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Hawkwind: Somnia

The good ship Hawkwind has been manned by Dave Brock for more than 50 years now. During that period, they have released thirty plus studio albums and countless live albums. Recently, the band has been particularly prolific, with six studio albums in as many years. The most recent is Somnia.

Hawkwind has famously explored the realms of outer space, both lyrically and musically, throughout their career. But this time around they focus on inner space: As their label, Cherry Red Records, notes, “Somnia makes many allusions to sleep; through Roman mythology and the god of sleep Somnus, the lyrics tell the tale of sleepless paranoia, strange encounters, fever dreams and meditation.”

It is an immersive album, one that should be listened to in full. At times, the music is very ambient and at others it startles you back to full consciousness, much like a bad dream might. The vocals are often low in the mix, but fittingly so. You may not quite know what is being sung, or sometimes spoken, but you get the feeling for it, much as you might in a half-asleep state.

There are the occasional long drones found on In Search of Space. But there is little of the harder rocking Hawkwind we have heard in the past. This is not Levitation, which to me qualifies as an honorary NWOBHM album.

I am a big Hawkwind fan. But I would rate only one of their studio albums as a stone-cold, five-star classic: 1974’s Hall of the Mountain Grill, probably their most musically accomplished and classically progressive album. In my view, they have many four and four and a half star albums, though, and not just from the classic 1970-1980 period. Somnia is one of them. Hawkheads everywhere should be pleased that the band has released such a fine effort this late into their career, and I would recommend searching it out, even if you are just a casual fan of the band.


Track Listing:
1. Unsomnia
2. Strange Encounters
3. Alcyone
4. Counting Sheep
5. China Blues
6. It’s Only a Dream
7. Meditation
8. Sweet Dreams
9. I Can’t Get You Off My Mind
10. Small Objects in Space
11. Pulsestar
12. Barkus
13. Cave of Phantom Dreams

Added: December 4th 2021
Reviewer: Aaron Steelman
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1213
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Hawkwind: Somnia
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-12-04 14:24:17
My Score:

Hawkwind...yes, the space rock institution that have now been around for 50 years and countless studio, live, and EP releases, are back with another one, this being the semi-concept piece Somnia, which is, you guessed it, all centered around the topic of sleep. Expect many of the standard Hawkwind tropes here, which, is a good thing, such as throbbing bass, loads of synthesizer blips & beeps, intoxicating drums, and the always effective psychedelic guitar stylings of leader Dave Brock. Here for this album the line-up of Hawkwind consists of Brock on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards, Magnus Martin on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards, Richard Chadwick on drums, and Mel Rogers & Trixie Smith on backing vocals. There is plenty for the longtime fan to sink their teeth into here, such as the lengthy opener "Unsomnia", the blistering wah-wah guitar frenzy of "Strange Encounters", the dreamy "Alcyone", the juicy psychedelic space blues of "China Blues" (talk about wah-wah!!!), and the oozing miasma that is "Small Objects in Space". Sure, at just over an hour, Somnia is a tad on the long side, and the album does lose a little bit of steam in the second half, but it's still overall a fun, trippy listening experience, and shows that Hawkwind still have plenty of gas left in the tank. Long may they deliver the space!



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