Roger Powell

Cosmic Furnace

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There are two ways to look at keyboardist Roger Powell's debut album, Cosmic Furnace. It is either a visionary work as one of the first rock albums recorded entirely on synthesizer, or it's a prog rock artifact for that very reason. The facts tend support the former -- it is based on the ARP synthesizer, which was uncommon for 1973 -- but the music itself tends to support the latter, since it's a bunch of spacy, vaguely spooky and mystical art-rock that functions primarily as atmosphere, not as structured compositions. Each of the six cuts establishes its mood immediately and then meanders for upward of eight minutes, never really going anywhere, but treading that same patch of ground rather effectively. In other words, it's not a lost classic -- not even for devoted fans of Powell's later group Utopia -- but for fans of synths and '70s art-rock, it's a reasonably interesting footnote to electronic rock history.

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