Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: Curved Air - The Albums 1970-1973

  1. #1
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    southern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    3,800

    Curved Air - The Albums 1970-1973

    I know most fans here will already have these, but there's a nice little CD box coming out at the end of the month from Esoteric that compiles the four best Curved Air albums. I'm a big fan of the band, and I like these Esoteric sets a lot as well. Mostly I think this is a good chance for newer fans to discover the band, but for anyone else interested, my review is up:

    https://www.velvetthunder.co.uk/curv...1973-esoteric/
    Interviewer of reprobate ne'er-do-well musicians of the long-haired rock n' roll persuasion at: www.velvetthunder.co.uk

  2. #2
    The boxes Esoteric put out are usually a good deal. I've got quite a few of them: PFM's Cook and BBC sessions, Atomic Rooster's complete '70s albums, Soft Machine's Harvest albums, The Fall (though that is Cherry Red).

    I recently picked up the Manticore PFM box. Figured it was a good way to get Photos of Ghosts, World and the (hopefully) sonically improved Jet Lag (I already have the two-disc version of Chocolate Kings that Esoteric put out).

    Esoteric stuff goes OOP pretty quick. I'm glad I didn't miss out on the individual Curved Air reissues, but the box is, as you note, a good chance to grab these excellent albums. I missed out on the Flash and Camel reissues; I'd certainly welcome an Esoteric box for either band.
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    3,433
    Do the Esoteric remasters sound better than previous releases of the albums? I never thought the original CDs of the first three sounded that great, but I also don't know what they sounded like on record.

  4. #4
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    13,057
    Nice review! PE strikes on my wallet again!!!
    What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it brings forth a sound.

  5. #5
    I have their CDs already and their first 5 on vinyl as well, don't really feel to buy them again.

  6. #6
    Good, sometimes great stuff which was intended for vinyl. Particularly Second Album and Phantasmagoria should be much higher regarded. They were an original and briefly even visionary group.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    3,433
    The first two albums were my favourite. I love the simmering, slightly uneasy mood on things like 'Screw' and 'Puppets'. 'It Happened Today' is another favourite, with that very dramatic sound.

    I think the fourth album Air Cut was probably a step down, more conventionally 'rock'. But it still had some great things. In particular, 'Metamorphosis' is a highlight, with that long piano section in the middle from the then-very-young Eddie Jobson. 'Elfin Boy' is another strong track on it.

    I have not heard anything they did after that. But I've heard odds and ends of what some band members did later. Francis Monkman's tracks within Sky are the highlights of their oeuvre, IMHO, especially the complex 'FIFO'.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    The first two albums were my favourite. I love the simmering, slightly uneasy mood on things like 'Screw' and 'Puppets'. 'It Happened Today' is another favourite, with that very dramatic sound.

    I think the fourth album Air Cut was probably a step down, more conventionally 'rock'. But it still had some great things. In particular, 'Metamorphosis' is a highlight, with that long piano section in the middle from the then-very-young Eddie Jobson. 'Elfin Boy' is another strong track on it.

    I have not heard anything they did after that. But I've heard odds and ends of what some band members did later. Francis Monkman's tracks within Sky are the highlights of their oeuvre, IMHO, especially the complex 'FIFO'.
    Sky really lost something after the departure of Francis Monkman.

  9. #9
    Killer band! Sonja is one of my fave female vocalists, her voice is crystal, no mannerisms or exaggerations in her singing.

    It's a very close race for me between the second and third albums, depending on the mood.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    Killer band! Sonja is one of my fave female vocalists, her voice is crystal, no mannerisms or exaggerations in her singing.

    It's a very close race for me between the second and third albums, depending on the mood.
    I think their third album has some quite experimental tracks.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Good, sometimes great stuff which was intended for vinyl. Particularly Second Album and Phantasmagoria should be much higher regarded. They were an original and briefly even visionary group.
    Phantasmagoria is something of an unheralded classic. I agree with Renate that there was some really radical stuff on that album, particularly on Side 2 (the one track that is comprised of computerized descontructions of Sonja’s voice, for example), that was way ahead of their contemporaries.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    I think the fourth album Air Cut was probably a step down, more conventionally 'rock'. But it still had some great things. In particular, 'Metamorphosis' is a highlight, with that long piano section in the middle from the then-very-young Eddie Jobson. 'Elfin Boy' is another strong track on it.
    “Metamorphosis” is a classic for sure, but the rest of Air Cut, as you say, is notably a step down from what came before. Better than it has any right to be, considering it was clearly Sonja struggling to keep the band together at all costs.

    I have not heard anything they did after that.
    Airborne is worth it, largely for “Moonshine,” their final farewell to epic prog. You can skip Midnight Wire and Moonchild entirely, though (the latter isn’t even a proper album, just a bunch of half-baked demos from the Air Cut lineup).

    But I've heard odds and ends of what some band members did later. Francis Monkman's tracks within Sky are the highlights of their oeuvre, IMHO, especially the complex 'FIFO'.
    Those first two Sky records are definitely worthwhile. The second one is a little overstuffed, but as you say the “FIFO” suite is a band highlight (as is “Where Opposites Meet” off the first album). I’ve only heard snippets from later albums, but nothing grabbed me.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    I think their third album has some quite experimental tracks.
    True. Side B is quite advanced in terms of innovation and experimentation. It also includes the gorgeous epic Over and Above, the brass passages there are simply astonishing.

