(2014 Steven Wilson Remixes)
Relayer was the seventh studio album from Yes. It came out in 1974 and in the grand, sweeping style of how progressive rock was at the time, comprised three extended pieces, lead by the side-long “The Gates Of Delirium.” Perhaps most significant is that Relayer is the one and only studio effort from Yes to feature Patrick Moraz on keyboards. That, in itself, seems to have added to its allure. Tales From Topographic Oceans had driven Rick Wakeman away, so when Yes hired the accomplished Swiss keyboardist Moraz, who’d already proven himself a suitable successor, it was hard to pin down where exactly the music was going next. As it turns out, to its most proggy extreme.
Whereas Wakeman was known for his fluid flourishes, Moraz went for broke with an odd mixture of syncopated polyrhythms and jazz-like modulations. At 22 minutes, “The Gates Of Delirium” wastes little time in building itself into this magnificent epic on which singer Jon Anderson draws inspiration from Tolstoy's War and Peace, with an ensuing battle followed by a wave of calm, equally levitated between a swirling cacophony and oddly acute lyrics. Guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White provide the edge, while Moraz and Anderson provide the ambiance. Even alongside a heady repertoire that included the mighty “Close To The Edge,” “Starship Trooper” and “And You And I,” the abrasive, direct assault of “The Gate Of Delirium” left naysayers of Yes’ mind-numbing dominance virtually speechless, with little to fret or folly over.
“Sound Chaser” highlights Moraz’s brazen finger work on the electric piano to frightening heights, before it morphs into a melodic centrifuge of immense breadth and musicality. It’s almost like Squire's wandering bass has a mind of its own. Where ever it goes, Howe’s stinging lead seems to follow until they lock in and reel off into the ozone of no return. A meandering vocal later, and the ball is tossed back to Moraz’s electric piano before the gears shift forward, and the whole thing starts to wiggle and waggle like a runaway roller coaster. Moraz employs a variety of layers far more Emersonian than Wakemanian. Perhaps his brief run with the Nice rubbed off.
For “To Be Over,” there’s a more restrained arrangement with an orchestral, classically scented overlay. Moraz slides effortlessly in next to Howe, creating colors and tones that give the tune a rarefied, incandescent glean. Previous reissues of Relayer have had the obligatory extra edits and alternate takes, but the 2014 Deluxe Edition expands on the record’s aural possibilities with an array of high-definition stereo and surround mixes, courtesy of Steven Wilson. These mixes boast any delusions of predictability to the stratosphere, and your DVD and Blu-ray Disc players will finally get to flex their muscles. Extra live tracks, vinyl transfers, restored artwork approved by Roger Dean, and liner notes from Sid Smith round out the package. Now put it on. One spin through Relayer will make you want to go back to 1974 and experience everything you missed out on before. The trip is well worth your time.
~ Shawn Perry