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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jet Jaguar

Space Anthem

Review by Gary Hill

Right out of the gate, let’s just say that these guys are not the most original band you’ll hear. In fact, you really need to look no further than the first dedication of the album (Nik Turner) to know where they draw most of their inspiration. Yes, this sounds a lot like Hawkwind. In some ways you could think of this as a punky, somewhat raw, lost Hawkwind disc. For that reason this is highly recommended to fans of Hawkwind and space rock in general. It’s a cool disc that has some of its own identity while paying heavy amounts of tribute to the kings of space rock. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Hawkwind should be very flattered.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Autopilot
Swirling, pulsating space sounds with cylon-like voices serve to bring this in. These textures also hold this for almost the first three minutes of the track. Percussion brings in a hard edged space rock jam that has a lot in common with Hawkwind. Distorted distant vocals create the lyrical presence here. This really has a lot in common with the music of the Hawks. There is a bit of a raw, almost punky texture here, too. The space elements seriously “go to 11” on this, too.  It segues straight into the next piece.
Future Martyr on Supersonic Waves
Fast paced and harder edged, this is also cut from a Hawkwind pattern. It’s a lot more high energy than the one that preceded it and feels quite a bit like something from one of Robert Calvert’s solo discs. We get some killer keyboard dominated sounds at points on this one, but the driving rhythm is ever-present.
X-Ray Warfare
Noisy waves of keys pound here and there, sweeping across the world of your mind. A little less than two minutes in length, this never really climbs above the point of noisy sound effects. It’s also only vaguely Hawk-like.
Deathlock
Techno sort of mellow textures with a playful, robotic feel lead off here. This comes in from there with a hard rocking, crunchy sound. It’s got a bit of that punk feel to it. This is quirky and only a little Hawkwind-like. That is, until the vocals enter, which remind me a bit of “Silver Machine” and “Death Trap” combined. We get an odd, computerized, synthetic break down on this. It’s almost noise, but somehow it works in a weird way. As they come back up it twists and grooves in a killer jam. Keys eventually end this.

The Last Kings of Space
This comes in feeling a bit like a punky version of “Master of the Universe.” This moves through a few variations and alterations, but never really wanders far from its origins. It’s a cool space jam, but not one of the highlights of the CD. When they rework and revitalize it later, it does gain a bit of “oomph,” though.
Free Base
The keys that start this off feel a lot like the intro to “Motorway City.” They wander through for a while with music threatening to power up. When it does fire off into the song proper it’s not in keeping with that Hawkwind song, but rather more like a punkier rendition of some older modes of the Hawkmen. They drop it back to a keyboard zone with a space age drug dealer peddling his wares. When the song comes back out of there it’s with a powerhouse jam that’s amongst the best on show here. Of course, this really feels a lot like “Master of the Universe” here.

Beam Me to Mars
This is another in a hard rocking space rock texture. This is one of the cooler pieces on show here. The melodic jam that takes this later has some Hawkwind textures, but also feels more like more mainstream progressive rock, too.
Turbulent Mirrors
Keyboard motifs hold this for almost the first minute. At that point we begin to hear guitar sounds flitting across the top. It’s around three minutes in before this thing really powers out into a hard rocking jam. The vocals are half sung, half spoken in a distant, almost whispered way. After a while this shifts out to a more melodic sort of jam but then powers up from there still further down the road. At over eight and a half minutes long this is one of the longest pieces here. It’s also one of the strongest. Keyboards and effects take it late and move it to its conclusion.
Stingray Eyes
Computer type sounds are the first thing heard here. Spacey keyboards join as this starts to rise up. Then another hard edged Hawk-like jam enters and pulls us into our next thrill ride. I actually hear a little bit of The B-52’s on this song, too, mostly in the vocal delivery. This turns to a rather metallic grind later and keys whoosh and swim across this backdrop. Then a killer guitar solo takes it from there.
Dogfight
Laser beam keyboard sounds begin this. When they power up from there it reminds me of the Robert Calvert song “Ejection” quite a bit. This is cool but not as good as some of the other material here. It drops down to just keys later in the piece and they pull a set of lyrics over this, but it jumps back up quickly from there.
Lost in the Jetstream
This is not really very Hawkwind-like at all. Don’t get me wrong, we still get the swirling space keys, but the delivery system on this drug isn’t like Hawkwind. A martial beat is laid down over which a melodic sort of, nearly fusion-like guitar texture is placed. The keys whoosh and spin around upon this foundation. It’s a cool tune and an intriguing change of pace. This instrumental is one of the shorter pieces at just over three and a half minutes.
Bonus Tracks
Coded Zones
The first bonus track comes in with a keyboard dominated space rock sound that’s perhaps a bit more modern than some of the other music here. The guitar sound is a little heavier and this has a harder rocking texture – at least in a less raw format – than some of the other tunes. I think I could almost picture this as Powerman 5000 meets Hawkwind. It’s a cool track and makes a nice change. As cool as it is, it seems to drag on a bit too long.

Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun
The only cover on show here, they turn their attention to this early Pink Floyd piece. At over fourteen minutes in length this journey is the longest trip on the CD.  Picture, if you will, Hawkwind covering this Floydian classic and you’ll be well on your way to experiencing this sonic adventure. The first minute is ambient textures and then they rise up with a dramatic progression that drives things forward. This turns crunchy and very Hawklike. While some portions of this extended freak out are closer to the Floydian elements, Hawk sounds still hang heavy in the air throughout. You can look at it as a space rock “best of all worlds.” This might be a cover song, but it’s a unique interpretation and one of the highlights of the disc. It’s also worth the price of admission by itself.
Archangel's Thunderbird
Working through a couple false starts, this is hard edged jamming that has less of the space keyboards than most of the rest of the disc. It still has a good deal of Hawkwind sounds, though. It's punky and cool, but a bit of a let down after the powerhouse that was "Set The Controls..." I don't think I would have chosen this point to end the CD.
 
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