Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 31

Thanks to Graham P. for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course.
Just about worth a listen (*1/2): Dave Brock - Strange Trips and Pipe Dreams
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With its superb sci-fi-themed, card-sleeved digipak format
(long before these things became commonplace), it certainly
looked like DB had pulled out all the stops for his third full solo
outing, which was released on the short-lived EBS label in 1995
(as EBSSCD 116). Unfortunately the content tells a rather
different story. If nothing else though, the music here signals
Hawkwind's move from proper songs to electronic noodling,
as also evident on IITBOTFTBD and White Zone (with which
this release shares two of its better tracks). While there is little
here that is actually unpleasant, too much of it feels like studio
jamming and experiments in mood music. On my i-Tunes this
album segues into John Miles' "Stranger in the City" and the
transition to real songs, good melodies and powerful singing
couldn't be more obvious.

"Hearing Aid Test" is a mundane syn-drum track with some
There was a long gap between Dave Brock solo albums two (Agents of Chaos) and three (Strange Trips)
and the latter marked a different, to my mind less interesting, approach, one continued to a greater or
lesser extent through albums four (Spacebrock - come on, not a true Hawkwind album) and five (Memos
and Demos).
so-so solo guitar work over the top and closes out with some snippets of sampled dialogue. Track 2,
"White Zone", differs from the Psychedelic Warriors track of the same name by being two seconds
shorter. Purely instrumental, apart from sampled dialogue, it at least has a sense of urgency and feels
composed rather than thrown together. DB plays both guitar and synth on this and, as Hawkwind-style
forays into electronic instrumentals go, it is not bad, if somewhat repetitive and over-long. "UFO Line" is a
short spacey interlude which does very little for 85 seconds. Any hope of significant new songs takes a
further beating on track 4, which is an acoustic/electronic remake of "Space is Deep", entitled simply
"Space". If DB was doing a solo club gig near you, this kind of re-make would of course be most welcome
but here it just signals that his muse in on vacation.

"Pipe Dream" is a pleasant sounding but very repetitive sequencer-based piece which, like "White Zone",
also appears on the Psychedelic Warriors CD, albeit in a version 6 seconds longer. "Self" is another short
collage of spacey noises and samples. "Something's Going On" starts out with DB adopting a ridiculously
plummy voice over tinkling piano but quickly morphs into some kind of industrial electronica, with little
discernible structure.

The sticker on the sleeve helpfully tells us that "Bosnia" is the key track and it does indeed mark an upturn
in quality. It has serious intent too, clearly inspired by the war in the Balkans. After a stately introduction
on plucked (synthetic?) guitar, sounds of gunfire and cold laughter herald DB's spoken vocals. These in
turn are underpinned by a cyclic synth figure and ghostly synthetic choir. The following "Parasites Are
Here On Earth" brings back the electric guitar and repeats various familiar guitar and synth motifs in no
particular order. It ends up with DB shouting the title. "Gateway" is a smooth and moody synth interlude.
"It's Never Too Late" picks up the pace, with insistent sequencers overlaid by guitar, and it features DB
singing a typically fatalistic lyric. No classic but almost a proper song. "LaForge" is presumably inspired by
the Star Trek character, since the track features a sample of Star Trek dialogue. The synth and guitar mesh
nicely but, again, it is more a mood piece than a song. Lastly, "Encounters" is, little more than three
minutes of sequences and effects.

In some ways this is the least engaging Dave Brock solo album and, while three or four tracks bear
repeated listening, it is, overall, a serious disappointment.
Just about worth a listen (*1/2): Dave Brock - Spacebrock  *½   (or ** for the version with
"Damage of Life" on it)
A Dave Brock solo album to all intents and purposes,
although sold as Hawkwind product
(HAWKVP18CD), this was released in 2000. The
original CD Services review was unstinting in its
praise, apparently all down to the inclusion of
probably the best mix available of "Damage of Life" -
which is possibly the best DB solo track, bar none,
and one briefly adopted by the mothership (see Yule
Ritual). However, the version of Spacebrock with
"Damage of Life" on it turned out to be a
mis-pressing and was rapidly withdrawn. The
revised issue lacks focus, with several reheated (or
simply repeated) tracks from the past together with
a bunch of unremarkable new songs and
instrumentals.

