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CURVED AIR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Curved Air biography
CURVED AIR were formed in 1970 by Sonja Kristina (vocals), Darryl Way (violin), Francis Monkman (keyboards), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums). The group decided the name using a shortened version of Terry Riley's composition "A rainbow in curved air". In their first album "Air Conditioning", a prominent role was given to vocals and violin; the album reached number 8 in the British charts. Then, in 1971, they released "Second Album", highly recommended example of CURVED AIR sound (a mix of acoustic folk and progressive rock).

1972 was the year of "Phantasmagoria", with Mike Wedgwood as bass guitarist. After a long tourney the band fell apart and Way formed the WOLF, while CURVED AIR showed a new line-up with Eddy Jobson as violinist, but they will never reach the performance level of the early two albums. In 1973, after "Air Cut" (with a sound hard oriented), Wedgwood joined with CARAVAN and Jobson with ROXY MUSIC. The four members of the original project made the first reunion in 1975 for a tourney (album "Curved Air Live"). Afterwards Kristina and Way carried on with drummer Stewart Copeland, bassist Tony Reeves, guitarist Mick Jacques and released "Midnight Wire". Their last album was "Airborne", published in 1976. The second reunion of the four former members was in 1990 for a concert in London (album "Alive 1990"). In the same year was released an album of previously unissued tracks recorded in 1973 ("Lovechild"). Finally, in 1995, an album of BBC sessions, called "Live at BBC".

: : : Silvio Chiarioni, ITALY : : :

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Buy CURVED AIR Music


airconditioning LPairconditioning LP
Original recording
WB
Vinyl$99.98
$16.95 (used)
Best of Curved AirBest of Curved Air
Import
Repertoire 2008
Audio CD$12.79
$7.63 (used)
Midnight WireMidnight Wire
Import
Repertoire 1999
Audio CD$6.39
$4.99 (used)
Second AlbumSecond Album
Import
Wea Int'l 2008
Audio CD$3.99
$10.22 (used)
PhantasmagoriaPhantasmagoria
Import
REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$8.44
$6.57 (used)
Air CutAir Cut
Import · Remastered
Repertoire 2006
Audio CD$8.48
$5.97 (used)
North StarNorth Star
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$10.76
$16.96 (used)
AirWaves - Live At The BBC Remastered / Live At The Paris TheatreAirWaves - Live At The BBC Remastered / Live At The Paris Theatre
Cleopatra 2012
Audio CD$8.18
$6.80 (used)
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CD air conditioning ~ USD $14.50
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CD live ~ USD $14.50
CD midnight wire ~ USD $13.25
CD second album ~ USD $14.50


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CURVED AIR shows & tickets


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CURVED AIR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CURVED AIR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 112 ratings
Airconditioning
1970
3.58 | 129 ratings
Second Album
1971
3.83 | 150 ratings
Phantasmagoria
1972
3.68 | 102 ratings
Air Cut
1973
2.35 | 39 ratings
Midnight Wire
1975
2.47 | 32 ratings
Airborne
1976
2.22 | 4 ratings
Reborn
2008
3.47 | 37 ratings
North Star
2014

CURVED AIR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 45 ratings
Curved Air Live
1975
3.31 | 16 ratings
On Air - Live at the BBC
1995
3.63 | 10 ratings
Alive 1990
2000
4.00 | 3 ratings
Live Atmosphere
2012

CURVED AIR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.95 | 11 ratings
Masters From The Vaults: Curved Air
2002

CURVED AIR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 11 ratings
The Best of Curved Air
1976
2.60 | 29 ratings
Lovechild
1990

CURVED AIR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
It Happened Today
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Back Street Luv
1971
5.00 | 1 ratings
Vivaldi
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sarah's Concern
1972

CURVED AIR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Reborn by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.22 | 4 ratings

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Reborn
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Pregnant with potential, but the true rebirth of the band was still a few years in the future

In my review of Curved Air's latest studio album North Star, released this year (2014), I criticized their decision to include re-makes of older songs (and a few covers as well) in amongst the brand new, original material. The new songs on that album were all of high quality and the album as a whole would definitely have been better had they excluded the re-makes (and covers) and concentrated exclusively on the new, original material. This is especially true in light of the fact that they had already made an album of re-recorded versions of classic songs a few years earlier in Reborn. This 2008 album featured newly recorded versions of 11 songs that originally appeared on the band's first five studio albums plus two brand new songs as well as a Dance Remix that is best regarded as a "bonus" track (or perhaps as a "penalty" track if that makes sense). Note that all of these are new recordings and Reborn contains no previously released material, hence this is not a compilation.

