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Nik Turner - Nik Turner's Sphynx: Xitintoday CD (album) cover


Nik Turner


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.05 | 32 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars By 1978 Hawkwind was flying high along a turbulent commercial jet-stream behind Robert Calvert and Charisma Records, but with the band's roster and even its name in uneasy flux (Hawkwind, Hawklords, take your pick). All of which made this offshoot project from erstwhile sax man and flautist Nik Turner entirely unexpected, and still mysterious a full generation later.

Turner's passion was Egyptology, a not-uncommon obsession in the 1970's (the young PETER HAMMILL also flirted with Nile River mythology, in the early VDGG song "Boat of Millions of Years"). But nobody captured its arcane essence better than this, and Turner's first album survives today as a near-masterpiece of Space Rock, albeit drawn from the abyss of Time, not Space, and hardly Rock 'n' Roll at all.

You can almost hear the dust of eons in the lonely echoes of his moody flute playing, and with good reason. While on holiday in Egypt, Turner was allowed access to the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza, where he recorded three hours of contemplative arabesques to an audience of Fourth Dynasty ghosts. Only later was an album assembled around his taped solos, but the final product is remarkably seamless, with an organic authenticity only a four thousand-year old recording studio can provide.

Even with a long guest roster the sound is almost minimalist, at times resembling an unmixed Hawkwind session stripped of all its other backing tracks. Something like rock music finally appears in the latter half of the album, with actual singing instead of the ritual, rhythmic chanting from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. At its best you might discern a likeness to classic GONG, thanks to contributions from Mike Howlett, Tim Blake, and guitarist Steve Hillage, who also produced the effort, no doubt with a kindred interest in Turner's antique mysticism.

If the Michael Moorcock declamations were your favorite part of Hawkwind's "Space Ritual", here's an ideal album for you. Don't expect to spin it often, but in the right mood and at the right time (perhaps when the star of Sothis appears in the east, and the fertile Nile begins to rise again) the effect can be magical.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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