Record Collector (magazine) (p.102) - 4 stars out of 5-- "1973's CANIS LUPUS was an adventurous debut....Ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald guested on the honorary closing cue, McDonald's 'Lament,' a unique fusion of classical and folk."
After two successful years and three seminal albums, violinist Darryl Way departed Curved Air in search of a tougher, heavier sound. Gathering a trio of little known musicians around him -- future Soft Machine guitarist John Etheridge, vocalist/bassist and future Caravan member Dek Messecar, and future Trace and Marillion drummer Ian Mosley, Darryl Way swiftly inked a deal with Decca's Deram imprint.
The band's debut, Canis Lupus, was produced by King Crimson's Ian McDonald, who also provided his own piano skills to "Chanson Sans Paroles," one of a clutch of stellar instrumentals on the set. Here the band create a series of shifting moods, incorporating classical, rock, and jazz elements into the piece. Way's swirl of genres and tension between structure and improvisation was the key to their sound and the album. Entire sections of "The Void," for example, feature arpeggios soaring above R&B, with stately almost pomp rock passages haunted by Messecar's dreamy vocals. "Isolation Waltz" dances along Messecar's potent R&B bassline, even as Way's violin solo flips the piece towards classical. "Wolf," although somewhat beholden to Cream, also slides between genres, its gypsy flair adding a wild element to a piece that gracefully plays off classical against rock and the blues. The song's powerful melody made it an obvious choice for single. It's "Cadenza," however, that is the ultimate showcase of the musicians' considerable skills, with each member taking a solo turn -- Way gets two, on violin and Moog. The number storms merrily from classical to blues, jazz to rock, and throws in some country for good measure. Way is marvelous, but his personal epiphany is found on "McDonald's Lament," which features his most emotive violin playing. With its mixture of songs and inspired instrumentals, subtle hybrid styles, strong melodies, superb musicianship, and accessibility even at its most improvisational, Canis Lupus was feted by critics and prog rock fans alike. ~ Jo-Ann Greene