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Hawkwind - Spacebrock CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.91 | 46 ratings

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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)


Certif1ed | 4/5 |


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