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Aviator : Turbulence
(Harvest - 1980)
Category : overlooked
4,33 stars

Aviator was a shortlived Funky Art Rock band comprised of Jack Lancaster (Blodwyn Pig, Soul Searchers) (*), Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull, Blodwyn Pig, Steve Hillage), John G. Perry (Caravan, Quantum Jump) and Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann's Earth Band). One look at their pedigrees was enough to understand that Aviator was something very special. Yet, their albums were completely ignored.

The first album was similar to 'Turbulence' and generally regarded (by the few people that payed attention to the band anyway) as the better of the two. Except, of course, by me. It had the same mixture of arty Rock and Pop with that sauce of Funk and "ProgRock Light". The reason why I like 'Turbulence' better, is because overall the vocal melodies on it are more memorable and because the sound is more smooth and more elaborated, which fits their style really well. Also, the absence of the saxofone is a definite plus for me. As their sound is rather round, I felt the sharp tone of a saxofone was a disturbing element.

The sound of Aviator is very distinctive. It's defined by funky drumming, a synth bass (the short bass sounds add to the funky feel), lots of attention to sonic detail (in the smart understated use of synths, effects and weird little background noises) and good vocal melodies, sung in a slightly nasal, yet melodic voice.

All tracks, including the one funked up (no, I didn't mean fucked up) Bob Dylan cover, have a personality that's undeniably their own. There's only a small percentage of bands that have an instantly recognisable style and sound and Aviator is definitely one of them. A band like that deserved more attention. But maybe the music was too arty. I think it's very accessible, but what do I know? When you're as hooked on Progressive music and related genres as I am, it becomes hard to tell what makes a given song attractive to a mainstream listener. Anyway, it's way too late to save the band, as they disbanded after 'Turbulence' (actually, the band members recorded a third album together, but that was a Lancaster solo album). But why not discover the band now? 'Turbulence' is hard to find, but if you're into Funk Rock, melodic Progressive Rock and smooth Jazz Rock, my guess is you'll find a lot to enjoy on it.


(* note = Lancaster had left the band prior to the recording of 'Turbulence', hence the absence of the sax).

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