YES — Relayer

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YES - Relayer cover
4.64 | 19 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Jazz Related Rock


A The Gates Of Delirium 21:55
B1 Sound Chaser 9:25
B2 To Be Over 9:08


Performer – Alan White, Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Patrick Moraz, Steve Howe

About this release

Atlantic ‎– K 50096

Recorded on Eddie Offord's mobile equipment in England during the late summer and autumn 1974

Thanks to snobb for the addition

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Prog Zone
Review - #8 (Yes - Relayer)

After releasing Tales from Topographic Oceans in 1973, the band would decide to take a few steps back while taking a few steps forward in their seventh studio album entitled Relayer. This album would introduce us to different yet phenomenal line-up with Jon Anderson on vocals, Steve Howe on guitar, Chris Squire on bass, Alan White on drums, and Patrick Moraz on keyboards (replacing Rick Wakeman). After keyboardist Rick Wakeman left the group in May of 1974 over disagreements with the band's direction, Yes began to do rehearsals as a four-piece at bassist Chris Squire's home in Virginia Water, Surrey. During this time, they also auditioned several keyboardists including Vangelis before choosing Patrick Moraz who incorporates elements of funk and jazz fusion all over the album. Relayer is formed of three tracks, similar to Close to the Edge, with "The Gates of Delirium" on side one and "Sound Chaser" and "To Be Over" on side two. Now, lets enter the gates and see what all the praise is about?

The Gates of Delirium has always been a track that I've considered to be on par with the masterpiece of Close to the Edge. However, these two tracks are also entirely different. The Gates of Delirium remains to be one of the best songs in Yes' vast discography. Not to mention the uniqueness found here has not been fully replicated since. This track was described by Jon Anderson as "a war song, a battle scene, but it's not to explain war or denounce it. There's a prelude, a charge, a victory tune, and peace at the end, with hope for the future." Jon Anderson had originally intended to have the entire album to based on War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but instead had a side-long track inspired by the novel. During the battle section the band decided to include crashing sound effects that were created by Alan White pushing over a tower of used car parts that he and Jon Anderson had collected from a scrap yard. Interestingly, Steve Howe remembered Anderson becoming too excited in what he envisioned the battle to be, leading the group to produce one mix that was "too far" and another "too safe. Following the battle section, the track finishes with Soon which is incredibly beautiful. All the band members are at their peak, including Patrick Moraz, who plays tremendously while adding a completely unique style and sound to the album. In fact, I would say he fits perfect here. This is Yes at their most progressive.

Side two of the album is just as equally worthy of praise. If this is Yes' most progressive album, Sound Chaser is Yes' most progressive song with the only other song coming close being the third movement on Tales from Topographic Oceans entitled The Ancient - Giants Under the Sun. During Moraz's audition session with the band, he was asked to play an introduction to the song, which was recorded and used on the album after only a few takes. Similar to The Gates of Delerium, all of the musicians here shine through while contributing to the grandeur of the entire track. In addition, there is a tremendous amount of jazz fusion elements and themes which complement the album perfectly. Steve Howe also has an incredible guitar solo that is harsh yet gorgeous. The last song on the album, To Be Over, seems to be one of the most forgotten tracks in the entire discography of the band. Containing some of the most beautiful melodies the band has ever created. It is equally masterful as the rest, however, not as jazz fusion orientated.

This album is a masterpiece from start to finish. This can be considered to be Yes at their peak. After this album, the band would take a break before working on Going for The One in 1977. I believe this is the last masterpiece Yes would release. It is an album that has aged like fine wine, I would highly recommend it to anyone who a fan of Yes or progressive rock in general. However, do not expect this to be an "easy listen" by any means. "Cha Cha Cha!"

- 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘨 𝘈𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴 (
siLLy puPPy
Hot on the heels of their “Tales From Topographic Oceans” tour Rick Wakeman decided to jump ship from the mighty YES due to creative differences with “Tales From Topographic Oceans,” the whopping double album that dipped too much into the ethereal imagination of vocalist Jon Anderson. In order to find the proper replacement to fill Wakeman’s hard-to-fill shoes, the band searched high and low and even auditioned Vangelis who didn’t quite fit in with this crowd. After the dust settled they settled for the Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz whose only real band experience was with the progressive rock band Refugee. The band sallied forth without Wakeman and without him conjured up one of their most complex and challenging albums of their career with RELAYER. This album is really perfect in every way. It takes all the complexities and diverse elements found on pretty much all of their previous works and stitch them together in creative new ways while still adding a lot of experimentation to the mix. This is probably one of the most complex albums that took me the longest to appreciate. The music is so jittery and bombastic that i didn’t know what hit me the first time i heard this. I couldn’t understand why anyone would like this. Granted it was one of the first progressive rock albums i got into along with other YES albums, but happily after a gazillion and one listens to this i can honestly say not only has it aged well, but it has gotten better after each subsequent listen and continues to do so to this very day.

