|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 37
Thanks to Graham P. for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course.
Worth A Listen : Steve Swindells - New
"Shot Down in the Night" seems - is - an awful
long time ago. Steve Swindells' brief incarnation as
a hard-rocking bad boy in the original Hawklords
and, especially, on solo LP Fresh Blood has long
since given way to a career as singer-songwriter
equally at home with dance music, ambient and
pure pop - indeed, not so different to the
pre-Hawklords era of solo records and a brief
tenure in the much maligned Pilot. (Despite the
banality of early Pilot tunes like "January", their
later Swindells-assisted Two's A Crowd is rather
So to the present, this download-only release picks
up where Demos for the Departed left off, even
reprising tracks from the latter. This time round the tempo is resolutely languid and the meat of the album
is in the affecting ballads. There's also a certain amount of rather inconsequential fluff. Indeed, things get
off to an unpromising start with the opening pair of songs -"Your Prints Will Come" (please!) and "The
Competition"- which sound like they were recorded at four o'clock in the morning, possibly in an
over-refreshed state. The music is minimalist, the vocals disdainful, and the lyrics...¦ well, here is a
sample: "I am your sucker... I am your fucker...". In the cold light of day, it doesn't sound like such a
great idea although long after dark the general tone of the album starts to make more sense.
Things pick up for "Last Chance Saloon" and "High and Dry" but it isn't until track 5 that Steve really hits
a sweet spot, with the ballad "Love Has Many Levels" (as in shallow or deep, if you're asking). "The
Wailing Wall" has a rockier sound, underpinned by sturdy guitar chords, and with an impassioned and
soulful vocal; it is another high point. "Carried Away" is tender, if slightly insubstantial, but the following
"In Your Eyes" goes straight for the jugular: another gorgeous ballad, with some tasty guitar underpinning.
"Spinnin' Around" slips back into the stoned mumbling mode and then we get two pointless remakes, "My
Pocket Guru" (great title, shame about the song) and "B4 it's begun". Another new track, the decidedly
odd "Your Voice", follows: insistent percussion is overlaid by strings and two or three layers of
half-spoken vocals, with obtuse lyrics about gangsters and mafia. This is followed by another pointless
reprise of "My Pocket Guru", this time as an instrumental.
On the quirky "Sad in Your Shadow", the plaintive lead vocal is propelled along by synth stabs, electronic
percussion and girly backing vocals; it sounds a lot like it could have been a hit for the Human League
circa 1980. "A Place of Angels" features a minimalist (and lengthy) backing track, with the mournful, not
to say dirge-like tone of the vocals belying the upbeat lyrics ("there is nothing in the world that can't be
changed"). "By Yourself" is much in the same vein (sample lyric: "If you want to survive, you've got to
do it by yourself") but less tuneful. Finally, "Small Change" is a gentle, reflective, composition but it takes
the entry of some gospel-style backing vocals towards the end to bring it to life.
This "album" features a massive 17 tracks spread over 1 hour and 40 minutes - there is a very good, but
much shorter, album hidden in there. Aside from trimming out the filler tracks, a majority of the songs
top 6 minutes and some editing wouldn't hurt. Nevertheless, definitely worth a listen.
Speaking of gorgeous ballads, a Swindells-penned song "I Feel No Pain", sung by one Daniel Pearce, is
one of the few highlights of the "Voices for Darfur" DVD (released by EMI in 2005). The concert is sort
of Live Aid in a dinner jacket (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and in the Royal Albert Hall) and the
nearest it gets to rock music is when Chryssie Hynde makes her entrance wearing jeans, although as soon
as she starts singing (and she proves she can) she is channelling Sinatra rather than Presley. Mick
Hucknall, Alison Moyet and others also all steer clear of the rock idiom and indeed of singing anything
remotely connected to the purpose of the event. In fact, when Yusuf Islam appears, apparently wandering
up from the audience, and sings his own "The Little Ones", about child victims of war, it sounds
strangely out of place. It was all in a good cause but most of the content really is pretty ghastly.
excellent lead guitar and Nik's flute but a creepy lyric ("...¦behind your eyes there's nothing at all").
