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Hawkwind - Hawkwind CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.37 | 264 ratings

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5 stars Look into your mind's eye - see what you can see...

On the surface, a rather average rock group who turned out the odd nifty riff tarted up with synths, spacey lyrics and a cast of thousands.

BUT the music transcends the actual notes, and you'll either scratch your head wondering what the fuss is about, or get absorbed immediately in the surprising subtleties that unfold in the deep space soundscapes.

And so it is, even with the opener, the catchy little acoustic guitar and harmonica driven number called "Hurry On Sundown" - one of Hawkwind's most enduring tracks to date. The fact that the entire song is driven by one riff belies the power in the simplicity.

The Intro to "The Reason Is" shows the "real" Hawkwind materialising, however, with a sonic soundscape par excellence replete with whooshing cymbals, tone generators and vocal "Oohs". The spiky-edged guitar sends daggers through the dark velvety cosmos of electronica, before the bass sends thick pulses of dark matter streaming past our ears. The vocalising takes on a Far-Eastern aspect, then "Be Yourself" punches through.

Columns of riff set up a dramatic air of expectation, before distorted vocals chant their urgent message. A drum pattern apparently inspired by "Saucerful of Secrets" kicks off a frenetic passage of bass and drum driven saxophone craziness courtesy of Nik Turner. Lloyd Langton then turns in a fairly average blues-based solo, as Ollis layers up the fills and Dik Dik winds up the tone generators for some great, tribal space psychedelia. Harrison winds the bass down a notch, and we slip a few gears into hyperdrive as the music rips its way into another dimension entirely, only to come to a sudden halt and recapitulation of the vocal section. You can bet your life that Hawkwind would have jammed the bejasus out of this one in a live situation.

The bass begins the paranoia, with echo-drenched guitar taking up the riff and saxophone building the layers over the ever-intensifying drums and sweeps of noise but then...

Part II begins with a new bass riff, in a style very reminiscent of Pink Floyd that rapidly takes shape as Hawkwind stamp their more aggressive and darker personalities on the music, taking it higher and higher - if I may put it like that! A brilliant excercise in minimalism, it's not clear if this is instinctive or by design - but it hardly matters, as the urgency is as intense as a rollercoaster ride, and the climb-down is demented.

Now we come up to the high-point of the album - which is a real trip. "Seeing it as You Really Are" is too good to analyse, so I shan't. Safe to say that this redefines Acid Rock in every dimension and is very nearly perfect. Flabberghasting. A revelation in two chords. Minimalism mastered. At least 10 minutes too short.

Our trip ends with "Mirror of Illusion", which contains a little too much unecessary studio trickery for my ears - under the headphones it feels like my ears enter a vacuum one at a time in places. Brock displays once again his ear for a good melody, Lloyd Langton tunrs out some neat blues licks, and all the other essential Hawkwind accoutrements make themselves felt with keen presence - some nice chordal passages on the bass, some tasty little "upside-down" patterns on the drums and, of course, Dik Dik's acute sense of timing and ambience with the electronics.

Rating this is tough - as the wide variety of existing marks shows - it probably is a masterpiece of Progressive Rock - but completely on its own terms, and not within any conventional definition of Prog Rock. It's certainly a masterpiece, and utterly unique... apart from the later Hawkwind albums ;o)

If you enjoyed this, then I cannot recommmend Twink's seminal album "Think Pink" highly enough.

A re-listen to "Seeing it as You Really Are" has helped me with that tough marking decision:

Don't believe what your ears and brain tell you. It IS a masterpiece of Prog Rock.

Certif1ed | 5/5 |


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