There are many similarities with previous albums although there are many more differences. The album attempts to take the variety of diverse complexities from “Tales…” and condenses them into a single three track album which in that regard is similar to “Close To The Edge” where the first track “The Gates Of Delirium” takes up a whole side on the original LP and side two consists of two tracks. There is less time for spaced out wandering and more focus on extremely tight band interactions that spiral out a healthy amount of variations on different complex melodies. After the mixed reviews of “Tales…” the band returned to the top of the charts with RELAYER as it was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. This is probably one of the most complex albums i can think of to actually hit the top 5 on the Billboard album charts and be certified gold soon after its release. Obviously YES had no problem carrying on without Wakeman and i believe that without him is the reason they could experiment even more leaving behind the classical keyboard approach and taking on harder sounds where the keyboards were more designed to be a surreal fugue behind the guitar and bass.

The album begins with the monstrous behemoth “The Gates Of Delirium” which at 21:50 remained their lengthiest single track for much of their career. The track is based on Leo Tolstoy’s “War And Peace” and has different sections that run the gamut of symphonic progressive rock, hard rock, experimentalism and even some musique concrète. The very last section called “Soon” was actually released as a single. This song was designed to convey the feel of a battle scene where each section segues into the next ranging from the chaotic to the melodic as heard in the “Soon” section which concludes the horrific battle with a melodic prayer offering hope for the future. The battle scene is notorious for the crashing of car parts that Alan White and Jon Anderson would collect and hang up to randomly bang upon. There is one chaotic part where Alan White pushes the whole collection over creating a massive cacophony.

The second track “Soundchaser” is easily one of my all-time favorite pieces of musical magic. This track embodies virtually every possible trait of progressive rock that i could imagine. It shows deep emotional connection, outstandingly technical prowess, consonance, dissonance, fantastic structure, OMG soloing, perfectly balanced dynamics between the bombastic and subtle and an excellent adaption of adding funk and jazz-fusion to the YES sound. It is just perfectly paced with Steve Howe’s guitar solos being amongst the strongest highlights of an impressive-in-every-way track. The slide guitar adds a slippery slide feel with proggy time sigs to die for with punctuated vocal interruptions a la Jon Anderson’s “cha-cha-cha’s” . I really want this to be a twenty minute track as well as its mere 9:31 isn’t quite enough musical bliss for me!

The last track “To Be Over” is the most accessible track on the album that creates a complex melodic arrangement of the guitar and electric sitar. It starts out as a lovely ballad with dreamy vocals accompanied by slide guitar and a nice mellow break after the frenetic outbursts of “Soundchaser.” The counterpoint soloing keyboards are heaven on Earth. This song builds in tempo and breaks into a more hard rocking sound while retaining the overall mellow feel of the introductory melody only with more energetic guitar, bass and drum action. A great way to wind down one of the most bombastic symphonic progressive rock albums in all of history.

And if all the music wasn’t enough. RELAYER has one of my favorite album covers of all time by Roger Dean. The silver and grey wrap around ice cavern scene offers up a dreamy fantastical Tolkien type landscape that complements every aspect of the music. It offers the placid otherworldliness with the contrasting hues of grey with the dangers that lurk ahead as witnessed by the serpent that stands in the way of the path to the magical kingdom. I really don’t have desert isle lists and the like because my musical tastes are as fickle as a breeze changing at the drop of a hat. I find most music can be satisfying at some particular moment and then not so at others but RELAYER is an album that satisfies anytime, anywhere and as frequently as i want. I still have a hard time retaining these melodies in my head yet they are as pleasant to hear every single time, therefore RELAYER is without doubt my current all-time favorite YES album and a mandatory desert-isle pick for its ability to be the musical gift that never stops giving me what i want out of it. 5 stars to the 5th power and beyond. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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