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Curved Air

Curved Space & Infinity: The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 2

Review by G. W. Hill
This new release takes two Curved Air spin off albums and puts them out under the Curved Air heading. Both discs have different lineups. They are both instrumental. Both have a lot of space music in the mix. Yet there is fusion, electronic prog and more built into this. It's a cool set of sounds, really.
Track by Track Review
Disc 1 - Curved Space

                         
Towards Tomorrow

This comes in very gradually with a space vibe at play. It works out to some driving harder rock, but is still quite space oriented as it drives forward.

Sea of Tranquillity
Still thoroughly built on space music, this is a mellower cut that has a real psychedelic vibe to it. This never really rises up toward rocking territory, instead existing, suitably, in more tranquil space.
Baghdad Cafe / Return to Calvary / Towards Infinity
This comes in mellow, but marches forward into hard edged, world music laced, space rock. There are things here that make me think of Hawkwind. After a while it drifts more towards a real psychedelic vibe. Echoey, trippy stuff ensues later in the piece. It gets quite echoey as it continues. This song is over 14 and a half minutes in length, making it the longest on this first disc (by just a little).
Sol y Sombra
A bit more on the rocking side, this has a driving kind of sound to it. There are definite elements of world music at play. The guitar that screams over the top of this is classy stuff.
Harp Riff
This rocking riff is improved space music at its best. There aren't any big changes, just a killer driving jam.
Free Tibet
Coming in tentatively, this quickly drives out to hard rocking stuff from there. It gets rather heavy and crunchy as it drives forward at times.
Blue Yonder Blues
Perhaps the most mainstream rocking prog of the set is heard on this cut. It's melodic, but still driving and space oriented. There is a mellow drop back at the end of this.
Playin' Away
Freeform rocking stuff, driven with space and prog, is the idea here. It gets some other cool stuff before it ends.
Rose
This comes in with a very electronic feeling cut. It turns more toward rocking territory later, but that same electronic element drives it at the background. There is some killer guitar soloing later, too. This cut is the second longest piece on this first disc, coming in at a little over 14 minutes in length. The electronic sound is the last thing heard here.
Disc 2 - Infinity
                    

Elevation

This has a rather fusion feel to it as it comes out and starts working forward. As it works beyond the introduction eventually, it drops way down to a mellower movement. That section has some world music along with fusion built into it. It works toward some more straightforward guitar rock as the cut continues. Still, it's very much a fusion piece. We're taken in some differing directions as this continues. There are some great moments for sure.

Labyrinth
Keyboards start this in mellow ways. After a while it works out to more of a rocking groove. Still, mellower keyboard based fusion drives a lot of this piece. The keyboards take on a space rock groove mid-track that holds it for a long time. Some funky guitar enters to move the piece in new directions from there. It settles down near the end to eventually take it out in style.
Expansions
Mellower atmospheric explorations open this with space elements driving it. Percussion and some intriguing melodic elements are heard as this works gradually forward. It's still a spacey cut in a lot of ways, but some guitar eventually rises up to create lines of sound. This makes me think of Tangerine Dream to a large degree. There are some jazzy things at play at times along this road. More spacey jamming with a driving rhythm section emerges later. There is some fusion built into later portions of this.
Aphelion
This comes in mellow and a bit on the sparse side. There is some great bass playing her for sure. It gets into harder rocking stuff as it moves forward. I would say that the mix is very much a space rock turned fusion one. It drops down to just percussion mid-track and then gradually comes back out from there. The piece continues to evolve and even gets into something that's mildly King Crimson like at points. There is some soaring rock guitar near the end of the piece, too.
Megalith
Starting fairly mellow, this launches out into some killer fusion as it works forward. It's quite exploratory as it works through various sections. This has parts that are more classically oriented in some ways with world music driving them. There are funky things. Space rock again is on hand. Overall, the best description is fusion, but that's not completely all encompassing. This really does move and evolve as it continues. Different instruments take command at different points. Different parts of this drive in really rocking fashion. Others counter in getting very mellow.
Celestial Dance
This is the longest piece on either CD, coming in at a whopping 16 and a half minutes plus. It starts very mellow and atmospheric and gradually moves forward from that basis. It is definitely a little strange as the spacey elements are driven by a pounding drum. Weird electronics and atmospherics over a more driving backdrop makes up the main element of this piece, though. In a lot of ways this is more consistent and less dynamic than the other compositions. Sure, it changes and grows. It just does so in subtler ways. Near the end it does shift toward more rocking stuff for a short time, though. From there they drop it way down to take it to the close.
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