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Hawkwind - Spacebrock CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It opens with deep, pulsating noises, floaty keyboard ostinati, wooey, spacey sounds and other wierdness...

You just KNOW this is a Hawkwind album, and the anticipation is set up perfectly. If ever there was a "come back" album, this is it. After many years of inconsistent offerings, and dodgy compilations Hawkwind release an album that is not only a definitive offering, but fresh too.

But wait a minute!

Is this really a Hawkwind album?

The only member present is Dave Brock, and while he is undoubtedly the glue that has held the Hawkwind machine together over the many turbulent decades, can one man claim to be the band?

He's only gone and done it.

Mr Brock has here produced an authentic Hawkwind album with the assistance of no less than 3 drummers and a "sequencing programmer". And, I notice, an uncredited female vocalist... unless that's a sample.

All the bands that Hawkwind have inspired have not gone unnoticed - and Brock claims some of this inspiration back - the Ozric Tentacles, the Orb, even Jean Michele Jarre have all been inspired by the original "Space Punks", and on Spacebrock, the piper is paid.

"Dreamers" is a stand-out track in this respect, with traces of Gong filtering through the amazing ambience.

The standard of composition is unusually consistent - but seekers of "traditional" Hawkwind flavours have to wait until "You Burn Me Up", which hearkens back to the Levitation album in the seamless delivery, but also right back to "In Search of Space" (with maybe a dash of Hillage on the side) in terms of the reeling, floating rifferama and swirling morass of oscillators.

"Sex Dreams" is a little masterpiece that has a core of ambient/Trance/Chillout as a logical driving force - and it's repetitive. It's supposed to be.

"Earth Calling" seems to be a hybrid of "Lighthouse" and "Master of the Universe", and, although the guitar riffs are a little unconvincing in places, the overall ambience maintains a solid focus as one of the spaciest pieces on the album.

"The Starkness of the Capsule" is an incredibly disturbing ambient piece and "Behind The Face" appears to have a strong Stranglers influence, but the title track is a stand-out number, as it has much of the heavy rock feel that is as much part of the Hawkwind sound as the spacey sounds. The only thing that I'm not keen on here is the drums - which are a lot too boring, and sound like a very basic program on the sequencer... knowing Mr Brock, this is probably intentional, but it just doesn't work for me. These 3 pieces seem to have a consistency that makes me feel them as a kind of suite, even though the music is very different in each.

"Space Pilots" carries an almost dub-reggae feel to it, Ozrics style, "1st Landing" is a spoken narrative, Moorcock style, and "The Journey" hearkens back to early Hawkwind material to round off this set of three that also effectively make one longer piece.

"Do You Want This Body" rounds the album off perfectly, with what sounds like a quote from a film or TV series that I haven't managed to identify - but serves as a great summary of the entire album, which is revisited towards the end of the piece. It evolves very much like an Ozric Tentacles number, but with Brock's authoritative "heavy-space" stamp all over it, and Orb-like sample layering.

If this album strikes you as being overly repetitive, you're just not getting it:

The ostinati are the engine, the bit that drives the music - we're not talking about harmonic progressions or clever balancing of the dynamics between major and minor keys to create dramatic tension - that's just not what Hawkwind have ever been about.

The purpose of the music here is to just allow the analytical mind to switch off, and let the other bit float away on a voyage of discovery in lush washes, swirling vortexes and colourful sounds creating an artistic interplay as only Hawkwind know how.

Fans of early Hawkwind may be put off by the reduced amount of the heavy rifferama that was a staple to any Hawkwind set - but this is by no means a "mellow" album. It is ambient, and feels like chill-out music - but there is the wonderful dark edge that Hawkwind have always been so good at.

This is a Hawkwind album for the 21st century. A band that, despite their age and lack of members, still manage to be ahead of their time.

If you only ever buy one Hawkwind album, this would make a good choice - but it's unlikely it would remain your only Hawkwind album (Get Sonic Attack and Hall of the Mountain Grill too ;o)


Report this review (#66511)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars No wonder that with such a title, this album is actually a Brock solo album. I don't know how he managed to be able to record this under the "Hawkwind" umbrella, but since he is the heart & soul of the band for some than thirty years (at the time of recording), I guess that there is little to argue about this.

The man is almost on his own for this release. And even if the mood brought me back in time, I have to say that most of these songs are not really good. Déjŕ vu. Lots of time.

It sounds as if dear old Dave is willing to reproduce an early "Hawkwind" album. Was there any need for this? I guess not.

Most of songs are extremely short (two minutes and under), and this is affecting my perception of this work. There are hardly one song that could raise my interest and honestly, I wonder what was the use to record this "Spacebrock".

Here and there some fine spacey tune ("Kauai" which last no longer than 95 seconds) but that's it for this album. I can't frankly rate this work with more than two stars. You shouldn't bother with this one. Just grab anything fromp their early repertoire up to "Quark". And why not the excellent "Palace Springs".

Two stars for this one.

Report this review (#179300)
Posted Saturday, August 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Every post 80's Hawkwind studio album is always a very different experience from a live album. While the live output goes for steamy rocking classic Hawkfare; most studio albums since 1990 find Dave Brock having a good time in his studio hideout smoking pot while plonking away at keyboards and twisting effect knobs on his oscillators and other studio equipment.

The result is another weird album featuring a wall of space-sound, a few attempts at writing actual songs and most of all, lots of freely flowing ideas and unbound creativity. It may not always sound state-of-the-art but the highly imaginative musical freedom that Brock achieves is most fascinating. Amongst the highlights are the entrancing electronic sounds of Dreamers, the classic space-rock of You Burn Me Up, the chill-out techno fun of Sex Dreams and Do You Want This Body, the short Schulze study Kauai, the over the top waltzing 'Gong'-fun of Behind the Face and the rocking grit of Space Brock.

This is an unconventional album that radiates with creative pleasure. It misses some really stand-out moments but overall, this is a diverse and enjoyable album. Irresistibly charming.

Report this review (#266670)
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars I think that 'Spacebrock' may be the new studio album, but don't quote me (no press releases sometimes makes life difficult). The usual suspects make appearances on the album, but the mainstay throughout is Dave Brock. He has even managed to put Shakespeare to 'music', and even gives our Will a co-credit on the track! In fact, it is like the band of old, with some great riffing guitar and spaced out keyboards. There is even "The First Landing On Medusa", which was co-written with Robert Calvert. Overall an intriguing album. Although not as immediate as much of their work in the Seventies this is a welcome respite to the many 'rare' CD's currently coming out. Worth hearing.

Originally appeared in Feedback #62, May 01

Report this review (#968510)
Posted Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permalink

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