Esoteric [Release date: 26.01.18]
Interviewed in the booklet notes for Esoteric’s contemporaneous reissue of the bands’ 1970 debut ‘Air Conditioning’, chanteuse linchpin Sonja Kristina opined it – and this later release – to be her faves, and it’s clear why.
While the first release stood out from the crowd for its experimentalism, its harnessing of differing musical styles, its focus and – with some weight of purpose – its relative seriousness, 1973′s ‘Aircut’ is lighter and brighter; with an impish humour, it’s generally more accessible as an entertainment.
Seismic line-up change with only Kristina remaining from the debut was bound to change the band’s musical trajectory to some degree. And the genre itself was evolving, becoming more assured as new bands came onto the scene, their output taking in influences ranging from jazz to classical, brief tracks of whimsy counterpointed by extensive epics.
Sounding at times like Earth & Fire by way of Stackridge, ‘Air Cut’ featured some of the band’s most commercial and progressive compositions in ‘The Purple Speed Queen’ and twisting, senatorial ten-minute ‘Metamorphosis’, while her ‘Elfin Boy’ found Sonja nodding back to folk roots in London clubs of the 60s, her voice here sounding younger and with bell-like clarity.
While it has done the rounds before, this new edition of the album has been re-mastered from the recently-located original master tapes for the first time (previous editions being taken from vinyl transfers) and the sound has benefited enormously in the process: crisp and clear, it’s an uplifting listening experience that does not miss a beat. The absence of bonus tracks cannot diminish the values inherent in ‘Air Cut’ (cute title, too). ****
Review by Peter Muir
Album review (Air Conditioning)
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