|1. The Gates of Delirium|
|2. Sound Chaser|
|3. To Be Over|
|5. Sound Chaser|
|6. The Gates of Delirium|
It's been said before but I must confess that listening to this remaster of Relayer is like hearing it for the 1st time. Amazing! Wonderful! Beautiful!
In a nutshell the album is more dynamic, but doesn't deviate from the original recording.
The best track here is the 22 minute opener "Gates of Delirium", an epic song based on the epic novel "War and Peace". The introduction wanders peacefully through the main themes of the song, then the lyrics kick in. Patrick Moraz's crisp synths swoon and sing around. The song builds and builds, singer John Anderson's voice getting subtly louder, the drumming getting subtly more fierce and the melody becoming more and more loaded with tension.
Then, 8 minutes in, comes an intense piece of music that can only really be described as a sonic war. Drums going wild, each musician takes a turn at playing the lead melody, each sounding desperate to outdo each other. Backwards noises, clanging, applause and howling run across your headphones. It's paranoid, it's furious and it's probably one of the best musical equivalents of war there is. Eventually, the "war" grinds to a halt, leaving nothing but keyboard atmosphere, and out of the nothing emerges one of Yes' most moving ballads, "Soon", melancholy, loss and remorse all put to a weeping guitar.
Yep, the first track is up with classic. It's the last two tracks you've got to worry about.
It's not that their all bad. "Sound Chaser" features jazzy keyboard and rapid fire bass & drum lines, as well as a tribal "cha cha cha" chorus that sounds similar to "happy birthday to you", and the mellow lullaby "To Be Over" features some uplifting harmonies from Jon Anderson. However, all the good moments are scattered between less inspired stuff. In the midst of "Sound Chaser", for example, Steve Howe breaks into a heavy guitar solo for no particular reason. These songs feel like they are stretched long for the sake of filling the album up, they don't feel like they should be long songs. They don't feel like a "Starship Trooper" or "Siberian Khatru", more like a "Long Distance Runaround" or "A Venture". There's a lot of repetition of melody on these tracks, even for Yes, so it ruins the tracks a bit. Some may really enjoy these two tracks in their entirety, and may think that rating 3 stars is a bit harsh, it's just that they're just not my cup of tea.
Out of all the Rhino/Elektra remasters, Relayer is one of the best packaged. The version I purchased came in an LP-esque mini cardboard sleeve, which unlike some other mini-sleeves, actually fits in a standard CD rack. Inside is a great little booklet you can take out, with some nice photos of the Relayer-era lineup and a description of how each track was made, including quotes from the band members.
You get three bonus tracks, two single edits ("Soon" and "Sound Chaser"). It's nice to have "Soon" as a seperate track, rather than wear out your fast forward (or rewind) button on your CD player if you're not in the mood for the sonic war beforehand. The studio run-through of Gates of Delerium is a lot rawer, looser and guitar based than the official studio version. It's a great insight into where Yes were at, at the time. For instance, it seems when this was recorded, Patrick Moraz was yet to find his place in the band, there's nowhere near as much keyboard work on the run-through.
Yes fans should get this for "Gates of Delirium" and the great artwork. Newcomers to Yes might want to start on something a bit more accessible, like the Yes Album, or Close to the Edge, if they want a more prog taste of the band straight up.
By the time the 1970s rolled around, times were turbulently changing and so was the music. Read more