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DISTANT HORIZONS

Hawkwind

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "...this must be space..!" and judging from the opening track "distant horizons", an upbeat space journey this will indeed be - sizzling synthesisers, soaring guitars, the sound of the surf, all you'd expect from a hawkwind album from the 90's, their 24th studio album ( a rare event in amongst all the live and compilation issues!), though overall something of a mixed box of tricks (a big improvement from their previous studio album "alien 4" which i found very disappointing). "phetamine street" crashes in with a heavy drum beat which dominates the track, with rather repetative lyrics. the sound of the waves following this come something of a relief, and fade into the beautiful "waimea canyon drive", a typical lush synthesised ambient sound that hawkwind do so well. "alchemy" is laden with synthesisers and has an amazing heavy guitar riff, very much the style of early hawkwind, and is followed by my favourite track "clouded vision", a slow doom-laden song .."what lies in store for me..?". "reptoid vision" which has a style reminiscent of late 70's style hawkwind, my least preferred song on this album, though it improves as it goes along, and drifts into "population overload", i love this , it sounds very similar to the style of ambient music on "electric tepee", it wouldn't surprise me if this was an outtake from that album. "wheels" is very much typical heavy riffing/soaring synthesised sequenced fx hawkwind music we all know and love, the next track "kauai" is an amazing orchestrated piece using layers of synthesisers, the waves drift along until the sound of mutterings and broken glass introduce "taxi for max", an instrumental which is dominated by synth/sequenced percussion and bass,and drifts into the final track "love in space" , well i assume it does, as track no.11 didn't appear on my cd player interface! i understand "love in space" had vocals added on later releases but there are no vocals on my 1997 version. overall i found this album very enjoyable, it's supposed to be rare but i often see it on ebay for several pounds. i found the sound quality of this cd ever-so-slightly veiled or even a bit muddy in places, but nevertheless well worth adding to your hawkwind/prog collection, if you enjoyed "electric tepee" an essential addition, and i say underrated in my opinion.

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#73395)
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Here we have another 1990's album for the fans of more trance oriented sound of this group. Title track "Distant Horizons" opens the album with techno-oriented electronic bass/drum sounds, which were not fitting to my personal tastes at all. There's also some samplings included making this sound that modern style even more dominant. Some nice cosmic ambient tones and good guitars delivered more pleasant listening moments for me here though. "Phetamine Street" moves to more analogue rock sounds with manual drumming and crunchy bass guitar sounds, the composition itself not being very interesting though. "Waimea Canyon Drive" starts like a bad sounding Def Leppard song from the 1980's. There's not much happening in the canyon, though the more tamer spacey moment after the middle part was quite decent to experience.

Then "Alchemy" is a very good track on this record, having oriental sounding guitar with fine rhythms and sound clips, really one of the best ones here along with later appearing "Kauai", that one being a pleasant synth sea for deep diving. I liked these as there were no programmed drum loops included, but just nice ambient floating to calm your troubled mind. The fifth track "Clouded Vision" is also a tame tune with some sound effects coloring up the aural canvas.