The album kicks off with "All Day Long", mainly acoustic guitar and lead vocals but adorned with
backing vocals from Judy Dyble and some guitar embellishments. Not an outstanding tune but a solid
enough opener. "Just You and Me" follows in much the same vein, with the brief flute interludes
(presumably by Chris Wade rather than Nik) calling to mind acoustic Jethro Tull. Fourth track
"Footprints" starts with sampled bird song and its melody, picked out on guitar, the singing and the lyrics
all made me think of the Decemberists (although like all the others it is a Chris Wade song). Nik's flute is
prominent on "Nothing At All", with cello and electric guitar filling out the arrangement, the latter
instrument also contributing a fine solo. Nik's second appearance is on the sixties folk-psychedelia of
"Endless Sky". Finally the closing track "Crinkle Drive" has Nik accompanying a quirky nursery-rhyme
style lyric. Again a guitar solo adds some power to the end of the song.
A very pleasant album, if that isn't damning it with faint praise.
Worth A Listen : Omenopus: The Plague (** ½) /
Omenopus is Bridget Wishart, John Pierpoint, Lee
Potts and various guests. This double CD (Monty
Maggot Records MMCD005) has been available for
a year or so. It seems that nowadays Chumley
Warner Bros provides a vehicle for Bridget's more
conventional songs, while Spirits Burning use some
of the slightly more outre excursions, leaving
Omenopus as home for the dark side of the psyche.
The Plague shows a singularity of purpose and
demands your full attention. This is aural marmite,
strange and pretty impenetrable until the third or
fourth listen but ultimately repaying the effort. Like,
say, Lou Reed with Metallica on Lulu, opera, country music, death metal, or indeed our very own HW, it
helps to accept the form before you start to appreciate the content. Unlike Lulu, The Plague offers an
empathetic and human approach to death. And the music is better!
Essentially there are two modes of delivery: spare, reflective material which mixes poetic lyrics, sung or
spoken, with gossamer thin melodies floating behind, and shards of squalling industrial noise, angry and
free of any melodic hooks. Bridget's voice is the focal point, intimate and expressive.
"Plague Part I (Plague of Ten)" is an interesting opener, with Bridget reciting her words over backwards
strings and various synth embellishments. The structure of the lyric recalls "Ten Seconds of Forever" as it
counts down through ten plagues ("Plague of two... me and you", etc - it sounds better than it looks in
print!). "Plague Part III (Solitude)" is similarly affecting, slow and stately. Part spoken part sung, over a
backing of piano, synth and echoed percussion, sounds effects, and (presumably synth) violin.
The brief "Plague Part II (Plague of Fire)" starts quietly but morphs into minimalist industrial metal. "Plague
Part IV (A Litany in Time of Plague)" also offers both modes...¦ it is topped and tailed by Bridget reciting
the lyrics over a cyclic piano figure and in between we get some pretty primitive death metal style guitar,
drums, and shouty male vocals.
The credits indicate that lyrics of Part IV come from a poem by Thomas Nashe written in 1592, and that
Nigel Potter guests on additional guitar. According to englishverse.com, Thomas Nashe lived from 1567 to
1601 and this (1593) poem is entitled "In Time of Pestilence". Some of his other work is still in print and
Amazon has this to say: "the rich and ingenious works of Thomas Nashe uniquely reveal the ambivalent
nature of the Elizabethan era. Mingling the devout and the bawdy, scholarship and slang, they express
throughout an irrepressible, inexhaustible wit and an astonishing command of language". So now you know!
