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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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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)

3.26 | 112 ratings
Airconditioning
1970
3.59 | 130 ratings
Second Album
1971
3.84 | 149 ratings
Phantasmagoria
1972
3.68 | 102 ratings
Air Cut
1973
2.40 | 38 ratings
Midnight Wire
1975
2.38 | 32 ratings
Airborne
1976
2.60 | 29 ratings
Lovechild
1990
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 | 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)

3.57 | 11 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)

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
 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
3.59 | 130 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
3.59 | 130 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
3.47 | 37 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 | 112 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
2.40 | 38 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 | 102 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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