    They combined brilliant songwriting with the more progressive, complex stuff in a very balanced way.

  13. #13
    ^ Grand works like "Over and Above" and "Piece of Mind" predate the formalist dynamic of something like Henry Cow with Dagmar, although way more overtly bombastic if not nearly as dissonantly through-composed. From the early yet fully-fledged progressive bands in the UK, Curved Air along with Egg and Gentle Giant were by far the most 'academically' accomplished combo. And it shows.

    The YT-footage with them performing an abbreviated but still quite lengthy version of "Piece of Mind" is quite beguiling, especially in regard to the commanding presence of Sonja Kristina. Given her merits as stage actress and as a model for professional photoshoots, she's 100% comfortable before the camera even in the long instrumental sequences. Those early albums should be heard again and again, as they are impressive even by later standards of development in advanced rock music.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ Grand works like "Over and Above" and "Piece of Mind" predate the formalist dynamic of something like Henry Cow with Dagmar, although way more overtly bombastic if not nearly as dissonantly through-composed.
    I never thought of it in this way, although I remember you mentioning something similar in another thread. I will relisten soon.

    Apart from that songs like Puppets melt me. Clearly an underrated band.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    True. Side B is quite advanced in terms of innovation and experimentation. It also includes the gorgeous epic Over and Above, the brass passages there are simply astonishing.
    “Over and Above” is one of my favorite epics by anyone; a real highlight of the first generation of British prog. That orchestration is one for the ages. I agree that it might have the best brass arrangement in all of prog. And Frank Ricotti’s mallet work is, as always, exquisite (see also: Sally Oldfield’s Water Bearer).
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    songs like Puppets melt me.
    "Puppets", with its skewed harmonic chord progressions, the layered static rhythm and that sparse, loungy backing of piano and mellotron - could easily have appeared on an imaginary second album by The United States of America. It's avantgarde-pop anno 1970/71 and such essentially progressive before the reductionist traction of the term. As is "Everdance" (that bouncy drumming!) or the almost burlesque aura of "Bright Summer's Day '68".
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  17. #17
    Early Curved Air kind of struck me as a U.K. answer to the United States of America, minus the controversy. Both acts featured members with a conservatory background with real avant-garde cred, an instrumentation featuring early synthesizers and electric violin, and were both fronted by charismatic female vocalists.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  18. #18
    ^ Very much so indeed. And Curved Air too applied electronic technology both as compositional tool and strategy, for instance on side 2 of Phantasmagoria. Their obvious experimentalist acumen remains somewhat undercommunicated, though - ironically also with "prog" enthusiasts.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ Very much so indeed. And Curved Air too applied electronic technology both as compositional tool and strategy, for instance on side 2 of Phantasmagoria. Their obvious experimentalist acumen remains somewhat undercommunicated, though - ironically also with "prog" enthusiasts.
    You're right. I can remember having heard the United States of America once at a friends house. Can't remember how it sounded.

  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    3,433
    I'd never thought of the comparison before, but I suppose there is something in it. The United States Of America are more 'electronic' though. That was definitely a part of Curved Air's arsenal but not an especially dominant one IMHO. I'd say Darryl Way's violin was their main musical 'calling card'.

    From this era, there's also White Noise's An Electric Storm (a UK project borne out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop), but that's more avant garde still.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ Grand works like "Over and Above" and "Piece of Mind"
    At first for some reason when you wrote "Peace of mind" I had the song by Family playing in my head,
    Took me a few minutes to realize it was not Curved Air, but wouldn't it make a great cover for them?

  22. #22
    ^ "Piece of Mind" - it's a wordplay, as they say!

    The title was supposedly meant as an external comment on the framework of its composition. At 12:52 it was one of the most fervulently intricate "epics" recorded by a British rock group at that point (summer '71), in that all voicings and details of arrangement were indeed written down as sheet music by Monkman himself. You can also hear in the edits and cuts of production that the thing probably was half-a-nightmare to get through a studio as intended. I think it's an absolutely beautiful, sometimes close to surreal voyage in differing and sometimes contrasting moods and textures. It may sound a bit immature or even disjointed in places, but as with the equally early yet even more ferociously challenging "Long Piece no.3" by Egg, the challenge of aspiration-vs.-ambition makes for much of its success.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  23. #23
    It's funny how much the moog solo in Young Mother - starting at 3.10 of the song - reminds me of another moog solo in Kansas' Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman (starting at 4min40 sec). With all the violin there seems to be more than one connection between the bands - I would say with certainty that Livgren was well aware of Curved Air, and influenced by their music.

  24. #24
    Huge Curved Air fan. I recommend picking up Live Under The Bridge, Airwaves, and The Second British Rock Meeting 1972. Also, their last studio album, Northstar is
    excellent. I saw a recent interview with Sonja where she said they will be recording another album, which is exciting news.

  25. #25
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Austin Texas
    Posts
    335
    I have these four albums on CD. I like the second and third albums best, though the first and fourth have some great tracks, too. My copy of the first album doesn't sound fantastic, so the idea of having remasters from the original masters is tempting. Agree about the United States of America comparison, I had thought that before reading the comments here.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •