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Curved Air

Phantasmagoria: Remastered & Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

This is a great new release. It includes a remastered version of the Phantasmagoria album along with some extra tracks. If that was all you got, it would be worth having. The good folks at Esoteric weren't content with that, though. They also included a DVD with seven songs filmed for television. All in all, that makes this well worth having. I should say that I'ee read some reviews where people weren't happy with the mix on this version. I can't say that I've ever heard other mixes of this, so I can't compare. However, other than the last song on the album proper and one of the bonus tracks, I thought this sounded great. Even those two songs are still listenable and more.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Marie Antoinette
A pretty mid-tempo melody opens this with a tasty texture. There is psychedelia in the mix along with prog and even some jazz elements. The vocals rise up bringing more of that psychedelic thing, and the cut continues to evolve. The more rocking section later in the piece makes me think of a proggier Jefferson Airplane. There are some spacey, trippy elements that come over the top further down the road.
Melinda (More or Less)
Pretty and folk based, this one really does remind me of the balladic side of the Airplane. It's is such a cool folk prog song. Darryl Way's violin brings something special to this.
Not Quite The Same
A fast paced number, there is so much jazz and classical music built into this. It reminds me in a lot of ways of Renaissance, but merged with that Airplane element. There is a cool trippy break that has more Airplane thing, but also makes me think of Zappa just a bit.
Cheetah
Fast paced soaring prog is on the menu here. This is such a smoking hot tune with some killer jamming built into it. There are some unusual twists and turns here. This instrumental is a real powerhouse. It ends with a growl.
Ultra-Vivaldi
Synthesizer plays Vivaldi here. That makes up this instrumental. It's a cool cut with some sped up stuff as it moves forward.
Phantasmagoria
Jazz, psychedelia and powerhouse fast paced progressive rock is on order here. It's such a great song. That means it was a great choice for title track.
Whose Shoulder Are You Looking Over Anyway?
Weird, trippy sound effects and synthesized spoken voices and more create this track. It's freaky and so cool. It's a real psychedelic freak out. It serves as the introduction to the next number.
Over And Above
Coming out of the previous piece, this works to a powerhouse symphonic prog jam that's so cool. Again I'm reminded just a bit of Rennaissance at times. There are some pretty amazing changes and instrumental moments here. At times this leans toward jazz. At other points, classical music seems to drive it. Then other things take us into psychedelic prog. Whatever you call it, though, this shifts and turns and has such powerful music at its core. It's definitely a highlight of the set.
Once A Ghost, Always A Ghost
Speaking of jazz, there is a lot of that built into this fast paced cut. It has some killer psychedelia built into it, too. There is a playful festival kind of vibe at play, as well. The recording on this seems a little muddy. That's my only complaint. It's a fun little number that works well.
Bonus Tracks
            
Sarah's Concern

Starting with a scream, this powers out into some smoking hot psychedelic rock based prog. This is fast paced and rocking. It turns toward more standard progressive rock as it continues. This one also suffers a bit from sound quality issues, too.

Marie Antoinette (French Lyrics Version)
You know what you are getting here based on the parenthetical. I really like this with the alternate lyrics. They really seem to fit it.
Melinda (More or Less) (Italian Lyrics Version)
Again, this number seems to be elevated with the alternate lyrics.
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