Curved Air

“Head in arm and hand in hand / we’ll haunt the seven seas.”

Album Year Rating
Phantasmagoria 1973 2.63/pi

Main lineup: Sonja Kristina: vocals. Francis Monkman: guitars, keyboards. Darryl Way: violin. Mike Wedgwood: bass. Florian Pilkington-Miksa: drums.

PHANTASMAGORIA

1973; Rating: 2.63/pi

Composition: ++ / Lyrics: + / Production: + / Innovation: +

  • 01 Marie Antoinette [A−]
  • 02 Melinda (More or Less) [A−]
  • 03 Not Quite the Same [A]
  • 04 Cheetah [B]
  • 05 Ultra-Vivaldi [i]
  • 06 Phantasmagoria [A]
  • 07 Whose Shoulder Are You Looking Over Anyway? [C]
  • 08 Over and Above [A]
  • 08 Once a Ghost, Always a Ghost [A−]

These guys (plus girl) missed the boat on psychedelia with the whole Lewis Carroll concept album thing. Wrong decade, tiddlywinks.

That said, the actual music here is not really psychedelic. Even the garbled, processed electronic/poetic interlude “Whose Shoulder Are You Looking Over Anyway?” isn’t exactly trippy. No, this is very much of its time, a digestion of glam and fusion and prog-rock into something decadent, silly, and unique.

The band disintegrated after this album, though they continued to exist in various altered forms for several years after, but this gloriously eccentric collection is arguably their defining statement.

This is, first and foremost a pop record—not that it’s exactly commercial-sounding, but it’s clear that its only aim is to be bouncy, theatrical fun, despite the arty trappings. There’s simply no possible way anyone could take seriously an album that has a track called “ULTRA-VIVALDI” sitting alongside a fusion-tinged ode to masturbation and a faux-mariachi tune about turning into a ghost so you can haunt your enemies. (Incidentally, was Sonja Kristina the first woman ever to record a song about masturbation? I can’t think of any other rivals for that ‘honor’. Wouldn’t it be a cool thing to be able to put on your resumé, though?)

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