After the legendary sessions of Relayer, the band elected to take some decompression time to release solo works. Every member produced an album that, in many ways, thrilled the fans of YES. It was like getting five perspectives of the band. And depending on where you stood with the band, how deep a fan you were, you had your favorites. For many, it was Olias Of Sunhillow, the first of many solo albums from Jon Anderson.
Olias Of Sunhillow told the intricate story of Olias, along with several other characters woven in. Olias was the creator of the organic frame of The Moorglade, an ark-like space-faring ship with spread out wings designed to move the tribes to a new world. Gifted with Jon Anderson’s sense of mystical story-telling, so prevalent an art in his YES contributions, Olias Of Sunhillow was an album of such YES-like importance, it was immediately accepted as a companion album to anything YES had released. And fans were happy.
Musically, the album is instrumentally rich. As Jon Anderson’s unmistakable vocals lays out the linear story-line in song, it was easy to imagine the intended brilliance that was expected of anything by Jon Anderson.
The Audio Fidelity SACD version of Olias Of Sunhillow was an exciting announcement to fans. Mastered by Kevin Gray, the album is definitely a good experience in the SACD version. An Anderson recording is quite intricate, which the SACD remaster brings out in clarity. It’s fun to sit back, close your eyes, and let this version wash over you much as you did with the LP version when it first arrived back in 1976. To be able to let the entire album play in such clarity, with the quiet between the parts, is an experience. I personally loved listening to the opening of “Qoquag Ën Transic/Naon/Transic Tö” especially as it segues into the tribal rhythms. It is nothing short of awesome for me. Equally, the clearness of the piano parts in “Dance Of Ranyart/Olias (To Build The Moorglade)” is incredible to listen to.
I recommend the SACD version of Olias Of Sunhillow as it the current go-to of the grand album story-telling experience by Jon Anderson.
Release Date: February 04, 2014
Label: Audio Fidelity (Atlantic Records)
Availability: SACD Hybrid