|Space Ritual's Otherworld
Nik Turner's Space Ritual release their debut studio album on 5th November 2007. I will review it when I
have a copy in my hands but for now we have the cover and the official press release, provided by Vicky
Powell of label Esoteric Recordings...
Compositions such as "Sonic Savages", "Otherworld", "Bubbles", "Riddle" and â€œWalking Backwards"
easily match the style and standard of anything recorded by the various members of the band whilst in
This material also sits along side compositions utilising the lyrics of one-time Hawkwind collaborator and
Science Fantasy author Michael Moorcock on pieces such as "Ritual of the Ravaged Earth", â€œArrival in
Utopia" and "Notes from a Cold Planet".
Whilst acknowledging their roots, SPACE RITUAL are no Hawkwind clone. Nik Turner adds; "We got
together to form a band that would take on the original spirit of Hawkwind but with the intention of
developing in our own right. I'm really happy that at last we've made a musical statement that proves this".
Ithe recent BBC Four TV documentary "This is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic" featured members of Space
Ritual extensively and with the band about to embark on their biggest UK tour for some time, SPACE
RITUAL will be bringing "Otherworld" to the masses for the first time. Dare you miss it?
Recommended radio play tracks:
"Sonic Savages"/ "Otherworld"/ "Bubbles"/ "Riddle" and "Walking Backwardsâ€�
SPACE RITUAL: "Otherworld" - Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2011
1. The Return
3. The Black Corridor
5. CommuniquÃ© II
6. Ritual of a Ravaged Earth
8. Sonic Savages
9. Droid Love
10. Time Crime
11. Arrival in Utopia
13. The Riddle
14. Cold Planet
15. Walking Backwards
2. First Review (by Graham - many thanks!)
One of the best : Space Ritual - Otherworld
This is the one that matters, the release that gives Space Ritual a chance to stake a claim to the Hawks
legacy and perhaps the future of space rock. To their credit, they don't even try: what they have done
instead to is to stake out some rather different territory, with elements of ambient, jazz, classical and rockâ
€™n'roll, sometimes closer to Floyd than Hawkwind, but ultimately close to neither.
The band on this album is Turner, Anderson, Ollis, Dettmar (although his contributions were presumably
phoned in), Slattery, Greves and Crimble. Rus Russell is credited with helping Dave Anderson on string
arrangements as well as guesting on guitar, as do Chris Fielding and our own Jerry Richards. Sam Ollis and
Jacki Windmill also get guest credits.
On first listen I found the lack of impact disappointing. This is not I think a young person's album and
Meads of Asphodel it certainly isn't! However, it is a grower and I suspect I'll be playing it rather
frequently. Not that it is perfect: while there are some very good moments indeed, there are also some
moments of, frankly, complete bollocks. Given the dominance of Turner/Anderson compositions (music by
Anderson, lyrics by Turner) it is worth remembering that Dave Anderson wrote little music for Hawkwind
and Nik penned few lyrics. Del Dettmar surprising receives three musical credits, certainly more than on
any Hawkwind album. They all come out of this with their reputations enhanced.
"The Return" is a disappointing opening, a sound collage that samples "Earth Calling" and â€œGhost Dance"
despite the only composition credits being for Dave Anderson and his sidekick Russ Russell. "Otherworld",
the first of the many Turner/Anderson songs is deliberately understated, wafting in on a plaintive flute
melody. Even when the rhythm section kicks in, it is all very tasteful and restrained. There is a catchy
chorus but the verses are spoken and the lyrics rarely stray this side of gibberish (Nik's words of course).
"The Black Corridor" revisits Moorcock's lyrics over a band composed instrumental track, with (I assume)
Mick Slattery moving into Dave Gilmour territory. "Bubbles" (Turner/Anderson) again features tasteful
music backing, with prominent guitar and Nik contributing some relaxed sax soloing. Possibly the lyrics
allude to Barney Bubbles but they may just be nonsense again.
"Communique II" is utterly pitiful, based on tribal drums over which Nik recites X-rated gobbledygook
("fired by sun cum solar spermbanks explode in entropic atom fuck thru the windowâ€�). I'm not making
this up: the lyrics are all printed in the CD booklet.