Five of the re-recorded songs featured here originally appeared on the 1970 debut album Air Conditioning (Stretch, It Happened Today, Screw, Hide And Seek, and Vivaldi), two songs each originally came from 1971's Second Album (Back Street Luv and Young Mother) and 1972's Phantasmagoria (Marie Antoinette and Melinda (More Or Less)), and one song each originally featured on 1973's Air Cut (Elfin Boy) and 1975's Midnight Wire (the title track). The band's final album from the 70's, Airborn, is not represented by any remake. Young Mother was re-recorded once more in 2014 for the aforementioned North Star.

These new versions of old songs are not bad at all and frankly the original recordings were far from perfect. The sound quality on the original 70's albums was not very good and these songs deserved to be re-recorded. The end result is fine but also far from perfect. The drum sounds used are especially problematic and make these versions very 90's-sounding despite being created in 2008. The final track is a Dance Remix of Back Street Luv which is best avoided really.

The brand new songs are Coming Home and The Fury both of which are good songs and constitute the first new songs by Curved Air since the mid 70's. In hindsight it would probably had been better to save these two songs for inclusion on North Star and let Reborn be an album of strictly re-makes of old songs and North Star an album of exclusively new songs.

Reborn is worth having if you are a fan of Curved Air, but the real rebirth of the band had to wait until 2014 when North Star was released. Also a better place to hear newly recorded versions of many of the songs featured on Reborn is on the excellent live album Live Atmosphere released in 2012.

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 Midnight Wire by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.35 | 39 ratings

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Midnight Wire
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars A pipe dream

Midnight Wire was a definite disappointment after the excellent Air Cut from two years before. At this point the band had gone through considerable problems and you can tell that the inspiration is not what it was. With Midnight Wire Curved Air moved very markedly towards generic Rock 'N' Roll and Blues Rock territory with little or no residue of their progressive Rock origins. Personally, I prefer also the follow-up Airborne over this despite the latter being more of a streamlined Pop Rock album although with more progressive touches than can be found here. Pipe Of Dreams is a decent instrumental but nothing too special. The only track that stands up over repeated listens is the closing title track, but even that does not live up to the quality of earlier album favourites and is much inferior compared to Airborne's magnificent Moonshine.

This is easily Curved Air's weakest and least exciting studio album. Proceed with caution.

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 Airborne  by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.47 | 32 ratings

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Airborne
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A touch of moonshine!

Airborne was the final studio album that Curved Air released in the 1970's, and until last year's return with North Star almost 40 years later it was their latest. I have long been familiar with the band's first four albums, but I hadn't dug any deeper into their discography until recently. Airborne is an album very much of its time, a time as we all know that saw the first wave of progressive Rock in a gradual decline. There was an almost universal move in the genre towards more streamlined and commercial songs while still holding on to the core characteristics of classic Prog. Most of the tracks on Airborne are indeed more commercially oriented that what had gone before, but I must say that I enjoy most of them! Perhaps this is a bit of a guilty pleasure(?). And then there is Moonshine - an 11 minute plus epic that is a real gem and which alone makes the album worthwhile. In this respect it is a bit like Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman from Emerson, Lake & Palmer's notorious Love Beach album.

When listening to Airborne I am reminded of late 70's/early 80's Renaissance injected with a Babe Ruth-like energy at times as Curved Air is as always more rocking than Renaissance ever was. Even though the folky side of the band is reduced here perhaps a bit of Steeleye Span can nonetheless also be detected in the latter's more Pop Rock moods.

Overall, I find this a decent album that - even though one track stands above all the others - keeps to a fair standard most of the time. There are a couple of weak, somewhat embarrassing moments, but these are outweighed by the better moments which just barely pushes this album into three star territory.

