I have a lot of his solo albums, which are all band efforts.

It is a concept album based on Roger Dean's cover artwork for Fragile. Roger didn't do any of the artwork for this album. Dave Roe is credited with illustration and design. He did a pretty good job for not being Roger Dean. I have the LP ($1.98 used bought before the CD era) and Japanese import CD. The cover art is very nice. For the inside of the gatefold LP cover you get four pages with the concept story of Olias of Sunhillow and an inner sleeve with they lyrics. Unfortunately, the Japanese CD has all the artwork reproduced, but when it's shrunk to CD booklet format, the words lost their clarity. Really hard to read, but at least they had the good sense to reproduce it. The artwork and story are very much a part of the package here.

Essential to prog fans and the best Jon Anderson album outside of his work with Yes.

Review by Matti
3 stars If there is one album by Jon Anderson to deserve a classic status, it's this without a doubt. A 'must' for a collector of YES-related stuff. Rarely any solo album goes into such extremities in being a unique one man's brainchild: Jon wrote a fantasy story and made all the music by himself (with only technical help). Yes, he plays all the instruments here! Unfortunately the sleeve notes don't list them, but at least keyboards, guitars, harp and percussion are used. I bet if he had any drawing gifts he would have made the cover art too.

This album is, in a word, unearthly. It would most likely sound odd and clumsy to any non-prog listener - who couldn't even categorize it. It's not rock, nor is it New Age; it has this and that melted into one. World music from another solar system? That sounds true. I found the LP in the late 80's (I was very much into YES by then). I still have respect for this... er, piece of art, but frankly I listen to it very rarely. (If I had got it on CD, I probably wouldn't even have it anymore, so important is the overall package in this case. With this in mind I can't give more than 3 stars.) Some parts of it are extremely irritating, amateurish and low-fi, and the lyrics of which one hardly understands anything even without shamanistic lines like "mutto matto", don't really help to digest it. The story, including some beast-looking interplanetary vehicle called Moorglade (see the cover), also goes beyond me. But then again, it's best just to let go of all your expectations and let the music take you out of this world. Then you can enjoy its uniqueness and notice that some parts of it are actually very beautiful. The first two tracks are a nice and fairly accessible introduction, but are followed by the worst parts. The second side is better. In the end a dreamy, slow-tempo, New Age -type instrumental 'Song Of Search' is followed by 'To The Runner', which is like a basically simple Prog Folk song with an unusual soundscape: hypnotic rhythm pattern and a repeated high- noted synth riff, and it all ends with a serene keyboards-only finale that could be appreciated even in a work of a 'real' composer.

If Jon was once capable of doing THIS by himself, how can his discography be so full of weak material? Anyway, the very best song he ever did is the amazingly proggy 'Animation' from the album of that name.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars What better way to harmonize with Jon Anderson's unique voice than with multiple overdubbed Jon Andersons? Well, I have one: Chris Squire. And since everyone else seems to be mentioning their favorite Yes solo work, I'll suggest Squire's Fish Out of Water. Although Anderson does create unique and captivating harmonies throughout this album, let me put my vote in for the classic Yes sound instead. Surprising absolutely nobody, Anderson went completely overboard with this album--some parts must have nearly 20 of his vocal lines going at once, and of course the sound comes across as a bit muddy (no surprise given how things were overdubbed at the time) and phony.

To be absolutely honest, I don't personally enjoy this album, and I regret buying it (one of very few prog regrets, I might add!). That's not to say that it's bad music by any means, but it is a function of my distaste for the New Age style, and I now know to avoid it for the most part. Hopefully that can be taken as a caution: Don't buy this album simply because you enjoy Jon's work with Yes--buy it because you either like New Age or want to learn more about the genre. I also cannot really comment on the individual songs, largely because they really don't distinguish themselves from one another. Basically, you'll get plenty of spacey synth drones, some sitar-like plucking, some guitar strumming, the occasional percussion, and lots of huge Jon Anderson overdubbed harmonies. In other words, no rock whatsoever.

Despite overboard overdubs and general pomposity, this is a very pleasant album, and I certainly respect the time and effort that went into creating it. If you want to transport yourself to the fairy world of Olias that Anderson has created (which I have absolutely no interest in doing), this may even be quite rewarding once in a while. Personally, after owning it for a few years, I rarely return to Olias, but it is staggering to think that Anderson was once the shaky-voiced lead in the jazz-tinged rock band that was Yes just seven years earlier--and not the New Age diva that he is setting himself up to be with this album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars This is a rather unique album with a sound and feeling I have not heard anywhere else. Some say this is a lost Yes album, but I cannot see that at all, this music is very, very different from Yes music. There are no rock drums, no electric guitars and no loud and elaborated bass guitar lines. Apart from atmospheric electronic keyboards (which are very different from Wakeman or Moraz type of playing), the album is basically all acoustic. Jon impress by playing all the instruments himself. Sadly, the booklet doesn't offer a complete list of the instruments involved. But I suppose that there are some "exotic" ones in the mix that would be entirely foreign to Yes music. The fact that Jon plays everything himself is evident; Jon is surely no Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire or Patrick Moraz.

The tempo is also rather slow, atmospheric and "dreamy" throughout, and listening to this album will transport you to another world - a fantasy world. Maybe this is the world Rick referred too when he said that Jon is the only person trying to save this world while living in another? There is, indeed, a fantasy story about Olias, but I have not yet been able to decipher it. Hopefully, the booklet will be expanded with a re-release so that the story can be read in full.

Given the acoustic nature of the music, this could be associated with ethnic Folk or World Music, some would say New Age. But given what I said above, World Music in this case must be not music of this world, but of another. Other-World Music maybe?

Anyway, this is well worth a listen since it is different from any other Jon Anderson album (with the possible exception of Toltec) and very different from the music of Yes. If you want a more Yes-like solo album by a Yes member, I would recommend Chris Squire's Fish Out Of Water, or maybe Jon's Animation (though, the latter is not that good, really).

I can somehow understand those who think Olias Of Sunhillow is a great album, but for me it isn't. It is interesting enough though, and special, but not great. It is progressive in a sense, but not really Prog Rock.

Recommended more as an enjoyable curiosity!

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Strata of vocals impart a sound unique to Jon Anderson. Gentle acoustic guitars pass on pastoral flavors. Spacious synthesizers, with the general lack of bass and drums, allow the music to breathe. And the lyrics are just as enigmatic as many of his words for Yes were; they are clearly close siblings to those of Tales from Topographic Oceans. The concept of album involves the exodus of an alien race of people from one world to the next, led by the architect Olias, the navigator Ranyart, and the leader Qoquac. This album should please most Yes fans.

