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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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North StarNorth Star
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$10.57
$18.35 (used)
Second AlbumSecond Album
Import
Wea Int'l 2008
Audio CD$3.66
$11.17 (used)
PhantasmagoriaPhantasmagoria
Import
REPERTOIRE 2011
Audio CD$8.90
$9.95 (used)
Air CutAir Cut
Import · Remastered
Repertoire 2006
Audio CD$8.85
$7.10 (used)
Live AtmosphereLive Atmosphere
Import
Ais 2012
Audio CD$14.98
$29.62 (used)
Best of Curved AirBest of Curved Air
Import
Repertoire 2008
Audio CD$9.79
$15.85 (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$7.99
$10.76 (used)
Lost BroadcastsLost Broadcasts
Multiple Formats · Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2011
DVD$9.88
$8.54 (used)
Air ConditioningAir Conditioning
Import
Wea Int'l 2008
Audio CD$3.66
$12.98 (used)
LiveLive
Import
Repertoire 1999
Audio CD$6.67
$4.87 (used)
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CURVED AIR shows & tickets


  • Sumers End 10 (SE X) on 26 Sep 2014

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)

3.26 | 111 ratings
Airconditioning
1970
3.61 | 127 ratings
Second Album
1971
3.83 | 147 ratings
Phantasmagoria
1972
3.68 | 100 ratings
Air Cut
1973
2.39 | 37 ratings
Midnight Wire
1975
2.38 | 31 ratings
Airborne
1976
2.61 | 27 ratings
Lovechild
1990
3.71 | 25 ratings
North Star
2014

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

3.60 | 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 | 2 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)

3.56 | 10 ratings
The Best of Curved Air
1976
3.67 | 3 ratings
Reborn
2008

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

CURVED AIR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.71 | 25 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
3.61 | 127 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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 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.71 | 25 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Hmmm ...Till now no one seems interested to write a review about this legendary band that colored the prog scene in the seventies. It's a pity also that in fact I have never written any single review about this band through out their music career through six studio albums. In principle, I actually love the music of Curved Air because it has violin component in their music which I really like it very much. You might categorize the band as prog folk or whatsoever but to me the music is captivating. North Star is the first studio album of mostly new material since the band reformed in 2008 by its constant member , Sonja Kristina, following 2008's Reborn (mostly re-recordings of material from their first five albums, with two new tracks), 2010's Retrospective (a "best-of" anthology of original recordings from 1970-1976 plus three tracks by MASK) and 2012's Live Atmosphere (live performances from 2010/11). There are basically seven new songs, plus three songs that originally appeared on the first two Curved Air albums were re-recorded, plus one from a Sonja Kristina solo album, and three covers of songs originated by other bands.

As far as my personal experience listening to this album, I have been quite impressed by their excellent musical composition of new materials plus the audio quality that resembles the seventies sound with raw sounds as its key characteristics. I am really impressed by the beautifully crafted opening track Stay Human that blends nicely the Sonja's vocal quality with violin work that maneuvers beautifully through various passages. The basic is basically something like pop or even folk music but the add-ons of violin as well as vocal have made it quite progressive in nature. In principle I enjoy the first five tracks of the album as every single song delivers its unique characteristic which is quite progressive but not quite complicated to enjoy. I don't think any music buff has problem enjoying this album, really. One special note I can put that during the song called as Interplay, the guitar solo by Kirby Gregory is truly stunning. I am really happy that the old school prog bands like Curved Air still can make an excellent composition. An excellent music, really. Puppets is actually a rerecorded version from the band's second album written collaboratively by Sonja Kristina and Darryl Way.

The sixth track Spider sounds differently than other tracks and it's an instrumental track featuring excellent combination of bass guitar, guitar as well as violin and keyboards. It's really an enjoyable track. Again the guitar solo is really stunning and it's very seventies despite new recording technology. The next track Magnetism brings back the nice voice of Sonja Kristina. The guitar solo is really stunning and vintage. The Police cover Spirits in the Material World has been rearranged beautifully to suit with Curved Air music style. It's a very nice cover, really. Also this album covers The Beatles' Across the Universe.

