Fresh Aire V: A Masterpiece
Ashurra | Kirkland, WA United States | 07/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fresh Aire V comes out swinging. V sees the group fresh and excited about its new direction: Namely, the use of full orchestra and choir. The first four sounded like a quartet of guys and (occasionally) an ensemble of strings. Here, it feels as if Davis has adopted his own "Wall of Sound" approach (Spector, Beatles producer.) Escape from the Atmosphere, (with its choral intro Lumen) is a 10+ minute epic musical collage that mixes in old themes with their new sound. Its lively and exciting. And Davis never sounded so good on percussion. This is simply the best Fresh Aire album ever made. It is wildly ambitious, especially when compared to the modest changes in sound that Fresh Aire 4 attempted. It's also very thematically focused, much more so than any other album up to this date. Both of these things make Fresh Aire V a turning point in the Fresh Aire series, as Davis moved towards larger, orchestral sound and continually dismissed the olde-world rock sound. But unlike subsequent albums (excepting, of course, the equally brilliant Christmas 1984), V didn't completely forgo the coupling of old-world instruments with synth textures. Best of all, on V Davis maintains his genius sense of melody. All of these elements combine to make Fresh Aire V the masterpiece of the series.At times they use some dated synth effects. Also Davis rehashes more Fresh Aire II themes on this album than any other one, (and he REALLY likes his FAII themes.) But overall, it shows off a group at the height of their powers. It's an essential album."