Top critical review
18 people found this helpful
A most curious mixture of everything
on 29 August 2005
Curved Air's difficult third album, mostly recorded at Air Studios, divides and unites fans in equal measure. The reviewers so far have pretty accurately highlighted its strengths and weaknesses. Always, and I mean always, the contribution of newcomer Mike Wedgwood and drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa is underestimated: Mike's dextrous bass and immaculate vocal harmonies, with Florian's sparse and beautifully accurate drumming, are about the only consistency in the whole record.
Sonja Kristina's two main songs, Marie Antoinette and Melinda More or Less, are both good, the former being more like the "old" Curved Air, the latter really being a "folk" song that she could carry off well with just an acoustic guitar (which she plays very well indeed, by the way) if needs be. "Never quite the same", a curiously tastless song about masturbation, has a lovely orchestral introduction but is uninteresting after that (apart from Wedgwood's running bass) and "Once a Ghost" is really just a filler. Francis Monkman's long piece that takes up a lot of side two is musically complex and very well played (fantastic drummimg from the consistent Florian Pilkington Miksa) - but, again, is it interesting enough? Darryl Way's violin piece "Cheetah" is quite stirring but is, again, not hugely interesting. The "Ultra Vivaldi" sequenced piece could either be mantra-like attractive or maddening. Most find it maddening.
Nobody for a second questions the musical ability of these people and if they appeared nowadays it would be like the Second Coming. But on this album they seemed to struggle too hard to break new ground and to inject a jazz/classical paste into a mould that would not readily take it.There was also too much fiddling with electronic toys and Vocoder precursors. It's boring. After this, only Sonja and Mike were left and they produced one of the best, most under-rated and nelected albums of all times, Air Cut - but that's another story.
My advice? It spans the whole star rating from one star to five stars with moments of real excellence peppered with moments of mediocrity and/or poor taste. Still about 40 times better than 9/10s of the competition and for that reason alone worth a listen - and worth buying. I just wish these top-flight musicians could have left a real diamond before they went their separate ways.