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Hawkwind

Spirit of the Age Solstice Remixes

Review by Gary Hill

Here we have an EP from Hawkwind that includes four different mixes of the same piece, that being “Spirit of the Age” which originated on Quark Strangeness and Charm. I’ve always been a big fan of the song – and while often times these remix things are tedious, this is entertaining. Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s my review of the original track (as taken from my track by track review of Epoch Eclipse).

 

Beginning with white noise oriented sound effects that lead into other sound effects; it is nearly two minutes into the cut before actual music emerges. As it does, the sound is almost Smithsish at first (although this predates that band's appearance). The volume gradually rises on the music and the effects start to fall away. The cut becomes a nice rock oriented mid tempo number. Some of the lyrics are sort of a space age/sci-fi love lost ode. The entire song is essentially a commentary on some of the problems of modern society. It just so happens that it is set in a time well beyond our current time. "I would have liked you to have been deep frozen, too, And waiting still as fresh in your flesh for my return, but your father refused to sign the forms to freeze you, Let's see you'd be about 60 now, and long dead by the time I return to Earth, But my time held dreams were full of you as you were when I left, still underage." Other topics covered include android replicas and cloning issues, but all in that entertaining, somewhat humorous vein. Put all this within a proggy, sci-fi oriented midtempo ballad musical format, and you wind up with a stand out cut.

 

Mind you, that version does not appear here – but it gives you the necessary background concepts to proceed. These mixes are actually by Astralasia. I reviewed all of them on the Astralasia Hawkwind remix disc, so for the sake of consistency I’ll include those reviews here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Spirit Of The Age (Radio Edit)
This is just over four minutes long. It powers in with energy and oomph. It has some electronic remix textures, but they seem at home in a lot of ways. The hard rocking chorus section later is much more in line with the original recording of the song. That movement takes the piece to its close.
Spirit Of The Age (Full Vocal Mix)

Waves of techno energy rise up and swirl about as this builds very gradually. At about 1:15 or so we get the first rumblings of the Hawkwind melody in the form of a crunchy progression. This gives way to a techno-dance sort of alteration of the central song structures. The vocal performance is delivered over the top of this rhythm-laden backdrop. At about three and a half minutes in it drops back to swirling keyboards before the techno rhythmic structure returns. Around the four and a half minute mark more of the Hawkwind sounds mark their presence again. Then we get the next vocal segment. They run through with this more techno variant on the typical Hawk-sounds. A little before the seven minute point it drops back to just a drum type beat with elements of Hawkish keys laced over the top. Spoken processed voices can be heard in the background as the arrangement works its way back up. This makes it back towards the Hawkwind source material before it ends at almost ten minutes.

Spirit Of The Age (Cyber Trance Mix)
Here we get another remix of “Spirit of the Age.” It’s very weird and stripped down at first with just electronic sounds and the words “an android” looped. It’s not until around two minutes in that anything changes. Then tribal rhythms take control and a more groove oriented keyboard sound enters to lead the way. It reverts back to the earlier modes later. This is another that doesn’t cover enough ground for the length of the piece.
Spirit Of The Age (Flesh To Phantasy Ambient Mix)

This one comes up very gradually with lines of melodic keyboards slowly growing. Hints of the original Hawkwind song come in here and there, just barely audible. This stays pretty much in a house/techno/dance motif, though. The original song only present in minute elements. This one suffers, as the last track, from a lack of any real movement – at least  for the first three minutes or so. Then we start to get some little slips of vocals showing up to at least bring a little variation to the table. At around the five minute mark it drops way back again, with just keys and the recurring vocal (“flesh”) holding it. Then the rhythmic motif takes a more dominant role again. They work their way gradually back to where they had been before. At over twelve minutes in length this is the longest cut on the CD. It’s also too monolithic to hold the interest for that long. Of course, if you are otherwise occupied, either chemically, in the midst of the dance floor or both, perhaps this would work.

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