It’s with a good degree of anticipation and trepidation that I pressed play when the promo for this new album by space rock stalwarts Hawkwind arrived on my desk this damp and miserable Friday afternoon. I’m a huge Hawkwind fan, seen them loads of times and have a shelf dedicated just to their CDs on the rack…and a good few of their albums on vinyl too… and I so didn’t want this to be a rehash or a remix of old tunes. I needn’t have worried as this is Hawkind as I like them best.TheMACHINESTOPS

The Machine Stops is a concept album, and soon to be live show, based on E.M Forster’s story of the same name where every need of humankind is provided for by the machine. The album opens with, machine noises, sequenced synth sound and unsettling spoken word of All Hail The Machine and it’s clear from the outset that this is going to be a record that is right up my street and  this tune is a bit reminiscent of the likes of Ten Seconds Of Forever..this is a good thing…a very good thing. This disconcerting opening morphs seamlessly into The Machine that is heads down space rock that Hawkwind fans will adore. There’s bits of Hawklords in this tune somewhere I can’t quite place, heavy repetitive guitar riffs and soaring lead guitar and synth and a great narrative vocal to boot…it’s good stuff…no it’s better than good it’s absolutely perfect!!!!v 17 machine stops x male 7 back 6 nu 1_0021

Katie is a short segue piece of tripped out pads and tinkling synth sounds which makes me think of coming out of the dark into the light and then King Of The World opens with more heads down riffing, a fabulously distorted bassline and mental drumming. Again this is classic Hawkwind that will be a sure fire crowd pleaser.

In My Room is next, opening with more tripped out pads before the soaring synth, guitars and drums take over for a short while and then the next half of the track is atmospheric rain and thunder sounds with a ominously modulating synth noise over the top. The track fades and there’s the first proper break in the sonic onslaught before the down-tempo Thursday takes over. This track has a majestic bass line, more soaring synths and guitar, passionate drum lines and a half spoken vocal. Again this track cuts halfway through to more atmospherics and ultrasonic mindfuckery that is trademark Hawkwind.

Synchronised Blue is more mid-tempo space rock with the tripped out Hexagone coming next and taking things decidedly more down tempo, melodic and pared-down. Hexagone is perhaps the least Hawkwind tune on here and feels much more in the experimental electronica vein…I enjoyed it!HAWKS 2016 COLLAGE with Tim

Living On Earth sounds, in parts, like a blue-grass band found a load of electronic instruments, dropped acid and bugged out…mental and rather pleasing… as for the rest of the track it’s more heads down, “let’s mess with their heads” Hawkwind we all know and love.

The Harmonic Hall has an Arabian feel to it, more sequenced synths, weird trippy noises and messed up backward drums and again it’s a cool tune that will appeal.

Yum Yum is short segue track that leads in A Solitary Man, another heads down tune that could only be from The Hawks.

Tube begins with a film-score-like feel to it, builds and fades to the final track of the album that is Lost In Science which brings us back down with more classic Hawkwind.

Hawkwind have their loyal fans that will buy whatever comes out with their name on the cover, but The Machine Stops is perhaps the most coherently “Hawkwind” record that’s been released from the band in a while and, whilst I put myself in the former fanatic category, this is an album that will have wider appeal. I’ve tried to plan to go see the accompanying tour but it’s just not going to be feasible and I am gutted as this is the band back to their very best. If you get a chance to go see them on this tour then take it as I reckon the stage show is gonna be an absolute belter.
Thoroughly recommended!

Not for Bieber fans…oh no, but not just for the Hawknerds either! Out 15th April.

Stuart Smith (Hawknerd)

 

 

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