"Ritual Of The Savage Earth" we already know. Moorcock's lyric is recited by Nik and given tasteful and
effective musical backing. The simplicity of the instrumental "ASDF" recalls "One Change", suggesting that
Del Dettmar is still not much of a composer or musician.
"Sonic Savages" (Turner/Anderson) is easily the best song up to this point. Although it still sounds like
space rock by numbers, Nik's expressive sax soloing adds a touch of class and Mick Slattery throws in
some nice guitar shapes. "Droid Love" is a showcase for the sax again, which floats along over a bed of
The next Turner/Anderson song, "Time Crime", moves along niftily, if rather too politely. It was good on
stage but here it could do with just a bit more bite and energy. Jerry Richards guests on guitar.
Then it goes horribly wrong again. On "Arrival In Utopia" - yes, that lyric - Del Dettmar receives a writing
credit, presumably for the suspiciously accomplished classical piano tinkling away as Nik camps up the
lyric for all he's worth. A bold move perhaps, but a trifle foolish and not likely to win many converts.
"Atomik" is a Crimble/Slattery instrumental; wistful, melancholic and really rather good. This is followed by
another Turner/Anderson song, "The Riddle", the hardest rocking number so far, with screaming guitar,
frantic drumming, freakout sax solo and more of Nik's rather strange lyrics. Hereâ€™s the chorus: "Rotting
eagles in the noonday sun / Silver hand on a silver gun / The king is dead stoned long live the king / Ravens
cackling, cackling". There's also a distinct lyrical nod to a certain past HW composition ("I'm the ultimate
"Notes From A Cold Planet" is credited to Moorcock / Dettmar and again features a surprisingly
sophisticated musical backdrop. It works well: Nik reads the words in a restrained voice, and the lyrics are
not over-familiar (not to mention less raving mad than some Moorcock compositions).
The album closes with "Walking Backwards", another sprightly Turner / Anderson number, this time more
space rock'n'roll than space rock. Nik talks his way through the lyrics but with a light and humorous touch
- more Goons than Moorcock - and it works a treat, bringing the album to an upbeat end.
This is a brave album, deliberately eschewing the easy option of reanimating old Hawkwind riffs, even if
there is some recycling of Mike Moorcock's words. I hope it does well but something tells me that there is
more future in bashing out Orgone Accumlator for the 10 millionth time than pursuing new directions. Buy
this CD and prove me wrong! The CD cover art, incidentally, is terrible, featuring three post-industrial droid
soldiers and a lot of string in stark greys. The CD was released on Esoteric Recordings as ECLEC2011.
1. The Press Release
'Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2011 - Released: 5th
November 5th sees the release of the new studio
album by SPACE RITUAL, a band formed by
Hawkwind founder Nik Turner and featuring on
record former Hawkwind members Terry Ollis,
Dave Anderson, Del Dettmar, Thomas Crimble and
Jerry Richards. Issued on ESOTERIC
RECORDINGS, a newly launched label of the
Cherry Red Records Group, the album draws on all
of the influences of classic Hawkwind, whilst adding
a contemporary feel to the production (by Russ
|Nik Turner is available for selective promotional interviews
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
12 - 17 Upper Bridge Street
Tel. & Fax. 01227 786255 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Esoteric Recordings is a label of Cherry Red Records,
3a Long Island House, 1- 4 Warple Way, London W3 0RG'
3. Second Review (by the improbably-named Groucho Merckx)
Essential Listening : Space Ritual - Otherworld
Well, it's been a LONG wait. Too bloody long! So, does it live up to expectations? In short, YES. And
then some. It's not perfect, at least not to these ears, but it'll take some beating...
It starts wonderfully with "The Return", synth noises aplenty, cheeky little samples of "Ghost Dance" /
"Cosmic Chant" and plenty of spacey atmospherics, fading into rainfall and then "Otherworld" - a somewhat
pastoral (Floyd '67-ish?) intro an a fabulous slow-paced spaceathon. It's beautiful, with some immaculate
guitar from Mick Slattery (who is on top form throughout). So far, so fantastic!
