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Hawkwind

It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous

Review by Gary Hill

This is arguably the strangest album the Hawkwind catalogue. That says a lot. Most of this is not really space rock, but it is space music. The disc is heavy on instrumentals and purely electronic ones at that. Most of this doesn’t feel like a Hawkwind album, but it is a good album nonetheless. It’s just weak as a Hawkwind album and perhaps best played as background music more than subjected to intense scrutiny.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous

This is perhaps more like Tangerine Dream than it is Hawkwind as it works outward. It’s very much an electronic music vibe with lots of Kraftwerk built into it. This is definitely a strange instrumental. It’s got a space groove, but is perhaps not very Hawkwind-like to my ears.

Space Is Not Their (Palestine)
The first two minutes or so of this epic are mostly just rhythmic electronic sounds. There are some cool, dreamy, trippy middle Eastern styled melodies that grow out from there, though. It still remains fairly mellow and electronic, though. More rhythmically driven electronic music steers the song in new directions. Like most space music, the changes happen gradually and in waves. This never rises to the level of space rock, though, instead living in an electronic atmospheric territory with an almost tribal rhythm throughout. This piece is almost twelve minutes in length, but somehow never really gets tired or redundant.
Tibet Is Not China (Part One)
More electronic music, this has some sampled chants. It’s atmospheric and sedate. It’s a bit more freeform than the previous cut. By this point, though, the whole electronic soundscape thing is starting to get a little old. This segues into the next piece.
Tibet Is Not China (Part Two)
As this comes out of the previous one the first real rock of the album is heard as some noisy echoey guitar plays out over the top. Those voices are still heard early on, but as the band launch out into a more energized jam they drop back. Although that electronic vibe still remains to some degree, this is the first piece that is really “space rock” and that feels like Hawkwind. Some of the bass work as this continues actually makes me think of Chris Squire a bit. It eventually fades away with those voices returning.
Let Barking Dogs Lie
More energized than the earlier ones, this rocks out a bit but is overall more of the same electronic music that’s dominated this beast. It goes on a bit too long for my tastes.
Wave Upon Wave
Pretty and atmospheric, this is one that makes me think of Tomita or Vangelis.
Letting in the Past
Finally some real rock is heard. Additionally, this is the first tune on the album to have vocals. It’s a raw space rock meets electronic take on “Lives of Great Men” (at least in part).  It’s a great piece of variety and the best piece to this point on the album. It definitely rocks out even though there is still a lot of the electronic element at play. This segues out into the next tune.
The Camera That Could Lie
Bouncy, rather reggae like music is the heart of this. It’s another with vocals and it’s another that stands taller than some of the other stuff. It doesn’t rock out as much as the previous tune, though, relying more on electronic sounds. It’s also another reworking and it does get some cool guitar soloing built into it later.
3 or 4 Erections in the Course of a Night
This comes out of the previous song with weird discordant keyboard elements dominating. Then percussive bits take over before more electronic sound emerges. As the percussive elements drop away we get a female soundbite of the title, followed by the sound of a horse.
Techno Tropic Zone Exists
Now, this is weird, but also very cool. It’s got a symphonic pounding element, yet it’s still electronic. The vocals are the spoken, theatrical ones Hawkwind likes to use frequently. This is driving, but it’s also sparse.
Gimme Shelter
I’ve always loved this in every format and every version I’ve heard. Spacey sounds open it, rather appropriately. Then Hawkwind powers out from there into a killer jam on the classic Rolling Stones tune. Based on the lack of real “songs” on this set, this is one of the real standouts here.
Avante
This is definitely more of that electronic weirdness. It’s quite freeform and moves through a number of shifts and changes. It feels more like soundtrack music to me than anything else.
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