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 Live Atmosphere by CURVED AIR album cover Live, 2012
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Live Atmosphere
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Atmospheric

Recorded during the band's 2010/2011 tour, Live Atmosphere features a set list full of Curved Air classics all of them taken from their first four albums. As such it plays a bit like a live "greatest hits" album. From the 1970 debut Air Conditioning comes Propositions, Hide And Seek, Screw, Stretch, and It Happened Today. 1971's Second Album is represented by Everdance and Back Street Luv. From 1972's Phantasmagoria comes Marie Antoinette, the title track and Melinda (More Or Less). Finally, Easy has been chosen to represent 1973's Air Cut.

The live album is bookended by two new instrumentals which respectively sets the mood and leaves a good final impression. Overall, this is a great set. If I will raise any complaints it would be that there is only a single track from Air Cut which is my favourite Curved Air album. Concentrating on what is here though, it is hard to complain about the set list. And the performances are full of energy and passion.

The line-up consists of Sonja Kristina on lead vocals, Florian Pilkington-Miksa on drums, Chris Harris on bass, Kit Morgan on guitar, Robert Norton on keyboards, and Paul Sax on violin. Together they recreate the classic songs very well indeed and given that the recording quality wasn't always the best on the band's early 70's albums, many of these songs sound better than ever before here.

A very strong live record and the ultimate source of Curved Air live.

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 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.47 | 37 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars It happened today!

North Star is the first Curved Air studio album containing new material for nearly 40 years (1990's Love Child contained material recorded in the 70's). The new songs are mostly excellent and several are every bit as good as the band's best classic material if not better! My favourite tracks include Time Games, Images And Signs, Interplay, Spider, and Magnetism. The sound is most similar to 1973's Air Cut which is my favourite Curved Air album. The violin heavy passages also remind me of the Symphonic Prog of Kansas.

After many listens I would gladly have given this album a higher rating if it wasn't for the fact that it also contains several re-makes and cover songs. Why couldn't they just have concentrated on the new songs alone? The re-recorded versions of Situations (originally from 1970's Air Conditioning), Puppets and Young Mother (both originally from 1971's Second Album) are all good, but unnecessary. The same must be said of the cover of The Beatles Across The Universe which has been done by so many others.

Other songs that have a history is Colder Than A Rose In Snow which apparently first appeared on Sonja Kristina's self- titled 1980 solo album, and the two covers Spirits In The Material World and Chasing Cars by The Police and by Snow Patrol respectively. I haven't heard any of these songs in their original versions so I cannot comment on how these versions compare to the originals, but even though I enjoy listening to them here I can't help but to feel that this album would have been better had they focused on only new material of their own. Especially as their new songs are really good I don't understand why they felt the need to include covers and re-makes of older songs. Just over 40 minutes of new music would have been enough!

Curved Air is yet another classic progressive Rock band that has returned to the stage in excellent form in recent years and thus proving that the genre is very much alive.

Recommended!

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 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.47 | 37 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars Only the 4th review of this album! CURVED AIR's halcyon days were the early 70's. Playing prog with lots of classical elements, featuring a sexy vocalist Sonja Kristina and two classically trained musicians, violinist Darryl Way and keyboardist-guitarist Francis Monkman, they were important in the British prog scene but never shared the popularity of the major acts. Gradually their albums (amidst continuous changes in the line-up) became weaker and weaker. 24 years since their preceding studio album Love Child (1990) this new release is an unexpected surprise. Surely not an object of enthusiasm and high hopes like the new YES album, but the easier it is to be positively surprised at the high level.

As all the other reviewers have rated this with four stars, I'm rounding my 3½ stars down for balance. The sound is very good (especially the violin by Paul Sax is absolutely delicious), and with as many as 14 tracks - and over 70 minutes of music! - there are many that are really enjoyable. One highlight is 'Time Games' which has an energetic fusion spirit. Also 'Magnetism' has a charming, personal identity. Some songs are recycled; 'Puppets' and 'Situations' originate from Curved Air's classic era and their new versions are good enough to justify their making. 'Spirits in the Material World' is originally by THE POLICE (from Ghost in the Machine, 1981). I personally prefer the fast-tempo original, but it's respectable how Sonja & Co. have made a notably different, much slower version. The album closes with a dreamy, beautiful version of the BEATLES classic 'Across the Universe'.

