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Hawkwind - Quark, Strangeness And Charm CD (album) cover

QUARK, STRANGENESS AND CHARM

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.68 | 215 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Space, middle-eastness and punk

3.5 stars

After the experimental and messy previous opus, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music", this seventh studio album comes as a welcomed good surprise. More focused than its predecessor, "Quark, Strangeness And Charm" shows HAWKWIND on par with its time, as the music uses elements from recent musical developments from this period: electronics, punk and more direct heavy metal. Robert Calvert wrote all the lyrics and sounds more and more like David Bowie. Furthermore, Nik Turner has now left, which results in the disappearance of wind instruments in the band's soundscape. But then... is it still HAWKWIND?

Yes! Although not the stoner psychedelia from the early 70's anymore, this late 70's album is still space rock and pre-dates the synth metallic direction that Dave Brock and co. will definitely take in the 80's. More concise, the musical style is just evolving, naturally, and the Hawks ventures into unexplored spatial territories, again.

The opener "Spirit Of The Age" will become a classic of the band. Repetitive guitars, Morse code samples, a rhythm and an ambiance similar to NEU!, this song is a trippy rock. The musical change can be perceived from this very first track: less stoner, more focused and with cleaner sound. With its electronic introduction and punchy riffs, "Damnation Alley" is one of the best tracks of the record. It can be described as a "soft space punk", with interesting changes, for example a short reggae passage. "Fable Of A Failed Race" is a floating ballade with Calvert's aerial voice. Not extraordinary, but enjoyable though. The title track is the surprisingly the worst. Quite out of place and not very typical of HAWKWIND, this tune is just a poppy rock'n'roll, a bit irritating.

On the contrary, the middle-eastern "Hassan I Sabbah" is another highlight of the disc. In the style of "Magnu", however heavier and shorter, this mystical song with arabian lyrics is a middle-eastern space metal classic! With its fast synthesizer sequence, "The Forge Of Vulcan" seems to be an extracted from a TANGERINE DREAM album! The differences are the darker tone and the hammer sound effect, coherent with the track name. "The Days Of The Underground" is a pleasant pop-punk piece, despite Robert Calvert's theatrical voice. The record finishes with "The Iron Dream", a short synthesizer electro metal ender.

Although still slightly uneven, "Quark, Strangeness And Charm" is more convincing and coherent than "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music". The songs "Spirit Of The Age", "Damnation Alley" and "Hassan I Sabbah" will often be played live at concerts. If the title track has been replaced, I may have rated this opus 4 stars.

This disc is a turning point for the band, as it displays glimpses of the future to come. Furthermore, despite the arrival of punk and the gestation of new-wave, the music is still on par with its time, proving that Brock and co. were still at the edge. HAWKWIND's most space metal album from the late 70's, and one of their bests from this period, with "25 Years On".

Modrigue | 3/5 |

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