Band: Curved Air
Band Website: www.curvedair.com
Label: Curved Air Records
Release Date: 2014
Curved Air have always been considered one of the first tier Progressive Rock bands, known for their creative female vocals, the violin and the combination of Folk and Classical influences. They released a string of six albums from 1970 through to 1976 before folding their tent. They returned in 1990 for a one off release and nothing till now. This year we see the release of North Star that in many respects carries on their trademark sound. Curved Air is currently made up of: Sonja Kristina (vocals), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Kirby Gregory (guitars), Paul Sax (violin), Robert Norton (keyboards) and Chris Harris (bass). Itís almost a little spooky how much the Curved Air of 2014 sounds like the Curved Air of 1970.
North Star features a whopping 14 tracks, a total of 75-minutes of music. On my first listen I was struck by the quirky nature of the music, until I went back and listened to the bandís early material. Never known for their long compositions Curved Air deliver up songs that are mostly in the four-minute range with only five selections approaching seven-minutes. The original influences are all there even if all the original members arenít. They were always famous for mixing a softer Folk sensibility with some Classical influences and then rocking it up. Perhaps the Folk aspect is downplayed slightly but certainly the keyboards and violin interplay recalls their earlier material, and they still know how to inject the bluesy rock riffs. All the instruments are held together by original drummer Miksaís light touch. More than anything he still has that gift of injecting an ever flowing array of complex drum patterns that take the compositions from one level to the next. While the guitar and keyboards provide plenty of interplay with the violin, the other anchor of course would be Kristinaís voice, more mature perhaps but just as fluid on the scale.
Curved Air have got to be really happy with the musical efforts on North Star. As I said at the outset, the music on display here takes everything that made the band unique back in the day and updates it with some new sounds and techniques given the different musicians. My first listen had me thinking this was perhaps an inferior musical offering, but on the contrary, the Curved Air of 2014 offers everything the old band did and more. Call me sentimental, but Iím really pleased Curved Air are back with us. North Star deserves to get the appropriate attention. Recommended.