"Ocean Song" It is not surprising that the opening track begins very similarly to that of Yes's "The Revealing Science of God." In lieu of guitar swells and chanting are delicate strings and exotic instrumentation.

"Meeting (Garden of Geda) / Sound Out the Galleon" My favorite part of the album has the distinctive vocalizing of Anderson over some symphonic textures. The second part begins abruptly, with Anderson singing a whimsical melody over acoustic guitar.

"Dance of Ranyart / Olias (To Build the Moorglade)" Pleasing guitar and synthesizer, with washes of harp, make for a delightful instrumental journey. The second half employs a more electronic approach, as Anderson sings about Olias's constructive efforts. The music is as fanciful as the previous pieces, but involves an element of noise.

"Qoquac Ën Transic / Naon / Transic Tö" Airy synthesizer and electronic sounds dominate the first third of the track, with Anderson's angelic voice hovering in the background. Ushered in by colorful percussion, the second part consists of Anderson singing complex layers of vocals. After that fades out, a brief, spacey piece enters, with Anderson's lovely vocalizing over some tasteful synthesizer.

"Flight of the Moorglade" This is closer to a Yes song in the vein of "Wonderous Stories." It relies heavily on acoustic guitar and, naturally, coat after coat of vocals.

"Solid Space" For a hundred seconds, this piece builds gradually from sparse instrumentation to a spectacular synthesizer theme over which Anderson sounds more like he is rejoicing than singing. That main song suddenly gives way to the only dark moment on the album, full of quirky synthesizer and minor chords.

"Moon Ra / Chords / Song of Search" The first third of this lengthy track begins with a marching beat accompanying an army of Jon Andersons, all chanting in a mysterious language. Eventually, the lead vocal sings the English lyrics over an unchanged instrumentation. After four-and-a-half minutes, the repetition is over, and long chords provide the basis for more excellently crafted, albeit uncomplicated, synthesizer melodies. The thick, harmonic singing exists over unobtrusive acoustic guitar and keyboards. At certain points, Anderson sounds very much like he did on the first two Yes albums, which is to say not quite as developed as a singer, but not without charm nonetheless. The second part ends with a lovely acoustic guitar duet before a moment of silence ensues. The final third is a tranquil instrumental of many synthesizers and some harp.

"To the Runner" Acoustic guitar, exotic percussion, and sprightly synthesizers dance under Anderson's voice for the final song. Like much of the album, it benefits from a memorable vocal melody and frolicsome instrumentation. The final moment of the album is a grandiose synthesizer conclusion.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On a different galaxy

Jon Anderson's first personal album is an interesting blend that floats away from the majority of YES' works. The artist creates a quite different sound for which he is solely responsible. No bombastic basswork or complex progressive passages. On the contrary, a little light music or a little night music if you wish...

Not exactly: the music might be much simpler than the good YES times, but does not lack in imagination and first of all variety. Jon sets a frame of folk, tribal and even electronic tunes to present his first solo work. Whether he succeeds or not, this is entirely up to the listener's conception. I was personally impressed at first with the melodies in the album; after a few spins I lost interest and now that I am writing these lines I found myself paying attention again...

It seems that Jon Anderson ''envied'' the brilliance of solo artists such as Mike Oldfield and tried to produce his own tubular bells... Not that ''Olias of Sunhillow'' borrows a lot from similar albums, but along with the strong folk tunes, the influences from this new age/electronic/space sound are obvious. I don't know if at that time Jon Anderson had met with Vangelis, but the electronic/space elements seem to have played their part in this effort (e.g. Solid Space).

The use of numerous different instruments is also a point that drew my attention. Interesting percussion resembles to obscure oriental sounds and tribal rhythms of Africa. All these interesting sounds are dressed with melodic, mature and carefully-executed vocals. The most enjoyable moments of this album can be found at the first half where the brilliance of Sound of the Galle, Dance of Raynart and Qoquaq En Transic stand out with strong folk-based and acoustic guitar melodies.

While the second half of the record is not as impressive, there are no real weak moments and it's hard to rate this album with less than 3.5 stars. If you would like to hear an entirely different aspect of the YES history, this is probably the best place to start.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Absolutely best Jon Anderson album. The music is far from Yes music of the same period ( and I don't think it means "bad"), and in fact is one of roots album for new age.

I liked Jon Anderson voice for years, and there he can use it as he wants. ( I think the best demonstration of his voice is Anderson-Vangelis duo albums). This albums has it's atmosphere of light,romantic and warm feeling during all it's long. Generally I don't like new age music at all, but there we are somewhere in very beginning, with still real ( not sweet plastic) emotions and some real ( not plastic) sounds.

For sure, all future Anderson solo albums are grown from there, but no one could show the same level of art. And this is the real SOLO album, what means that Anderson not only sings, but also plays all instruments there! OK, the music is more "haiku" - elegant, clear, not complex, but with strong inside prettyness. Andersons later works are more complex, with full list of added musicians, but never so attractive.

Best Anderson solo album and one of great proto-new age albums. But not similar to Yes works at all.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Olias is a new age trip that reminds me slightly of Vangelis' Earth album. It is entirely harmless prog muzak that you will hardly notice even when played at ear-damaging volumes.

That being said, it's not bad neither. There's a number of tracks that stand out. Meeting has a playful and enchanting chorus like only Jon Anderson can come up with. Another track would be Qoquaq En Transic that could have come right off mentioned Vangelis album. Nice integration of world music influences. Last on my list is Solid Space. Good Anderson harmonies on a sweeping synth melody.

Moon Ra should have been the main attraction here but it lacks the inspiration heard on the three tracks above. By consequence it is 12 minutes of pleasing but rather meaningless sounds. All in all not a bad album that offers a nice change in the Yes canon. I guess fans will dig this.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I really need to get a new copy of this. My LP still has the 99 cent sticker from the used record store from thirty some odd years ago. And the sound quality, due to the number of times I played this over the years, has been quite diminished. Nevertheless, this is still quite a good album.

When I first heard this, I found it hard to believe that Jon Anderson played all of the instruments here himself, as he never seemed to play much with Yes, save for an occasional acoustic guitar (I always wondered if it was plugged in, or just a prop to keep his hands from flopping around - see "Yessongs" if you don't know what I mean - or sometimes a random small percussion device). But subsequent recordings have shown that Anderson, while not a pure master of any instrument, is no slouch either.

