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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3002 ratings

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5 stars This album has taken a lot of bashing over the years, and it's pretty obvious that it's not to everybody's liking. I'm sure I'm not the first to admit that Relayer is an acquired taste, but, like all acquired tastes, it's one that you truly appreciate once you gain it.

After Tales, Yes intelligently realised that Close To The Edge, with its tight structure and form, was more successful than Tales, and reverted back to the structure of CTTE. This doesn't mean that Relayer and CTTE are similar, but they are comparable.

So, to the main track. I've always thought that Relayer shows Yes' technical prowess much better than Close To The Edge, and The Gates Of Delirium shows how far Yes can stretch their abilities. The first section has many thundering guitar breaks and mellow synth work from Moraz - who, might I add, is consistently superb throughout Relayer - which really adds to the mood of the piece. There's also some nice harmonies, but to be fair, the emphasis really is on the middle instrumental section. You can get the vibe of the entire song just by listening to the middle section. I'm not a big 'themes' or 'symbolism' guy, but you really can pick a lot out here: war, pride, chaos, and victory. And from a musical/technical point of view, the middle 11/16 (yes, really) section really is the most beautiful 'complex' rhythm I have ever heard. Add to this an amazingly moving synth riff in the penultimate section, and you get one of the best Yes instrumental performances ever heard. And just to top it off, there is the magnificent 'Soon', which was later christened so so that it could be released as a single. A brilliant end to a brilliant piece, with all band members excelling.

Then we move on to the frenetic Sound Chaser. I never really got the 'point' of the lyrics of this song; it's just a bunch of words that sound pretty nice in the context of the song. However, the best word to describe this song is 'energetic'; there's simply no let up in the energy here. Even in Howe's supposedly mellow middle section/solo, he still plays with fury and fervour. I personally don't have a problem with the "cha cha cha" s; they could get annoying, but they're really nothing to lose hair about. The highlight of this song definitely has to be Alan White; his percussion is intricate and accurate throughout.

On to the final track, To Be Over. Parallels have been drawn with And You And I, but I have to say I can't quite see the link. Just because they are both slow, melodic songs, they are mentioned in the same sentence frequently, and unfortunately but rightfully, And You And I comes out on top. Nevertheless, that puts no damper on To Be Over, which is wonderful for the fact that the band seem to control themselves as far as exuberance is concerned; they don't worry about being technically impressive or capable of using weird time signatures - they've shown us that already. Instead we're greeted with a beautiful opening guitar riff from Howe, which steadily introduces the rest of the band. In fact, 'steady' is a good word to describe this song. It just strolls along and does nothing that you don't expect of it, but it is still thoroughly satisfying and a great end to a mesmerising album.

In conclusion, if you're really into Yes and you like some of their relatively conventional - I use the term loosely - stuff (The Yes Album, Fragile), or if you're into the more symphonic stuff (Close To The Edge), and you want to see them stretch their boundaries a little, then Relayer is for you. It takes a bit of work to properly get into it, but it's worth it when you do.

grooveharder | 5/5 |


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