The album kicks off with "Life Form" (see PXR5)
and "Some People Never Die" (Church of Hawkwind): nothing wrong with either of them, but why? We
then move through two dreamy instrumentals ("Dreamers", "Earth Breath") to a not unpleasant new
mid-paced song in "You Burn Me Up". "The Right Way" (otherwise known as "Find the Right Way") is a
vocal sample in a bed of synths while "Sex Dreams" features another vocal sample embedded in a mundane
and irritating electronic instrumental track. Both these tracks reappeared on the following year's Memos
and Demos.

"To Be Or Not To Be" is not as bad as the title suggests and has the virtue of brevity but its mix of
Shakespearean recitation and space rock instrumental is certainly odd. A short version of the lush
instrumental "Kaui" follows (see also Distant Horizons, Memos and Demos) - nice tune but can we get
something new please? "Earth Calling" has little to do with the original Space Ritual track except of course
its title. With the co-option of some lyrics from "Uncle Sam's on Mars" sung by DB, it starts promisingly
enough but rapidly drifts off into ambient instrumental territory.

The next two tracks both appear to be new but sound underdeveloped. "Starkness of the Capsule" (a title,
lest we forget, drawn from "The Awakening") is an unremarkable keyboard-based tune with a mainly
spoken word vocal (something about retreating into endless sleep, a theme revisited in "Morpheus" on
Memos and Demos). "Behind the Face" is half-sung, half-chanted, and altogether too theatrical. Mike
Moorcock could probably have managed the arch campness a good deal better.

The title track, "Spacebrock" found its way onto Yule Ritual in the guise of "Money Tree". A rock solid,
riff-based, instrumental, it represents the first (and only) time on the revised album that the spirit of
Hawkwind stirs from its bed. Quite simply the best thing on the album it is followed by possibly the worst:
"Space Pilots" takes us back to ambient instrumental territory and does nothing of interest for 2 minutes.

"1st landing" is of course a re-imagining of "The Awakening" from Space Ritual, or, if you prefer, "First
Landing on Medusa" from Weird Tapes 7, delivered here with a new and understated instrumental
backdrop and minimum fuss or thrills. A relative success. "The Journey" has Brock on both guitar and
vocals, albeit on different sections of the song but it pretty inconsequential. Finally, "Do You Want This
Body" mixes dreamy ambient sounds (most of the track), vocal samples, and an under-used crunching riff.
Worth a listen : Dave Brock - Memos and Demos
Despite its unpretentious title, this 2001 release on
Voiceprint (HAWKVP20CD) is generally a more
satisfactory proposition than either Strange Trips or
Spacebrock. A fair proportion of this is DB writing
for Hawkwind, and it shows. In any case, at least to
begin with, it is more song-based. However, several
tracks repeat or update previously issued material
and, in truth, too many of the 16 tracks (totalling
60+ minutes) are second-rate filler. At least two
("Tune-ing in" and "Space Invaders and Sex
Dreams") should have been left on the cutting room
floor.

The album starts with one of DB's mournful
worldview songs (see "Damage of Life",
"Wastelands of Sleep"), the rather excellent "Clouded
Vision", which had appeared, albeit a full minute
shorter, as a Hawkwind track on Distant Horizons. Two versions of "State of Mind" follow, both full-on
guitar workouts. If the instrumental version sounds a bit familiar, the following vocal version makes clear
some lyrical affinity to "Right to Decide". Possibly a bit too generic but it could have worked as a
Hawkwind track.

"Tune-ing in" offers more urgent riffing before morphing into a sort-of pop song, on which horribly
synthetic reggae battles with metallic guitar. Truly terrible. The following tune, "Kauai", is suitably
evocative of its Hawaiian inspiration but is of course also suitably evocative on both the Distant Horizons
and Spacebrock albums, where it appears in virtually identical form. "Morpheus" is another "life-is-shit"
type song with mournful vocals, a fairly upbeat arrangement and forgettable melody. "Find the Right Way"
is a vocal sample over ambient backing, pleasant but slight - and it also appeared on Spacebrock. "Didn't
Have a Problem Then" has half sung, half spoken vocals and, although the verse melody is more
memorable than the chorus, it is still not very interesting. (Starfarer points out a similarity to "The Office").