Here, on his first solo album, he weave a mystical fairy tale around somewhat Yes-like, but also new-agey music, with some of the tribal themes he later explored in more depth. The songs are all nicely written, with the lush harmonies that he first showed in in songs like We Have Heaven, from the Fragile album.

For a Yes fan, this is a must. For a prog fan, this is almost a must. But you should at least hear it.

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars A lot of Yes' charm is attributed to it's lead singer, Jon Anderson. While the contributions of other band members cannot be ignored, if one wants a look at what specifically it is that Jon Anderson brings to the fold, this is the album to listen to.

Released after Relayer, this album was played entirely by Jon Anderson. Unlike his fellow Yes-men, Jon Anderson wasn't really the master of any instrument. That being said, on this album he proves that, while perhaps not a master, he is more than capable on plenty, and a master of composition and layering. Olias of Sunhillow features many different acoustic instruments, which Jon layers (as well as his own vocals) with great effect. Some keys are also present, although their use is not quite as prevalent as they are in Yes, and they don't feel as important.

The album tells a tale inspired by the cover of Fragile, where a clan on a planet that is about to explode must build a ship (The Moorglade) to escape. For those that love the pretentious side of prog, this album will appeal with the track names alone - song names like Qoquaq en Transic and Moon Ra are common on this album.

As can be expected of Jon Anderson, this album is full of flights of fancy. It is not a hidden Yes album, but has its own distinct, otherworldly feel, created by the intricate layers of instruments and vocals. Definitely an enjoyable trip for any lover of atmospheric prog music.

There are no real highlights to this album, and it is best consumed as a whole. I have not really heard anything else that sounds quite like it.

A final note: I have the CD version, and the notes are terribly disappointing. It has snapshots of the LP images in the sleeve, but they are too small to read or even really appreciate. But they look like, at full size, they would be beautiful. For album art lovers, I recommend trying to hunt down a vinyl version.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Jon Andersonīs first solo efford was his most ambitious and one of the most controvertial undertaking of his long and prolific career, either with Yes, solo, or with his many side projects with others. The fact that he played and sang everything on the album is a major achievement on itself and also - in my vision - the recordīs biggest weakness. If he had called in some real good musicians to beef up some of the instrumental passages, it surely could reach a much higher status. As it is, Olias Of Sunhillow is very good, but it could have been excellent.

Letīs face it, I am a BIG Yes fan. And even more so when this album was out. I had to have it and I was completely taken by its lavish cover and pictures. The two gate fold was one of Roger Deanīs best, a real masterpiece and set the right mood to hear the record (something the CD version never did, it only contains part of the cover art and almost none of the lyrics and story). The music inside is very much inspired by both Yes and Vangelis works at the time. There were even some rumours that he played on the album (untrue, but it seems he was a kind of advisor for some parts). Anderson does a great job considering that he up till then was only known for his vocal prowness. His limitations as a musician at the time were enormous, and still, he did it very well. He reportedly played over 20 instruments on the album, including many exotic ones.

And yet I donīt hear Olias Of Sunhillow that much. I have to be in the right mood and itīs clearly not the album to just listen to any time (mostly I only put it on late at night or very early in the morning). It is too attached, too involved to the concept of the story to hold it on its own. Itīs the perfect background music for the lyrics and the fantasy universe he created. I canīt see Yes playing any part of it on one of their shows (or even Andersonīs). Too new age-ish, too ambient music, and thereīs nothing wrong with that. But I guess most of us fans wanted something musically more eathier at least on some parts. So I can understand both the praising and the criticism this album has got since then. The production was good, but could be much better.

Conclusion: good record by one of the most influential singer/songwriters of all time. He proved capable of doing everything himself and it worked well inside the story-frame. Just donīt expect any rocking moments or any great instrumentation in the vein of Yes or any other band. Itīs an interesting musical story and should be seen as just that. Rating: 3,5 stars.

Review by tarkus1980
2 stars I really wasn't sure what to expect coming into this album. On the one hand, I was well familiar with the reputation of Jon's solo career as being New Age schlock, and the thought of ever willingly subjecting myself to one of these albums was not something I relished. On the other hand ... this was a Jon Anderson solo album made during Yes' reign of greatness, and it's well documented that Anderson brought the bulk of the ideas to the sessions that made the band's best albums. In the back of my mind, I couldn't shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, this might be something close to a great lost Yes album, and I had to give this a shot.

Well, as you can see, my gamble didn't really pay off. Anderson might have been the band's visionary, bringing in all sorts of goofy, interesting ideas that formed the basis for some of my favorite albums of all time, but he was still (by and large) a bit of a hack as a musician and composer. His ideas were good, but he needed the rest of Yes as much as they needed him, as they were the ones who cleaned up his ideas and made them something more than the ravings of a clever lunatic. On this album, the only person Anderson had to bounce ideas off of was himself, and while I can feel potential greatness in some of these tracks, none of them pull it off.

The best way I can think of to describe this album is as a cross between a 'cosmic' New Age album and Tormato, with just a smidge of prime Yes sprinkled here and there. Yup, a lot of the vocals on here sound just like "Madrigal" would a couple of years later, both in tone and in the rambling shove-too-many-words-into-each-line approach to the melodies. The sound is busy but never really engaging, with Jon layering keyboards, harps, acoustic guitars and whatever else struck his fancy onto melodies that almost never manage to capture my attention. He does manage to stumble into a pretty decent synth- driven chord sequence in "Solid Space," but even that song doesn't have much else to warrant praise. Other than that, except for the rambling vocals of "Sound Out the Galleon," I have trouble recalling even a single moment, good or bad, from this whole album.

I will grant that this album isn't terrible, as there are a number of places where I feel like the other Yesmen could have made something interesting out of what I'm hearing, and embryonic greatness isn't something to be totally dismissed. At the same time, listening to this is like eating half-baked bread; even if you can taste how good it might have been, it's hard to ignore the fact that you keep getting flour on your tongue. This is for hardcore completists only.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars As most people here knows, I'm not precisely a Jon Anderson fan, always found his voice extremely acute and with absolutely no technique, to make it worst, the philosophy he expresses in his music (In the rare occasions his lyrics make any sense) is some sort of esoteric oriental and cheesy expression of post Hippie culture, so as anybody must guess, always refused to buy "Olias of Sunhillow", but last week when searching for an album required to make a review, "Olias" was offered extremely cheap (like 2.5 bucks) so having read all the reviews here took the risk.

