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Hawkwind Light Orchestra

Stellar Variations

Review by Gary Hill

I guess this was released under “Hawkwind Light Orchestra” rather than “Hawkwind” because the lineup isn’t precisely the same as Hawkwind these days. Additionally, it’s just three guys. I had intended to ask Dave Brock about the reasoning for that name when I interviewed him for this issue, but I had to postpone that interview due to some things outside my control. The thing is, beyond that and the fact that there’s some jazz in the mix here, this really feels like a Hawkwind album. If you dig that band, you are pretty sure to like this and find plenty that feels familiar.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Stellar Perspective

With a bit of an atmospheric introduction, rocking guitar quickly fires out and we’re in a Hawkwind jam that’s tasty. The vocals are a bit distorted, distant and echoey. It reminds me a bit of “Angels of Death,” or at least that period of the band’s history. After running through in one direction for a time, it explodes out in a jam that moves it in a more fast paced and keyboard driven way.

All Our Dreams
A mellower, keyboard driven, more electronic cut, this is cool. It gets a bit weird as it works out into something different later. It turns a bit jazzy for a short time as the keyboards still drive it. Then guitar fires upwards and the jazz sounds are heard over the top of a pretty rocking Hawkwind arrangement. Some world music emerges in the arrangement later, too. Keys segue this into the next tune.
Damp Day in August

This transitional piece is basically a mellow space keyboard instrumental.

It’s All Lies

Pounding out with a pretty straightforward musical mode, this thing rocks. It’s a bit less “clever” but makes up for it with energy and charm. This is classic modern Hawkwind. They take it into an electronic space movement mid-track for some nice weirdness. Then it powers back out into the song proper from there.

Variation 3

I love this thing. There’s a cool bass wandering around in the background and space keyboards at first. Those keys remain later, but with guitar also soaring. There’s a really jazzy element here, along with a great retro vibe. This might be my favorite piece on show here. It’s certainly a contender. Around the two and a half minute mark it fires out to a more rocking jam, but that only stays around for a short time. They drop it back down as the bass continues to drive forward. It all fades down and away as this instrumental ends.

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad

They power in here and that same retro element is heard on the cut. It’s got a more rocking motif, but also space and jazz sounds are heard. This has the sort of electronic meets tribal beat sound we’ve heard quite a bit from Hawkwind over the years. The vocals are processed and nearly spoken.

In the Footsteps of the Great One

Dramatic mellow space serves as the background for a spoken reading. While it doesn’t really vary in terms of overall concept, there are plenty of changes and peaks and valleys built into this beast.

New Age

I like this one a lot. It has a slow tempo and a somewhat stripped down arrangement. It’s got a cool bass line, though and some great guitar soloing over the top of it. It does rock out into some harder edged stuff at times, too.

We Serve Mankind

Energetic, rather bouncy, electronic and quirky, this is a bit weird, but also quite tasty.

Cities of Rust

The first minute and a half or so is electronic weirdness with bits of spoken sound bites and other spoken lyrics. Then it powers out into hard edged, energetic space rock that’s very tasty and very classic modern Hawkwind.

Instant Predictions

This works between mellower, more sound-effects driven sections and harder rocking one. It’s another modern Hawkwind tune that has a definite trademark sound.

 
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