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Hawkwind - Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.45 | 176 ratings

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3 stars First studio album featuring Robert Calvert as the lead singer, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" marks the beginning of HAWKWIND's "punk" era, or Calvert-years, until 1979. Lemmy Kilmister has now left the band, the line-up has a bit changed and so do the music. Less stoner and spacey than usual, Brock and co. tries different styles here, like funk and pop. The result is quite heterogeneous and the quality, uneven. Robert Calvert wrote most lyrics and is present on every songs, except "Kadu Flyer" featuring Nik Turner on vocals.

The strange title and cover is in fact a reference to american science-fiction magazines from the 40's and the 50's: "Astounding Science Fiction" and "Amazing Stories", which may have influenced the band members during their youth.

The musical change can be heard from the first seconds. "Reefer Madness" is a catchy space pop opener, driven by guitar and piano. The best, but also the only truly remarkable song of this opus. The longest track of the record, "Steppenwolf", is rather average and flat. It however contains a nice middle-eastern pause in its middle part. "City Of Lagoons" is a kind of slow space keyboards funk. Not very typical of HAWKWIND, but pleasant.

To continue in the field of strange, the short "The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon" is a bizarre jazz piece driven by synthesizer and bass. One of the least interesting passage of the disc, too repetitive.The least spacey track, "Kerb Crawler", is some sort of energic hard rock'n'roll with a touch of saxophone. Nice but a bit out of place. Then comes "Kadu Flyer", an odd melting pot of keyboards, synthesizers, egyptian flute and even a sitar. With its unusual melody, this song tends to become a little boring. The cool ender "Chronoglide Skyway" consists mainly in a nice long trippy guitar solo.

Very different from their previous records, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" is a strange and barely understandable mixture of various styles. The band wants to evolve and therefore is trying new directions. However, I'm not sure we can talk about a transitional album, as the next opuses will abandon the jazz/funk experiments and be more focused and spacey.

Not very astounding nor amazing, this disc is one of the most heterogeneous and bizarre HAWKWIND albums, as well as one of their weakest from the late 70's. Do not expect a cosmic trip to the stars aboard a galactic war spaceship here. But, although uneven and not as great as its predecessors, the overall result is nonetheless enjoyable.

Modrigue | 3/5 |


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