Due to the amount of readers on Yes-related articles, I chose to print this one ahead of two long articles about Sweet and ELO in the same issue. Readers are king! Enjoy!
`Flying Saucers landed on my turntable`
– Exotic musician`s amazing claim
Patrick Moraz has dreamed a great dream. Soothsayer Steve Clarke doesn`t like the sound of it.
“What did you think of the album, by the way?” enquires this sweet-tempered European called Patrick Moraz – he of those perfectly (too perfectly?) contoured Latin features.
Yikes! – the question I was most dreading. And own up, Patrick, there`s no bloomin` “by the way” about it. He`s been itching to ask me that question right from the moment his housekeeper ushered me into the Moraz pad, a third floor job on the Bayswater/Notting Hill Gate border, just a nose away from colleague Jon Anderson`s own villa in the Gate itself.
The pad`s spacious, well-furnished in a lived-in way, and positively reeks of coffee. I`m sitting in, rather than on, a comfy sofa in the lounge. Nearby there`s a hi-fi set, on the turn-table of which squats Moraz`s pride and joy, his first solo album, “I”.
That`s right, “I”. Not “I Ro” or “U Roy” but just “I”.
There are reasons why Patrick called this piece of now dormant vinyl “I”, and he`ll be glad to tell you all about them a little later on.
There`s also a whopping great grand piano in the room, and a couple of pairs of cans (headphones to you), and assorted tapes scattered on the floor.
The Man is a little overdressed considering it`s just turned noon and this is, afterall, His Pad. He wears a lot of leather, semi-denimed white leather pants, white boots and black leather jacket. There`s a cluster of heavy jewellery around his neck, and the Moraz wrists are not naked either.
The first time I met Patrick I was struck by his charming, courteous manner. Today is no exception, and rather than going for a quick `In and Out` interview, Moraz insists that I relax and take it easy. He asks me how I`ve been, organises some coffee, shows me some photographs he took of Chick Corea`s band when they visited Chez Moraz. He tells me there`s some projected plans for a joint-keyboard album which would feature himself, Corea and Herbie Hancock.
Time passes, the coffee is brought, Moraz really looking the part as he re-enters the room, tray in hand.
But to business. I ask a fairly unprovocative question about whether the rapid succession of Yes solo album releases is damaging to sales.
No, that doesn`t bother him. “We don`t do albums for sales,” he says with a knowing laugh. “The sales are record company business. Of course it`d have been better if the releases were more spaced. But as long as the record is out, I think whoever is interested…” the sentence fades.
And then, the Big Question, “By the way…”
That`s where you came in.
Moraz joined Yes midway through `74 and his playing has beefed up the band`s live performances no end. It`s been claimed that Moraz is a better player than either Wakeman or Emerson, and certainly Moraz doesn`t consider these two his peers, although he appreciates what they do. He has in fact jammed with Emo.
But give him players like Corea, Hancock, Oscar Peterson. For Moraz, they`re the real masters.
When it comes to Patrick`s own musical vision, outside the context of Yes, I`m not so sure. Before talking to him I`d only played side one of “I”, just once. It completely by-passed me.
To answer his question honestly and diplomatically, I tell him it confused me.
“There was so much going on.”
“Really?” he queries, coming on all concerned and earnest.
I tell him I`ll have to sit down and listen to it under more suitable conditions. He agrees.
“I think probably some of it is very instant. But did you find it confusing?”
Diversionary tactics are called for. How long did it take to record? He`s not interested in the question.
“Not long when you consider how much went into it. Have you heard it on a good system?”
“Because you could listen to it on mono – even on a cassette recorder, and I think you`d get the message, the spectrum of sounds. I mixed it at a very low volume so that really anybody can listen to it.
“It`s the first time I`ve been told it`s confusing. It surprised me, you know, but as long as it`s objective.” He uses “objective” a lot – “funky” too.
The inevitable comes. “I`d like to play it to you.”
Stylus hits vinyl, loud electronic noises emanate from the stereo speakers. Moraz becomes animated, talking his way through the album`s first side – though much of what he says is inaudible because of the loudness of the music.
We drink more coffee. It is, unsurprisingly enough, a concept album, and a cosmic concept album at that. Stall your groans. You haven`t heard half of it yet – where Moraz got the inspiration from, i.e. the story which motivated the music. The story itself is written out in flowing prose, by Patrick, on the album`s inner sleeve.
A quick precis goes like this; `I` is a building, a hotel and all who enter this building have to ascend its 900 floors (Patrick will explain about that later) and jump from the top. If, however, one discovers the key, love itself, the Big Jump is the take-off for infinity. Or something like that.
The story is, of course, an allegory for life itself. Over to you, Patrick:
“I believe so much in love,” says he, looking a shade embarrassed, “It`s so important to… It`s the message in the end.”
He tells us where he got the idea for The Story. “It came from a dream and various situations in the States when I was touring with Yes. In different hotels I was staying in, I realised a lot of situations people were in. Then I went down to South America and the story developed, more and more.
`It was a very, very strange dream which is very vivid indeed.”
Describe it. “There was the building, and going down from that building there was a bridge. Under the bridge there were some very icy waters. On the other side of the bridge there were a lot of markets with thieves and prisoners and so on. I was at the same time trying to help the people who needed help and also trying not to get conned by the crooks and thieves.