There is no let-up for the next two tracks, a well-judged revisiting of "The Black Corridor", which Nik
manages to make his own, and "Bubbles", which is a fine pounding rocker (and, I assume, is all about the
late Barney). "Communique II", which follows, is essentially a Nik rant over a tribal drumbeat from Terry
Ollis, and a previous reviewer has highlighted some of the rather dubious lyrics, which I can't disagree
with! "Ritual Of The Ravaged Earth", previously available on the "Sonic Savages" EP, is likewise not a
personal highlight, although this version is a more powerful mix. Live performances feature a much more
melodic vocal part, and it is a shame that the album does not follow suit.
Next up is Del Dettmar's brief, and slightly creepy "ASDF" (no idea what it stands for, sorry) which is a
nice enough "One Change" kind of thing leading into the already well-known "Sonic Savages", of which
little need be said - it's just as good as it always was! "Droid Love" is a relaxed instrumental featuring some
outstanding sax from the Thunder Rider who, like Mr Slattery, is truly at the top of his game instrumentally
here. "Time Crime" has been a popular live song for the last few years and, possibly because it's so familiar,
I prefer the live renditions. The album is excellently produced, but this particular song is actually diminished
by the (over?) production, I feel. It just seems to suit the somewhat stripped-down live sound. Then again,
it's a great song, and if this was my first hearing I would have nothing to complain about!
A nice reworking of "Arrival In Utopia" is next, this time as a spoken-word piece in which Nik's vocals
capture a strange wide-eyed innocence, over a really rather tasteful piano backdrop, credited to Mr
Dettmar. Different, but it works... "Atomik" is another slow-paced instrumental with some exemplary
acoustic guitar, but for me lacking Nik's magical flute which makes the live version so enjoyable. Floydian,
one might say...
"The Riddle" seriously ROCKS, pure and simple. Along with the title track, it's my personal highlight (oh,
and the next track as well...). A second cousin to "Orgone Accumulator", it's also on nodding terms with
The Stranglers' "(Get A) Grip (on Yourself)" and is proof enough that the band can cut it at the harder
edges of spacerock. "Notes From A Cold Planet" is, for me, up there in the top 3 all-time HW (or related)
spoken-word pieces. It is rather grim yet fascinating, and Nik has captured it marvellously. Hats off!
The final track, "Walking Backwards", is another upbeat rocker with some suitably psychedelic vocal
effects and sturdy riffing - nothing too astonishing, perhaps, but good fun and a solid end to what is overall
a magnificent album. There are, as has been noted by others, some lyrical clunkers, and the lack of vocal
melody on a couple of tracks may cause some grumbling. It's also possible that many will consider the
album TOO polished, given the SR live experience. Both would be reasonable criticisms, but overall it is a
fine piece of work which deserves to be heard (and hopefully supported by) all HW fans, whichever "side"
they are on. 9/10.
4. Third Review (by me)
Earth Calling starts off in time-honoured Hawkwind fashion, with some subdued synth noise and a distant
treated vocal intoning the eponymous callsign...but in what may be a harbinger of things to come, it is
slightly updated with a piece of modern studio trickery, with a sampled vocal chant flown in, panning from
top right to bottom left of the stereo image. Immediate reaction: great, polished production, but why open
with an old Hawkwind song, even if it has been retitled to The Return?
The title track Otherworld momentarily evokes Greensleeves, with an opening motif of acoustic
nylon-strung guitar, quavering flute and samples of laughing children: it then picks up into a mid-tempo
pastoral rhythm with some surprisingly angular stabs of guitar and forceful vocal delivery from Nik. The
chorus has a great melodic choral ensemble effect over some pleasant acoustic guitar fingerpicking.
Interesting, and it's a pleasure to see that this album is not just going to be a retread of past glories... But
once these structural elements have been laid out, the song just meanders along resequencing them until we
hear a laidback baritone sax solo in the coda, which then yields to lead guitar and vocoder'd vocals, before
returning to the intro...
