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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 25. 6 October 1972

Curved Air — Phantasmagoria

Curved Air — Phantasmagoria

Warner Bros.


It goes without saying that a lot of current interest in electronic music has been provoked by the increasing numbers of rock groups using electronic synthesizers people like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. It is hardly surprising that the rock world should turn on to the infinite possibilities of electronic vibrations, especially after Hendrix showed how creative and expressive some comparatively simple modifications of his guitar's output could be. However, nobody in rock is using the synthesizer as an instrument. Present use is confined to modifying the outputs of other instruments, or imitating them, or to generating special effects, which probably mirrors the relentless rush of the rock perfomer's scene, Rick Wakeman of Yes only got into synthesizers because there happened to be one lying around the studio when he needed an unusual noise. Apart from Pink Floyd, there isn't a group that is prepared to let the synthesizer go solo long enough to fabricate its own acoustic structures and patterns. On the contrary, there are groups that exploit contemporary interest in electronic music to market shit, and, I fear, Curved Air are one of these. Or perhaps they're just sadly misguided.

Curved Air are a nice enough group - their singer Sonja Kristina has an ethered haunting voice. Some of her songs, like the title track on this album are really beautiful and well-performed. However, the extensively paraded electronic tracks are disappointing. These people had access to the facilities at Electronic Music Studios (London) Ltd., manufacturers of the Synthi, and all they can offer are processings of their singer's voice, and a crass crap-up of Vivaldi, barely matching the compositional competence of the most trite air and variations.

I suspect you're thinking, Jeezuz, why all this fuss about a couple of tracks on an obscure album? Well, I've made Curved Air a scapegoat. The point is, a helluva lot of people in rock music are content to use electric technology merely as an aid, rather than relating to it and forming a symbiotic art form with it. Plunge your mind, into some Stockhausen: you might be amazed.

—Philip Alley