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

The second in an ongoing rarities series of releases from the vintage and now resurgent prog-psyche collective Curved Air, you could possibly ask the question of the two disc release, Curved Space & Infinity, when is a Curved Air album not a Curved Air album? The answer possibly being when the first disc, Curved Space, was initially released as the album Jam in 1991 by Francis Monkman. The second disc being a September 2011 session between Robert Norton and Florian Pilkington-Miksa that was then adapted further in 2014 by the guitar work of Kirby Gregory (collectively known as RFK). In fact it's only the drumming of Miksa that appears on both discs, while Curved Air's only ever present member (of their various incarnations), singer Sonja Kristina doesn't contribute to either.

However in the interesting liner notes, Monkman reveals his enthusiasm that this expanded version of Jam is now seeing the light of day under the Curved Air moniker. The spirit of the album very much coming from the live approach of expression and mood over structure and rigidity that CA partake in on stage. Two pieces are added, or as Monkman describes it, 'reinstated', into Jam, "Towards Infinity" making the two part "Baghdad Cafe/Return To Calvary" into an aural triptych, while "Rose" now closes the album out. Using a dreamy, although not always sweet-dream, outlook, these vast swathes of ideas and interjections can both sweep you up in a wash of emotion, or lose you in a sea of indulgence. If you're willing to trade that rough with the smooth, there's also a lot to engage and become deeply involved with. It's never an easy journey, but with Miksa's drums, Rob Martin's bass and Mike Gore's guitar given free rein to infuse life, or evoke fragility, it was never intended to be.

Not too surprisingly disc two, Infinity, sounds completely disconnected from the Curved Space of disc one. With the keyboards of Robert Norton and drums of Miksa the original basis of this recording, it comes across as much more structured and while not rigid, certainly pieces such as "Elevation" or "Megalith" are much less free-flowing. Although they certainly still run smoothly and with an ability to sound enigmatic. However it's the later addition of Kirby Gregory's guitar that really sets the tone and shape of this album, precise and retrained at some points, razor sharp and incisive at others. Without his interjections it would be easy to see this as backing, or even background music; his colourful additions bringing much more of a focal point.

I've found Infinity to be much the easier of these two completely separate albums brought together here to unlock and engage, and yet in terms of reward I'd suggest that Curved Space wins hands down. Neither are albums for all occasions but the clear difference between them does mean that a variety of situations are covered. Curved Air fans will find much to lose themselves in.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: CURVED SPACE
1. TOWARDS TOMORROW
2. SEA OF TRANQUILLITY
3. BAGHDAD CAFÉ / RETURN TO CALVARY / TOWARDS INFINITY
4. SOL Y SOMBRA
5. HARP RIFF
6. FREE TIBET
7. BLUE YONDER BLUES
8. PLAYIN' AWAY
9. ROSE


DISC TWO: INFINITY
1. ELEVATION
2. LABYRINTH
3. EXPANSIONS
4. APHELION
5. MEGALITH
6. CELESTIAL DANCE

Added: March 18th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Curved Space / infinity at Cherry Red
Hits: 242
Language: english

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