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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3002 ratings

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Space Chief
5 stars Ah, Relayer.

I fondly remember the day I got this CD. It was Christmas Day 2004, and from the first notes of "The Gates of Delirium" coming through the headphones of my portable CD player, I was hooked. Relayer is not like any other Yes album- it introduces jazz fusion and sees them as more aggressive and tighter than on "Tales". Add Anderson, Howe, Squire, and White doing an excellent job and Patrick Moraz playing keyboards almost as good as Mr. Wakeman, and you get a sure classic.

The album hits the ground running with the 22-minute long "Gates of Delirium". Don't let the length fool you, the song is very fast-paced and one of the 'heaviest' Yes songs. From the beginning, it's clear we're not in the sluggish and muddled "Tales" anymore, as the "Boiling Water" (as one user above phrased it) intro starts. Jon starts singing "Stand and fight we do consider...", and for nearly fifteen minutes, the pace refuses to slow down. The war-themed lyrics are very unusual for Yes, take the "Burn their children's laughter" line for instance. This also introduces one of my favorite Yes lyrics, as Anderson explains that with mere Power Spent Passion, you can Bespoil a Soul Reciever. That makes no sense whatsoever, but it's Yes alright! Eventually, we get a long (and very good) jam session, culminating in a keyboard riff that is my favorite part of the album. The song calms down, allowing us to catch our breath, as a softer, sadder, and more beautiful part, released as a single as "Soon", begins. It's a breathtaking, incredible on it's own, but enriched even more from its stark contrast to the previous fifteen minutes. It's the perfect finish to a perfect song. "Gates of Delirium" is the best song I have heard, and Relayer is worth owning just for it alone!

But it's not over yet! Yes follows the superb "Gates" with the sonic insanity that is "Sound Chaser". This is the slightly wobbly leg in the table that is Relayer, as I find the slower parts to be the only weak spot in the album, and it's pretty damn hard to follow "Gates". But the rest of it is great, with jazzy and unpredictable music and completely incomprehensible lyrics (That's a good thing, though). The final minutes contain a groovy bass (Yes at their funkiest?) and the infamous "Cha-cha-cha"s, though I don't find anything particularly bad about them. "Sound Chaser" takes a few listens to appreciate, but it's a very good song after all.

"To Be Over" is the antithesis of "Sound Chaser", and what an antithesis it is. This is a calm, pretty, and slightly Eastern song, and is not given enough credit as it deserves. "Over" is absorbing to say the least, with romantic guitar solos and a moving vocal performance. I love the "Sonde, Sontura" part that finishes the album.

The remastered Rhino CD of Relayer contains a few bonus tracks as well. First is the aforementioned single version of "Soon", which actually hurts the album as it makes "Soon" sound like a seperate number rather than the excellent finish to "Gates. The B-side to "Soon", a shortened version of "Sound Chaser", is also included. "Sound Chaser", as it turns out, loses a lot in the jump from 10 minutes to 3 minutes. The final bonus is a very intriguing version of "Gates", which sports a much better intro than the album version. I'm willing to dismiss the effects of the bonuses on my score, as apart from "Pure and Easy" on the remastered Who's Next, these are rarely as good as the album that proceeded them.

All in all, Relayer is an excellent album. Don't let it be your first Yes experience, though, you might want to get Fragile or Going for the One first. But if you can handle it, you're sure to enjoy it.

Space Chief | 5/5 |

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