The overall cohesion and singularity of purpose of this 20-minute song cycle is not enhanced by the three
PC-readable bonus tracks. Two are instrumentals: "Part III Instrumental" is what it says on the tin and the
absence of Bridget's lead vocals lets you focus on the spare backing track... delicate piano and echoed
percussion present and correct, synth violin absent. The following "Pestis" is a brief interlude of not very
interesting percussive noise and the third bonus track is a fairy horrible and in-your-face industrial squall of
a song called "Give It Up (demo)", with more of the shouty male vocals and no tangible evidence of
The second 20-minute song cycle, Scars, has less of an obvious unifying theme and is considerably less
satisfying. "Sentiments" begins with male (spoken word) vocals over sparse instrumentation and the only
discernible melody is provided by Bridget's occasional (sung) interludes. "Songline" continues the low key
atmosphere, more percussive than melodic, with guest didgeridoo from Mark Wadsworth, and it basically
finishes before anything happens. The wholly instrumental "Brookleaze" wafts along innocuously on
synthetic strings and tinkling piano, while "The Binary Dimension" is just spooky noises.
The two best tracks both feature Bridget singing her own lyrics: "My Secret Ghost" is an actual riff-based
rock track. The mix isn't ideal, with guitar down low and spooky synths up high but it is easily the best
track so far. "Second Sight" kicks off with a simple synth pattern, percussion and Bridget's breathy
whisper. About half-way through squalls of guitar start to bleed through and everything else disappears
underneath a monotonous riff. Again there are guest musicians: Sheriden Starr sings backing vocals on
"My Secret Ghost" and Gavin Saunders adds guitar on "Second Sight"
Scars also comes with hidden extras: "Too Soon" wafts along pleasantly but aimlessly on layers of
synthetic strings while "Drums of War (demo)" starts ominously with thuds and other sound effects but
gives way to spare acoustic guitar and male vocals, and sounds like it wants to be one of Roger Waters'
anti-war song demos for The Final Cut.
So there you have it, two short song cycles on two discs, one very good, one so-so and neither exactly
easy listening but certainly worth checking out. Nice cover art too.
Worth A Listen : Dodson and Fogg - Dodson and
Dodson and Fogg is singer/guitarist Chris Wade
with a few big name guests, such as Nik Turner
(flute on three tracks) and Judy Dyble (backing
vocals) on this 2012 album. As others have pointed
out, despite the guests (and the fact that he calls
his label Wisdom Twins Records), this remains
very much his solo album. Gentle, melodic and
reflective, if it has a fault it that it is somewhat
one-paced and rather too polite over its 12 tracks
and 37 minutes running time. There is something
of the Decemberists' Colin Meloy in Chris Wade's
warm and expressive vocal delivery, although the
subject matter mostly doesn't get so weird - except
possibly the serene and innocuous sounding
"Nothing at All", which not only features some
Worth A Listen : Dodson and Fogg - Derring Do
Call it singer-songwriter, progfolk, steamfolk or
whatever, this is another gentle and mainly acoustic
album, released earlier this year (2013), with a subdued
and slightly maudlin atmosphere. As mentioned above,
Dodson and Fogg is a solo project by Chris Wade,
albeit with various guests, again including Nik Turner
(who plays flute on "Flying High").
Some of the album's tracks, notably those which top
and tail it ("Intro" and "Flying High" at the start, "Why
Not Take Your Time?" at the end), are outstanding.
The latter even has an almost Floydian guitar solo. This
second album has a longer running time (48 minutes)
than the first album and inevitably not all 15 songs are
of quite the same standard. Where the music gets (very mildly) heavier and faster, say on the rhythm
guitar driven "Can't Hold Me Down", it tends towards the prosaic and dirgy. In addition, the sound quality
on my copy is slightly dodgy, certainly compared to the first album. However, there's nothing actually
bad here and the guests are skilfully employed to add instrumental and vocal colour. Thus, Colin Jones
adds subdued trumpet accompaniment to lift "What Goes Around" up to another level. On the single,
"The Leaves They Fall", the lead vocals are shared with Alison O'Donnell. On the other hand, "To the
Sea" is all Chris Wade and has the gentle lilt of something like Wishbone Ash's "Leaf and Stream", at least
until the insistent and reedy lead guitar solo breaks the spell.