Next up, the aggressive rocking arrangement of "Luna" nicely offsets the mournful sentimentality of the
lyrics (it is, in fact, an affectionate lament about a deceased horse - which is not a criticism by the way).  
"Love in Space" is a fine song, just over-familiar. I mean, really: for decent Hawkwind versions see the
Love in Space EP (the studio version), the Love in Space live album, the live version on Masters of Rock,
the superior live version on Hawkwind 1997 (with Captain Rizz - I think - extemporising about the human
race and the rat race), and another live version on the Various Artists album "Wir Sind Die Kinder Der
Revolte". It is also on both In Your Area and Winter Solstice 2005, the rocking mid-section being dropped
in favour of inserting completely different songs to create one of the dreaded Hawkwind medleys. Distant
Horizons offers a shortened version and Psychedelic Warriors includes a barely recognizable short track of
the same name. Sorry if I missed one!

Meanwhile, back at Memos and Demos, "Love in Space" is followed by "Surreal Sex Dreams" which,
aside from the vocal samples which give rise to the title, is a lively but bog-standard instrumental rocker,
previously known as "Sex Dreams" on Spacebrock. "Just Drifting" is well-named, i.e. it is light
instrumental fluff. "Sweet Obsession" revisits a lyric from the first solo album. In this incarnation it is
downbeat and mournful and loses the naive eighties electro-pop charm (and tune) of the original version.
"Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk" is lively and mainly instrumental, aside from some Rizz-style
toasting. "Space Invaders and Sex Dreams" comprises an intensely irritating and insistent mechanical
rhythm track bodged together with extracts from "Surreal Sex Dreams" and it lasts 9 god-awful and
interminable minutes. Finally, "Distant Islands" does dreamy, laid-back, and the album ends on a whimper
rather than a shout.
Other Dave Brock solo material

There is precious little other DB solo material out there and what there is divides fairly easily into
pre-Hawkwind, the late-70s-early-1980s and the late-1990s-early-2000s.

The first era pretty much consists of the track "Bring it on Home" on the Buskers LP from 1969(?).
However, DB's performances in various blues bands, of various and often forgettable blues songs, can be
followed on "The Dawn of Hawkwind" (the official release, not the bootleg of the same name). See also
"Anthology of British Blues" and similar releases for two tracks from the Dharma Blues Band ("Roll 'em
Pete" and "Dealing with the Devil" - although it isn't clear to me if these are from 1965 with DB or later
recordings without him).

A few solo tracks from the late 70s (Nuclear Toy, The War, The Dream, Assassination, The Dream II,
Satellite - several became Hawkwind tracks) appeared on the first of the Weird Tapes releases (originally
cassette, latterly on CD) - and a load of early 1980s demos appeared on Weird Tapes 7. The early 80s also
brought us the first two solo albums and a handful of other solo tracks: the two singles ("Zones" /
"Processed" and "Social Alliance" / "Raping Robots in the Streets" released in 1982 and 1983 by Hawkfan
and Flicknife respectively), an unremarkable version of the traditional song "Motherless Children" which
appeared on Flicknife's Friends and Relations volume 2 in 1983, and a version of the first solo album's
"Wired up for Sound" which appeared on F&R volume 3 in 1985. Both these latter tracks have reappeared
on CD compilations of F&R material.   

In addition to the last three solo albums, the late 1990s / early 2000s saw a very few other solo Brock
tracks creep out. "You Burn Me Up" from Spacebrock previously appeared as "Burn Me Up" on "The Elf
and the Hawk" CD and four other tracks showed up on "Family Tree". Of these, "The Auctioneer" is as
negligible as anything in the Brock canon: a synthetic rhythm track and a few organ stabs. "Space Show
Biz" is even less notable, vocal samples mixed with and DB playing the ringmaster. In contrast, "Voice
Inside My Head" combines an insistent rhythm track (think Valium 10) with synth fills and some treated
Brock singings - it is really not bad. Finally "Moonbeams on Mars" is a collage of synth, sequencers, sound
effects and samples and is rather less interesting than its title.