Overall, I think this album has been carefully crafted by the band to produce a very nice an engaging music that hooks me to have it spun from start to end. I am sure I will have some more spins later after this review. Even though Kristina is the only consistent member of the band, I think she has been successful to convince her bandmates to produce music in line with the band's style. With no single doubt at all I rate this album as an excellent addition to prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Airconditioning by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.26 | 111 ratings

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Airconditioning
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars London-based UK act Curved Air evolved from the late-60's band Sisyphus, formed by violin player Darryl Way and guitarist Francis Monkman, involving also pianist Nick Simon, drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and bassist Rob Martin.The band's manager Mark Hanau suggested to hire Sonja Kristina Linwood as their lead singer and so it became.After Sonja Kristina arrived, Simon parted ways with the band, which was now renamed to Curved Air.They were the first British band to sign with Warner Bros and their debut ''Air Conditioning'' was released in November 70'.

Although the album is far from a masterpiece, it definitely shows the (right) direction rock music was heading to around the time and additionally Curved Air were among the first British Rock bands to perform the violin as a basic instrument.Their sound was a mix of British Psych Rock with Folk Rock and strong Classical overtones coming out of Way's violin due to his classical education.While the tracks are not particularly complex, the constant use of violins, the discreet Mellotron parts and the psych guitars definitely complete an attractive Art Rock combination.The atmosphere changes from fiery and intense rockin' moments to romantic Classical-influenced instrumentals and Sonja Kristina's voice is certainly a welcome addition, having a voice that sounds both sensitive and passionate.Some tracks even contain sort of a bucolic British Folk mood due to the use of acoustic guitars and, no surprise, Darryl Way's rural performances.The long instrumental ''Vivaldi'' sounds a lot like NEW TROLLS' early works, an attempt by the group to fully capture the Classical Music aesthetics into full-blown rock music, but the result sounds a bit dated.

''Air Conditioning'' was definitely a great debut back at the time and some of its material sounds great even today.It lacks though this special touch to label it as a really astonishing work.Still this comes recommended, especially if you love the early-70's British Prog atmosphere.

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 Midnight Wire by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.39 | 37 ratings

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Midnight Wire
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 2.5 really

With this album from 1975 named Midnight wire Curved Air lost identity, this release is mediocre, but at least has some ok moments here and there. Sonya voice is ok, but in some parts is irritating like on opening track, a totaly forgetable track for sure. Copeland on drums appears here, later on The Police or Oysterhead among others. The best pieces of the album is an instrumental one named Pipe of dreams, is a nice little tune , very atmospheric with violin making some good moves. The rest of the tracks are forgetable and uninspired at best, this release sounds kinda far from what they had on first 2-3 albums, is mainly comercial with not many prog arrangements. I was never a fan of this band, I like some of their albums but nothing special to my ears.

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 Air Cut by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.68 | 100 ratings

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Air Cut
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Air cut from 1973 finds Curved Air in some drastic times, almost all the line up from previous album is gone, only Sonya remains, enter famous later Eddie Jobson, who done a great job on violin but I prefer him later on on UK for example much more. This album , musicaly speaking is almost same as Second album. With highlight Metamorphosis to many listners, but to me to tell the truth while is a good track for sure,almost do nothing to me, is ok and nothing more. The voice is almost all that counts here, where Sonya shines on every pieces, ok some good instrumental parts but far from being original or excellent. A good relase that desearves 3 stars but nothing more. Fans of Earth and Fire, Mad Curry or Babe Ruth might take some spins but I prefere these later bands more then Curved Air.

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 Second Album by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.61 | 127 ratings

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Second Album
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Curved Air was in early '70s one of the promissing prog bands from Britain, but with all that they run out of ideas pretty quikly and after 3 good albums they optain for some more commercial aproach in total contrast with fans desire to come with another albums as good as thir second release from 1971 named simply second album. This one is among their better works where the voice of Sonja Christina is all the place, but aswell the instrumental sections are more then ok. To me Curved Air music is something between dutch Earth and Fire early albums and belgian Mad Curry, both female fronted prog bands and similar in style. The forte pieces from here are the opening Young Mother, Back street luv and maybe You know, the rest are ok but nothing really special. The violin parts are good aswell. So a pleasent album, but noting really exciting like other prog albums from that period. 3 stars for sure.

