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Choose Your Masques

Review by Gary Hill

I've read a lot of reviews of this CD where Hawkwind fans trash it. Personally, I have always really enjoyed this one a lot. I think that it is a mellower album than a lot of their catalog, but in many ways it reflects the "space" in space rock better than other releases. One of my favorite Hawkwind songs "Waiting For Tomorrow" is on this disc. I originally had the vinyl on this one, and it seems that the two cuts they added to the CD when they issued it are essentially throwaways. I think the disc was stronger without them. There are a couple of weak numbers on this release other than those, but the funny thing is that it all works pretty well in context. The whole seems to be much more than the sum of the parts. The production could definitely have been better, though.

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Track by Track Review
Choose Your Masques
A bouncy heavy texture makes up the bulk of this one. In typical Hawkwind tradition it doesn't really go anywhere (this band can take the simplest progression and through clever usage of overlayers turn it into something incredible), but there is some very tasty guitar work here, and this one is quite easy to sing along with. It runs straight into the next track, and in fact, they are both included in track one of the CD.
Dream Worker
This is a weird, but highly effective piece of space ambience. First keys herald the appearance of an unknown speaker who announces "I have come, but I do not choose now to do what I came to do". Then the sounds of a spacecraft and the commands and responses from the commander are heard, followed by another little bit of space sound snippets. Although in writing this doesn't sound like much, Hawkwind can turn it into a combination of satisfying high art and theater. As this works through a keyboard segment starts working up, and eventually spacey vocals are interspersed over top to create the actual "song" for this one. Again, this is quite effective, in an almost hypnotic way by producing a great spacey texture. So much on this disc is really about atmosphere.
Arrival in Utopia
This fast paced space rock jam is a killer. It features a lot of awesome jamming. This ramps up in intensity after a time.
I've never been convinced on this one. Some great space rock keyboards start this and run through for a while. That part is fine, even if it is a bit overly effects oriented. What comes after, though is an echoey voice that states, "If you want to get into it, You've got to get out of it" over and over and over. I just don't get it. I mean, I get what that means; I just don't see it being all that great.
Silver Machine
How many versions of this song are there anyway? It's a good enough tune, but I just don't see why the band needs to make so many versions of it. This one does feature some awesome Langton guitar work, but it gets a bit overlong.
Void City
This is one of the more effective pieces on the CD. The opening monologue from the TV Series "The Outer Limits" begins this. As it carries on this repeats over and over in the background with space oriented keys becoming the order of the day for much of the piece. Processed vocals begin to sing "Void City, here we come" over top of this. Once again, the atmosphere is the key here, and this one really works in that regard.
Solitary Mind Games
Based on chimey guitar harmonics, this is a strong space rock ballad. It has some wonderful textures to it, and the majority of that comes from the understated nature of the piece. They really got it right here by not overdoing it .
Farenheit 451
This one is more high energy, and while I like the vocal delivery on the verses, this is really one of the weak points on the album.
The Scan
This short keyboard solo essentially serves as an intro to the next cut.
Waiting For Tomorrow
One of my all time favorite Hawkwind songs, this one has it all, killer spacey yet doom oriented lyrics, a bouncy crunchy main riff structure and Huw Lloyd Langton laying down meaty guitar work all over this. What more could you ask for?
Silver Machine (Full Version) (Bonus Track)
Well, in answer to my earlier question, this shows us that at least one more version of this song exists. This is pretty much the same as the one that shows up earlier on the disc.
Psychedelic Warlords (Bonus Track)
This modernized recording of the classic Hawkwind song from Hall of the Mountain Grill is more stripped down and a far weaker presentation. I really wish they had left this and that second take of Silver Machine off the CD.
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