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Ariel - A Strange Fantastic Dream CD (album) cover




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3.41 | 18 ratings

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3 stars This long-forgotten Australian art band arrived with the all the promise the early 1970s had to offer. Mike Rudd's flamboyant vocals, founding partner Bill Putt's easy right hand on bass, keyboardist John Mills and lead guitar of Tim Gaze adding their subtle colors made Ariel's debut one of the brighter and less grimly serious offerings of 1974. A cross-pollenation of Rudd&Putt's Spectrum and Sydney group Tamam Shud, their A Strange Fantastic Dream provided some fun and humor alongside complex songs and soulful performances. Recalled is Supertramp, Babe Ruth, classic Split Enz, period Yes, and Aussie mates Fraternity and though the LP is more sportive party than stoic prog, the skills of the five-piece were unmistakable.

'Jamaican Farewell' starts the ball rolling in the right direction, an easy going swinger led by Mike Rudd's infectious riff continued for mid-tempo 'No Encore' with Rudd's throaty whine, the prog emerging fully here-- John Mills' synth washes, the building rhythms and altered chords of Putt&Rudd's fine compositions. Eight minute 'Garden of the Frenzied Cortinas' is even more convincing, a house of many rooms and a lost artrock treasure featuring a very gooey extended vamp between Mills' keys and Tim Gaze's bluesy lead guitar, climaxing finally with big pageantry and Rudd's plaintive wail. And 'Chicken Sh*t' belies its title and is one of the best cuts here, leaving no doubt these guys were serious if waggish about their music.

There is also material on A Strange Fantastic Dream that is more blues-rock than art, and during the band's final incarnation in 1977 they released the ridiculous single 'Disco Dilemma' as a tongue-in-cheek response to the dance phenomenon. But overall, this one is Ariel at its prime, full of great ideas and good spirits, and should be considered by anyone with a soft spot for the lighter side of the artrock movement.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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