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 Air Cut by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.68 | 100 ratings

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Air Cut
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Wonderful, soulful entry from the Curved ones, and despite the shakeups to sound and body, is successful at what it is: a damn good rock album. The group was progressive mostly to the extent that in 1973 almost everyone in music worth their salt was progressive, progressing, or leering enviously at those who were. One may ask if the heavier approach here was a natural extension or a forced ingredient, and I suppose we'll never know. But then that was the beauty of the Prog Age, it didn't really matter as long as it was done well.

The band doesn't miss a beat picking up their new direction, and as always the vivacious Sonja Kristina adds her remarkable wit and musicality to the compositions with feeling. Emlee Jane is the girl our mom didn't want us to hang out with (or even meet) and there is little doubt this Purple Speed Queen is trouble, helped by new members Kirby Gregory with his Jimmy Page riffs and a young Eddie Jobson's electric fiddle. Spectral folkie 'Elfin Boy' respites into Jobson's 'Metamorphosis' echoing The Who's majestic period but soon with plenty of deliberate tone and direction shifts, big requiem organs, Jim Russell's firing-squad snare, and is followed by Tiny Tim-like 'World' with Sonja's fey falsetto and Eddie's squeaky strings. Quirky, funny and very good 'U.H.F.' goes on a bit too long, hippie-pop group sounds in 'Two-Three-Two', and the record is caboosed by brilliant folkrock cautionary bit 'Easy' oozing with Kristina's smoldering gypsy sensuality and the smart arrangements of this fine team.

Earthy, sultry but sophisticated, Air Cut is a solid release by a group that could've thrown in the towel at the first sign of problems but didn't, and consequently added a winner to their catalog.

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 Airconditioning by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.26 | 111 ratings

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Airconditioning
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Curved Air's "Air Conditioning" is a stellar debut for the band that arguably boasts some of the finest musicians of the 70s prog era. The incomparable violin prowess of Darryl Way on electric violin is unmistakeable on the outro of 'It Happened Today' or the intro jig of 'Stretch'. Francis Monkman is a marvel multi instrumentalist playing scorching lead guitar, organ, piano, Mellotron, electric Harpsicord, and VCS3 synthesizer. On bass is Robert Martin and the drummer is Florian Pilkington-Miksa. One cannot write a review about a Curved Air album without mentioning the gorgeous vocals of Sonja Kristina. On this debut she makes her presence known with some excellent singing injecting just the right amount of inflection and intonation into each song.

There are nice harmonies on 'Stretch' with the catchy chorus, "this was meant for you, that was meant for me." This track is followed by 'Screw', with creative violin motifs and a brooding atmosphere backed by intense lyrics; "see the screw slowly turn around, see it sink without a sound, feel your head slip with every turn, feel the steel knob begin to burn, all is lost now it seems that way." The Hammond shimmers and distorts the sound in places which is poor quality mixing but one has to forgive this given the year this was made in 1970. Though my CD is not a remaster version. The booklet is very poor too containing just white pages and lyrics and not even any info on the band or production credits. They are all on the album cover that incidentally spells 'Mellatron' wrong. The CD cover is the same as the vinyl picture disk there is no sign of the original cover gatefold which was banned for its nude picture of the band.

There are some dull moments on this including 'Blind Man', with Sonja warbling unnecessarily, but it picks up with the memorable vivacious 'Vivaldi', the 7 and a half minute version. Of course 'Vivaldi' was a smash single for the band and rightly so with Way dazzling on violin, including a mind bending solo section. The instrumental stayed with the band throughout their chequered career and, along with 'Back Street Love' on their next album, it became a live staple. Sky did make a million recreating the track when Monkman joined that band. This original version though is incredible and the scintillating guitar of Monkman is as good as the Sky version.

Side two of the album originally began with the rocking 'Hide and Seek', featuring a heavy guitar riff and quick time sig changes. Kristina is exceptional on this and Monkman shines on the lead breaks. The many changes in feel and virtuoso musicianship make this a highlight of the band's career.

'Propositions' is ok with some great guitar playing but I could have done without the silly lyrics. 'Rob One' is a short instrumental that feels like filler, or a B side though of course Way is a marvel on violin. 'Situations' is a slow song with a more reflective Kristina, "life is not as simple as it seems, and night's the only place to keep a dream." I like the way it changes with bright keyboards and Kristina on her highest octave. The wah-wah psychedelic guitar is a welcome embellishment, along with the stirring mellotron swells.

