Olias of Sunhillow is the most treasured album in my collection. I'm sure it had to do with the time in my life when I first heard it (about 17), but Olias was the ultimate fantastic escape from reality. I have it on CD now (it doesn't suffer from this at all) and still enjoy it regularly. The lyrics sometimes seem a bit nonsensical to me, but I've come to see that they have a poetic quality of tone (maybe carefully chosen for their tone) and imagery that add much to the musical masterpiece.
It's hard to describe Olias to one who hasn't heard it. It is driven by multiple percussion layers, multiple layers of vocal and choral harmony, and the synth work that Jon Anderson experimented with ties it all together in a sheer harmonic brilliance. Jon Anderson made this album alone, and there is a beauty is experiencing the intimate spell he weaves. One could easily imagine him in his studio laying down layer upon layer of music. It is both joyous, relaxing, and a celebration of creativity.
Please allow a special "thank you" to Jon Anderson, "for not holding back your imagination."
Buy it, listen to it, love it.