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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3000 ratings

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Penumbra
5 stars There are a few albums that go beyond being just music and become something greater." - Australian; August 18, 2006

Violence, peace, violence, peace. The cycle of humanity's bloody history is here enshrined in three seminal Symphonic Progressive Rock pieces. This crucial time for yes, in which the master Patrick Moraz replaced the then-bored Wakeman on keyboards, created a masterful album. The symphonic integration of jazz and classical organization is reminiscent of modern composers and jazz artists. It is a perfect Symphonic album of experimentation....

I. "Gates of Delirium": The famous synth opening unfolds into a "bubbling" sound, the bass and drums in along with it. There is no slow build-up or fade-in; it is immediately there when the guitar drops itself into the mix. The drums are amazing in the first few minutes, Alan White going all the way this time; Squire's Rickenbacker bass guitar is full of growling treble. Off the bat, even with Anderson, Squire, and Howe's peaceful harmonized vocals in the background, one is given the impression of violence. A very nice acoustic guitar backing picks up with the vocals, as the drums and synthesizers stay strong and full of power. Before the listener knows what has hit, Yes is off on a tangent of accelerating vocals from Anderson, smashing drums from White, and tortured guitar from Howe. Anderson's vocals become more prominent after six minutes of build up, with rather violent lyrics for the angelic voice he possesses. With the line "the pen won't stay the demon's wings; the hour approaches pounding out the devil's sermon", the entire song goes into overdrive.

Moraz starts becoming what can only be described as "insane" on the synthesizers, and Howe's overdriven and distorted guitar creates a violent whirlwind of music. From 8:30 to about 14:00, for six minutes there are no vocalizations, simply pure warlike battles between the percussion and bass, and the synthesizers and guitar. It is an immense and disturbingly beautiful spectacle to behold, and makes this album what it is. Around the 15:00 mark, the battle of utter destruction ceases and the tempo falls until the 16:00 point. Here, one of the most beautiful and uplifting sections of Symphonic Progressive Rock occurs: "Soon". It consists of mellotron, Anderson's voice, and other heavenly synths that seem to be rise up from the carnage of the previous few minutes. This piece is one of the milestones of the Symphonic Prog movement, and makes "Relayer" truly what it is.

II. "Sound Chaser": Avant-garde jazz stylings from the insane Squire and Howe. There are more bubbling synths that just have to reappear since the conclusion of "Gates of Delirium". The mellotron makes its appearance in 1974, as well, and really adds to the precise, skilfull drums played by Alan White. The influence of free, cool, and art jazz are easy to hear in this song, and while it may be abrasive to listen to at first, it definitely grows. It is amazing to hear a band in its prime surging together jazz techniques with classical structure. The result is just an indescribable batch of music from the bass, dissonant electric guitar, synthesizers, and percussion. Anderson's infamous "cha-cha-cha" vocals don't bother this reviewer in the least; in fact, they add a unqiue 'tinge' to the amazing guitar soloing. Howe's top form and especially his influence from Andres Segovia shine through in the experiments of intensely speedy playing. The piece slows down for a few minutes half way through, but this only serves to highlight the re-entry into fast, great playing later on.

III. "To Be Over": Surely this piece must have been blasted before as "boring" and "pretentious", but I see it as one of the more beautiful ballads by Yes. A subdued synthesizer opens up this piece, contrasting the preceding tracks by introducing a pastoral beauty. Bass and electric guitar are soon added, just as subdued, and a sitar is brought into the forefront! The subtle effects used by Moraz and Howe on their respect electr(on)ic and stringed instruments are beautiful and an otherwordly tone. Anderson comes in with the drums, speaking of sailing down streams, drifting beneath bridges, and generally being in peace with the world. There are many quiet arpeggios of bubbling synth, adding a sense of calm and philosophical conceptualism to the air. Some power is added by Howe on some distorted soloing, adding a chilling jazz-like feeling, a point which is achieved throughout "Relayer". Moraz comes back to Wakeman-style heavy mellotron use, and does it extremely well! Eventually the piece forgoes its pastoral wandering and idealism, and becomes strong; thus, the listener is carried out by Anderson's confidence, Howe's power, and Moraz's atmospheric keyboard skill.

As stated in another review prior to this, "Relayer" truly goes beyond music. In this reviewer's beliefs, it creates a try story, a story to be remembered by all Symphonic Prog. Definitely one of the seminal releases of 1974, and of the genre. 5/5! Buy now!

Penumbra | 5/5 |

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