Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Hawkwind – Stories From Time & Space

Whatever you might want to say about Hawkwind, they certainly don’t let the grass (or the space) grow underneath them. Following on from 2023’s Future Never Waits, the ‘sonic assassins’ now offer us a collection of Stories From Time & Space. If you know Hawkwind, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect, and you’ll not be disappointed either, as pretty much everything you’d expect from a Hawkwind album is contained here. Although this album is light year away from a classic Hawkwind album like Levitation and Quark, Strangeness, etc, it’s a well put together piece of music, with main man and last original member, Space Commander Dave Brock (now in his ninth decade) still there guiding his fellow voyagers on their journey.

But Stories From Time & Space is very much Hawkwind for the 21st century. This isn’t just a series of guitar-driven riffs with swirly space-rock sounds added on, this is an album which is a blend of sounds and styles, with several moments of being ‘dreamy and smooth,’ lapsing into trance and ambient on the odd occasion and all alongside synths, jazzy ethereal sax and guitar driven space rock .. and there’s nothing about this album to suggest it’s being performed by a band 54 years into their journey. 

The themes addressed on this album could have easily fitted onto their ‘live’ Space Ritual album which was released 50 years back, and rereleased in Sept 2023 as an 11 CD deluxe box set. ‘The Tracker’ wonders ‘is there life out there trying to find us here, before we slowly disappear?’  ‘The Starship (One Love, One Life),’ sees a ship travelling to a planet called Heaven – This is mostly an extended jam but it’s strangely hypnotic and becomes an earworm after a while. The ship then crashes on Heaven, and the question is raised ‘What Are We Going To Do While We’re Here’ which after an ambient intro becomes the pulsating Hawkwind their fans know and love; even with a freaky sax outro. ‘Traveller Of Time And Space’ starts like Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and raises the issue of ‘a cargo of human waste’ being discarded in space, with ships carrying waste to be burnt up in the sun. ‘Can’t Last Forever’ considers mortality and finds someone waiting to be rejuvenated and made young again, and there’s even a space love song in ‘Til I Found You’ .. ‘I never knew I was lost til I found you’. These tracks are interspersed with several synth-based instrumental pieces, like ‘The Night Sky’ and ‘Regenerate’ and the mission concludes with ‘Frozen In Time,‘ where someone is ‘waiting for time to start again.’ Then we have ‘Stargazers’ laden full of Hawkwind sound effects, a fitting conclusion.

If you were expecting anything different from Hawkwind at this stage of their career, you’re out of luck. They’ve more than earned the right to play whatever, and however, they please, and on Stories From Time & Space they stick to what they know and do well .. better than most in their genre .. while embracing technology as they proceed. Though, at the time of writing, the outlook for Hawkwind is unclear as, due to various health issues, no more gigs are being lined up after August 2024, so whether this is their final album is not known. But if it is, they can be justly proud at having more than made their mark.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Whatever you might want to say about Hawkwind, they certainly don’t let the grass (or the space) grow underneath them. Following on from 2023’s Future Never Waits, the ‘sonic assassins’ now offer us a collection of Stories From Time & Space. If you know...Hawkwind - Stories From Time & Space