I hate to point this out but the age clearly shows in Sonja Kristina's voice. This is definitely not a problem, as the musical performance seems to come first. One of the weakest tracks to me is 'Colder Than a Rose in Snow', a serene and romantic ballad, maybe because the vocals in it are more central than on the album in general. There are some other not-so-interesting compositions, but all in all this is a very positive surprise indeed. Worth hearing for any listener of female-fronted prog with classical and fusion elements, and a must for fans of the group.

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 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.47 | 37 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars Even if Curved Air is an old and established band, "North Star" was my first encounter with it. The band recorded it's first record back in 1970 and they did six records and one live record in the seventies, one record fourteen years later 1990 and now twenty-four years later the band's eighth record is released 2014. It is a lengthy record which cover has a lot of colours with perhaps a rainbow theme and a red star in the highest place.

What's significant with Curved Air's music is the vocals of Sonja Kristina. I like them very much. They aren't musically perfect and it isn't very strong but it's very unique and warm. The vocals has a folk touch and Kristina's does sound a bit like the Swedish singer Marie Selander which I love. Of all fourteen songs eleven was more than good and five of them was very good. They come from a rich musical world with vibrating violins everywhere and a lot of great guitar solos too. The most eclectic and interesting songs are "Young mother" where the sympathic melody, violin and solo make a wonderful composition and "Images and signs" which also is noble(9/10). "Interplay", "Magnetism" and "Situations" are also fantasic pieces of music I really recommend. The whole record is full of virtuosity and warmth so I think you will like it. If you like the spirit of the psychedelic late sixties I think you will find glimpses of that too.

So the efforts of singer Sonja Kristina, drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa, guitarist Kirby Gregory, violinist Paul Sax, keyboardist Robert Norton and Chris Harris are worth praising. My rating for this album will be 3,57, which I round up to four stars.

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 Second Album by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.58 | 129 ratings

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Second Album
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''Air Conditioning'' reached no.8 in the UK albums chart in December 70', but bassist Rob Martin decided to quit before the album was cut and published.His replacement was Ian Eyre and he actually contributed a few session plays in ''Air conditioning''.But his main contribution appeared in ''Second album'' as well as in his impessive live performances.The album was recorded at Island and Morgan Studios, originally released in 1971 in UK, USA and Germany by Warner Bros with the band and Colin Caldwell being responsible for the production.The rainbow on the cover refes to Terry Riley's album ''A rainbow in curved air'', from which the band derived its name.

First coulds within the band appear for the first time, Darryl Way composed the whole first side and Francis Monkman, who wanted Curved Air to follow the fashion of long, progressive tracks, was the writer of the flipside.The five tracks on the opening side show Curved Air slowly getting way from the Classical adaptions of the debut to create more original but always ethereal music with big psychedelic and orchestral moments, dominated by Way's dreamy violin parts and Monkman's sweet piano lines.The bulk here is characterized by nice keyboard parts on synthesizers, electric and acoustic piano and melodic singing lines by Sonja Kristina, featuring also Way's irritating violin textures and obtaining a slight RENNAISANCE feel due to the tension towards ethereal and keyboard-driven arrangements.There are still some poppy moments, but there are also some grandiose orchestral moves with piano and Mellotron in the process.The flipside is a bit more adventurous with ''Everdance'' containing very dense music with scratching violin parts and a fiery rhythm section and ''Bright summer's day '68'' sounding a bit like BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and PROCOL HARUM with the combination of Classical keyboards, psychedelic guitars and emotional singing.Finally the will of Monkman passes in the 13-min. ''Piece Of mind'', which sounds more dramatic and atmospheric than anything the band produced so far, led by dual keyboard lines, full of harsichord, organ and acoustic piano, some complex twists with Classical vibrations and powerful orchestrations with Way's violin in the forefront.RENAISSANCE's comparisons are even more obvious in a track, which could be characterized as intense and cinematic.

