(All Album Reviews by Chad)
There have been a few albums I could have easily dismissed had I only given them one listen. Pink Floyd’s More, Jethro Tull’s Benefit, Genesis’ Trespass and Curved Air’s Phantasmagoria. Perhaps it is the softer, almost pastoral feel of these albums, although all have some rockers, that didn’t initially grab me.
Phantasmagoria is Curved Air’s 3rd album and final with the original line-up although there have been a few reunions through the years. While it is not the most complex music there is, it should appeal to some prog fans nonetheless. There is quite a mix of styles here and each member has their chance to shine. The album opens up with Sonja Kristina’s haunting vocal delivery on “Marie Antoinette”. “Melinda (More or Less)” is a hippie type folk tune about Kristina’s mescaline addicted friend. Daryl Way shows he is one of the genres leading electric violinists with “Cheetah”, a piece that could nearly pass for Paganini. There is a continuation of the “Vivaldi” pieces from their debut album here, Francis Monkman’s “Ultra Vivaldi”. His synth work here reminds me of that from “A Clockwork Orange”.
Then, there is the multi sectioned “Phantasmagoria”, which was inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem of the same name. On “Whose Shoulder Are You Looking Over Anyway” Kristina recites part of the Carroll poem while the VCS3 synthesizer alters her voice, something already done to Gordon Haskell’s voice on “Happy Family” from King Crimson’s album Lizard. The most complex song here is “Over and Above”, which has some outstanding bass work by Mike Hedgewood.
The album ends on a light note with “Once a Ghost, Always a Ghost”. There are a lot of horns and vibes and all around silliness here. This is a good place to start your Curved Air collection. I‘d rate it a B overall, recommended.