Another fine CD and album number three ("Sounds of Day and Night") is out now, although this time
with no input from Nik. All three albums and various singles can be bought online at
One Of The Best : Huw Lloyd Langton - Rare and
Unreleased Anthology 1971-2012
Essential, and how could it be otherwise? CD1
collects various unreleased and rare tracks, the
highlight of which is the set of 11 "solo acoustic"
tracks from 1971, which prove conclusively that
Huw could/should have made it as a
singer-songwriter. The first track, "Got a Love", sets
the template: acoustic guitar, Huw singing in a high
clear voice (even in falsetto on "Love You Wear a
Pretty Face") and, coming in towards the end,
overdubbed lead guitar. The fluid bluesy lead work on
several tracks is what most caught my attention,
notably on "Things Just Ain't the Same", "The
Morning Dove's Song", "Damn Shame" and "Little
Girl". The songs themselves range from average to
excellent and several were recycled later in his career.
Shame" and "Little Girl" both appear on Elegy. (However, although both titles from "Painted Evergreen" -aka
Night Air- resurface on the Night Air album, neither of the latter songs bears much resemblance to the
original here). Perhaps some of it sounds over-earnest (like "Seasons") but that never harmed the likes of Al
Stewart or Cat Stevens; in fact, it's difficult to see why Huw didn't make it big back in the day, if indeed this
material was ever circulated. Although the sound quality is less than perfect, these songs alone make this CD
a worthwhile purchase.
The four Magill tracks are also very interesting, mainly bluesy and soulful, but here Huw is simply part of
the band, with Pete Scott (Savoy Brown vocalist), John Clark (presumably the same drummer who crops
up later in the LLG and briefly with Hawkwind) and Rod Rawlinson (who had played bass with Ian Hunter
and reappeared in the first incarnation of LLG on Outside the Law). The first of these tracks, "Rag Man"
presses all the right blues/hard rock buttons but best forget the following "Feed Your Friends With A
Long-Handled Spoon", which is country (and western) rock, complete with calls of "Yee-hoo" (sic) and is
just horrible. "I Can't Be Satisfied" is much more like it, slow burning with more than a hint of southern rock
about it and Huw's fluid lead playing prominent. The final Magill track is a rather good cover of "Don't Let
Me Be Misunderstood". I have heard better cover versions of this song (Joe Cocker on Organic comes to
mind) but plenty worse as well (Gary Moore - too histrionic, Moody Blues - too polite, etc).
Also welcome, up to a point (heresy alert!) is the material by Jawa, on which Huw is joined by Simon King
and Nic Potter, a line-up which also backed Steve Swindells on the excellent Fresh Blood. Already given a
semi-official release as downloads (mainly in slightly longer versions), these five tracks were also mined for
later albums: "Rocky Paths" was revived by Hawkwind obviously, "Jealousy" turns up on Chain Reaction,
"Damn Shame" as noted above appears on Elegy). "Dark Dark Night" and "Heart of Stone" appear to be
unique to Jawa. Despite the promising material, and with the exception of some energetic soloing from
Huw, the sound is thin and there is a slightly half-hearted feel to the performances.
Last up on CD1 is an unreleased version of "Hurry On Sundown", which transforms the song less than
sympathetically into meat-and-potatoes pub rock (lest we forget how LLG sounded when less inspired).
I didn't have high hopes for CD2, since it compiles 13 instrumental tracks from seven of the Huw / LLG
albums (up to and including Hard Graft but with nothing from Time, Space and LLG; "On The Move" is
wrongly assigned to Elegy rather than to the album of the same name), along with six new acoustic tracks,
and memory suggests that quite a few of the older instrumentals sounded like filler first time around.
