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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hawkwind

Alien 4

Review by Gary Hill

This a masterpiece of science fiction based space rock. It's hard-edged at times, and mellow at others, like an ebb and flow kind of composition. There is a story that seems to make its way through a lot of the set.

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Track by Track Review
Abducted
Weird keyboard textures serve as the backdrop for an awestruck and frightened spoken description of an alien abduction. This is a freaky and very cool introduction to the album. This is really exactly the kind of thing you expect from Hawkwind, dramatic and powerful, but also rather alien and quite trippy.
Alien (I Am)
More odd keyboard textures start this. Some sound-clips from Star Trek The Next Generation are heard as this continues to build in rather frightening and trippy ways. It builds upward and some alien processed vocals are heard. Eventually it shifts out to more hard rocking territory for the first "normal" vocals of the album. This is a killer classic Hawkwind rocker as it drives forward. It modulates into a mean sounding section further down the road. This thing really makes its way through so many changes as it winds its way through. Eventually this segues into the next number.
Reject Your Human Touch
There is an almost alien feeling to the angular music on this rocker. It has some killer guitar work and bits of odd sound dancing around it. There are some bits of voices used like loops. Beyond that this is an instrumental.
Blue Skin
The sound of something like space-ship weaponry is heard at this start of this. The cut pound out from there into a driving, electronic meets hard rocking space music number. There are some decidedly theatrical moments here. Mid-track it drops to an ambient section with spoken vocals. It powers outward from there with more killer space rock. More freaky science-fiction stuff that gets rather theatrical emerges after a while.
Beam Me Up
More of an electronic trippy vibe drives the first part of this. It shifts out to more rocking territory as the chorus enters. It really drives forward with classic Hawkwind space elements. It shifts out to sonic weirdness as the intensity and speed increases. It reaches a peak, and then drops down to mellower stuff for a spoken voice that feels just a bit like a Dalek. It builds up to another rocking vibe from there, driving with more of a classic Hawkwind mainstream sound.
Vega
Mellower trippy keyboard elements open this and move it forward. This instrumental is quite pleasant and very pretty. It's a nice interlude after the intensity of the last track.
Xenomorph
A harder rocking jam leads this off with a classic Hawkwind groove. Think "Silver Machine" meets "Assassins of Allah." This stomper is classic and very cool. It's more of a mainstream number than a lot of the music here. A drop to a piano laden segment leads into some more killer jamming as this continues to evolve. It works through some smoking hot space rock zones as they work forward.
Journey
Coming out of the previous cut, there is a real symphonic rock element here. It is still very much rock oriented, but there is a classical texture on both the rhythmic element and some of the melodic ones. I love the bass work on this. The keyboards driving over the top are killer, too. This instrumental is classy.
Sputnik Stan
Seeming to come from the previous track, mellow keyboard textures start this. It powers out from there to a killer hard driving riff to create the basis of the cut. This has a classic Hawkwind type song. In some ways it feels like something that would have fit on the Levitation album to me. There is both cool bass work and keyboard jamming on this killer track. The bass stuff beyond the four minute mark is particularly strong. It really gets into some soaring territory from there. This is one of the highlights here, but really everything is so good that it's hard to pick one.
Kapal
Keyboards and the sounds of nature bring this into being. It starts to rise up gradually from there. It remains mostly ambient until around the halfway mark when it starts to pick and intensify. More trippy stuff ensues as this grows.
Festivals
A harder rocking jam, this is killer space rock. I love the shifts and changes here. It's catchy and meaty at the same time. There is a trippy kind of rhythmic movement with weird bursts of space music in the mix - mid-track. It moves forward from there in classy ways.
Death Trap
A new version of a Hawkwind classic, this rocks. It has some killer guitar work and a real driving intensity.
Wastelands
Another redo from earlier Hawkwind, this melodic mellower number works quite well here.

 

Are You Losing Your Mind?
A song that continues the alien abduction themes, this is a pounding bit of Hawkwind oddity that works really well. It's classic and yet fresh.
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