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Nik Turner

The Final Frontier

Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from Hawkwind founder Nik Turner, this has some definite links to the sound of that band. The space rock drives this, but it's not the only game in town either. There is plenty of psychedelia here, but that's an integral part of space rock, really. Jazz and world music are also heard on this release. There is a lot here that feels like it could have fit into the early catalog of Hawkwind, but there is a lot that doesn't, too. All in all, this is a strong set from a guy who consistently releases strong music. I wouldn't consider it his best, but it is a solid part of his solo catalog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Out of Control
Space sounds bring this into being. As the instruments join, this feels so much like very early Hawkwind, both in production and the sound of the music. After one line of music drums take command for a few measures. Then the saxophone and keyboards soar over the top. The vocals come over a seriously chaotic arrangement as it marches onward. This has some intriguing movements. Part of the vocals are spoken, and overall it really sounds very much like old-school Hawkwind.
Interstellar Aliens

Mellower and a bit more straight-line in approach, this is no less Hawkwind like. It's a powerful bit of space music that has a suitably space rock based sound to it. I'm reminded a bit of something that might have made it onto Hall of the Mountain Grill from Hawkwind.

Thunder Rider

A bit harder rocking grind, the space is strong with this one. I love the cool jam that emerges later featuring Turner's saxophone. It has such a classic exploratory space sound.

The Final Frontier Part 1

Space elements bring this into being quite appropriately. It rises up ever so gradually with almost an early Pink Floyd vibe. The cut grows outward in measured ways. It remains mellow and slow moving as it does so. The vocals are a spoken poetry reading fairly far back in the arrangement. The cut gradually shifts outward to an acoustic guitar based thing after a while and then drops back even further to flute and space keys. Drums rise upward and a psychedelic sort of jam gradually emerges as the spoken stuff continues. It rises up, but only so much. This never turns into a real rocker. There is some silence at the end.

Back to the Ship

 Rising up with flute and spacey elements, this has a real trippy psychedelic edge as it continues. It's mellow and fairly sparse, though. There is another spoken vocal. It continues in this general fashion for a while. Then after the three-and-a-half minute mark this thing fires out into a killer space rocker. The vocals are sung on that section. We get some cool violin work, and this pounds with a real Hawkwind styled texture.

Calling the Egyptians

Space music with a percussive element, this builds out as very classy, trippy stuff. It builds out with a more rocking intensity from there. This is trademark space rock.

Strange Loop

Coming in a bit percussive and world music oriented, this works forward from there. This instrumental is more organic in a lot of ways. It's a nice change of pace.

The Final Frontier Part 2

Psychedelia, space rock, jazz and world music all seem to collide here. The vocals are again spoken. This is a bit odd, but also quite cool.

Pad4

Freaky keyboard sounds and flute are at the core of the opening here. This works forward from there while still maintaining that same basic concept. This instrumental is a bit trippy and also very cool.

 
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