"Reptoid Vision" is then a streetwise punk rocker number which escapes to open sound realms later. This is a decent number, especially the ambient scene is great, but somehow not very special. "Population Overload" sounds little like late 1970's/1980's Tangerine Dream songs with fuzzy electric guitar solos included. "Wheels" has then again programmed drums with crunchy bass, and there's a poem in the middle with soundscapes. Ok song, having later a guitar solo sounding again quite like 1980's hard-rock solos. "Taxi for Max" is a good soft tune with low frequency bass over programmed drums, this could work in some chill out rooms of a techno parties. Then, a real surprise, the CD jacket text indicates that there is 11th track "Love in Space" (a pretty ballad with a denser middle part), but it was not found at all from the record I bought! I got my copy from internet auction, so it's possible that my version was a pirate or failed print. As a product it seems very well crafted, as the inner sleeves and other details are fine, but I can't be sure, I'll have to investigate this further with record dealers knowing this band. The song missing from my disc was also in the live album of same name released one year before this album, and that the true highlight of 1990's Hawkwind career I think. Sadly this and the previous studio album "Alien 4" really lack that power and magic which that live performance captured, so I suggest to forget these and focus to better albums of this unbalanced but fascinating band.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#152432)
Posted Friday, November 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
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Crossover Team
4 stars Hawkwind never ceases to amaze me, such a long and storied live and studio career, consistent with albums that are far from perfect (with the notable exception of "Warrior on the Edge of Time") and still the energy to party along at a slew of festivals (Britain's prog version of the Grateful Dead). Dave Brock is still the lead astronaut steering the mighty Hawkjet, a severely underrated nut case that has had its share of weirdoes like Lemmy of Motorhead infamy, the über-genial Robert Calvert (the only prog-punk icon and one of my heroes), the enigmatic Simon House, as well as Mister Bizarre incarnate Nik Turner. The spirit of Syd Barrett is not far away, boys and girls! These are invincible spirits, sticking to their original space boogie that blasted off with Apollo moon shots and Telstar satellites over 40 years ago! It should boggle any mind, including the sane ones who like adventurism but hate being screwed around by popular music who would affectionately appreciate theses histrionic cosmo-cruisers. This relatively recent recording (1997) is a typical messy affair as per their legend , the title opening track blows in some warm heavenly breeze , complete with babbling voices, creating a compelling sound scape (nice mellotron BTW!) for guitarists Brock and Jerry Richards (a Brock student no less!) to squeeze out some fine ramblings, hard and yet slippery , determined and devastating. Very icy! The fantastic "Phetamine Street" is raunchier as vocalist Ron Tree now mans a wicked bass, bodily slamming this rant into their much maligned punk mode, as binary as one can imagine , filthy guitars crunching galore (hey Porcupine Tree !) and synths bleeping like bleepin' crazy! (that one was for you, Lemming!). Close to the spirit of Bob Calvert (nice gesture!), this is purely infectious and downright slutty! "Waimea Canyon Drive" is a more conventional piece that evolves slowly snail-like until the chugging guitars shove this one along, very veiled and vaporous, almost delirious to the point one wonders what they smoke! "Alchemy" is a rocker with class, a bruising venture that slams forward, metal on metal, unflinching and totally convincing. This is how I know that I am an open-minded fan and reviewer, getting into my raunchier punk side with little pretense of ceremony. Wham bam, thank you captain! The audacity to propose two dissimilar tracks, one named "Clouded Vision"(a waft of fluff) and the other "Reptoid Vision", need I say more! The second is a seven minute explosion of insanity that will blow your sockets off, a true Hawkclassic with an unexpected mid section twist, swirling atmospherics that have a Tangerine Dream zest slowly increasing in beastly aggression as it veers towards a crash landing . Heavy baby, this reptoid! "Population Overload" is an electronic newscast with the usual bizarre narrative, metronome beat and oddball effects (FX), all classic Hawkingredients brewed together to conjure an ambient stew that is quite intoxicating (especially that little reggae shift!) just like with the Ozric lads. Stunning ! "Wheels" rolls down the cosmic highway, a typical murderous riff shoving this one along mercilessly, until it floats into a searing pool of inert invective aimed at oil (again Dave, like on "Hassan I Sabbah"?) and all the stooping highway stars. Nice! "Kauai" is utterly majestic, a welcome dose of surreal elegance and exalted grace that washes gently its benevolence over the mind. "Taxi for Max" is not a reserved cab for our founder but a chill- out bubble that will clear the club after the lights are up. A masterful finale that will appear everywhere on my playlists. "Distant Horizons" is frankly outstanding, an album that deserves an audience beyond the paltry couple of reviews here (c'mon Hawkfans, write !) 4.5 secluded spheres

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#262370)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
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Prog Metal Team
3 stars Hawkfans beware! This will not be your usual trip. After the more song oriented Alien 4, Hawkwind returned to the instrumental stylings of It Is The Business Of The Future to Be Dangerous, mixed it with punk and even taking in some influences from dance and techno.

Now that 95% of the readers have left us, I can safely confide you that this is another excellent Hawkwind episode. The difference with the sterile cliché rock of their mid-80's albums couldn't be bigger. This is a band that experiments and explores new territories again.

The opener Distant Horizons is marvellous. A throbbing electronic bass pulse and subtle jungle beats fight for dominance with space-synth washes and guitar outbursts. Phetamine Street is entirely different. Ron Tree spits some vicious vocals over this punk-spirited cosmic soup. The drum computers and the fuzzy guitars that are recorded through the output channel of the amplifier don't really make for a natural and organic sound but the energy is undeniable. Waimea Canyon Drive is less exciting. The electronic pulse is effective but more attention should have gone to the vocals here. They sound rather doped and sloppy, probably intentional. Alchemy wakes us up again with some Arabian punk, or isn't that an officially registered genre? Anyway, it's an abundance of steamy bass, pulsating guitars, oriental leads and cosmic sound effects.

An reflective moment follows with Clouded Vision, soon juxtaposed against the next punk trip Reptoid Vision. Oh yes, the spirit of 1977 is back. I wouldn't call it a classic because of the programmed drums and dated guitar effect, but I hope this turns up on a live album some time. The remaining tracks are less exciting compared to the similar material that ended up on It Is The Business Of The Future to Be Dangerous. The closing suite Taxi for Max / Love In space would grow into a dazzling highlight on the Love In space live album. It gets a slightly more trip-hop'ish vibe here.

Overall, a very interesting album again, but approach with some caution.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#266351)
Posted Monday, February 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Hawkwind's long slump (at least as far as their studio albums were concerned) continued with Distant Horizons, yet another attempt by Dave Brock to incorporate dance music and techno influences into the band's music. Whilst the idea isn't idiotic - after all, combining space rock with modern electronic music has done the Ozric Tentacles very well indeed - these studio tracks show none of the life and vitality or the euphoric qualities shared both by dance music and Hawkwind's brand of space rock. I hear good things about the Love In Space live album's interpretations of material from this album and the preceding one, so perhaps I should check that out; certainly, I'm not feeling it here.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#629581)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars While you never know what to expect from Hawkwind, you certainly get authentic Hawkwind. Brock & Co. never stand still, always exploring the boundaries of their special brand of space-rock. That is why the band could be divided into segments of sound. The first half of the 70's are one thing and the other half something else. The 80's are a completely different ball game, as are the 90's. This is a band which, whether you like it or not, express and challenge their fan base in a most impressive and entertaining way.