Finally 'Vivaldi with cannons' returns to the Vivaldi tune but this time adds spiralling electronic whistles and thunderous cannon blasts for good measure. The debut for Curved Air is a real hit and miss affair, with some poor production, but it does demonstrate the virtuoso dexterity of the band and Kristina's well executed vocals. It was a beginning but better was yet to come in the next years, cementing the reputation of the band as vital to the prog scene.

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 Air Cut by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.68 | 100 ratings

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Air Cut
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Curved Air's "Air Cut" is another very solid album featuring the musicianship of Kirby Gregory's guitars and Eddie Jobson's violins, replacing Monkman and Way, though not as dextrous or ambitious as the former maestros. Of course there is no ignoring the cool, crystalline voice of Sonja Kristina who is hailed as one of the queens of prog.

The band make their presence known early with the wonderful 'The Purple Speed Queen'. Kristina is a dynamic vocalist who shines here on double tracked vocals with some potent lyrics about a girl who is warned to watch her speed taking habits or she will be in the grave; "Emlee Jane was the girl who never had time to explain, Lived her life in a whirlpool, cried if it happened to rain. She had run away from home, only thinking of herself, Mother's sick and so upset, they say she may never be well. Slow down Emlee Jane." The tragedy of the song's content is veiled within a blinding rock rhythm and some great lead guitars.

'Elfin Boy' is replete with quiet solitude with peace love hippy vibes. Beautiful dreamy vocals are mystical and peaceful. 'Metamorphosis' is a lengthy 10 minute mini epic, with gorgeous grand piano flourishes in the intro, the marching percussion and grinding organ change the feel and then augmented with Jim Russell's percussion and Mike Wedgwood's very loud bassline pumps along on a strong beat. The breaks of guitar are terrific, and time changes are excellent.

Sonja's vocals are multi layered with harmonies on 'Metamorphosis'. Lyrical images are poetic peaceful and almost feel like the feelings of Wiccan followers; "We are the children of the midnight, marching high in an icy mercury sky, We sing and our breath turns to frost, we watch and the frost melts, We hear the crazy winds that weep, we don't sleep where the minds meet, In icy mercury seas we dream and we picture the same, We dance and the worlds melt away." The piano features prominently and it is a beautiful atmosphere, very ethereal and dreamy. The Hammond that comes in strongly mid way through lifts the song up emotionally and the guitar solo is wonderful. It also takes off into a rollicking tempo towards the end and the piano ends things well.

'World' has a rockabilly feel with violin and lots of staccato piano pounding. It is fun but without the mystical dreamy feel not as good as the rest of the album.

Side 2 begins with 'Armin' with a low ominous drone that builds in intensity until an outbreak of Jobson's crazy fast violin to Gregory's great guitar riff. The music changes to an ascending and descending riff that is a fantastic sound, and the violin really takes off into a freak out solo that is absolutely wonderful to hear. The musicianship is excellent on this instrumental, one of the best uses of violin by the band showcasing Jobson's virtuosity.

'U.H.F.' is a fun quick paced song with lots of creative heavy guitar riffs. Sonja gives a sense of urgency in her vocals. It changes into a slower song with some intricate time sig changes and very well executed guitars. The song is about a broken relationship and broken communication. The lyrics are based on if he had called her up on time, he would have been on better terms, and she states that it is too late for him to make amends even by letter.

'Two-Three-Two' begins with a steady guitar, the vocals by Mike Wedgwood are okay but I missed Sonja immediately. It grows into a rocker with very heavy piano and guitar sections.

'Easy' closes the album with about 7 minutes of innovative prog. Sonja sings solemnly about letting go of our emotions in times of trial. "I'll stay with you through the night", she assures. Wedgwood sings, "I won't see you again," and in response a terrific lead break ensues. The harmonies toward the end are incredible and the overall feel is emotional focussing on the content about a break up.

This is a very good album, as were all Curved Air's earlier releases. There is enough here to show the dexterity of the band and innovation. Along with "Second Album" and "Phantasmagoria", "Air Cut" is one of the best Curved Air albums.

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