However, the first part of the CD, on which gentle acoustic tracks (including the superb "Für Kirsty")
alternate with more upbeat fare, actually works a treat and reveals apparently lesser tracks like "Alien
Jiggers" to be worthy performances. It's not all wonderful of course. The propulsive energy of Huw's guitar
on "On the Move" is not enhanced by some seriously horrible drumming. The supporting cast changes from
album to album - Huw is the only constant; the final two tracks in the sequence are solo acoustic bonus
tracks from Hard Graft and give us a fair idea about what to expect from the new acoustic numbers.
The six new tracks are okay, albeit in a quiet and understated kind of way, being mainly generic folky blues
(or bluesy folk). None is shorter than 3½ minutes and the second of them in particular ("Fragile Journey")
seems unnecessarily long at slightly over 10 minutes. As with the opening tracks on CD1, the best results
are achieved when Huw dubs lead guitar over his acoustic picking, as on "Into the Storm", "Out of the
Storm" (which might as well be the same track, cut into two, and also totals 10 minutes), and "Fast Lane to
Mcfaden". The final track is "She Moves Through the Fair". As recorded by Fairport Convention and John
Martyn, this tune is arguably a leading example of a British folk song but, pleasant as it is, it doesn't gain
anything from being rendered as an instrumental and stretched out over 7½ minutes - it probably helps if
you don't know any other versions.
Released on Cleopatra's Purple Pyramid imprint, this double CD is available from all the usual sources.
|And now, in a break from tradition, we have an editorial piece from Graham P:
So the three serious contenders for the Hawkwind crown all have albums (more
or less) out and all are (or were) touring. Bliss! Or not, because just when you
think (Dave Brock's) Hawkwind, Nik Turner's Space Ritual (or whatever) and
Jerry and Ron's Hawklords have reached some kind of happy equilibrium, then
we get the politics again, namely Nik's attempt to win a US trademark. So that's
probably what Dave meant at the Q&A session in Seaton, when he was looking
really exasperated, that's what Nik's gone and done with his earnings from the
Like, I guess, most people reading this, I'm happy if they all keep playing great
music, together or separately, for as long as they are able to do so. However,
Hawkwind have been a going concern almost continuously since 1969 and only
Dave Brock has been there for the long haul - and from 1977 onwards he has
been undisputed band leader. He wrote the majority of the songs, he held the
band together, and they continue to evolve and thrive under his direction. Yes,
he trademarked the band name in the UK against some others' wishes, although
arguably provoked into doing so, and yes he oversaw a slump into indie
obscurity in the mid-1980s - but nobody has done more to keep the brand alive
and maintain its profile into the new millennium.
Nik may lay claim to the all too literal origins of the band's name, and to its
alleged spirit, and every so often he produces some excellent music ("Fallen
Angel" is one hell of a calling card and the "Otherworld" album wasn't half bad
either) but he wrote relatively little of the material recorded by Hawkwind and he
hasn't been in the band for the last 30 years. So, I do find it hard to see the US
trademark application as more than, at best, motivated by revenge and at worst
simply dishonest. All in all, it is a wholly unnecessary distraction from Nik's best
work in years.
Unfortunately, since I started writing this, things have started to get decidedly
darker, as will be evident from the cancellation of the US tour due to Dave's
current (stress-aggravated) ill health. Now would be a really good time for a
little peace and love, and obviously an end to litigation. I mean, you've made
your point Nik, please let it go!.
One of the Best : Nik Turner - Fallen Angel
Nik returns with a new single, new album and, if
photo on his web page is to be believed, new hair.
"Fallen Angel" is an unashamedly retro evocation
of the golden age of Hawkwind past, but it is a
new song and a bloody good one too. â€œFallen
Angel" is a trailer for a new album on Cleopatra,
apparently due this autumn (and featuring Steve
Hillage and Simon House). So, the good news is
that this is pure, unadulterated space rock or, to
quote Nik from his website, it is â€œthe epitome
of epiphanic, orgasmic, cathartic embodiment of
my space dreams, become one man's reality,
exploding into space". Fair enough. Starting with
synth effects and a sampled shuttle countdown, it
has a propulsive, punky, rhythm, a good riff, good
tune, plenty of electronic effects and a prettyy
decent vocal from Nik. In some ways it is very conventional too: there is a guitar solo in the middle
followed by Nik's sax solo. This is up there with the best of the Otherworld tracks - a real return to form.
