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Curved Air - Phantasmagoria CD (album) cover

PHANTASMAGORIA

Curved Air

 

Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 256 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars It seems somehow contradictory to conclude both that CURVED AIR were pioneers of violin led prog rock and that their music has not aged especially well. One of the few bands of their ilk to have a legit run at the UK charts, It's not for lack of talent or innovation that they are barely mentioned anymore. While they produced 4 notable albums in their initial run, all were packed with an excess of foam peanuts at which even a foam elephant would turn up its trunk, and too few bonafide classics to defeat most one "hit" wonders in the prog world. The Monkman-Way tandem played like virtuosi and unfortunately composed like them too, and, while the arrangements are cluttered with too many at the same volume, it's unclear how much of this is due to a mixing engineer who gave his master the wrong address and quickly flashed his learner's permit in the studio security line. Don't get me started on Sonja's would be powerful voice that sounds too hypoxic to maintain a consistent level of clarity.

In spite of, or perhaps due to all these shortcomings, "Phantasmagoria" still projects the band as an unsung hero of their day. The melodies are imaginative, particularly on the first two tracks. "Melinda More or Less" hints at what CURVED AIR might have been had they actually gone folk rock, that is to say, had the impossible happened with the personnel on hand. Instead the jazzy inflections of "Over And Above" elicit fascination even as they flit capriciously from theme to theme. The xylophone and vibraphone of Monkman, the equally improvisational violin of Way, and the hired brass section string this one up on its high heels and festively explode the petard on which it precariously balances. "Once a Ghost Always a Ghost" wraps it all up in a similar vein assuring that the album live up to its name a bit too much for its own good.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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