“And then I arrived at the bridge and I was taken by… it`s crazy to say this” – Moraz breaks even, looking even more sheepish – “I was taken onboard this flying saucer…”
Streuth! Must be something in the brown rice…
“It was so vivid. It appears very crazy, but it was so strong in my mind and I had that dream a long time ago.”
Well, what can I say, man.
Wakeman was never like this.
On with the show, “I chose I because it`s the ninth letter of the alphabet which is also a symbol for life and reincarnation, and love. The building is meant to have 900 floors,” he says, laughing at the seeming absurdity of it all.
“But also I found the number nine very attractive. You know, when I joined Yes I was their ninth member and I did their ninth album, and their ninth American tour. And all these nines coming at the same time… You probably think I`m talking crazy.”
You should hear Jon Anderson sometimes…
I ask him howcum all you boys in Yes think in these, er, cosmic terms?
“In fact the way we think is very natural. We don`t search for it. That kind of dream I had was very natural.”
Were you the same before mixing with the rest of Yes?
“Yes. I had communication with people who thought in that kind of bracket. When I came to South America to do the backing tracks for this album I had very cosmic relationships with people.
“They`re very influenced there. They`re very illuminated, in a way. I think South America is a very important ship of civilisation. I can`t find the right word for it. It`s a very important… How do you say when a little child is born, you put it in a…?
“When he is born and you go and walk with him?”
“Something like that. It`s a pram of civilisation and the civilisation there didn`t stay in that pram. They have a great evolution. The people are very aware and very cosmic.
“Whenever I can, I always go and live in the mountains for two or three days to get nearer to nature. I don`t attach any kind of importance to material things as such.”
Hang on, this is `76. Surely Patrick old son, you wouldn`t be able to lig about the world without…? He cuts me off, guessing my question. “No. No. No. That`s not what I mean. Beyond the needs I don`t attach much importance to material things.”
Surely “I” cost a lot of bread to produce?
“It cost more energy than it cost money,” he says typically. And I soldier on with the fact that people like drummer Andy Newmark (who appears on the album) doesn`t work for the proverbial peanuts, and that the two villas he hired in Switzerland for the duration of the recording weren`t paid for by hot air.
The question is evaded. “I`m a very economic person. As I was the album`s executive producer I watched the expenses very closely. I put an emphasis on the people participating in the album being taken care of very well. Anyway, if ever it`s money spent, it`s my money. It`s not record company money.”
As things turn out, Moraz himself doesn`t come from a wealthy family. His father was an entertainer – of just what nature Patrick never told me, although he does get to tap dance some on “I”. In fact, Moraz says his family are one of the poorest living in Switzerland, and if it hadn`t been for a Hungarian concert pianist taking the fledgling Moraz under her proverbial wing when he was just nudging his teens, he wouldn`t be where he is now.
Just delving into the man`s background a second or two, let`s say that it`s an eclectic one to be sure. On leaving his family at 17 he worked on building sites. Coming to England, he worked as a school cook and somewhere between then and now his job list takes in – and wait for this – being a male model in Hong Kong, inspecting military planes in Turkey, selling carpets, working as a photographer in Japan and Hong Kong, running an African safari, and being an import/export man.
It`s not as if Patrick Moraz has led a sheltered life.
Ah, the album. Somewhere between all this, Moraz has played me “I” in its entirety. And “different vibes,” I guess, is one way of putting it, since “I” includes everything ranging from the customary electronic wizardry, pastoral piano, more accepted rock forms, Brazilian percussion and a group of Swiss schoolkids singing an endearingly innocent theme.
While one doesn`t doubt Moraz`s sincerity for a second, my final feelings on the whole thing are (a) Moraz is putting together things which don`t belong together, (b) the vocal sections just don`t make it because the singer`s voice (John McBurnie) isn`t suitable and, (c) most importantly, Moraz is attempting to bring off something he isn`t yet capable of, and while some of the themes are attractive enough there is no over-all identity.
If only these undeniably talented players wouldn`t plunge right in at the deep end.
Still, “I” has picked up good reviews and is selling like hot cakes.
I tell him perhaps I`m not qualified to give a `valid decision` in that my knowledge of classical music is zilch. He tells me he hasn`t got much more background than I have – the point of which I don`t see, because after-all Moraz is a classically trained musician.
Not surprisingly, he says he`s trying to break the barriers, “As I`ve had the luck to be classically trained, I want to give people who haven`t had the chance to enjoy some sounds they`re probably not aware of in the context of something they are aware of.
“I`m following a movement in that respect, and my role in the music business or whatever is to give whatever I can to people. I could have done a pure, simple rock record and indulged in very simple kind of things, but there are a lot of people doing that who are very good at it – although I could do it as well cause I love to play, I love to jam, I love to communicate with people.
And finally, Yes. He says the solo albums have brought the group closer together. He describes their relationship as “very funky”. In fact as the interview comes to an end, he looks at his watch and realises he`s already late for a Yes rehearsal. The group are working on a set which will include material from all five solo albums, plus older material and new group songs.
Because of tour commitments there won`t be a Yes album until late summer at the earliest. Even Moraz thinks that would be a little too much on top of five solo elpees.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Radio Luxembourg, Frank Zappa, Sweet, Third World, Wings, Pavlov`s Dog, Hello, Joe Walsh, ELO, Wilko Johnson, Bill Evans, Michael Pinder, John Denver.
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