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Curved Air - Airconditioning CD (album) cover


Curved Air


Eclectic Prog

3.29 | 160 ratings

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3 stars Curved Air is a generally viewed as a forgotten footnote in progressive rock, partly because latter day members Eddie Jobson and Stewart Copeland went on to acheive great fame elsewhere. But the truth is that the core nucleus of Francis Monkman (guitar/keyboards), Darryl Way (violin) and gorgeous vocalist Sonja Kristina put out a trio of exciting albums that were notable for a number of great songs and some daring classical/rock fusion attempts.

Curved Air had its roots in West Coast acid rock and that's never more obvious that on this fascinating, albeit patchy debut album. While the massed vocals that grace Strech are remiscent of Jefferson Airplane, the abundant Way violin flourishes call to mind the lesser known It's A Beautiful Day.

The album kicks off with It Happened Today, an urgent cut with some of Monkman's best lead guitar work, with a memorable chorus and a dramatic midway switch to a mellow Darryl Way violin solo. Kristina's deep Euro soft-core porn vocals also make a lasting impression.

However the two make-or-break songs here are Vivaldi and Hide And Seek which just happen to be my favourites. Vivadi sees Way execute a classical theme at break-neck speed, while the band thrash around behind him. This eventually leads into an extravagant unaccompanied violin solo, which takes a few twists and turns before coming home to roost. Hide And Seek is just brilliant ... Monkman shines on piano and acid-drenched guitar, Kristina's vocal performance is among her most intoxicating, the ascending melody of the verses in sheer brilliance and the free-from backing that bassist Rob Martin and drummer Florian Pilkington-Missa provide the eerie chorus is also excellent.

Aside from these two essential classics, Air Conditioning has a number of enjoyable cuts. Stretch is a violin-led boogie, that really sounds like a song that Jefferson Airplane wrote, even it is actually a Way/Monkman collaboration. Screw is a despondent violin dominated track, with some great vocals from Kristina and Monkman lending a hand on organ. Proposition rides on the back of propulsive rhythms and some passionate vocals by Kristina and Way, with a ringing hypnotic guitar freak-out dominating most of the piece. Situations is a dreamier, symphonic song piece with more ethereal vocals from Kristina and more piercing guitar leads from Monkman (this time on wah-wah).

It's not all fun though. Blind Man is one that I could live without. Rob One, an unexciting composition by bassist Robert Martin, is basically a reflective violin solo over some band backing, with lyrical piano from Monkman. I also feel that Vivaldi With Cannons, which is essentially just a repetition of the theme with some semi-comical sound effects, is totally unnecessary. It is thankfully brief.

Despite its many exciting moments, I'm of the opinion that Air Conditioning is a little too acidic for prog purists to start off with. I'd advise starting with Phantasmagoria and working your way backwards. ... 62% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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