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The Future Never Waits

Review by Gary Hill

When it comes to a band that has been around since the 1960s and released somewhere in the neighborhood of three dozen studio albums, it seems natural that a trademark sound would emerge. This new album has plenty of that. It also has things that stretch the concepts quite a bit, too. While I like every Hawkwind album, some stand taller than others. I think this one might become one of those classic releases. It has a great flow from mellower to more rocking and back down again over and over again. That's sort of a trademark of Hawkwind, and it's well represented here. There is also a good balance of instrumental and vocal tracks.

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Track by Track Review
The Future Never Waits
A rhythmic, electronic element brings this into being. Lush elements rise up still in electronic mode to bring the melodic vibes. Electronic grooves take control as this drifts through spacey territory. The percussion gets quite involved. More rocking elements emerge later, but the cut still remains on the atmospheric end of the spectrum. This opening instrumental is over ten-minutes long and really sets a great tone and mood for the disc.
The End
They bring this in with a classic rocking Hawkwind sound. It is a great entry in the classic Hawkwind straight-forward space rocking school of sound. Don't expect any surprises on this, but this kind of piece always works for me when this band does it. It reaches a peak and then shifts out toward a more electronic, but still rocking groove. It drops to more atmospheric keyboard textures for a spoken vocal with some hints of the sung vocals from the song further back in the mix along with some sound effects. Those other elements drop away, leaving just atmospherics that drift into the next number.
Aldous Huxley
Trippy electronics serve as the backdrop for a spoken piece of sound-bite about a trippy experience. This is a great ambient journey into space zones. Around the halfway mark a piano brings a change, but it still remains mellow and spacey. Other spoken sound-bites are heard. The piano really brings a bit of classical meets jazz texture to it, but the space is still woven over it at times. That said, the piano does have sections where it's alone in the mix. It continues to shift and vary before dropping back to mellow electronics to end.
They Are So Easily Distracted
Coming in electronic, this manages to have a driving rhythm section at times. This gets into some killer jazz meets space jamming as it continues. Horn along with piano and plenty of other cool instrumentation creates a tasty sonic tapestry. This works through some great space and jazz zones as it continues. Some parts of this make me think of early Pink Floyd a little. It's an intriguing flavor for Hawkwind, but the groove really does feel consistent with their catalog. At nearly ten-and-a-half minutes of music, this is the epic of the disc. The electric guitar starts driving over the top in killer lines of melody as this marches onward past the halfway mark. Like some of the best space rock, nothing here changes quickly, it's incremental, but it does change. Vocals don't come in until nearly the end, delivering a memorable chorus.
Rama (The Prophecy)
A sound-bite from a film gets this going. They launch into more hard rocking Hawkwind space rock as it is continuing. This is another that doesn't break any molds, but delivers class in a trademark Hawkwind way. The retro sounding organ later is an intriguing touch, and at points they take this into a variant of a classic Hawkwind jam. This thing is quite a powerhouse, and at eight-and-a-half minutes long, a meaty one at that.
Synthetic chorale voices get us going here. The track has a tasty electronic vibe as it shifts to more traditional keyboard sounds. It turns more rocking with the entrance of the guitar later. This instrumental is melodic and classy.
Outside Of Time
Coming in trippy, but also rhythmic. This works to sort of a proggy electronic space groove and begins evolving from there. This turns toward a rich arrangement as it evolves. Vocals have a dream-like quality to it. This just keeps changing, though, with a dramatic driving yet strange and electronic based element taking over further down the road. It gets more of a space meets 1970s classic vibe while still focused on an open sound that feels at once jazzy and electronic. There is some killer jamming that takes places as it drives onward. More classic rock vocals are heard further down the road, but they are still a little way back in the mix. This is such an intriguing piece, blending both familiar and newer Hawkwind concepts.
I'm Learning To Live Today
More of a hard-edged psychedelic rocker, this has a cool energy and drive to it. It still has decidedly space things at play, too. By around the half-way mark it turns into a trademark Hawkwind jam. This continues to evolve and explore its sonic scope. I love the bass work on this, but everything here is great. It's recognizable and unmistakable as Hawkwind, but it's not tired or trite.
The Beginning
A spoken voice says "upload your consciousness here and leave your body at the door marked incinerator" starts this. Keyboard elements emerge and other voices deliver that same instruction. There are more detailed instructions that come later as this continues to evolve sonically. Musically this has a cool groove to it. It's not quite purely electronic, but not exactly a full rocker, either. The spoken bites over it all point to the same dystopian future. This does get a little noisier for a time, but then, as it approaches the halfway point an acoustic guitar brings it into a more traditional song structure. The number has an almost folk rock arrangement as it continues with bits of jazz and space rock also in the mix. It turns more rocking as it continues with more psychedelic vibes at play. There are a number of different layers of vocals that emerge at different points. Somehow I almost pick up a Beatles-like thing at times here.
Trapped In This Modern Age
A more mainstream song structure is in control here. This still has Hawkwind trademarks, but it also feels very much classic-rock-like. At just three-minutes long, this is the shortest piece here. It also feels like a single, but it does still get into some spacey territory at the end.


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