Let's hope the rest of the album is as good.
The single is available as a download and a limited 7" vinyl edition (500 pressed). There is also a video,
with the song set to a film of a live performance which, as ever, looks like a triumph of enthusiasm over
organisation, with a stage full of people and little obvious sense of choreography. See here
http://cleorecs.com/home/hawkwind-legend-nik-turner-releases-new-single-video/, where you can
also find links to various historical videos, including a two-part interview from 2010 (apparently filmed in
Glasgow during a Space Ritual tour), in which Nik is on fine form and in good humour, negotiating the
inevitable questions about his relationship with Dave Brock with some dignity but mainly talking about his
musical (and other) influences and experiences, taking in John Coltrane, James Brown and Raymond
Chandler. Terry Ollis can be seen slumped on the sofa in the background, chipping in briefly when Nik
talks about early Hawkwind, with Mick Slattery sitting quietly alongside him.
Worth a Listen : Alan Davey's Eclectic Devils
Live At SRS 2011
This live album released last year (2012) is one of
those that does what it says on the tin, with the
proviso that the backing band for this "solo" set is
basically Gunslinger plus keyboards, and the songs
played are drawn from both solo albums and AD's
material from several Hawkwind albums.
As with the Gunslinger live album, it is far from
clear that we need another live album, but it is all
solid and well-played and no doubt helps placate
fans waiting for more new material. The set kicks
off with probably the two outstanding solo tracks
from AD's various solo albums, "Angel Down"
and "Years Ago, Miles Away". Both lack some of
their studio sheen (except for the suspiciously
pristine sounding violin at the start of "Angel down") but are still fine songs, perhaps showing the
direction the mothership could have headed if AD not been replaced by Dibs. The remainder of the solo
material comprises "Pre-Med" (from Captured Rotation), "World of Fear" (from Human on the Outside)
and, dropping the intensity down several notches, "String Nebula 14" (a stately and tasteful instrumental,
new to me, with guest lead guitar).
At this point AD retreats into the safety of Hawkwind tracks. Here he makes the perennially twee "Wings"
sound like a good song (I have nothing against the sentiments but, IMHO, it rarely works live), and
follows it with "Greenback Massacre", "Sword of the East" and "LSD".
So, not too many surprises, but it'll do until the next solo album comes along.
ONE OF THE VERY BEST : Nik Turner - Space
So it turns out that the single wasn't a fluke -
although interestingly it wasn't written by Nik
himself - the album also sounds excellent. Yes, it
looks back to the golden age of United Artists,
Space Ritual and Warrior, but it does so with style
and panache. Some of the riffs make sly references
to past glories but these are all new songs, with the
writing credits spread fairly evenly around Nik's
new band. While his 1990s band, built around the
Pressurehed/Chrome axis of US musicians, wasn't
bad, the new one provides possibly the most
sympathetic musical backing since, well, since the
real thing. It also has some pedigree of its own:
guitarist Nicky Garratt and drummer Jason Willer
were in the UK Subs, the former an original member, the latter almost unbelievably the band's 29th
drummer (out of the staggering 34 who, according to Wikipedia, have passed through the ranks. It
makes Hawkwind look positively stable). Bass player Jeff Piccinini played with the latter-day Chelsea
(the band) and Jurgen Engler (moog, mellotron, synths, guitar) is from German band Die Krupps.
You could argue that the album sounds like classic Hawkwind designed by a focus group but it is no
small challenge to actually deliver something which sounds this authentic. None of Nik's previous bands
has really managed it, not even Space Ritual. Partly it is attention to detail: for instance, Jeff Piccini has
apparently studied Simon King's drum style, slipping in those speeding up bits on top of the relentless
pounding. Indeed just about every element of the classic sound is present and correct.