I must say that paid too much, I believe "Olias of Sunhillow" is the most boring expression of acute shouts and pre New Age music with no coherence or interest according to my taste.

For God's sake, if it was too much listening JON singing in YES despite the excellent backing vocals of Chris Squire, to listen JON ANDERSON making multiple voices and choirs is a claustrophobic and painful experience for me..

I always thought VANGELIS became a New Age artist due to external influence and the status quo of his time, but after listening this album I'm starting to believe JON ANDERSON had a lot to do with this decision, his music sounds almost exactly to the most cheesy VANGELIS albums, without the great talent and skills of the Greek musician.

Honestly was decided to talk about one or two good songs, but I couldn't find a second that redeems the album, It wasn't even possible for me to sleep because I found the vocals so painful to my ears that altered me to the limit.

From the start the extremely boring and absolutely predictable "Ocean Song", made think in YANNI or similar artists and the annoying "To the Runner" convinced me that there was nothing that remotely moved me in this album.

The extremely high synths, predictable percussion, the use of bells, chimes and whatever JON wants to add to make it more "transcendental", makes it unbearable for this reviewer, reaching the lowest point in the track "Flight of the Moorglade" which simply breaks my nerves.

My rating as you may suspect is 1 lonely star, because I can only describe the experience of listening "Olias of Sunhillow" as 44:06 minutes of torture, and a prove that Progressive Rock doesn't mean extremely good, because as in any other genre, we can find good, mediocre and terrible albums.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A progressive exploration of the innerverse or universe or mindverse... Anderson's visionary breakaway from Yes.

"Olias of Sunhillow" is the visionary brainchild of Jon Anderson after a hiatus away from Yes. It is as progressive as anything from the early Yes years, but of course does not measure up to the classic band albums. Having said that this is certainly an impressive solo effort, streets ahead of those difficult years of Yes' "Union" to "Talk". Anderson pours out his heart and soul with every track but as accomplished and virtuosic the music is, the lyrical content is full blown New Age and this may turn some listeners away. Indeed I had some difficulty with this as I have always considered New Age beliefs as anathema to my beliefs. The transcendentalism, Shamanism and New Age themes explored on Yes albums are given the full treatment here and it comes across as heavy handed and impenetrable. Anderson's voice may not be for everyone but I like the way he croons on high falsetto and at least on this album his voice is not strained. The tension and release of dark and light shades in the texture of the music makes for some compelling listening.

There is a conceptual framework on which each song hangs, the story though is as opaque or hard to understand as the lyrics themselves, true to any Yes album of the 70s. I just like the way Anderson keeps it progressive and doesn't sell out like so many other solo artists from prog bands. The concept concerns an organic interplanetary craft known as the Moorglade which is an exploration of the innerverse or universe or mindverse, whatever you want to call it, of the spheres of mystical revelation. The lyrics search for meaning of existence and the listener searches for meaning of the lyrics. It is all very dense and cluttered with symbolism and it will confound, perhaps even infuriate. The music is the most important thing and it ranges from incredibly simple and fluent, to intricate and fractured. There are true moments of beauty, very Yes like or Wakemanesque keyboards.

After the opening tracks the style settles into an odd ambience that can be dreamy or somnambulistically dull depending on your mood. The extreme slow pace of 'Song Of Search', an instrumental that works as a transition point, is followed by the quirky synth-soaked 'To The Runner'. The transmogrification of styles is astounding but it works as points of interest as the story unfolds. A lot of the music is repetitive, mesmirising and transient, and yet these moments are counterbalanced by sporadic transfusions of polyrhythmic keyboards and percussion.

Overall it is an album that will surprise many listeners familiar to Yes, moreover as a solo album the Yes men were not known for this type of musicianship, but Anderson has created something very special. Not everyone will be into the New Aginess or high pitched music, but it still delivers as a progressive excursion into unchartered musicscapes. I am not going to rate it as high as masterpiece Yes albums as it lacks that punch without Squire, Howe and Wakeman. It is known as a cult album among proggers and for good reason; an excellent slice of prog nevertheless and an astonishing concept album.

Review by lazland
5 stars I am a huge Jon Anderson fan. I have all of his solo albums, have loved Yes since I first heard them some 34 years ago. I've seen Yes without him, hated it, and cannot imagine them without him in any form.

So, when you are a young, spotty, thing, buying this as I did at the time, having marveled at the pace of Relayer and Going For The One, you expect something similar, don't you? Well, think again, because this is, aside from lyrically, as far away from those masterpieces as it is possible to get.

This is New Age writ large. Anderson not only sings all the lyrics, he also played all of the instruments, and, by the way, proves himself very adept at all of them, especially acoustic guitar, and keyboard effects.

It is, of course, a concept, being that of a ship sailing through space on a wondrous journey.

There is only one word to describe what follows - beautiful. This is as spiritual as music gets, and, I have to say, that Anderson thoroughly surprised me at the time, and still does in a way, in spite of the many times I have listened to it, by just how adept he is at creating a sound atmosphere to accompany the lyrics.

So, who would this appeal to, those of you who have come to prog lately, and are looking to expand your collections to where it all started? Well, if you only like Owner of a Lonely Heart, or some such similar thing, this is not for you. If you like your music full of riffs and muscle, probably best to stay away.

If, however, you appreciate music as a spiritual journey, with swirling sounds, a gorgeous, lilting voice, and essentially a personal and unique thing, then you really must get this. I can honestly state that there is nothing else like this, and even Anderson himself could never quite recreate this on subsequent ambient albums such as Angels Embrace.

An album to experience, not merely to listen to, this gets the full five stars. Absolutely essential for those who wish to discover what one of the most important prog figures did outside of his day job.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I don't want to talk about the concept. It's a complicated fantasy story and the lucky guys (like me) who have the vinyl original edition can easily read it on the fantastic internal booklet. I find it's hard to believe that Jon plays all the instruments alone. The first keyboard notes of "Ocean Song" have a clear Vangelis sound.

Regardless who really plays this album is the best solo ever released by Jon. Its strong concept even if strongly linked to the newage background of the artist doesn't have the low moments of bad "poetry" that sometimes we can find in YES lyrics. Well I have never paid attention to YES lyrics, the music is enough for me, but Olias has to tell a story so the lyrics are more cured.

