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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hawkwind

Distant Horizons

Review by Gary Hill

I never met a Hawkwind album I didn’t like. That said, this is one of the more non-descript and lackluster discs in their catalog. It’s Hawkwind, so it’s still good, but I’d recommend getting this one late in your quest to complete your Hawkwind collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Distant Horizons
Reggae merges with electronic space rock and weird chanting sounds. It gets more rocking as it builds out later.
Phetamine Street
This comes in with some space and then bass takes it. The track launches out with a Nik Turner era like hard rocking, punky jam. It’s fairly raw and a little weird – and doesn’t really do much for me.
Waimea Canyon Drive
At times it almost feels like there are two songs going on at once. While this is somewhat classic Hawkwind in texture it’s a bit overproduced and hard to latch onto. The mellower section works very well, though. 
Alchemy
Now this is more like it. Hawkwind takes us into nearly metal territory. It’s a hard rocking jam that at many points is pure heavy metal. I could imagine Judas Priest doing this. Still, there’s enough Hawkwind space rock in the mix to make it fit. It might not be the most classic of sounds for the band, but it is a great piece of music. 
Clouded Vision
The majority of this track is a quirky sort of ballad approach. There’s a more powered up bridge, though. It’s one of the more typically Hawkwind-like pieces on show here.
Reptoid Vision
This killer rocker is very metallic, but also very classic Hawkwind in texture. In fact, if you listen very carefully, I think you’ll hear a definite similarity to a Hawkwind trademark on parts of the guitar. There’s also a killer off-kilter jam midtrack and a cool journey into pure space from there. This is one of the highlights of the set. At over seven and a half minutes in length, it’s also the longest cut on show here.
Population Overload
The keyboard dominated portion that leads this off makes me think of Yes a bit – seriously. From there they take it out to a more typical Hawkwind approach – the spacey type of sounds – with a spoken vocal. This also calls to mind Pink Floyd at points. As it continues the music is sparse and barren, focusing more on rhythmic structures – right to the end where a short lush keyboard sound joins to end it.
Wheels
A harder rocking tune, this is quite tasty. It’s one of the standouts of the set. The early powerful jam gives way to a droning, more atmospheric segment with a spoken vocal line. I’d have to say that a good chunk of the hard rock portion of this feels like it’s lifted from an older Hawkwind song, but I can’t remember which track it is – I can sure hear it in my head, though. The sound of waves hitting a beach end this and segue into the next song. 
Kauai
The first half of this instrumental starts and ends with the sounds of waves on the beach. It’s a pretty keyboard based number – at least in that section. The second segment here is weird sound effects and such.
Taxi for Max
Here’s a spacey sort of instrumental. It’s textural and very techno in nature. It seems an odd way to end things.
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