You could cull a very good "Best of" from the various DB solo albums but clearly the true legacy lies in the
40 years of output from the mothership.
"Always", is a high energy version of the song by Spirits Burning (from Earthborn), which in its new
clothes is an absolute cracker: effortlessly atmospheric, with keening synths and violin over an urgent
chugging rhythm, topped with Bridget's breathy vocals. It sounds like an instant goth classic, and I mean
that as a compliment.

Track 3, "Night Twist", also majors in atmosphere, albeit with none of the propulsive energy of the
previous track, with Bridget emoting breathily (again) over a soft blanket of synths, light percussion and
occasional guitar fills, all with a distinctly Chinese feel. The closing "One by One" (apparently by
Bangtheory, but not a song I had heard before) eschews melody and opts for an industrial setting, the
vocals battling against a distorted, discordant, guitar, plus drums and sundry industrial sounds.  

On the first track, "Hen", Bridget sings about the sad caged life of a battery hen, over a jaunty and
minimalist backing track. While I can't argue with the sentiment, the overall effect is of a rather unpleasant
nursery rhyme (sample lyrics: "she's a soft and warm little feathery thing" or something like that). While this
is probably entirely intentional (is there any other kind of nursery rhyme?) and, clearly, the listener's
discomfort is trivial compared to that experienced by the subject of the song, it still makes for an
uncomfortable three minutes.

And now, a review of the same CD by your humble webmaster:

Given to me at the Hawkfest by Dazzy B, all I know about this is that (a) Graham's already reviewed it, and
(b) Bridget Wishart is on it.  So, what we have here is a four track EP, which (on closer examination)
features a number of luminaries besides Bridget, most notably Simon House and Don Falcone.  I know
Don's Spirits Burning project is inclined to be a broad church, but I was expecting something from the
space rock pews, off in the shadows to the back.  Instead it's an accomplished, coherent recording that is a
fine fusion of modern, adult mood music with pronounced, but never derivative, 1980's influences.

Hen: Opening with what sounds like sonorous piano or plucked strings (it resolves into a string section), the
listener's attention is captured by some breathy girl vocals -it's Bridget- delivering some disquieting lyrics:
"She's a soft and torn little feathery thing...shut in a world full of nothing...is this all there'll ever be?".  
Underpinning this is an 80's sounding rhythm track with some vintage drum machine sounds (however they
were played...)  Overall this reminds me of Pauline Murray's solo material with the Invisible Girls, largely on
account of Bridget's vocals.  Next track Always (Spirit Free) has an understated arrangement of spare
drums, fluid bass, a buzzing, droning guitar and amorphous synth sweeps.  There are lots of vocal layers -
Bridget's voice succeeds best when she avoids stridency.  Mellow as it is, this track develops with great
subtlety, adding in some jagged stabs of guitar, and lovely keyboard chords which I can only feebly
describe as having that "far away" sound.

Night Twist commences with a plinky plonky opening - is that a sanxian?  Female vocals aside, this is not a
million miles away from the better things that Wang Chung did, especially when they were called Huang
Chung.  The layered vocals are here cast in unison, riding undertones of flute, strings, and vaguely
eastern-sounding percussion.  Then a beautifully detailed bass picks up the groove, accompanied by a dark,
soulful lead guitar.  As this number evolves, the vocal arrangements recall Talking Heads on their 1980
album Remain In Light - specifically the closing track thereof, a dark, haunting piece called "The
Overload"...

Lastly, One By One: a snappy pairing of taut drums and tense, vamping guitar, this pretty quickly veers off
in an unexpected direction.  Featuring male tenor vocals (or if they're Bridget's, she's found a new lower
register), a fat bass and sludgy guitar accompany some portamento synth voices that sound like toothpaste
being squeezed out of a tube.  This one is more in David Bowie territory circa The Lodger, and is
comparable with something you'd find on one of Adrian Shaw's excellent solo albums: it has that same
paranoid, squelched quality about it.