This fades out into a Hillagesque soundscape of spiraling synth and soulful lead guitar...but the vibe is
spoiled by the distorted vocals that then recite the lyrics to Black Corridor, which is what this is. I don't
know if the inclusion of these Moorcock-connected pieces is Nik's way of demonstrating that relations
between them are still good, but they're anachronistic and unnecessary. Far from providing ballast to the
album, if this particular track is any indication, these numbers are the weak links in the chain.
Bubbles starts off with a portentous riff that is a little like Mask Of The Morning at first, but then drops
into a pedestrian AOR mood that, like Otherworld a couple of tracks earlier, drips with 1970's influences.
This I think is the true sound of Space Ritual: far from being a Hawkwind tribute, they are something
altogether different, and essentially are not a Space Rock band despite their origins. If I had to cite a
musical antecedent for them, on this evidence it would not be Hawkwind but something more like Al
Stewart! Lyrically, it does seem to be a tribute to Barney Bubbles, but I wonder what he would have made
of the music?
Communique II might be an update of Ghost Dance, consisting of a Nik Turner vocal over nothing more
than a tribal drumbeat. It's all over in a minute and a half and we then go into Ritual Of The Ravaged
Earth, which revisits some Moorcock lyrics ("we are tired, so tired of making love...it is cold at the edge of
time") over a jaunty early-80's sounding montage of synth-pop moves. It is as if Nik was being backed by
Depeche Mode, though the mood does darken for the last minute of the track, which improves it
considerably. By the way, the production on the album is excellent, thanks to Dave Anderson, at whose
Foel Studios this was laid down. Although the musical content is very 70's influenced, the mellowness thus
implied is preserved without descending into mushiness and there's a cool clarity about the mix at all times.
Nik's vocals even sound like those of a much younger man, so smoothed out are they!
An instrumental called ASDF is credited to Del Dettmar and is all too short, without much ostinato to
render it into songlike length or structure: sonorous piano chords chime over a bubbling alien synthscape...
(Incidentally, I don't think ASDF stands for anything, other than being the sequence of keys on a computer
keyboard immediately to the right of the Caps Lock!)
Sonic Savages which follows is a "new" song to have featured in Space Ritual's live sets over the last
couple of years: in fact it's been knocking about since the days of Nik Turner's Sphynx in the late 70's, and
retains the imprint of that decade like most of the other tracks on this album. Though oddly it does not
sound like its contemporaries of that precise time-frame, but has a more retro early 70's glam-rock feel to
it. You can imagine Marc Bolan's T.Rex playing it, that is until Nik's emotive sax solo and Mick Slattery's
lead guitar wails (not a solo, exactly) drag it more into a mid-70's progressive rock direction. This is one of
the album's more epic tracks, clocking in at about six and a half minutes, and carving out its own very
successful vibe in so doing.
Droid Love opens with beautiful misty swirls of synth complemented by a lyrical alto sax. This is all
actually quite Hawkwindish without being the tiniest bit derivative - maybe the Steve Hillage reference made
earlier is a better touchstone. This doesn't go anywhere in particular, but does it need to? No. Another
Time Crime is another retro trip, with ensemble vocals and a heavily reverbed sax lead woven into a pacey
pop song. There's even some flute thrown into the mix, and overall this doesn't evoke any particular
moment of the musical past so much as all of them from the 50's to the 80's. Maybe the 1960's
predominate thanks to those vocals, but this is another enjoyable rollercoaster ride of a song that owes
nothing to anyone despite being constructed from a set of influences: out of derivation cometh originality...
Arrival In Utopia is simply awful, being a hackneyed Nik Turner reading of the lyrics which one assumes
must be Michael Moorcock's, over a rolling piano accompaniment. This just doesn't work on any level and
again, if only they'd stayed away from the ex-Hawkwind tracks and done their own thing instead! Which
they do successfully on Atomik, where acoustic guitar intertwines with some plaintive keyboard and synth
swoops. Halfway in Mick Slattery throws down some very tasty lead acoustic guitar, maybe slightly
reminiscent of the sort of thing Tony Iommi used to do when not summoning up the devil - think of the
coda to Symptom Of The Universe on the Sabotage album: this is not a million miles from that.