A bit more consistent than Curved Air's debut.Orchestral Prog Rock with emphasis on keyboards, piano and violin, fronted by a talented female singer.In fashion with other groups of the time, recommended to lovers of British Progressive Rock and Classical Prog.

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 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.47 | 37 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was a pleasant surprise for 2014.

Curved Air were always lesser known prog band, perhaps second or third tier to their better known contemporaries. As it was, my first encounters were used copies of their first two albums that I found browsing at used record stores in the late 70's or early '80's.

Having subsequently picked up other albums in LP and/or CD format, that I like to varying degrees, I am really glad that Sonja decided to have another go at making a Curved Air album. What I have hear in the original material is as good as, if not better than the rest that came before. Well done cover tracks and remakes of old Curved Air songs.

I was a little disappointed to see Darryl Way not back, but he's been up to his own thing and has put out a new album this year...

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 Second Album by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.58 | 129 ratings

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Second Album
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars After a rough but promising debut, the follow-up album by British female-fronted rockers Curved Air called `Second Album' (not the most inspiring album title, or cover artwork for that matter) displayed the band attempting many styles, succeeding with all of them and slowly inching forwards to proper progressive rock in many moments throughout. In addition to leading lady Sonja Kristina's seductive voice, the stars of this line-up were later prog notables Darryl Way (on electric violin and piano) and Francis Monkman (guitar/keyboards), with each composing one side of the LP, the result an eclectic yet always accessible assortment of pieces and a hugely impressive prog-rock blowout at the end.

Opener `Young Mother' is a blur of Sonja's treated siren croons, swirling violin, 60's flavoured trumpet, loopy electronics, Florian Pilkington Miksa's rattling drumming and somber piano. Monkman's spiraling VCS 3 solo in the middle and some nice dank bass from Ian Eyre lurking in the background are real highlights. For a poppier track, hit single (and well-deserved too) `Back-Street Luv' has a nice dark undercurrent, perhaps it's the creeping relentless electric piano or the driving drumming, maybe the gothic organ or confronting lyric perfectly conveyed by Sonja's sympathetic vocal. Next up, Sonja's voice has never sounded so controlled, confident and more impressive than on the curiously titled `Jumbo', a name that holds no clues to the extravagant and lush theatrical orchestrated ballad it actually is, full of shadowy drama and glorious rises. `You Know' is a slightly repetitive dirty groover, but the fuzzy riffs and fiery jazzy guitar soloing gets it through. Most impressive of all is the experimental `Puppets', eerie Mellotron, gloomy piano and a thoughtful lyric set to a maddening metronome beat, creating a somewhat suffocating and nightmarish mood with moments of fragile beauty.

The manic and energetic `Everdance' kicks off side B with blasting Bolero rythms worked through with furious rollicking jazzy drumming, and Darryl Way's scratchy violin alongside Sonja's line `Go the the Devil and dance forever...' makes me think of that sinister Pied Piper-esque demonic minstral on the cover of Goblin's `Roller'! The brief and slightly grating `Bright Summer's Day '68 is fuelled by harpsichord and a frantic vocal, it's fun but drifts a little too close to being a cute throwaway, but I could almost imagine Roxy Music having made more of it. Then the band really flexes their prog strengths on the 13 minute `Piece of Mind' that really gives fellow female fronted prog band Renaissance a run for their money! It's overloaded with big dramatic instrumental builds, a brooding unease, stark narration, sweeping and dark classical refinement, jazzy instrumental runs and drifting spacerock. Gleeful ghostly violin, lonely piano, a malevolent and commanding vocal from Sonja conveying all sorts of wounded and breathless chanteuse charm, far away electric guitar soloing crying, and there's an eerie Van der Graaf Generator-style delirous imperial suffocating tension throughout. Phew!

While mostly not quite there yet (their next one `Phantasmagoria' was the first full signs of real greatness, with their fourth album `Air Cut' a long held personal favourite of mine), `Second Album' showed Curved Air maturing, experimenting and growing in sophistication. It's a strong little collection of varied pieces from a talented band, with some moments of incredible emerging progressive musicality that makes it a charming and confident work overall. It seems to be a little ignored by some fans due to the total prog-rock immersion that their next few albums would offer, but that's no reason to let it pass you by. What a great album!

Three and a half stars.

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