This is music of great simplicity, perfectly presented by the assured production, which hasn't the high-tech
gloss available to those with greater budgets, but is nonetheless inventive with the instrument voicings and
measured in terms of how much aural room remains in the mix.  One of the best.
Worth a listen : Omenopus - Portents

A recent visit to Bridget Wishart's website turned up a link to this CD, on
which she sings by a new collective of musicians, presently featuring
Bridget, David Speight, John Pierpoint and Lee Potts, plus guests. The CD
features four tracks totalling almost 20 minutes. To these ears, one track is
excellent and two are worth a listen and one delivers its message in a less
palatable format. In any case, since the CD is available for 99p (i.e. the cost
of postage and packaging), you really can't go wrong - and they sent me 3

copies for my 99p! An album is apparently due to follow soon.  Track 2,
Worth a listen : Steve Took's Horns - The All New
Adventures of...¦

At first sight, this CD looks distinctly exploitative: the core of
the music is three demo tracks recorded by Steve Took's
Horns in 1977 but these have been stretched out to 12 tracks
by virtue of an alternative take, some dodgy remixes, two new
recordings of Steve Took songs, and a"tribute" song. The text
on the back cover of the CD manages to mention Hawkwind
no less than five times (in bold type too) and implies that Mr
Took worked with Hawkwind musicians, apparently on the
strength of the fact that two of the Horns (step forward Judge
Trev and Dino Ferrari, for it is they) later formed part of ICU
with Nik Turner.  In fact,
as detailed elsewhere, Steve Took
worked with both Robert Calvert and Nik Turner, appearing on
the former's original "Cricket Star" (unreleased until it appeard on Lucky Leif) and writing its b-side
("Howzat").

The CD booklet looks pretty good actually, with a cartoon strip design allegedly inspired by Mick Farren,
but it appears to have been written by friends or family of the Judge, since it misses no opportunity to praise
his prowess on the guitar. The genuine Hawkwind connection is the appearance of Ron Tree (bass and vox)
on the two new recordings, although he arrived in the studio 25 years too late to actually meet Steve Took.
The booklet describes Mr Tree as "in many ways a latter day Took", a bit of a barbed tribute given Steve
Took's troubled and early demise in 1980.

However it isn't a bad listen. The three vintage tracks (four, counting the alternate take of "Average Man")
are pleasantly raucous. The CD booklet suggests that we are in the presence of something akin to the Faces
and that is probably a fair indication of the spirit, if not necessarily the execution, of these performances.
The two Tree/Judge/Dino performances (from 2002) of previously unrecorded Took songs aren't bad at all,
maintaining some of the loose pub rock feel of the older material. Track 7, "Mountain Range" is lifted
straight from the latterday ICU (i.e. post-Turner) album Now You Know The Score - and is a decent heavy
rock tune from the Judge. This leaves five listenable but inessential remakes of Took's songs, which feature
parts of the original tracks (including samples of Took's vocals) overlaid with additional instrumentation:
Rick Welsh's trumpet is added to three tracks and the Judge contributes new guitar parts in several places.

This CD appeared on Cherry Red in 2004 (CDM RED 255). If you can get past the questionable ethics of
the way the material is presented, it is worth a listen. If you want to hear another side of the Judge, check
out the new Live in Portsmouth CDR available from Real Festival Music. This has much the same relation to
ICU as Blackmore's Night has to Deep Purple. Anyway, no Hawk guest appearances this time out but a run
through some of his solo folk-doom tunes and some standards.
Worth a listen : Nektar - Down to Earth

This progressive rock curio features Bob Calvert as
"ringmaster", making (circus) announcements in his
best German accent at various stages in proceedings.
Although I think of Nektar as a prog band, the music
is generally at the lighter end of the "prog" spectrum,
with short songs and a range of musical styles. The
original album's nine tracks clock in at around 37
minutes.

The most obviously "progressive" track, and probably
the most memorable, is the (mainly) instrumental
"Nellie the Elephant", which features a chugging,
organ-driven backing track augmented by a repeated
motif on brass and heavy rock guitar
soloing, plus
Calvert's spoken interjections on the subject of
elephants and, naturally, a sampled elephant.  Also
clearly in the prog vein is the longest track, "That's Life", a song that is probably too complex for its own
good. It has both soft and heavy passages, and recalls Supertramp with its wordless vocal harmonising, or
Uriah Heep when the lead vocals switch into falsetto - and Calvert is in there too, ranting at the end. The
closing track on the original LP is "Finale", which reprises the musical themes from "Nellie".

