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 As such – that is, as a historical document – it's quite good, featuring detailed liner-notes.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

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Basilwink - Bipolar Bliss – Basilwink is a Milwaukee based project featuring Jeff Marcus (guitars, keyboards, bass, engineering), and Jim Bloedel (percussion, keyboards, loops and effects), and the disc at hand is their fourth...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues