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Hawkwind - Into the Woods CD (album) cover



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4 stars Over three months when this excellent album was released and no reviews? Hawkwind-fans, where are you? I am not a huge Hawkwind-fan, but I really love Hawkwind albums made 1970-75 (Lemmy in four of them). Their later outputs I have heard only Levitation, which I also love and the Xenon Codex, which I think is ok album, but too cold & modern sounding to me. Naturally I hadnīt got any expectations when started listening this new one, but they fulfilled wholly! Just like predecessor album "the Machine Stops" this is at least in some parts based on E.M. Fosters book. After this album I listened also that album, but I have to say this new one is just so much better! In this album Hawkwind has gone into very organic soundworld that reminds a lot their great seventies albums.

Tittle song opens the album with a short piano overture, but soon you are into very rough, psychedelic Hawkwind- boogie. Brock sings through some effect and sounds very much Nik Turner. Psychedelic atmosphere continues in next "Cottage in the Woods", but more peaceful way. "Have You Seen Them" is very melodic piece and has hit potential. Cosmic "Ascent" is one of my favourites in this album. "Space Ship Blues" is updated "Silver Machine" with more country atmosphere. Big Bill Barry is playing fiddle in the very same way as Simon House. "Vegan Lunch" is again boogie with melodic parts. "Dark Land" is also one of my favourites reminding "Hall Of Mountain Grillīs" "Wind of Change". There are also few sound collages with spoken words that make album just even more interesting. The ending instrumental jam "Magic Mushroom" is good finish into this great album, it reminds a little bit "Levitation"- song.

I am not a space rock fan at all except Hawkwind. I am glad my needs of spacerock seem to fullfill complitely, if Hawkwind continues to make as qualified albums as often. One of my great moments were, when Hawkwind and Motörhead played in the same festival. In Hawkwindīs encore there were two basses and Lemmy singing "Silver Machine". It was over 10 years ago, there are no Lemmy anymore, but I will be glad if I will see this old classic band on the stage once more.

Report this review (#1744373)
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What is this, the hundredth Hawkwind disc to date?! Perhaps with the countless live albums, compilations and archival releases it edges closer to that, but apparently it's roundabout the thirtieth studio disc from Dave Brock's legendary British musical institution and defining spacerockers of almost fifty years. The band has been on something of a roll of consistently good recent albums since the start of the decade with `Blood of the Earth', and their latest, 2017's `Into the Woods' contains plenty of strong material that drifts in some surprisingly unexpected directions, making it especially the sort of album that the long-time Hawkwind faithful will most dig the hell out of.

Assume it would again be full of the usual heavy punky blasts with stretched out gutsy instrumental jamming? Sometimes, but mostly `Into the Woods', perhaps unsurprisingly with that title, lands the cosmic craft for a more earthy, personal and song-based collection, where the tune is frequently the priority, even if they're still wrapped in plenty of swirling trippy effects and treated vocalizations! Partly continuing the story begun on the previous disc `The Machine Stops, inspired by the E.M Foster sci-fi novel of the same name, `...Woods' not only holds a more grounded quality (would `intimate' be pushing it a little bit for a Hawkwind disc?) with plenty of ecological/nature-themed lyrics, but the group sound very relaxed and actually having a lot of fun in-between the more introspective moments!

A fancy piano intro that welcomes the opening title piece `Into The Woods' is almost instantly pummelled by Hawkwind's gutsy mix of growling guitars and wailing soloing, mud-thick bass and rattling drumming, and Dave Brock's gnashing vocal over swirling organ grinding is plied with that suffocating madness of all the best Hawkwind tracks. `Cottage In The Woods' is lightly melancholic with a weary vocal from Brock, the short song building effectively in restrained power from the rest of the band before drifting into spacey ambient synth interlude `The Woodpecker'. Keyboardist Mr Dibs then takes a wheezy vocal lead for the gruff rock track `Have You Seen Them?' that floats off into more typical Hawkwind-fare with tough riffing, reaching guitar soloing and rumbling drumming (and Haz Weaton's seductively slithering bass in the background is tasty!).

`Ascent' is essentially a solo piece that finds Brock in pensive mood with an ecological-themed lyric backed by a sparse acoustic guitar and only the lightest of synths, but `Space Ship Blues' throws the album for six being a swampy and bluesy fiddle and harmonica driven country-flecked rock n' roller (some are sure to find it grating, but it's infectious and hard not to enjoy!)! `The Wind' keeps up the proud Hawkwind tradition of spoken-word poetry interludes before morphing into a mantra-like vocal drift over eerie electronics. `Vegan Lunch' is a poppy and loopy up-tempo stop-start sprint with dreamy chorus vocals and a Daevid Allen/Gong-like mania to the words (although their ditching meat theme seems completely sincere), and there's just a touch of the early Porcupine Tree albums sprinkled throughout this one too.