Otherwise the album ranges from good time rock'n'roll to pastoral rock. In the former category are the
lightweight boogie of "Astral Man" and the rocking "Fidgety Queen". The latter begins incongruously with a
histrionic Calvert rant but then switches into brass-heavy good time rock, augmented with slide guitar,
which (vocals aside) could be mid-seventies Uriah Heep. On the pastoral side are the ballad "Little Boy" and
"Early Morning Clown", the latter being a dead ringer for the Moody Blues. "Oh Willy" starts - and ends - as
funk rock but has a delicate melodic instrumental mid-section. "Show Me the Way" also mixes both styles.

The CD reissue also features alternative (original) mixes of six tracks and, presumably in recognition of who
might buy this reissue, the last track comprises "Robert Calvert Outtakes" on which our man is heard
rehearsing his intro for "Fidgety Queen", switching from discussing his performance in a plummy English
voice to high camp German for the performance itself. The original mixes sound rather muddy and they
lack Calvert's vocal performances.

It took several listens to leave any impression but, finally, it is a fine album on its own terms.
Worth a listen : Mazlyn Jones and Guy Evans with Nik Turner and
Friends
                                              [Review by Graham Hawker]

Here we have Nik Turner, Guy Evans and a few others joining guitar
maestro Nigel Mazlyn Jones for a mix of songs and instrumental
soundscapes. This not the best stuff he's ever done but it has its
moments. Firstly Mr Mazlyn Jones is one of my favourite guitarists. He
mainly plays acoustic, usually twelve string (DADGAD tuned for the
guitarists out there) and often through a variety of effects including tape
delays. He's also a fine songwriter and everyone should buy Ship to
Shore and Sentinel and the Fools of the Finest Degree.
 Essentially a folk
guitarist but oh so much more. Even back in 1976 the effects created an
electronica edge. Anyway I digress.

I believe this is derived from two concerts and Nik was only at one of them and therefore is only on the
first three tracks. Someone at the Door provides a gentle start with Nik on flute and on fine form.  We end
with Mazlyn Jones with his highly effected glissando type guitar as Guy Evans rattles away and Nik sounds
like he's back in Egypt.

20th Century is a song which shows Mazlyn Jones at his best on stunning rhythmical effected acoustic
guitar with Nik on sax, sounding like Nik on sax, while Evans adds to the rhythmical splendour. The
highspot of the album.

Spirit Moves is a spot of ambient footling (if that's a word). Mazlyn Jones is on hammered dulcimer and Nik
floats away on sax as Evans fiddles on percussion. A bit dull really.

So that's it for Nik. Amongst the other tracks we get the classic Ship to Shore to finish. Really you need to
hear the original album version. He sings the song differently and it's not as good. The track goes into How
High the Moon and then into the Ship to Shore extended glissando guitar soundscape which always sounds
fantastic. Unseen Landings & First Light and Behind the Stones are good songs and there's also fairly dull
instrumentals like Parachute Landings, Well Beyond This Point and The Windsmith which is one of the
better instrumentals. Generally Guy Evans doesn't help the tracks a lot.

This is an album for Mazlyn Jones fans and not Nik Turner fans. You can get this as a download through
Isle of Light Records -more info here- and I've seen it on Emusic. 20th Century is worth 79p of
anybody's money. (Correct at July 2010).
Approach with Caution : Spirits Burning - Crazy
Fluid

Whether you like their music or not, you have to
admire Spirits Burning for their consistent
eclecticism, spirit of adventure, and open door policy
on musical collaborators. You learn to expect the
unexpected. At various times this record calls to mind
modern classical music, the Third Ear Band, Frank
Zappa, Madredeus, Wishbone Ash, ELP and King
Crimson.While these things are always subjective, I
can safely say that I struggled with the first half of
the record, which deliberately eschews melody and
conventional musical structure, while the second half
(especially the last three tracks) is more conventional
and rather excellent. The
Hawkwind interest is that
Bridget Wishart sings on one track. If you allow that
excursions into modern classical music are a legitimate artistic activity for "rock" artists you may get more
out of this CD than I did on the first couple of listens.