Now, I have never truly fathomed their 70's, going mor for the 80's. This was the decade where Hawkwind expanded way beyond the messy first half of the 70's and abandoning their new wave leanings of the later part. I do believe Levitation to be one of the greatest and most inspired albums ever made and adore Xenon codex. The 90's, however, I have barely touched. Until now.

Distant horizons seems to divide the fans of Hawkwind. Some think it's great and many seems not. I am however pleasantly surprised. There are sort of fillers, or should I say tracks I do not really take a liking to. Phetamine street, for instance. And then there are tracks like Alchemy or Clouded vision. Simply great and captivating. While Alchemy is more of a metal song, Clouded vision is a sort of space folk meets ambient. Quite irresistable, really.

All in all I have to say that Distant horizons is Hawkwind as they are in general. Their albums seems to be a mixed bag with something for everyone. I find that only Levitation is superb throughout, the remaining albums tend to be great and less great. Still, Distant horizons seems less urgent than some other albums in their canon. Yet it is a treat to discover. While it is not the album to start with I recommend you give it a listen or two. There are plenty of that special Hawkwind magic on Distant horizons and it deserves some recognition.

A solid three stars.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#975327)
Posted Monday, June 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars "Distant Horizons" will not win over a lot of Hawkwind fans as it is less spacey than it is protopunk meets techno. The new sound is heralded from the outset with the title track that reminded me of the pulsating trance rhythms and techno of 80s glamlords Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

This is not the lineup that I prefer for Hawkwind but Dave Brock is a present force as usual on guitar, keyboards, synthesiser, FX and pitched vocals. Richard Chadwick's drums are a pounding powerhouse, Ron Tree is here on vocals, bass & audio generator, though the guitars are the main drawcard here played passionately by Jerry Richards, who also sings, and plays keyboards, with some programming & cubase sequencing.

The punkier sounds lock in on 'Phetamine Street', followed by a poppy jumping thing called 'Waimea Canyon Drive'. I didn't mind this though after the weirdness of the opening tracks. The rhythm is hypnotic and there are some cool harmonies and reverberated guitars.

'Alchemy' is more like the old Hawkwind, though perhaps has a sound akin to 'Assassins of Allah'. The guitar riff is appealing, and there are those spacey atmospherics we all have grown to love that are pure Hawkwind magic. The instrumental track sits easily as one of the best on this album, almost metal with distorted guitar pumping along with a wah wah lead break.

'Clouded Vision' follows with a melancholy atmosphere, a very sweet intro with spaceship swooshes and otherworldliness until Brock sings the first verse. He is in a sombre mood stating the usual thoughtful lyric "where do we go from here? Terror is not the answer, though it is a shame to see, will I ever discover what lies in store for me?" again, the track is different for this band but is still entrancing.

'Reptoid Vision' follows, with punk vocals and guitars distorted to the max. the guitar riff is okay but nothing special; I rather like the way it grinds along with the space effects, but the vocals are awful. At over 7 minutes this track really goes on too long. When the guitars drop out there is a nice spacey atmosphere but this could have been better as a different track rather than tacked onto the middle of this punk thing. The lyrics are off the planet, with musings about a centipede head, reptilian legs, escalator sidewalk, digital crystals, fire creator, tidal wave curve on the wrath of the ocean, and more!

'Population Overload' is permeated by swathes of keyboards and then a narrative about thousands being crushed, a strait jacket, a concrete vest, and questioning are we brain dead? It locks into a hypno beat with weird effects layered over, and later a great lead guitar riff. This is a very effective soundscape and Hawkwind are masters of atmospherics. What ruins it for me are the punkish vocals; I prefer Brock singing in his spacey mode, as on 'Orgone Accumulator' or 'Brainstorm'.

'Wheels' is one of my favourites as its got a grinding riff and a ton of spaciness, the narrative is deliriously Hawkwind, pondering about "this world of the wheel, this world of oil". The sound fluctuates from left to right at times and there is a trance beat with buzzing synth and familiar sounds of distortion. It even ends with crashing waves. Love that one.

'Kauai' is more serene focussing on quiet keyboards, and waves washing up on a beach. This is followed by 'Taxi For Max', a real oddity with whistling and it sounds like a piano is dropped, with some weirdness on vocals and effects. 'Love in Space' is familiar as it often makes its way onto the plethora of compilations available, though here there are no vocals at all. I have always liked it and I think it fits well on this album, though admittedly the vocals give it an added dimension, missing here.

Overall "Distant Horizons" is not half as bad as I had first thought given the era it was recorded when Hawkwind were just staying afloat. It is not the band at their best, that is a certainty, but it still delivers and has enough diversity and spacey coolness to make it worth a visit. Check it out for yourself; I am certainly glad I did.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#1148163)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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