Olias of Sunhillow

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Olias of Sunhillow
Jon anderson olias of sunhillow album cover.jpg
Studio album by Jon Anderson
Released 24 July 1976[1]
Recorded 1976
Genre Progressive rock, symphonic rock, new-age, ambient
Length 44:10
Label Atlantic
Producer Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson chronology
Olias of Sunhillow
Song of Seven

Olias of Sunhillow is the debut studio album from the English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jon Anderson, released in 1976 on Atlantic Records.


Olias of Sunhillow is a progressive rock concept album which tells the story of an alien race and their journey to a new world (the story printed in the LP jacket calls it "the earth", lowercase 'e') due to a volcanic catastrophe. Olias, the title character, is the chosen architect of the glider Moorglade Mover, which will be used to fly his people to their new home. Ranyart is the navigator for the glider, and Qoquaq (pronounced 'ko-quake') is the leader who unites the four tribes of Sunhillow to partake in the exodus.

The album represented 8 months of physical work, but it took two years from conception to release. Anderson used more than a hundred tracks in putting the album together, overdubbing strings, organ, harp and percussion (see complete list of instruments further down).

Since Anderson produced Olias soon after Vangelis had auditioned to be a part of Yes, there has been widespread speculation that Vangelis contributed to the album, with some fans going so far as to say that Olias represents the kind of sound that Yes would have created if Vangelis had in fact joined the band. However, both Vangelis and Anderson have denied that they collaborated on the album.

Olias of Sunhillow is one of five solo albums released by members of Yes in 1975 and 1976, along with Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water, Steve Howe's Beginnings, Alan White's Ramshackled, and Patrick Moraz's Story of I.


Fragile by Yes

The album's concept was inspired by the cover art by Roger Dean for the 1971 Yes album Fragile, which depicts a tiny planet breaking apart and a glider escaping into space. Another link to Fragile lies in the fact that both albums have pieces (Fragile's "We Have Heaven") consisting of multiple vocal parts, with Anderson singing all of them. Anderson has stated that works by J.R.R. Tolkien and Vera Stanley Alder were also an influence, underlying the epic scope of the narrative compressed into the album.

The album sleeve features a series of artworks by the artist David Fairbrother Roe, RA (whose other work included graphics for the Isle of Wight Festival, NazarethHair of the Dog, and the Dragonflight novels of Anne McCaffrey).

The album has been re-released several times, most recently with a US CD release by Wounded Bird Records on 28 February 2006.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jon Anderson.


Side A

  1. Ocean Song
  2. Meeting (Garden of Geda)
    Sound Out the Galleon
  3. Dance of Ranyart
    Olias (To Build the Moorglade)
  4. Qoquaq Ën Transic
    Transic Tö
  5. Flight of the Moorglade

Side B

  1. Solid Space
  2. Moon Ra
    Song of Search
  3. To the Runner


  1. Ocean Song – 3:05
  2. Meeting (Garden of Geda) / Sound Out The Galleon – 3:34
  3. Dance of Ranyart / Olias (To Build The Moorglade) – 4:19
  4. Qoquaq Ën Transic / Naon / Transic Tö – 7:08
  5. Flight of the Moorglade – 3:24
  6. Solid Space – 5:21
  7. Moon Ra / Chords / Song of Search – 12:48
  8. To The Runner – 4:29


    1. Ocean Song
    2. Meeting (Garden of Geda)
      Sound Out the Galleon
    3. Dance of Ranyart
      Olias (To Build the Moorglade)
    1. Qoquaq Ën Transic
      Transic Tö
    2. Flight of the Moorglade
    1. Solid Space
    2. Moon Ra
      Song of Search (Part 1)
    1. Song of Search (Part 2)
    2. To the Runner


The album was reissued in January 2014 on SACD by Audio Fidelity.


Olias vinyl album sleeve and LP itself show track numbering.
  • Engineered by Mike Dunne
  • Brian "It's Going Now" Gaylor – electronics
  • John Martin – co-ordination, equipment, goodies
  • Mastered at RCA by Brian East
  • Recorded at Seer Green
  • Illustrated & designed by Dave Roe
  • Art direction by Hipgnosis
  • Jeff Cummings – portrait
  • Richard Manning - portrait colouring


Olias of Sunhillow is one of Anderson's most acclaimed solo works.[citation needed]

The album peaked at number 8 on the UK and number 47 in the United States.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]
Year Chart Position
1976 Billboard Pop Albums 47
1976 UK Albums Chart 8


In 2004, Jon Anderson called for collaborators to contact him via his website. He described a project that would be a "return to Olias". In 2006, around the time Olias of Sunhillow was re-released, Anderson announced that he was making a sequel called The Songs of Zamran: Son of Olias. In late 2008, he announced on his Myspace page that he was hoping to finish the sequel soon.

In a Rockline interview on 20 July 2011, Anderson was asked about the sequel. He said that he hoped to have the first bits of Zamran out in a year. In late 2012 a site was launched entitling it Zamran Experience and showing a short preview.[4] The site describes it as "an interactive audio-visual album".

In popular culture[edit]

In 2008, the song "Flight of the Moorglade" was used in the Rob and Big season 3 episode "Mini-horse Rode Trip".


  1. ^ Joel Whitburn, Joel Whitburn's top pop albums, 1955–1992, Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, ISBN 0-7935-6677-0
  2. ^ Charles Snider, The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, pg. 232, Strawberry Bricks (2008), ISBN 0-615-17566-X
  3. ^ Connolly, Dave. Album review Olias of Sunhillow at AllMusic. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  4. ^ http://www.sevendragons.org/zamran/

External links[edit]