The first four and a half minutes of the opening "Holy Water and the Sea Movers" is indeed closer to
modern classical music than to space rock, with its mood of chilly formality and ponderous measured pace,
deploying a mixture of rock and classical instrumentation and wordless choral vocals. The unforgivingly
dissonant sounds are at times reminiscent of, say, the Third Ear Band's "Music for MacBeth". Just before
the 5-minute mark, a rhythm  track kicks in and steers the piece into a more recognisably rock idiom for the
last couple of minutes.

The following "My Caspian Sea Monster" stays in difficult neo-classical territory. A thoroughly discordant
melee of plunking piano, screeching strings, found sounds and clattering percussion, it is not music for the
faint-hearted. For those of us who like a good tune which rocks, it is more akin to 10-minutes plus of
unmitigated torture.

"Slicing Through The Unknown Plantagenets" offers more of the same, with classical guitar, strings,
woodwind and percussion, plus a few whooshing noises, but with a lighter and slightly more melodic feel -
until the electric guitar comes in at around the six-minute mark and the whole thing descends into a morass
of cacophonous noise. The closing section reprises the calmer opening movement.

"I Don't Want To Grow Up And Be A Scent Dealer Like You" sounds a bit like one of the more unhinged
early Floyd's tracks and is mercifully short.

"Caravelle" comes as a relief, shifting through different instrumental palettes but remaining relatively
melodic. Once the saxophone fades out after around 4 minutes, the atmosphere shifts to something dark
and brooding.

"Pinball Symphonics" starts unpromisingly, a soup of industrial noise, and gets worse, especially the massed
scraping violins. A heavy rhythm kicks in after 5 minutes, offering some structure to the noise for a minute
or so. After a brief interlude of found sounds (a pinball machine presumably) the track wanders off again
into gloomy instrumental collage.

"Martian Crystals" has conventional drums, Bridget sings, and structure and melody win out against the
forces of chaos. This is not to say it is a great song but it stays closer to conventional forms than most of
the album so far.

"Liquid Clocks" features a gorgeous melody on saxophone, tastefully underpinned (aside from some
intrusive dissonance on the strings) and is, by some way, the easiest track to listen to so far.

"Fondue Fuels" comes across a bit like King Crimson's Schizoid Man, with crunching guitar, pounding
drums and plenty of discordant accompaniment. It is actually pretty good.

Finally, "The Book Of Luana" is a long piece linking several fairly conventional song sections. It is another
high point. For its first three minutes, it sounds like a somewhat jazzy version of Wishbone Ash. Thereafter
it goes off in different directions but remains pleasantly listenable.
Robert Calvert on the web

We seem to be finally running out of new releases of Calvert material, now that Voiceprint has (apparently)
released all its dodgy live tapes as well as the poetry readings, Adrian Wagner has dug up his various
collaborations (the reissues of Distances Between Us, Cricket Star mark 2, and Disco Dream and the
Androids), and of course those nice chaps at Krankschaft have produced the bells and whistles version of
the Carlisle gig. There is still unreleased material out there though.
Spirit of the Page: this web resource is now housed at Aural Innovations (see if you can guess what the
theme music is). It features audio samples of existing releases plus various lo-fi (real audio format) â
€œlost" recordings. These include a so-so out-take from Hype ("Couldn't Go On") and a number of tracks
from The Kid from Silicon Gulch (1981), an unreleased "electronic musical", described on the page as
Calvert's masterpiece. The story goes: "Will Brad Spark, private eye of the cybernetic age, solve the
mystery of the murdering micros?" It has to be said that the music is not that exciting and perhaps the
major point of interest for Hawkwind fans is the track "On The Case" which shares some of its lyrics with
a track of the same name otherwise credited to a certain D. Brock. Also present are various sound files
from the 1980-81 Krankschaft Cabaret shows. In the unlikely event that you haven't discovered this
already, it is well worth a visit.

Ramblings at Dawn: another essential website used, it once linked to a set of 18 audio files from a tape
made by Bob for a radio documentary.  Although the links don't work, the background information is still
there. If you look hard enough on the web you can still find the audio files, elsewhere. You can hear
Calvert talking about a range of subjects, from his work with Hawkwind to the non-tour for Lockheed, the
non-appearance of the original Cricket Star single, and Marc Bolan's untimely demise. Totally fascinating
listening and obviously a must-have for completists.