It appears that of late I have become the ‘go to’ reviewer for Hawkwind releases, having over a long period been involved in reviewing some of their new releases, reissues and box sets. In truth, I volunteer, primarily due to the fact that I have a long personal history of listening to this band, who first came to my attention with the release of In Search of Space. As any fan or follower would know, the band’s career has been a long journey of peaks and troughs, although in my opinion there have been far more peaks, but I accept that this is open to individual taste and opinions across their vast catalogue. The one constant is Dave Brock, who has the uncanny knack of selecting the right band members for a given album or period of time.
So here we are at Hawkwind’s thirty-fifth studio album (!), following on from the critically acclaimed 2021 album Somnia and the double-live We Are Looking at You. As any fan will know, their catalogue is varied, and this release may be seen as a progression of their signature sound. There is a noticeable variety within the ten tracks contained here. That said, the songs retain that recognisable Hawkwind sound. The album clocks in at sixty-nine minutes, but they have managed to create a feel that ensures tht this is not too long. In fact, they maintain the interest level throughout, maybe partly due to the variety of the tracks.
Things kick off with the instrumental title track, of over ten-minutes length. Here they make more use of electronics to create an almost dreamlike beginning to the album, which at times is a little reminiscent of Ozric Tentacles. This leads us into The End, which has a punky edge to the guitars at the start before shifting towards a more spacey feel, whilst still maintaining that edge throughout.
It is the next two tracks that throw a curve-ball at the listener; Aldous Huxley and They Are So Easily Distracted have a more jazz influenced style, which is almost laid-back and could be described as having something of a lounge feel. They make use of piano and saxophone, which is to the fore, ably supported by the other instruments. Rama (The Prophecy) is more within the familiar upfront Hawkwind style, but they change direction again with USB1, which is a more atmospheric affair. Throughout the remaining tracks, the band continue to try out new styles, which are seamlessly absorbed into their signature sound.
It appears that the introduction of multi-instrumentalist Tim ‘Thighpaulsandra’ Lewis has given a new energy to the band, and possibly Dave Brock’s song writing. It is testimony to Brock that in his more senior years he can continue his flow of ideas and song writing, which enables the band to continue to move ever forward. Dave has stated that this is a concept album of sorts, which strangely – although not for Hawkwind – appears to run backwards; The End is at the start of the album and The Beginning comes towards the end. Now that may be the case, but I originally approached this album as individual songs, being unaware of this fact, and did not immediately connect them. For me, this demonstrates the strength of the songs and their ability to stand out on their own.
Hawkwind have released another great album here, demonstrating their willingness to continue to move forward and try new things. The songs could sit nicely within their set list alongside the classics. Maybe the Hawkwind spaceship has taken off in a new direction, to explore new territories and sounds. Long may the journey continue. Give it a listen and join them in these interesting new discoveries.
01. The Future Never Waits (10:16)
02. The End (4:10)
03. Aldous Huxley (4:37)
04. They Are So Easily Distracted (10:25)
05. Rama (The Prophecy) (8:29)
06. USB1 (3:56)
07. Outside of Time (7:37)
08. I’m Learning to Live Today (8:05)
09. The Beginning (8:21)
10. Trapped in this Modern Age (2:59)
Total Time – 68:45
Dave Brock – Vocals, Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Synthesisers
Richard Chadwick – Drums
Magnus Martin – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Doug McKinnon – Bass Guitar
Tim ‘Thighpaulsandra’ Lewis – Keyboards, Synthesisers
Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 28th April 2023