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Alan Davey

Al Chemicals Lysergic Orchestra Volume 2

Review by Gary Hill

This new set from Alan Davey is supposed to focus on the trippy side of music. That doesn’t mean he stays away from rocking sounds. There are some more powered up pieces on hand here. There is quite a bit of this that calls to mind Hawkwind, but there is other music (and other parts of the Hawk-like tunes) that pull it in other directions. This is quite proggy, no question about that. It’s also quite good. I like this one a lot. In fact, I’d he hard pressed to pick a favorite album from Davey’s solo work, but this one would be in the running for sure.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Goodbye Death Valley

Some keyboard textures open this. Then a grinding, hard rocking jam ensues. It evolves into a killer jam that’s got trademark Alan Davey space rock written all over it. The vocals come over the top to complete the picture. The chorus on this has a more mainstream progressive rock texture and some of the bass work even makes me think of Yes just a bit. Overall this really does feel a lot like Hawkwind a lot of the time.

Hell’s Gate
Bass opens this and holds it by itself for a while, creating a cool melody. Some ambient textures emerge over the top of that as this continues down the musical road. Then the whole thing shifts towards experimental, freeform music that’s both weird and captivating. This isn’t far removed from Rock in Opposition in a lot of ways. It’s also very cool. It stays in that same freeform experimental territory, but moves through a number of changes. This is an instrumental and a fascinating one at that.
Mustard Canyon
Atmospheric sounds open this and as it continues a pulsing, droning sound serves as the backdrop for mellow spacey atmospheric exploration. It works out to more rocking territory as it continues. This almost makes me think of Tangerine Dream at times. It has a number of changes and shifts, but remains pretty constant in terms of tone and musical path. Sure, it gets louder and mellower, but it really does feel like one muliti-dimensional musical journey. A false ending gives way to a more purely electronic music based reprise.
Badwater
There’s an awesome rocking vibe to this. It feels like one part surf music, one part space rock and one part electronica. Some great shifts and changes allow the melodies to evolve while retaining a consistent mood and vibe. This is classic progressive rock in a lot of ways.
Dante’s View
This comes in echoey and rather symphonic in nature. It works out gradually to more electronic music. Weird effects driven sounds are heard over tribal drumming in a real spacey movement. As it approaches the two minute mark it threatens to turn to more rock driven territory. It delivers on that as the space rock jamming is heard as this moves forward. The cut continues to develop from there.
Titus Canyon

Somehow I’m reminded a bit of television show theme songs like “Peter Gunn” just a bit on this. That said, there is a definite progressive rock turned hard edged sound here. This is a fun jam that works through several shifts and changes as it develops.

Old Dinah
This cut is really strange. It’s got weird sound effects and electronic music as weird singing is heard. There is a lot of old timer music built into this one, too.
49’ers
Electronic space music dances around as a spoken word section carries the piece. This doesn’t change too much, but it never feels redundant or tired, either.
The Race Track
The opening to this is quite atmospheric, but there’s an almost jazz vibe to parts of it as it continues. Add some Native American sounds and trippy symphonic elements to the mix and you’ll get a clue where we are going. A lot of this sounds like soundtrack music. Then around the minute and a half minute, after dropping way back, it fires out into some more rocking territory, but many of the earlier musical concepts are present, too. Then around the two minute mark it turns ominous before working out into a jazz meets prog jam that’s quite tasty.
Zabriskie Point
Coming in very much in a sad old school classical way, this has a real melancholy vibe early. It develops into a more ethereal, atmospheric piece. It moves slowly and is quite dreamy in scope and sound. While I like this piece, it seems a little understated for a closing track to me.
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