The mood immediately darkens with The Riddle, which sounds like an ICU song done by a load of old
men, strangely enough :-) In all seriousness, there's a punk song buried in here somewhere, but that is not
where Space Ritual's collective head is at, so they tackle this in the way that is turning out to be emblematic
of them on this album: the number is awash with 70's-style Adult Oriented Rock phrasing and
instrumentation. I mean, the lyrics are totally apocalyptic, and the delivery bounces along at a goodly pace,
but it's still amazingly West Coast.
Notes From A Cold Planet (I bet Porcupine Tree wish they'd thought of that title) is another one of those
uneasy compromises between a pastoral synth / flute backing and dystopian spoken word lyrics. In this
particular number they are made more awkward when they touch upon brand names like Heinz Baked
Beans, which was an odd reminder of Nik doing Utopia 84 a quarter of a century ago, and burbling on
about Watney's Red Barrel. This is early in the "song" and it improves thereafter, but is probably just too
long and too wordy to achieve the desired effect of setting a sombre mood.
The album's last track Walking Backwards lifts things back up though, with a power pop feel to it, which
is slightly let down by the monotonal vocals which remind me of the old "Thunder Rider Rap" with which
Nik used to ruin Silver Machine in the mid-90's. But the best thing about this is the tight little riff to which
Nik appends the phrase "...Still walking backwards" to provide the chorus. And I do like the outro with the
sax / synth interplay...as on many other of the tracks on this album, it could be that the arrangements are
really better than the songwriting and that they, along with the production, are what keeps everything afloat.
Overall then, absolutely not what I was expecting. Because I've never seen Space Ritual play live, I had
formed the impression that they were threading a path between playing tired cod jazz and uninspired
blanga-free Hawkwind covers. This album is nothing like that, and it is really a pity that they are called
what they are called, because they're nothing like Hawkwind, and do better when they follow their own
instincts - far, far away from space rock. 8/10.
5. Fourth Review (by Bob Walker)
Maybe some of you might remember a late 70's Marvel comics series called 'What If?' comics. Parallel
universe fables dealing with such Earth shaking themes as 'What if the Fantastic 4 had different super
powers?', 'What if Spider Man was a girl? etc.. Listening to Otherworld gave me a similar feeling. For
example, 'What if Hawkwind never discovered Heavy Metal, click tracks, sequencers and midi equipment?',
'What if things hadn't always revolved around one technician?'. Don't get me wrong here, I've got a foot in
each camp and no desire to add fuel to any further political fires. However, I have to admit, Thunder Rider
and co. have pulled a blinder with this one.
Space Rock it most definitely is, yer honour. Hallucinatory of course, though reflecting more of the natural
phantasmagoria created by Psilocybin than the synthetic brilliance of L.S.D. This album had me in turns
smiling, laughing, smirking with nostalgic sorrow and jumping round the room. Yes, there is scope for
those voices of dissent to point to past glories revisited, but the overall feeling is of something new, organic
and vital. Nik has always brought what I would describe as a shamanic edge to his projects and that of
course is here in spades. What is also present is a very fluid, competent and intuitive group of musicians.
There is (as I believe somebody else observed) a sense of Space Ritual being more than the sum of its parts.
So, what of this screed, this grimoire, this tractatus? What's the deal here? Well, 'The Return' whooshes us
in with echoes of Ghost Dance, and the ambience of Earth Calling, Galactic Central picked up between
stations somewhere at the arse-end of the dial gently pre-medicates us into the title track 'Otherworld'.
Flute, birds, childen, accoustic guitar, harmonics, cymbals and whoa! Here comes da man wid da horn!
Now I confess I don't know where Nik's been or what he did while he was there but only 7 made it back
from the Otherworld - I'm not surprised! Slattery pulls out some top West Coast style geetar lickin' before
we gliss our way through the door into 'The Black Corridor'. Arguably, as I suggested earlier, not new
stuff, though I would argue this version of the Moorcock classic was found on the toilet floor in a night
club on Rigel 4 by some blue guy who read it out moments after being ejected from the airlock as a result
of doing something unspeakable with the waitress's tentacles.
