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Ariel - A Strange Fantastic Dream CD (album) cover




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3.41 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Officially the first Ariel release, this is really a continuation of Spectrum in both personnel - the only musician missing from the last line-up of Spectrum is Ray Arnott - and musical direction. Arnott's place at the drum stool is taken by former Tamam Shud drummer Nigel Macara, and he also brought along that band's lead guitarist, Tim Gaze. The addition of Gaze makes the biggest difference - he is unquestionably a much larger presence as lead guitarist than Mike Rudd was, and along with John Mills adoption of a full battery of keyboards, the new band has a much fuller sound and much more musical flexibility. The new band continues the direction of both Spectrum and Murtceps, finally achieving the integration of the respective commercial and progressive elements that eluded them on the joint album Testimonial. "Garden of the Frenzied Cortinas" and "Chicken Shit" are the most elaborate compositions, showing that if the band had decided to follow a more full-blown prog path they could have been world-beaters. These two are the exceptions - in general the band opt for more straight-forward song structures, but still with layers of keyboards from Mills and excellent guitar interplay. Rudd's trademark sick humour is apparent in tracks like "No Encores", "Confessions of a Psychopathic Cowpoke", "Chicken Shit", and even the love song "And If It Wasn't For You".

An excellent album that stands up well next to the Crossover Prog of the time. Unfortunately, this lineup fell apart soon after the album was released, and the subsequent incarnations of Ariel became less interesting to prog fans

sl75 | 4/5 |


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