I find hard to believe that Jon is playing harp, too. He doesn't play like Vollenweider, but he plays it's not just hitting the strings as somebody says. Sound of The Galleo is totally based on harp.

The music is positive and rhythmic ,the vocals have the usual overdubbed arrangements of all the further albums, but this is the first. Listening to Dance Of Raynart and to Qoquac En Transic I clearly hear Vangelis. At least Jos must have borrowed his equipment for the album, but if so, he wouldn't have needed to release three Jon and Vangelis albums, being him alone able to play and compose keyboard parts in this way....Also the African percussions are not unusual for Vangelis fans.

Let's go ahead..."Flight Of the Moorgl" is a song who would deserve to be included into a YES masterpiece like Tales From Topographic Oceans. "Solid Space" has an indolent tempo that's quite hypnotic. The orchestral accents are typical of Vangelis. I have no doubts, even if the Greek keyboardist is not credited this is the first Jon and Vangelis album. And their best, too.

"Moon Ra" is the only track just above 10 minutes and yes, this is all Jon's stuff. At least the composition is clearly identifiable as Jon's stuff. The keyboards I don't know. There are several themes. It has the structure of an epic despite it's duration.

"To The Runner" with the 12-strings guitar is very close to the YES, but again the keyboards have the same sounds usually found in Vangelis discography.

This is a MUST HAVE for the YES fans and an excellent addition for everybody else, even those who don't like Jon's voice...well if you really don't like Jon's voice there's no reason to have a solo album...however the album is not made of vocals only.

4 stars

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Jon Anderson first personal album named Olias of sunhillow is for sure a grower, at least for me. Issued in 1976 this album is a total winner in my opinion. Is an progressive epic album, a concept that is realy great made by Anderson, also you must have the vinyl or the CD the story is all there, no digital file alowed, to fully understand what is going on behind this mystycal story. The inner sleeves - gatefold are absolutly amazing, made by the David Fairbrother-Roe and is one of my fav drawings inside of an album ever. The story is quite a complex one and is about an alien race and their journey to a new world due to a catastrophe. Olias, the title character, is the chosen architect of the glider Moorglade, which will be used to fly his people to their new home. Ranyart is the navigator for the glider, and QoQuaq is the leader who unites the four tribes of Sunhillow to partake in the exodus. In few words this is the main story behind this album. Instristing. Now about the music. Well to me this album was definetly a grower over the years, first time I heard it in 1998, and was not very much of an intrest, realy, but after couple of listning few years later on with lyrics in front of me and gatefold images roling before my eyes something told me that will be a pleasent journey in the end, and finaly has a very good taste after so many tries. So, the music is very much a progressive, from symphonic touches, lush keybords, complex chants, choruses, great voice by Anderson, very diverse to a more Mike Oldfield meets Vangelis style, but fits very well in this context and story. The album is paced, no hurry moments, very pastoral, great atmosphere overall, everything is well done, nice and quite franckly said, some very intristing choruses, like on opening track, realy great. Some new age experimental moments here , synth are well composed here, very light in aproach but well made. All pieces stands as good towards great, all stands as an unit, no divided parts , the album has no fillers for sure. This must be one of the best solo albums of a member from Yes and for sure one of my fav fro progressive scene from that period. 4 stars easy, while is not a masterpiece in my opinion, Olias of sunhillow stands as one of the best album from the '70's progressive scene golden era.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I purchased this album in the 1970s as I had become a Yes-head and was trying to collect everything the boys who touched Yes albums had ever touched (e.g. Wakeman with The Strawbs, Howe's Tomorrow, as well as all of their solo albums). Of the five "solo" albums released at the same time in (1975-6) (Steve Howe's "Beginnings," Chris Squire's "Fish Out of Water, Patrick Moraz's "The Story of I," Alan White's "Ramshackled," and this one--Wakeman was long gone--doing his own things with, at this time, no thought about returning to the band), I would rate this one as a step below Chris Squire's, on the same level as White and Moraz's, but above Howe's. There are some absolutely gorgeous sound textures with the use of multiple layers of acoustic string instruments with lush synthesizers and multiple vocal tracks, but ultimately the songs and themes begin to either feel underdeveloped, overdeveloped, or the begin to wear out their welcome. As much as Jon Anderson may have wanted to assert his presence in the world of harp bards or modern "electric" Celtic folk artists, let's be clear, this is no Alan Stivell or Chieftains. And Jon is basically . . . weird--with a voice to match.
Review by Warthur
4 stars On Olias of Sunhillow, Jon Anderson's contribution to the treasure trove of Yes-related solo albums produced during the band's mid-1970s hiatus, Anderson layers both conventional instruments and his own voice to produce a lush, symphonic underpinning for a saga inspired by Roger Dean album covers. The sort of voice-as-instrument multitracked experiment heard on here had a prequel in the form of We Have Heaven on Fragile, but whereas that was a brief, quirky experiment, here Anderson expands them form into sustained, sedate, and blissful space journeys, and proves himself an adept multi-instrumentalist at that.

If you're coming to this straight from listening to Yes you may find it a bit jarring, because whilst you can here echoes of the Yes sound here and there for the most part it's in a sonic universe of its own, but for my part I think this one is a real grower. It took a while before it grew on me, in fact, but now the mysteries of Moorglade are opening up to me I think it's a fine piece of work.

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first solo album by Jon Anderson, "Olias of Sunhillow" very faithfully carries on the Yes tradition, even without the help of any of his band mates.

Written, performed and recorded entirely by Mr. Anderson, "Olias of Sunhillow" takes on a far more subdued approach to the Yes experience but it is still a great foray into Jon Anderson's fantasy world building. After all, Anderson was the world builder with Yes, often being the philosophical brainchild of the group's output. A concept album, I'm sure that you can read the synopsis in a number of other reviews. I will note that the album's story line is derived from a series of Roger Dean (who did not do the cover for "Olias", interestingly enough) paintings. Beginning with the back cover of "Fragile" and following through the stages of the four "Yessongs" paintings, "Olias" is a story of exodus, rebirth and forging new beginnings, and can make for a powerful spiritual experience to listen to.

