1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
sensational, sinuous, relentless rock,
This review is from: Relayer (Audio CD)
I hadn't listened to this album for a long time until a discussion with another Yes fan (below the line on another Amazon review, in fact) got me listening again.
Relayer must have come as quite a shock for people who had finished absorbing their previous offering, Tales From Topographic Oceans, which unfolds over a much broader timeframe. The sound here is generally hard-edged and sinuous. Much of the music absolutely ROCKS - not in the loping jazzy manner with which Bruford and Squire drove previous incarnations of the band, but with a relentless funky power and energy. It is not surprising that some fans at the time were nonplussed by Sound Chaser or even thought the band had gone mad. As many others have pointed out, there are echoes here of classic albums by the Mahavishnu Orchestra - and I mean that as a compliment!
In terms of sheer musicianship I'm not sure Yes ever surpassed this. Squire's bass is breathtaking but it never draws attention to itself. The way in which the guitar and bass often interlock is sublime. Steve Howe breathes fire as a rhythm guitarist as well as when he has the spotlight. His decision on Gates of Delirium to use the trebly, biting Telecaster - not a guitar he was associated with before - shows how he saw this material as a new departure for Yes. Sometimes Moraz's keyboards lock with the guitar; sometimes (as in the central section of Gates of Delirium) they fight the guitar, with extraordinary effect. Alan White's drumming is fantastic, especially in Sound Chaser.
And all this is before we consider the music itself. Apparently the album was recorded in quite a piecemeal way but the melodies and grooves combine into wonderful long, sustained lines. These are long compositions which have been created with a clear overall vision, not simply cobbled together from thousands of bits of tape. The melodies are often long-breathed and sustained. Even in the driving battle section in Gates of Delirium the key signature seems to keep changing. As you listen, you always want to know what's going to happen next - even if you have heard it many times before.
Great album. I can't help wishing this Yes line-up had made at least one more before Patrick Moraz was replaced by the returning Rick Wakeman.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Dec 2013, 04:56:58 GMT
Carlo Matthews says:
Spot on review. This album is more bewitching than Mahavishnu (and Return to Forever), if you ask me. It's astonishingly unbridled, ballsy, inspired, and self-contained -- it has all the excitement of chaos and yet the grandeur of an epic vision.
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2013, 12:04:04 GMT
Thanks for your comments Carlo. Actually I had not listened to this record for years until someone on a recent review discussion elsewhere on Amazon had pointed out how good it was. As much as anything I have realised how I have underestimated Alan White as a drummer. Also, it is wonderful to hear a so-called "self-indulgent" guitarist like Howe play rhythm guitar with such passion and taste.
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2013, 16:06:21 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Dec 2013, 21:15:11 GMT
Carlo Matthews says:
This is the Yes album I return to the most because, as you mention, you always want to know what's going to happen next: that's how exciting this is, no matter how often you've listened. There's just so much 'conversation' going on between all instruments, even with Howe's fab rhythm playing as you point out, that it never loses its sheen. I agree, White is not only on fire, but his playing is a major part of the song of these futuristic acid funk structures. There's such explosiveness all around that the music is hard to contain, it would seem, and yet the album never implodes - it just keeps climbing in tension and invention. Even on the slow "To Be Over" Howe's solo is out of this world - the places he goes! My mind never ceases to boggle when I put Relayer on. As you put it, its "sensational" in all its meaning. Getting carried away here!
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Dec 2013, 21:32:22 GMT
No need to apologise for getting carried away. I have enjoyed trading a few thoughts about this classic. I only rediscovered it a few weeks back after about twenty years "away", as it were. Glad to be back in its company.
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