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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alan Davey

Four-Track Mind Volume 2

Review by Gary Hill

A new disc of tracks that Alan Davey (best known for his work in Hawkwind) produced on a four track in his home. These were really not intended for release as they are, but the thing is, there’s no reason they couldn’t have been. These don’t have a “demo” feel to them at all. Although, for the most part this is a purely instrumental disc, the songs feel complete and the production value is crisp, clear and has depth. This is no collection of “throw-aways.” I’d have to say that I prefer this one to the first collection, but they are both great and “must haves” for every Hawkfanatic’s disc collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Spiritual Modulator
Davey opens the disc with another version of the song that opened the first volume. I like this one better than that rendition and this has a killer fast paced space rock groove going on. It’s a smoker and an excellent choice to lead off the proceedings. It has one intriguing drop back to mellower territory.
The Call
This is a hard-edged Hawk-styled jam that would have been very much at home on Xenon Codex. It’s fast paced and very cool. With swirling keys and a crunchy guitar texture this one shows just how much of the classic Hawkwind sound came from Alan Davey. It shifts out midsong to a pretty and melodic little groove that’s a nice change of pace. Davey includes some scorching guitar soloing coming out of that part of the track. This feels more like older Hawkwind as the jam intensifies, perhaps along the lines of Doremi Fasol Latido, but with a crunchier sound. I really like this track a lot! It shifts out to Arabic textures later before closing out at a little before the 7 and a half minute mark.
Fire Tribe
Percussion and mellow keys make this one a sedate sort of mood piece. This has more musical substance than some of these type tracks do, though. I can feel hints of Pink Floyd on the later, slightly more rocking, moments.  There are some unusual sound bites on this track, too.

Return To…
This is another mellower piece, but not quite what you’d call “ambient.” It has a bit more of a bouncing, balladic flow to it. It’s electronic in texture and includes some pretty keyboard lines of music. It turns to a more powerful rocker later, but fades out before fully rising up to those levels.
Simulator
Keyboards start the festivities. This gives way after a time to a droning sort of electronic sound. Then it bursts out into fast paced crunch ala Hawkwind. This is dark and dramatic. It drops back mid-song to just keys and then hints of acoustic guitar are heard. Rather than rise up like a rock ballad the keys take over again and then give way to a reprise of the cruncher section. This is another stomper and a great piece of music. It moves through a number of changes and turns out to a more grinding metallic Hawk-styled jam before closing things out.
Chased
Rising up almost like we’re in the midst of the track from the get-go, this one is another fast paced one. It’s based primarily on keyboards at the start, but then shifts out into hard-edged Xenon Codex like cruncher. It moves through a few interesting changes while still maintaining the overall musical theme.  It drops way down to just keys and bass with some percussion later in the number.
Chasing The Dragon
Two versions of this one appeared on the first set of these recordings.  Keys chime in with a swirling pattern to start it off. After holding the number this way for a short time the rest of the instruments are introduced and we’re on our way with another hard edged, fast paced Hawkwind-like rocker. This has some tasty rock and roll guitar floating on the outer edges of the arrangement. Davey provides echoey, distant vocals that have a definite Chronicle of the Black Sword feel to them. In fact, this whole piece, with all its intriguing changes, really feels like it would have felt quite at home on that Hawkwind disc.  It’s quite a tasty piece of music. There is a drop back to more sedate, keyboard dominated structures later in the track, but Davey brings it back into the rock to carry on.

Drive
Here keys start things and give way to an almost punky sort of jam. This is bouncy and quirky, but perhaps a bit raw. The overlayers of keyboards later help to ease this problem, though. While this is not a bad piece of music at all, it’s not as strong as some of the other stuff here.  At around eight minutes in length, it’s also the longest cut on the CD.
On Acid Bass!
This feels like a metal ballad, dark and gloomy, like something that might have come from Metallica in the early days. The thing is, the primary instrumentation here is bass. It makes it seem really heavy and menacing, even though it’s sedate. This is incredibly cool and one of my favorite pieces on the CD.

Hitze Seeker V
Keys spin this up, but when the other instruments join you’d think you’d found yourself in the midst of a frantic cut on some punk rock album. This is pounding and furious in its intensity and pace, but also really cool. It moves through a number of changes with the rhythm section propelling it in a powerhouse jam while the keyboards weave waves of sound over that backdrop.
Wings
This is a song that wound up on Hawkwind’s Space Bandits disc, one of my favorites from the groove. This pretty keyboard dominated tune feels very much like that version here (at least on the first half of this). Davey’s voice lays down the lyrics, lamenting the future loss of birds due to the changing environmental situation of the Earth. It turns a bit more towards less space rock, more pure prog on the instrumental section here.
Back in the Box
Another cut that’s been done by Hawkwind, This hard rocking piece really works quite well here, but I miss Bridget Wishart’s vocals.

Robby’s Rap
This starts off feeling like the introduction to “Utopia” from Choose Your Masque. The cut never moves up from keyboards, but the musical focus shifts and changes. I’m not extremely excited about this piece, but it is a pretty and rather intriguing number.
Jigging
This is a fun little rocker. It’s not all that special, but it’s a neat track nonetheless.
The Noise
Here we settle in for a helping of ambient keyboard based weirdness. We’re off into deep space on this oddity. We get sound bites later here with a person speaking. It seems to be taken from a movie or something. This is one of the coolest of these sort of numbers I’ve ever heard.
Abab Fed
More light hearted, this is a bouncy sort of Hawkwind-styled rocker. It’s not quite crunchy, but also not quite balladic, sitting somewhere in the middle ground. I like the soaring sort of jam later a lot. It turns into more frantic prog later with elements of fusion thrown in the mix.
Backwards Thru Water
In an unusual case of Davey following the obvious path (based on the title), this is a backwards tracked and distant number. It’s also only forty seconds in length.

Tribal Daze
A suitably tribal sort of drum beat leads things off here. The music builds in a dramatic and mysterious sort of way. We get lines of keyboard melody swirling over the backdrop, creating a cool texture. After a time this moves upward to a more hard rocking jam. It moves out towards mellower motifs further down the road. This flows really well and just grows and changes quite organically. It’s another that would be quite at home on just about any Hawkwind album. It’s also one of my favorites on show here and a great way to end things.
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