As far as the music, it gives very "new age" vibes, with soft, lush synthesizers, plenty of acoustic guitar, and great falsetto vocal lines. It doesn't quite give the same drive or punch as Yes, but it has the same soul. In all, this is a good but non-essential album, warranting a 3 star rating. If you can find a vinyl copy, however, I'd bump the rating up to 4 stars, as it contains an incredible storybook-style multi-sided gatefold with beautiful illustrations and poetry describing the narrative. 3 stars overall.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nš 211

Jon Anderson is a British poet, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, but he is better known for his work as the front man and one of the founder members of Yes. He was also one of the main composers of the group. However, he is also known because his very extensive and somehow interesting solo career and also because his collaboration with various bands and musicians. So, despite his solo career and member of Yes, Anderson collaborated with Vangelis on Jon & Vangelis project with several albums, with his colleagues of Yes, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and Alan White, and also with many other artists and bands, such as King Crimson, Iron Butterfly, Vangelis, Mike Oldfield, Giorgio Moroder, John Paul Jones, Tangerine Dream, Milton Nascimento, Dream Theater and Glass Hammer.

'Olias Of Sunhillow' is the debut studio album of Jon Anderson and was released in 1976. It was one of the five solo albums released by the five members of Yes in 1975 and 1976, during a hiatus after the release of their seventh studio album 'Relayer', in 1974, along with Chris Squire's 'Fish Out Of Water', Steve Howe's 'Beginnings', Patrick Moraz's 'Story Of I' and Alan White's 'Ramshackled'. It became to be the most successful of Yes' solo efforts, reaching # 8 in the UK charts and breaking into the US top 50. It's perhaps the best musical work of all those albums of Yes' members.

'Olias Of Sunhillow' is a conceptual album inspired by the writings of Vera Stanley Alder, an American portrait painter and mystic woman which wrote several books on self-help and spirituality and that also founded the World Guardian Fellowship. So, Jon Anderson has developed the entire story around the idea of the interstellar exodus from the planet Sunhillow, and wrote the album around a narrative based on the character of the spaceship's architect, Olias. 'Olias Of Sunhillow' tells the story of an alien race and their journey to a new world due to a natural catastrophe. Olias is the chosen architect of the glider Moorglade, which will be used to save his people to their new home. Ranyart is the navigator of the glider and Qoquaq is the leader who unites the four tribes of Sunhillow to realise the entire exodus.

The album's concept cover was inspired by the art of Roger Dean of Yes' album 'Fragile'. It depicts a tiny planet breaking apart and a glider escaping into space. 'Olias Of Sunhillow' sleeve features a series artworks by the English artist David Fairbrother Roe, who was also known because the produce of the artwork, posters and tickets for the famous Isle Of Wight music festivals from 1968 to 1970 and also due to the art for books and albums of other bands.

'Olias Of Sunhillow' has eight tracks. The concept, the songs and the lyrics are all by Jon Anderson, and all vocals and instruments are also performed by Jon Anderson (lead and backing vocals, guitars, harp, synthesizer and percussions).

Jon Anderson's solo debut album is an impressive and unique conceptual album with a very mystical and otherworldly atmosphere. All tracks float into each other and make a continuous and very pleasant flow. The music often borders on New Age, but without becoming too boring and too sweet. The arrangements consist of lots of overdubbed vocal harmonies by Anderson, who also plays some harp here, percussion, acoustic guitar and loads of very Vangelis inspired synthesizer work. The compositions vary between acoustic and structured songs, more free floating and almost spacey passages and then to parts with atmospheric themes that build up and are repeated for several minutes to create a very hypnotic effect. Personally, I think the sound of the album is so unique that it's hard to compare it with anything else. The acoustic passages can of course remind of some Yes' songs like the first part of 'I've Seen All Good People' and 'Wonderous Stories' but the sound as a whole, is very original and unique. Some slight eastern influences can also be litened on some parts of the album. The music here is a seamless combination of acoustic instruments, guitar, sitar, harp, many types of percussions and synthesizers. As simplistic as that description is, add many layers of Jon Anderson's voice, in melody and harmony, and you have a timeless treasure. By today's standards this isn't such an amazing accomplishment. However, in 1976 it was a brilliant revelation to achieve such a cohesive final balance.

Conclusion: 'Olias Of Sunhillow' is the album closer to the original sound of Yes of the five solo albums released by the members of the band at the time. Despite its differences, we can say that there are several songs that could easily fit in Yes' own musical catalogue, and also the lyrics continue to mine the mystical musings of the band and that Yes fans had come to enjoy. However, 'Olias Of Sunhillow' isn't the missing Yes' album that some might hope to be. As I said before, 'Olias Of Sunhillow' is the closest album to Yes' sound and is also the most original album, with 'Story Of I' of Patrick Moraz, of the all solo projects of Yes' members. On it, Anderson plays a lot of different musical instruments and the vocals are great as usual, or even better than in Yes. All in all, this is a very exotic, hypnotic, complex and fascinating album, created by one of the most complex and brilliant minds of the progressive rock music in the 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Jon Anderson's first solo album was recorded and released in 1975-76, after the release of Yes' 'Relayer' album. After touring quite heavily for 5 years, the band thought that it would be a good time to take a break and that they would all work on their own solo albums (Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Patrick Moraz was the Yes line-up at the time). 'Olias of Sunhillow' was Jon Anderson's solo album, but he would later release several others through his career.

Anderson wanted to release a concept album that was unlike anything Yes had done, yet that still told a story. His idea was a science-fiction tale that was inspired by the album cover artwork from Yes' 'Fragile' album which was done by Roger Dean. Using the flying ark from that album, he created a story of a magician named Olias who constructs an ark named the Moorglade Mover. The purpose of the ark was to fly the people of the planet Sunhillow to a new planet, which they do just before the planet disintegrates. The ark eventually lands on the planet Asguard.

All of the instruments and vocals on the album were performed by Anderson. However, the style on many of the tracks very closely resemble Vangelis' style, so much so that Vangelis' record label told him that they were unhappy with the fact that he played on the album, which he denies. However, Anderson does thank him in the credits, suspiciously enough. Vangelis does appreciate the album and is flattered that Jon was inspired by his style, but says that it does represent Anderson's style and talent a lot more closely.

The music on the album is beautifully orchestrated with a lot of synthesizer, but also use of middle and far Eastern instruments and styles which give it all a very mystical feel. The music is definitely non-traditional in a pop sense using a lot of progressive elements and styles. The harmonies are lovely and many times are densely layered to give it a chorale effect on several tracks. The original album was broken up into 8 tracks, however, 4 of those tracks combine two or more titles. The music tends to flow seamlessly on those tracks with combined titles, with obvious breaks between the main 8 tracks. The music usually does sound quite a bit like Vangelis' style on many of the synth heavy tracks and instrumental sections, and Anderson does cite him as an inspiration on this record along with Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz.

