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Nik Turner - Space Gypsy CD (album) cover


Nik Turner

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Staying true to the Hawkwind Space Vibe

Nik Turner's "Space Gypsy" delivers the type of music one has become accustomed to from the mighty Hawkwind. The spacey squiggle effects are there, the heavy duty chugging guitar repetitive riffs are there, the spacey lead guitar workouts are there, and the saxophone glazes over all beautifully. The only thing missing for me was of course Dave Brocks' high vocal technique, however the resonance of Turner is actually quite a mesmerising touch. I am not usually as taken by the work of Turner on vocals but he really nails it on "Space Gypsy". Naturally all is overshadowed by the soundscape of space rock especially the cranking guitars of Nicky Garratt from UK Subs. Jurgen Engler from Die Krupps is terrific on synths, Jeff Piccinini from Chelsea is on bass, Simon House from Hawkwind makes an appearance on keyboards, electric violin, and it is nice to hear from legendary Gong member Steve Hillage on electric guitar, vocals, synthesizers, as well as Jason Willer on drums. The sound is space rock at its finest with everything thrown in along with Nik Turner's glorious flute, and saxophone workouts. The sax on 'Joker's Song' is wonderful in particular.

It opens with the spaceship taking off after a countdown and then we are off into the stratosphere leaving planet earth to its own mercy. The sludge guitar and space electronics on opener 'Fallen Angel STS-51-L' has a distinct trademark Hawkwind sound as on 'Brainstorm', 'Born To Go', or even the penultimate 'Silver Machine'. The slow guitar crawl on 'Time Crypt' is fabulous and I loved Turner's melodic vocals. Surely this is one of his best solo efforts and then there is that blazing saxophone solo; an absolutely killer performance.

The songs all segue together in true Hawkwind style, and seamlessly we are lead gently by the hand of Turner's flute on 'Galaxy Rise'. It sounds like Hawkwind at their trippiest such as on "Warrior at the Edge of Time" or "In search of Space". This is a nice break away from the rockier songs, and is tempered by sensuous flute and acoustics.

'Coming Of The Maya' has a nice Hawkwind like title so one would expect it to be dripping with psychedelic juice. It opens with warbling flute and a melodic rhythmic vibe reminding me of Pink Floyd;s 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun'. The reverberated spoken vocals are other worldy and there is a swirling synth and swishing atmospherics that really lift this to another level; "the fifth dimension" Turner states. The spacey nuances are powerfully structured over the hypnotic keyboard and bassline. A barking mad flute solo drifts aimlessly over slices of violin and ethereal interplanetary atmospherics. The flute solo is towering; as good as you will hear.

We then launch straight into the psych prog of 'We Ride The Timewinds', with the Hawkwind trademark chug a chug guitar cranking boldly. The sax returns and it is an incredible embellishment. The droning vocals are estranged and there are tons of spacey effects making this a blazing triumph on the album. 'Eternity' opens with acoustics and interstellar effects, over the alienated echoing vocals "floating in eternity". More heavenly flute soloing follows improvised over the dreamy synth soaked soundscape.

'Anti-Matter' has a driving percussive rhythm and swirling wah wah guitar sounds, with mind altering spoken lyrics "interstellar, sexuality, growth, fantasy, to the energy". The pristine sax bellows along the wall of sound, generated by pounding bass and drums. 'The Visitor' is a highlight with acoustic vibrations and a fluttering flute augmentation along a steady cadence. Turner sings about "time and space, a ball of flame, save my world," and thus the theme of saving the planet from interstellar or a catastrophic apocalyptic end is cemented. The flute flutters around the acoustic phrase like a demented butterfly, and then the bass and drums kick into a strong tempo. Turner sings "visiting just passing through, I'm not from round here and nor are you, to come here from the city of angels, now I know we are the chosen few." The song then changes gears and builds into a squelching space effect and some grand guitar glissandos. It literally explodes at the end.

'Something's Not Right' is the bonus track, sounding like a ship out of time, opening with lots of sparkling twiddly beeps and flashes. The cranking distorted guitars lock in and everything rocks on 11. The lead break is raucous and this is actually one of the heaviest tracks, so a pretty decent bonus. The drums are thunderous and the repetitive frantic mantra "something's not right" works well as a quirky part of the soundscape.

Overall this is a trippy spacey album that delivers a trademark signature Hawkwind like sound with no real surprises. If there are any surprises, it is that Nik Turner can still hold his own and stays true to the Hawkwind vibe even all these years later. It is great to hear him launch into sensational sax and flute solos and his vocals are perfect for this music. "Space Gypsy" is a grand psychedelic album, a throwback to the grandiose counterculture psychedelic 70s, with some genuine highlights well worth seeking out by addicts of space rock.

Report this review (#1059049)
Posted Saturday, October 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nik Turner - Space Gypsy (2013)

The brilliance and clumsiness of Hawkwind is fascinating; giving us the blueprint for the spacerock genre in perhaps the most likable way whilst making a few good records and a collection of mediocre/poor studio and live recordings that is almost limitless. Former Hawkwind windplayer Nik Turner released his first album in '78 and has released two album the last five years.

'Space Gypsy' (now under review) and the more recent 'Space Fusion Odyssey' (2015). The sound and feel of this album is 100% Hawkwind. However, it's a collecton of relatively good songs that work great as a unity, something Hawkwind itself has almost never done. The thick guitar/bass/drums layer is completed by great spacey sounds, a diversity in wind-instruments and drowsy vocals. The appearance of Steve Hillage is a nice bonus, though honestly, I wouldn't know which guitarlines are his. The songs have what everything a classy spacerock should have. One or two catchy themes, spacey keyboard sounds, a distant feel, some folky parts and of course long spacey guitar freakouts.

Conclusion. If you'd like to listen to that great Hawkwind record they themselves didn't make the last fourty years, this is a great recommendation! This needs to be picked up by the space rock listeners. Four stars.

Report this review (#1518420)
Posted Saturday, January 23, 2016 | Review Permalink

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