`Magic Scenes' might be a fairly repetitive heavy plodding rocker in the typical Hawkwind style, but `Darkland' is a gorgeous weeping Mellotron-pierced acoustic lament that almost calls to mind `Wind of Change' off Hawkwind's legendary `Hall of the Mountain Grill' LP from '74. Brock's snarly vocal gives `Wood Nymph's fantastical lyric a convincing dignity over the seductive slinking bass and plenty of rising/falling electronics, but the piece still twists with grinding heavy turns.`Deep Cavern' is a final `Warrior on the Edge of Time'-like spoken-word interval over ambient/new-age synth pools (but listen for that lurking intimidating drumbeat!) that ultimately gets blasted by the raging nine-plus minute fully instrumental closer `Magic Mushroom'. It's here that the band once again head for deepest space, overloaded with slabs of relentless bass, ragged 'n raging chugging guitar histrionics, bleeding electronic melts, mud-thick Hammond organ tantrums and bashing drum fury. It's classic Hawkwind with a touch of the organ-heavy proto-prog bands of old, and a killer way to wrap the set.

While it's hard to know where to place `Into the Woods' among the vast Hawkwind discography at this point, this predominantly song-based break from their usual deep-space travels is a welcome diversion here, and it makes it more special and unique in many ways. A world away from polite `old man prog', dreary AOR, or worse, lazy cover albums, that many of the prog rock-related oldies acts still active today put out, Hawkwind can still keep holding their heads high with the pride that they're putting out fresh studio albums of great artistic merit with plenty to say, and long-term fans of Brock and the group should snap up `Into the Woods' right away.

Hawkwind carries on and does it again - Four stars.

(and while we're at it, Hawkwind PLEASE come back to Australia! You're sorely missed, and many of us still fondly remember your 2011 gigs ? let's do it again very soon!)

Report this review (#1903323)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Into the Woods", released in 2017, was considered by the band to be a sequel to the previous album "The Machine Stops". By this time, the only long-time members that are still with this band are Dave Brock and Richard Chadwick. Everyone else is among the constantly changing personnel. However, this album is one of the most varied, yet strangely typical, of the later Hawkwind albums. It is full of surprises, fun and plenty of Hawkwind space jams.

It is a bit of a surprise that, with the many bad Hawkwind albums that have been released in the later years, that they can still cull together a decent album like this one. A lot of it has to do with the fact that when the band takes itself less seriously, they seem to have more fun and the result is a better album. The two previously named individuals play pretty much most of the instruments on the album, and that probably helps to streamline and focus their sound. Everyone else involved with the album are more like guests that appear on a few of the tracks and contribute various vocals and instrumentals. This allows Brock and Chadwick to focus on the overall sound of the album.

There is a surprising amount of old-style Hawkwind atmosphere here, especially in the longer jams as in "Into the Woods", "Have You Seen Them?", the wild and wacky "Space Ship Blues" (which features steel guitar, fiddle, harmonica and banjo mixed into the spacey wall of noise) that has this 50's rock n roll/country space vibe, the mystical/mythological vibe of "Dark Nymph" and the best (saved till the last) space jam of all "Magic Mushroom". There are the usual, shorter tracks that attempt to glue it all together, and in this case, they all seem to be related with the use of natural sounds as a background to either spoken word or musical interlude-style melodies, like the organic and acoustic "Darkland" which is as organic sounding as Hawkwind gets as the space effects are still there, just deep in the background. They even take a decent stab at a blues-based hard rocker with ""Magic Scenes" or even make fun of themselves with "Vegan Lunch".

There is a lot here for everyone, but its still all made cohesive by the traditional space/psychedelic style of the band. Even with the variety here, there is still no mistaking that this is Hawkwind for those that are long time fans. There is nothing here that will offend any of the old fans, and there are some songs that might even garner the band some new fans even though many of them might think that some of the band's styles could be a bit strange sounding to their radio-trained ears. Don't worry, there's plenty here to keep the space fans satisfied. This album, if nothing else, still proves that this band that has been around for a long time can still put out a fun and decent album and lovers of the new psychedelic bands will be happy to hear from the band that had a lot of influence on those new groups. This is one of their better ones from their more recent discography.

Report this review (#2595951)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a sequel to The Machine Stops, thinking about the challenge of emerging from a technologically-controlled environment into wild nature; in keeping with that general theme, Hawkwind take a somewhat less overwhelmingly electronics-drenched approach this time around. It's not that they've gone full acoustic - though there's more acoustic elements in their sound here than ever before - and it's not that they've put the keyboards away altogether. It's more that the album has more straight-ahead rockers, raw guitar-focused songs, even a bit of blues and folk, and substantially less in the way of electronic soundscapes. It's another subtle shift in the balance to keep things fresh - something which post-2010 Hawkwind have been quite good at. Call it on a par with The Machine Stops, but a different flavour.
Report this review (#2935099)
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2023 | Review Permalink

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