Hawkwind has always been one of those bands for many people that you either get, or you don't. More often than not, space rock/prog rock/hard rock fans do indeed GET this legendary band, which kind of explains their longevity and loyal devotion from their fans since the early 1970s. Founding member but now ex-Hawkwind vocalist, flute, & sax player Nik Turner is returning to his space rock roots with his latest solo release titled Space Gypsy. I mean, come on, one look at that cover and CD title and you know what you are in store for right? Break out the strobe lights, lava lamps, and incense folks (well, and whatever other 'recreational' materials you desire), cause Mr. Turner is putting on a clinic here!
Joining Turner on this excursion are Jurgen Engler (guitar, Moog synths, Mellotron), Jeff Piccinini (bass), Jason Willer (drums), and Nicky Garratt (guitars), and each one plays an import part in the trippy, psychedelic mayhem contained on Space Gypsy. Turner's haunting vocals and soaring sax & flute lines permeate these aggressive yet spacey songs, each one brimming with bubbling synths courtesy of Engler and plenty of guitar firepower. "Time Crypt" rocks pretty hard, and both "Joker's Song" and "Fallen Angel STS-51-L" play the Hawkwind styled space rock card quite well. "Galaxy Rise" is a lush, proggy piece featuring wonderful flute, Mellotron, acoustic guitars, and Moog (what's not to love about that combination!), while "Coming of the Maya" is as creepy as it gets, with alluring tribal percussion from Willer, melodic lead bass, and layers of synths to go alongside Turner's almost spoken word vocals. "We Ride the Timewinds" is more of a heavy rocker, but also features some great jazzy sax, mounds of Mellotron, and spooky synths for good measure. Speaking of Mellotron, there's loads of it on the enchanting, almost folky "Eternity", and Gong legend Steve Hillage lends his guitar talents to the bubbling, boiling, rhythmic "Anti-Matter", a fun, upbeat track that will certainly push you to get your groove on. Flute and Mellotron are all the rage on the psychedelic pop of "The Visitor", and the bonus track "Something's Not Right" is an electronic music lovers delight, with blipping synths fluttering all over the mix, effects laden vocals, and heavy guitar riffs. Turner's very British sounding vocals are the perfect fit here amongst all the cacophony.
The press sheet for Space Gypsy claims that Nik Turner has returned to his 'Intergalactic Roots' on this new CD, and that's as good a claim as I've heard all year. This is loads of fun and very addicting, and even if you've never discovered the wonders (as bizarre as they may be) of Hawkwind before, I think if you appreciate space rock in general with some folk, jazz, hard rock, and prog elements, as well as loads of keyboards, chances are you might just really fall in love with this album. Mr. Turner has shown here that he doesn't need his old band to reproduce the 'feel' of their classic era. Recommended.
1) Fallen Angel STS-51-L
2) Joker's Song
3) Time Crypt
4) Galaxy Rise
5) Coming of the Maya
6) We Ride the Timewinds
9) The Visitor
10) Something's Not Right (bonus track)