Next up, one of my favourites... 'Bubbles', obviously about Barney, creative father of Hawkwind, and so
much more. Joy, sorrow, pathos, too much to go into, just good that somebody gives a ####.
'Communique 2' is extraterrestrial, cyber-sexual, pan-dimensional malarky. Sit back and enjoy, decode at
your leisure. Back to Moorcock and the edge of time for 'Ritual of the Ravaged Earth'. Not just warriors
here but a slew of other lost denizens as we make the transition from spoken word into a genuinely musical
piece with the tried and tested 'tired of making love' providing an old hook in an otherwise completely new
'A.S.D.F.'? Further mysteries. This enigmatic acronym brings us the Del Dettmar instrumental reminiscent
of 'One Change'. A brief introspective pause before we launch into 'Sonic Savages'. For a moment I was
reminded of Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' before I realised I wasn't actually bored. A beautiful crystal clear
production on this one, quite sophisticated, these savages. Next up, another instrumental, 'Droid Love'
creates rather a pastoral vibe. Obviously the emphasis is on the emotional rather than the mechanical, no
problemo with this particular set of integrated circuits. 'Time Crime', I remember from a demo recorded
sometime in-between Sphynx and ICU. Closer to ska back then, this one has matured nicely into quite an
elliptical pop song. Dealing with escape from prison via time travel, Jaki Windmill's backing vocals add a
nice sweetener to Nik's unique delivery.
'Arrival in Utopia' again reworks Moorcock, this time within a jazz setting allowing Nik the full potential to
sound like a jaded utopian. Doubtless sitting in some plush bar sipping a tall cool one, he manages to convey
a sense of ennui and torpor quite different to the Choose Your Masques version of a quarter century ago.
Following this is 'Atomik', another instrumental reminiscent of some of the 'In Search Of Space' material
linking the band once again to its past before we zip forward in time again to 'The Riddle'. For this one, Nik
steps into the anti-gravity boots of a cosmic Bo Diddley and with complete confidence raises more
questions about life, the universe and indeed his own sanity.
'Notes from a Cold Planet' is, as far as I know, a previously unrecorded Moorcock piece. Genuinely chilling
this one, not unlike some of the works of J.G. Ballard or Kobo Abe, the album's bleakest moment. Not to
worry though, eh? We're back for some more cosmic stompin' with the closing 'Walking Backwards'.
Maybe we haven't evolved at all... Still, that riff did it for me... So there you go, 'Otherworld' by turns
slippery, crunchy, sexy and downright confounding. It's not a Hawkwind album, it's something else.
6. Fifth review (by Tostwi Beensen)
I've had the new Spaceritual CD for about a week and here are my first impressions. It is a good offering, a
solid offering, but it's a bit tame. In the past, Nik Turner has said that he would like to reform Hawkind and
produce a stunning album utilising modern technology; hence, I was expecting something a mind altering.
However, the challenge posed by a new Hawkwind album just isn't present: the surprise contained within
Hawkwind tracks such as Green Back Massacre and Angela Android is missing. Overall, the album lacks
experimentation and the tracks are often formulaic. The music isn't quite aggressive enough and a new
genre of space rock has emerged: Radio-2-friendly-space-rock.
Nik turner has previously alluded to the current Hawkwind as trading upon the Hawkwind of yesteryear:
with the recycling of Moorcocks material this is exactly what Spaceritual are doing! I can't help thinking
that there must be some new poetry and poets out there. I get the feeling that they need to cut the umbilical
cord from their previous band and go their own way.
I don't want to sound too critical as I can't wait to hear the tracks played live where they will undoubtedly
be more raucous. The CD, with its combined rocky and jazzy edge, is Gong-like and this isn't a bad thing.
It is well worth ten quid of any hawk-fan's money and is probably a grower. It is the best hawk-related
release since, in my humble opinion, Alien 4.