The music is also very positive sounding as is the case with most of Anderson's endeavor's. It is different from the typical Yes style, less heavy, and with a more balanced and simpler style, yet complex all the same. There is a nice use of percussion throughout the album, though it is also non-traditional in a popular sense, using folk style percussion (tribal) and also with several folk traditional instruments to help add to the mystical sense of the album. Sitar, harp, saz, mandolins and wooden flutes help with this element, yet there is also a heavy use of synthesizer and some (mostly rhythm) guitar.

This is quite a lovely album and one of Anderson's best solo projects. As he released several other albums through the years, he has veered closer to some pop-sounding albums and at other times, approached a more progressive style, but there is always that signature voice and singing style of his that ties them all together. Overall, he has managed to keep his solo albums unique and distinct from his music with Yes. Thus it makes sense to present these albums under his own name, but you can still easily tell that it is Anderson. This particular album is an impressive solo debut, especially considering that he felt a bit insecure in this album during its recording only allowing one other person to hear it. When he was finally satisfied with the result, it was released for the world to finally hear. And it is an excellent effort worth 4 stars.

Review by fuxi
4 stars When all Yes members released solo-albums back in the mid-1970s I got a copy of each, with the exception of Alan White's RAMSHACKLED. I played them as often as I would have played any Yes album, but in the 1980s for some reason I felt embarrassed that I owned them, so I got rid of Steve Howe's BEGINNINGS, Chris Squire's FISH OUT OF WATER and Patrick Moraz' THE STORY OF I. The only one I hung on to was OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW, mainly because it featured the most spectacular gatefold sleeve, with illustrations by Dave Fairbrother Roe. His colourful drawings looked like Arthur Rackham fairy tales, something which - even in 1976 - I did not exactly find cool, but I thought: "This is unique, I really should preserve this, just to show my children later!" However, soon record players went out of fashion, and I never acquired an OLIAS CD. As a consequence, I believe I never listened to the album from the early 1980s until just a few weeks ago (early March, 2023).

Rediscovering my old OLIAS L.P. was a pleasant surprise. In contrast to FISH OUT OF WATER, which I find terribly overblown (not to mention the fact that I can't stand Chris Squire's bleating), and BEGINNINGS, half of which is completely unlistenable (mainly because of Steve Howe's vocals and execrable lyrics), good ole' Jon Anderson's solo debut sounded incredibly fresh and reinvigorating. I immediately bought the 2021 Cherry Red Records CD reissue to find out why this was so. (And no, I'm not in the pay of Cherry Red Records!) I found that our Jon wrote at least a couple of songs which are as catchy as anything Yes ever did - most notably 'Sound Out the Galleon' and 'The Flight of the Moorglade'. Even though he's anything but a virtuoso on drums, synths, guitars or harp, he also painstakingly created a number of instrumentals which are very pleasant to the ear. He came up with a number of chants ('canons' or 'rounds' I guess you could call them) which are similar in spirit to Yes's 'We Have Heaven' but far subtler in execution. And finally, he took great care to devise keyboards/harp/percussion/backing vocals arrangements for the entire album. As a result, OLIAS really is a rich and rewarding listening experience. I guess it helps that Anderson did the whole thing at home on his own (with only a sound technician to assist him), so there was no band he had to struggle with. He ended up singing most of the new songs fairly low in his register, which makes them easier to bear than GOING FOR THE ONE or TORMATO, both of which sound far too shrill to my taste.

Of course you'll need some suspension of disbelief to fully embrace a J.A. solo album. After all, this is a man who writes lines such as 'Total relating appointed close factors / of what we regard as the answer lies there' without any sense of embarrassment. One or two of his wordless vocals are perhaps a little soppy as well - New Age avant-la-lettre. Furthermore, the SF/fantasy/fairy-tale concept he devised seems half-baked at best. But the sheer loveliness of most of his tunes and - dare I say it - the majesty of his best instrumental movements make up for any deficiencies.

In my view, there was only one mid-seventies Yes member whose solo achievement came close to Anderson's: Patrick Moraz, with his highly eccentric THE STORY OF I. And for the sake of completeness it's only fair to add that both of them were solidly beaten just two years later, by the first solo effort from ex Yes member Bill Bruford: FEELS GOOD TO ME.

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars After "Relayer", the members of Yes at that time took a break to develop personal projects parallel to the band's universe. It is in this context that "Olias of Sunhillow", the solo debut of Jon Anderson, the most visible image and voice of the British band, was one of those that generated the most repercussions. The fantastical adventure that Anderson's imagination recreated, taking the singer's experimentation through one of its most recognisable aspects to paroxysm: the heroic "Olias" accompanied by the pilot "Ranyart" and the influential "Qoquaq", must save the four tribes of their village "Sunhillow" from volcanic destruction, using for this purpose the peculiar ship "Moorglade Mover", a flying device of undisguised resemblance to the one on the cover of "Fragile".

Anderson uses a great variety of string and wind instruments (harp, mandolin, flute, etc.) and synthesizers, showing his enormous capacity to accompany the story with a suspenseful and dramatic sonority, generating a mystical and epic atmosphere, as in the opening "Ocean Song", or in the tribal and orientalised "Qoquaq en Transic / Naon / Transic To" and its reminiscent airs of "Tales From Topographic Oceans", complemented by luminous sections of peaceful beauty, with magnificent acoustic and choral developments, as in the second section of "Meeting (Garden of Geda) / Sound Out the Galleon", or in the rhythmic "Flight of the Moorglade", which features choruses similar to those of the massive "Horizons" from Jon & Vangelis' later album "Private Collection", or in the brief arpeggiated guitar interlude towards the beginning of the last third of the extensive "Moon Ra / Chords / Song of Search", all of them moments of very successful execution, and that have their final point with the melancholic "To the Runner".

The conceptual "Olias of Sunhillow" is one of Anderson's best expressions as a solo artist, and while some of the collaborative works with the Greek Vangelis have moments of brilliance, or his stellar contribution to Kitaro's "Dream" album is one of his pearls among many, the stature of the Briton's first album remains at the top of his discography, and even without intending it, could be considered as one of the precursor elements of the later "New Age" current.