Nik is on peerless form throughout, both vocally (obviously he's not Frank Sinatra but the production
and arrangements here mostly play to his strengths) and with his ubiquitous contributions on sax and
flute. Simon House also guests (on violin) on three tracks (and Steve Hillage on one) although not so as
you'd really notice. If there is a downside it is a lack of truly memorable tunes... but the album stands up
against pretty much any Hawk-related album issued over the last two decades.
We've already heard "Fallen Angel" and unsurprisingly it is the lead track. "Joker's Song" roars out of the
traps with a cyclical riff and pummelling rhythm not dissimilar to "You'd Better Believe It" and features
excellent freeform sax. "Time Crypt" drops the pace fractionally, with a riff that recalls "Flying Doctor"
and a sound closer to "Magnu". Simon House is somewhere in the mix there. After three back-to-back
rockers a change of pace is needed and the album duly delivers "Galaxy Rise": heralded by birdsong and
acoustic guitar, the sound is completed by swirling synths, effects, and Nik's flute and laid-back vocals.
"Coming of the Maya" is slow burning and atmospheric with the vocals chanted, much as on Xitintoday,
but given a much more sympathetic setting and referencing the "Robot" riff. Again, Simon House is
somewhere in the mix.
After this respite, "We Ride The Timewinds" is another in-your-face rocker. Not the greatest melody,
with Nik's singing particularly tuneless, but muscular and energetic with lots of squalling sax. The
wistful "Eternity" slows things back down again, with Nik's echoed vocal backed by acoustic guitar,
synth and flute. "Anti-matter" is more collage than song, with spoken vocals, synth, sax and a rhythm
track not unlike "Opa Loka" (and, again, Simon House's violin, supposedly). "The Visitor" is affecting
cosmic folk-pop and contrasts mournful vocals and ethereal flute with jaunty acoustic guitar before
slipping into an extended coda of sound effects and random guitar fills. So ends the album proper. The
"bonus" track, "Something's Not Right" builds slowly into a frenzied but very much abbreviated
No question, it is good album. If you need a second opinion, look no further than the excellent review at
http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/2013/10/album-review-nik-turner-space-gypsy/. The "deluxe"
box is a bit of a let-down though. It comes with a badge, sow-on patch and a couple of postcards (Nik
then and now) but the bonus disc gives us nothing really new: seven rough mixes of album tracks (both
the song selection and sequencing are wrongly listed on the label; in any case they sound pretty similar
to the final versions) and eight instrumental mixes (which are correctly labelled but really do add nothing
Just about Worth a Listen (* ½) : 46000 Fibres -
Cyte Pacific is/was a limited release double CD
compilation from 2004, available from TRI Records
. Only 100 were produced, making it slightly less rare
than their "46000 Fibres with Lol Coxhill and Nik
Turner", a limited edition of 46! The Fibres released a
number of obscure albums over the decade starting in
1995 and Cyte Pacific thus celebrates 10 years of
The Hawkwind content of Cyte Pacific is an excerpt
from the 1999 concert set with Nik Turner, as
captured in full on the previously released "Set 3" but
we'll get to that presently. Probably the key thing
when approaching the work of 46000 Fibres is to put aside any preconceptions. Their work is totally
improvised and goes beyond the boundaries of what many people will recognise as music, although it
arguably includes elements of electronica, industrial, musique concrete, poetry and free jazz.
