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Nik Turner - The Final Frontier CD (album) cover


Nik Turner


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.87 | 15 ratings

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4 stars Nik Turner has been involved in various Psychedelic/Space Rock bands since the early 70s and was one of the founders of Hawkwind, which he has been involved with for certain periods afterwards, but also involved with many other lesser known projects. Since 2013, he has released several solo albums. "The Final Frontier" is his latest to this point, released in March 2019. For this album, Nik has put together a team of musicians to accompany his vocals, sax and flute.

"Out of Control" starts with a processional style, but then goes into psychedelic mode with an upbeat rhythm and echoing guitar and synth effects and a wild violin. Nik also sings in a fairly low register, not really the best vocals here, but the guitar work that follows is pretty good and definitely follows the space rock sound. He is definitely reaching for that early Hawkwind sound, but his vocals are not very good. If you can get around that, then at least the music is good space rock. A slower tempo is used on "Interstellar Aliens" and the melody is okay, but again the vocals bring it down and the effects used on his vocals don't help. The violin solo at the last part of the track is nice and the spacey effects contribute to the psychedelic sound.

"Back to the Ship" is quite psychedelic and experimental with spoken word vocals. Rhythm doesn't even kick in on this until halfway through the track at after 3 minutes, and that is where the space rock portion of the track comes in. The guitar riff is catchy and again the violin is nice, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired. Afterwards, Nik joins in with the flute, but the vocals continue while he tells of his space adventures. "Strange Loop" begins with a minimal percussion and a Mid-Eastern vibe along with synthesized choral sounds. Just before 2 minutes, the moderate rhythm starts as the violin and chorus effect continue. Later on, a sax with effects comes in. At least this one is instrumental and has the space rock sound that you are here for.

"Calling the Egyptians" begins with hand drums and mellotron with a guitar playing the main theme. There is some spoken word in there and of course a lot of reverb. "Thunder Rider" has a heavier beat, though it stays moderate. Vocals with effects, synth and dark guitars provide the loosely droning space rock backdrop. There are harmonics in the vocals making them a bit more interesting this time. The processed sax comes in later and the effects used on the sax are cool. I would have like to have this one go on longer with more improvisation.

"The Final Frontier Part I" begins dark and mysterious with effects surrounding a bass and the flute coming in later. Things build quite slowly as a soft guitar joins in and effects get thicker. Deep in the mix are some monotonic spoken vocals. An excellent psychedelic vibe is established. After 4 minutes, the intensity level drops to a more minimal sound and at 5 minutes, a slow rhythm begins. The track pretty much remains psychedelic all the way through. Things build again after the 6 minute mark, but drop off again with spacey effects and things get very minimal flowing into "The Final Frontier Part 2" which is pretty much just improvised instruments and the monotone vocals swirling around in a miasmic way which goes on for over 2 minutes led mostly by violin. "PAD4" ends the album with a variant drone and improvised flute continuing the psychedelic vibe.

Overall, this is the space rock and psychedelic music that you expect, and it is quite pleasant and everything, the biggest drawback are the vocals, but after a while, they just become part of the layers of sound that go on here. The highlights of the album are "Out of Control" and "Thunder Rider" but there are other bits and pieces that make this a pleasurable ride, even though it is mostly down beat or without rhythm completely. It is some strange way relaxing, but a bit unsettling also. There are no really long jam sessions here either, but there are a few times when you wish there were. Some may think the psychedelia should have been changed for more jamming, but I think adding a few more minutes to a couple of the tracks would have had a better effect. Anyway, I think I can round this up to 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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