4 stars

Latest members reviews

5 stars In my recent review of Yes' "Mirror to the Sky," I wrote that I felt like a "traitor" to Jon Anderson. I now realize in what capacity I have been "disloyal" to him: It has taken me 47 years to give "Olias of Sunhillow" its commensurate due attention. In 1976, I found it easy to give my attent ... (read more)

Report this review (#2976942) | Posted by ken_scrbrgh | Sunday, December 24, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As You probably know Jon Anderson of Yes came out with his solo proposition "Olias of the sunhillow" as part of the five solo albums by all Yes members recorded after the Relayer album. He went totaly ambitious playing all the instruments and, of course, singing all the parts. The result is otherwor ... (read more)

Report this review (#2495361) | Posted by Artik | Monday, January 18, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars JON ANDERSON needs no introduction, but the longstanding frontman of YES deserves an introduction anyway, so here goes..... He was born in Accrington, Lancashire in 1944. Anderson was a member of his brother's band, The Warriors, during the mid-1960's and he joined YES bassist Chris Squire's ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#2285998) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Saturday, December 7, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yesterday I went to a record fair and picked up a piece of vinyl I had not seen since i was 18 in 1976. Title is OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW by Jon Anderson of Yes. It comes in a green sleeve with a booklet with the storyline depicted therein. A goblin-fest with childish images and graphics to boot. The m ... (read more)

Report this review (#2025973) | Posted by shantiq | Sunday, September 16, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a bit of a marmite album for most , some hate it, some love it, i'm in the latter camp. This is an album of rare beauty, it really is magical and i have been listening to it for over thirty years and always hear something new to transport me to the world that Anderson wants to take us. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1697508) | Posted by Dr D | Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a wonderful effort by Jon Anderson. Danceable? Nope, but that was not the forte of Yes in the 70s either. Captivating, entrancing, exhilarating? Yes indeed. As a prog fan, you will be humming/whistling/remembering/singing these melodies for a long time to come, and the arrangements are no ... (read more)

Report this review (#1463581) | Posted by Dreamer of Pictures | Tuesday, September 15, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars While Jon Anderson is labeled Prog Related and I am not familiar with his other works so that may be justified, this is certainly an amazing Progressive Rock album. The cover alone is enough to send his message that this will be a spiritual, ritual, pataphsyical, whatever you want to call it j ... (read more)

Report this review (#1173303) | Posted by ebil0505 | Saturday, May 10, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album really brings back great memories for me. THIS is the lost Yes album. From Jon ANderson in 1976, Jon apparantly performs all the music himself on this release. A classic of folk prog and Jon Anderson prog with wonderful tunes and atmosphere. It flows so wonderfully together from one song ... (read more)

Report this review (#733595) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I gave this one a try once again today. Boring. Really boring! I own this record since 1976. I bought it right away, as I did with all other solo works of Yes members, because I was sure that somewere someone would be carring on with the Yes sound, despite the band split...So who better than the ... (read more)

Report this review (#508433) | Posted by scandosch | Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Olias is a true musical adventure that stands as a must for anyone who loves progressive rock music. After all people who love progressive rock do so because the music conjures up an vision and a feeling of embarking on an adventure. Jon accomplishes this very easily. This is an album that must ... (read more)

Report this review (#499128) | Posted by Sharier | Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I cant believe i missed this album, I went through my yes phase some years back, I tend to return to Relayer and The Yes Album The most, I do own the Squire masterpiece" Fish out of Water ", But this incredibly haunting album trumps that Album, Am I the only one that gets a light Steely Dan vibe ... (read more)

Report this review (#391954) | Posted by darkprinceofjazz | Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Of all the prog albums I own, this one is in a class of its own when it comes to otherworldliness. It simply takes you out of the world you currently live in and drops you into Olias' world, which is ethereal, strange and uplifting. This isn't just a concept album, it's a full-blown, cohesive ... (read more)

Report this review (#296188) | Posted by bridgebuilder | Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When i first listened to this album, I was like 6 years old! My dad had put this in the cassete player and at the time i didn't fully appreciate it. However, after relistening to this fine album it brought back great memories to me. Jon Anderson does a superb job at laying down landscapes of music a ... (read more)

Report this review (#288988) | Posted by garla1lh | Saturday, July 3, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just now I can really understand this masterpiece. It was very ahead of that time when that album appeared. bought this record when it came out. Now I understand that this is the expression of a free Jon Anderson delivered with simplicity. When I turn back in search of essential YES I reme ... (read more)

Report this review (#276468) | Posted by sandylane | Monday, April 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If there was ever any question that Jon Anderson was the main force behind Yes's unique sound, Olias of Sunhillow totally proves it. Anderson's first solo album was no less epic than any 70s Yes album, but what makes it particularly remarkable is the fact he wrote, arranged and performed everythi ... (read more)

Report this review (#126949) | Posted by Arsillus | Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fans of epic Yes, look no further! A beautiful and captivating album, Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow sets such a an atmosphere that I have never experienced musically since, (only Hergest Ridgeby Mike Oldfield comes close) it's very hard to explain it.. It's so deeply magical, etheral and m ... (read more)

Report this review (#104637) | Posted by OGTL | Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A five in my eyes. A must album, however, for all those who enjoy the "spacy" and "cosmic" spirit of Classic period Yes. (The solo albums of band members oft reflect their particular influence upon that said group, this one is no different, showing you that it has been Jon who was the Starship ... (read more)

Report this review (#95879) | Posted by JesusisLord | Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Olias is Jon's first solo album, and I'm not quite sure, but I think with Olias Jon tries to prove that he IS the voice of Yes,, and if I'm right he does so with flying colors. Olias features Jon singing in harmony with himself (which is in my opinion how he sounds best), and lush/beautiful so ... (read more)

Report this review (#87229) | Posted by Gravity Eyelids | Monday, August 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first and only worthwhile studio release from Jon Anderson, this disc has lots of memorable tunes and a knockout sleeve.....The music is typical Jon: readily made for bong and headphone use, lots of eastern/shastric fantasy mumbojumbo lyrics, BIG, big sound....*highly* recommended to Yes f ... (read more)

Report this review (#79843) | Posted by lucifersam | Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An absolutely gorgeous album, and the only ones of the Yes solo releases to deserve a "must-own" place in any progger's library. Anderson gives us a lovely "concept" album, based on the story of the people of Sunhillow leaving their home planet on an "Ark," the "Moorglade." Olias builds it, Ray ... (read more)

Report this review (#71792) | Posted by Black Max | Sunday, March 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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