Occasionally it threatens to rock, as on the clumping "Troublemakers and Dissenters" and relatively
sprightly "Pcircus", on which the normal mixture of noise, brass and percussion is propelled by a
conventional bassline. Track titles range from the obscure, such as "The Verticality of Water", which
sounds a bit like one of the less tuneful bits of "You Shouldn't Do That", to the mildly amusing, like
"Pork flavoured Angel", on which the stage equipment was possibly left switched on while the band
went off for a cup of tea, or "Pillow Biter", which is as conventional as it gets, with stabs of guitar and
trumpet alternating over a solid rhythm. Skipping forward to the self-explanatory title "w/Nik Turner Set
3", we find our man blasting away on sax over clattering drums and electronic whining noises in a
6-minute excerpt from the original 58 minute set.
Just about Worth a Listen (* ½) : 46000 Fibres
with Lol Coxhill and Nik Turner
The Fibres with Lol Coxhill and Nik Turner CD is
apparently from 1998 and consists of two tracks
helpfully called "Set 1" and "Set 3", presumably
not to be confused with tracks of the same name
from 1999. "Set 1" apparently includes Nik on
sax towards the end but generally sounds like
several species of small furry animals being
tortured to death in a cave by a pict (to misquote
the Floyd). However, "Set 3" is altogether more
interesting, being dominated by interlocking sax
improvisations, presumably from (the late) Lol
Coxhill and Nik Turner, and, although atonal
noodling dominates over melody for much of the
25 minutes, snatches of tunes emerge and this is
as probably as close as the Fibres get to
Tony ("a tonal d") from Tri Records helpfully sent me a CDR of Disc 2 of Cyte Pacific when the
original 2nd CD declined to cooperate with my CD player and he also mentioned that the Fibres will be
playing live in 2014. Mostly their recordings are really not my cup of tea but their singularity of purpose
has to be admired and I suspect they are more interesting live than on CD.
p.s. Nik also appears on a TRI CD by the Innerpropriates, although this was unavailable at the time of
Worth a Listen : Hedersleben - Upgoer
Another obscure release with Nik Turner
guesting? Not quite: a quick scan at their
Bandcamp page and other web sources indicates
that, while Hedersleben sound like they ought to
be a Krautrock band, the common thread in their
story appears to be Cleopatra Records. Nicky
Garratt (Guitar) and Jason Willer (drums), both
former UK Subs, worked together on Nik's
Space Gypsy and all four of Hedersleben - the
others being Kephera Moon (keyboards, vocals)
and Bryce Shelton (Bass, vocals) - have played
with the reformed Brainticket, as indeed has
another Space Gypsy musician, Jurgen Engler.
To complete the picture, Hedersleben both
supported and appeared as, ahem, Nik Turner's
Hawkwind on the US tour at the end of 2013.
The opening "Upgoer Pt 1", starts out brooding, atmospheric, darkly mysterious, and directionless.
After about five minutes the drums kick in and we are sort of up and rolling: the brooding synths are
joined by splashes of organ and electric piano, some ethereal but rather tuneless female vocals, and lots
of clattering percussion. The whole confection is stretched out for 11 minutes. Despite this
unpromising start, the next two, shorter, tracks are actually rather good. "Der Donnervogel" starts off
with a distant thunderstorm accompanied by acoustic guitar, setting a mood of gentle melancholy that
persists pleasingly through the whole track. Other instruments drift in and out and there is a false
ending after which spoken vocals accompany the last 30 seconds or so. "Dark Nebula" probably
qualifies as armchair space rock. The spoken vocals (again) are in English this time and the backing
track is distinctly Floydian (somewhere between Cirrus Minor and Lucifer Sam) before it gives way to
a pastoral coda on piano and guitar.
"Upgoer Pt 2" signals a return to unsettling ambient soundscapes. Not unpleasant but not exactly
demanding attention either until the guitar and drums come in after the 4½ minute mark. The track
moves into a cocktail jazz section with organ and electric piano and the vocals finally come in around
the 8½ minute mark. Full marks for avoiding conventional song structure but rather fewer marks for
the actual composition. This brings us to the aptly titled "End of Love (Dreamstate)". Gently pastoral, it
features a flute solo, courtesy of Nik Turner, and is mainly instrumental, not going anywhere in
particular but doing so very agreeably.