Exposé Online banner

Fantasy — Vivariatum
(Audio Archives ACD 004, 1976/1994, CD)

by Mike Ohman, Published 1995-11-01

Vivariatum Cover art

Fantasy are probably best known for their 1973 debut, Paint a Picture, a song-orientated but strikingly beautiful and melodic classic of British progressive. More recently, Audio Archives released Beyond the Beyond, a complete album made in 1974, but tucked away in the vaults at Polydor until its release by AA. Vivariatum is what's left, and at times it amounts to scraping the bottom of the barrel. The music on Vivariatum draws primarily on two basic sources. The first is an acetate dating from 1970 by a group called Chapel Hill, featuring only keyboardist David Metcalfe and bassist David Read from the Paint a Picture lineup. These tracks are characterized by a grungy psychedelic sound featuring dirty guitars, tacky Farfisa organ, and horrible vocals. Not unlike some of the harder rock on the Vertigo label at the time, but not necessarily any good. Apparently, the seven-minute "Afterthought" was remade on Beyond the Beyond, nearly impossible to believe, as it doesn't even sound like the same band. The other source is a demo tape from circa 1976. This music is unquestionably much more identifiable in the Fantasy style, featuring the bittersweet, tremulous tenor of Paul Lawrence, infinitely superior to the tuneless howl of Chapel Hill vocalist Paul Petley. This music is more commercial than Paint a Picture, poppy, mostly comparable to the Moody Blues with piano instead of Mellotron. Other songs, like "Low Love," remind of a pop-oriented Camel, or Caravan circa Better by Far. Not on a par with Paint a Picture by a longshot, but a harmless diversion. Surprisingly, the sound quality of these songs are worse than those of the acetate. The tape has clearly seen better days, it's full of dropouts, and sounds as though it's acquired more than its fair share of condensation. The one exception is "I Was Once Aware," the original B-side to the "Politely Insane" single, the one track with good production values. It probably would have been better served as a bonus track on a CD reissue of Paint a Picture. One's enjoyment of this album depends on how much they liked Fantasy's prior output. Admittedly, it's clearly for collectors, and not a good introduction to the band. As such – that is, as a historical document – it's quite good, featuring detailed liner-notes. But taken alone, (i.e.: for its musical virtues) it's overstuffed with padding and remarkably low on memorable musical content.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 8, 1994 releases, 1976 recordings

Related artist(s): Fantasy

Latest news

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Magma - "Les Voix" - Concert 1992 Douarnenez – Magma's Christian Vander has decided to follow in the footsteps of Frank Zappa, Andy Latimer, and others in an effort to fight the bootleggers, and has started his own record label AKT to release...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues