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Alan Davey

Captured Rotation

Review by Gary Hill

This solo album from former Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey has been out of print for a while. It’s been known to fetch some outrageous amounts of cash on internet auction sites. Well, if you had an extra copy and were planning to profit, you waited too long. Voiceprint is putting the album back on the market again, so don’t expect those high selling rates from here on out.

One might expect the CD to be very much in the style of Hawkwind – and in some ways it is. There are really only a few tracks that feel like they could have been lifted from a Hawkwind disc, though. That’s because Alan Davey seems to have a knack for doing the unexpected. He’s not comfortable taking the easy route and would rather put thought and originality into the work. It pays off as this is a great disc that should be on every Hawkfan’s wish list. Another former Hawk, Ron Tree, is the only musician besides Davey to grace the album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Call
Space keys lead us in swirling around. The track rises gradually upward from this start. It turns into a hard rocking grind that’s very much Hawkwind. Of course, as big a part of the Hawkwind sound and writing process as Davey has been over the years, to expect his music to sound un-Hawkwind-like would be (as a certain science fiction character might say) “illogical.” Ron Tree provides the vocals on this one. Davey’s bass playing is killer. There’s a cool jam mid-song that feels a lot like something from the Doremi Fasol Latido era of Hawkwind. This extended segment is simply incredible with all the instruments grinding upwards and weaving their epic tale as if it’s one story told by many voices. It drops down to just keys and percussion at the end of this journey and then jumps back up to the song proper to eventually take it to its conclusion.
Never Comedown
This melodic instrumental has some elements of Hawkwind, but is not exactly a “dead ringer.” Certainly the space rock flag is flying high here, yet I couldn’t picture it as easily on one of Hawkwind’s albums. It comes across as sort of a mid-tempo prog rock ballad. The bass drives a lot of this, but the keyboards also create a good deal of the song’s drama and character.

Higher Than Before
Another instrumental, this one comes in with a melodic motif that in some ways doesn’t vary that much from the previous one. The bass takes more of a forefront in creating the melody on this track, though. I really like the lines of notes that Davey spins throughout this. It’s a bit like the bass guitar taking the role of a lead instrument. This one doesn’t wander far in terms of song structure, but the melody is living, growing entity here. We also get some great lead guitar – very melodic and harmonious – on this number, as well.
Ancient Light
Ron Tree is back for this ride. Keyboards see us in here. It rises up to another trademark Hawk grind, this one a bit meaner than the one that opened the CD. We get some traces of Eastern music on this, and I’m a sucker for those Arabic modes. Davey plays bass chords on this one, calling to mind Lemmy’s Hawkwind work. In fact, this really reminds me a lot of some of the songs that Mr. Kilminster wrote for the Hawk-machine. Davey’s bass is all over the backdrop here, driving it with a force and energy that’s pretty awesome. It drops down about four minutes in (the song is about nine minutes in length) for a keyboard and bass interlude dropped far in the mix. Eventually the bass spins up in a killer jam that grooves and drives things onward with just some percussion and space keys for accompaniment. The bass takes the lead duties for a while until the whole battery of instrumentation returns and climbs upward. A crescendo gives way to a drop back to ambient space.
Space Bass
When I saw this title (and knowing that bass is Davey’s primary instrument) I assumed it was a bass solo. I was wrong. This instrumental starts with keyboards, feeling a little like church bells in some twisted alternate world. For the most part this cut is just keyboards. Although we get some bursts of bass in an ultra-heavy thundering chord. There is a certain beauty and charm to this piece, right alongside a foreboding element. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces on show here.
Hawkestral
This comes in feeling like an electronic take on symphonic classical music. As instruments are added to the mix this becomes rather noisy Hawkmusic, but yet the textures that started it remain. The resulting mixture of textures is quite intriguing, if a bit unusual. This instrumental gets quite involved, while staying pretty true to its compositional roots. It drops to ambience to segue into the next number.
Nebula
A piano drop heralds the shift out of “Hawkestral” and into “Nebula.” This is far more ambient than the cut that preceded it, serving as waves of sound washing along the beach of the album. At less than two minutes in length, this is the shortest composition on the disc and essentially a mood piece.
Thunderbird
Alan Davey handles the vocals on this one himself. It rises gradually, with keyboards starting it and bass added after a time. As it weaves its musical tale in the early moments it feels a bit bluesy, but also in line with early Hawkwind. The vocals are quite processed, feeling like they are being brought across keyboard lines. This is an odd, but quite cool, piece of music. It’s not something you’d expect at all. It’s still pretty much in the mood music territory, but still quite interesting.
Nova-Drive
Here we have more familiar territory. This instrumental feels like a fast paced Hawkind number all the way. It’s got a lot of killer instrumental work and is both driving and a little unsettling in terms of the emotions it evokes. It’s a hard rocker that works very well.  We get some of those Arabic sounding modes on this one at times.  This shifts out into something that feels a lot like “Master of the Universe” at the end.
Spacial Wave
This instrumental is nearly pure ambience (very far down in the mix) for the first minute. After that point we get a short-lived upgrade in terms of the volume and intensity, but then it drops back down again. With one more period of more potent sounds, this one pretty much stays in the ether for nearly the entire cut. It’s more of a mood piece than anything else.
Quirk
Aptly quirky, this has instrumental the feel of a techno Hawkwind. The keyboard layers bring plenty of that Hawk sound with them, but the backdrop is almost more Kraftwerk. Running through a number of variations in the over themes, this is a great jam that is one of the highlights of the CD.

Pre-Med
And Ron Tree returns. Keyboards open the door here. After a time focused purely on that instrumentation it bursts out into another killer jam that has a good bit of Hawkwind in the mix. Davey’s bass drives this one to extremes. It drops back to a more stripped down approach at around the three and a half minute mark. A few trademark Hawkindisms take it from there. It moves out into an expanding jam after another set of vocals. I can hear a good deal of Hall of the Mountain Grill on this number. This extended instrumental segment finally ends the piece. It’s a strong tune that does a great job of ending things on a high note.
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