CD Rock Review

Phantasmagoria Expansion for Curved Air

Title: Phantasmagoria

Label: Esoteric

An expanded two disc edition of the original Phantasmagoria album. Originally released in 1972, the album was the first to feature the line-up of Sonja Kristina (vocals, acoustic guitar), Darryl Way (violin, piano), Francis Monkman (guitar, keyboards, VCS3), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums) and new member Mike Wedgwood (bass, vocals).

This expanded two-disc edition includes three bonus tracks, unreleased versions of Marie Anotinette and Melinda (More or Less) with French and Italian lyrics respectively and the non-album single Sarah’s Concern (released on CD for the first time).

Phantasmagoria Expansion for Curved Air

Curved Air were an innovative art rock outfit, exploring prog, jazz, the avant-garde and more. There was never anything staid or predictable about Curved Air and Phantasmagoria is a fantastic album full of superb vocals, under-stated musicianship

In mastering terms, there is an interesting sheen of compression heard here, evenly applied to the general soundstage. Compressive spikes are not really evident. Upper mids and treble, for example, are not highlighted for special attention. These days, a CD production especially will be digitised and specific frequencies will be targeted for attention from the mastering engineer. The effects are akin to viewing a snail trace. I could be horribly wrong, of course, but this reissue sounds like its compression stems more from the original source. As if the original analogue stream was pushed through a compression box, en masse. Because of this, the compression is more easy dealt with. Backing off on the gain by three or four clicks on my pre-amp tamed the effects sufficiently. Once done, the music settled down nicely and the production could be thoroughly enjoyed. 

Phantasmagoria Expansion for Curved Air

Sonja Kristina Linwood (2nd from left) and fellow band members from Curved Air posed in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1972 (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot)

Full of energy, the CDs provided a busy and varied output with easily accessible detail combined with a range of beautifully translated sonic textures that never failed to entertain.

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