CBC 1977 / Esoteric 2013
First European release of the Canadian classic tuned into tuneful space and welcoming pleasant entropy.
Not to be mistaken for their British namesakes, this trio from Toronto have never pursued heaviness, not on the scale of fellow Ontarians SAGA and RUSH. With Nash the Slash’s electric violin and mandolin in the heart of their sound and synthesizers operated by singer Cameron Hawkins forming their sonic cosmos, FM pushed the boundaries in the CURVED AIR vein, and did so impressively enough for the state-owned label to offer the release of their debut. It’s easy to see why even from “Hours”, its shortest offering, where a slinky fiddle is slapped with bass and vies for room with piano and Moog, and Martin Deller delivers a tight drums solo, so it doesn’t take the epic title track to assess the band’s sweep.
The music takes one in from the opening chime of “Phasors On Stun” which unfurls into a pop song with a keyboards-drawn silver lining and is mirrored later on in the reflective, spiritual “Aldebaran”, while “One O’Clock Tomorrow” is heading in reverse, from a falsetto-shaped ditty to an atmospheric prog rock piece, high on instrumental sway and vocal harmonies. And if the streamlined “Journey” anticipates the next decades in its shiny riffs, “Slaughter In Robot Village” outlines much more cerebral approach, closer to fusion in its buzz than to sunny chart fodder. As for the aforementioned title piece, it comprises everything that’s onboard the mothership: energy, melody, poise – and the lightness to contrast its dark (subject) matter. A pity, that light didn’t put FM in the spotlight they deserve.