The 35th studio album from Hawkwind – there’s no let up as The Future Never Waits.
Release Date: 28th April 2023
Label: Cherry Red
Format: digital / CD / double vinyl
Some, many even, have suggested that Hawkind should be instated as a national treasure. They’re kinda accepted with a warm embrace now, cuddly uncles who are unlikely these days to be contrary enough to be playing a free gig in a field somewhere during the coronation of Charles III. Dave Brock’s possibly more interested in his dogs than rebelling against the mainstream these days. As the (reluctant) man in the prime spot, he’s joined again by Magnus Martyn and Richard Chadwick, plus Doug MacKinnon and Tim “Thighpaulsandra” Lewis.
Hawkwind has been blessed with an Indian Summer that’s seen the band release a clutch of acclaimed albums, resurrect the Hawkind Light Orchestra as well as allowing Mike Batt to orchestrate and drastically tweak some of their catalogue. The numerous touring activities and live albums from the recent and distant past also continue to proliferate and to tweak an old adage, it seems you’re never more than six months from a Hawkwind release.
The title track is a more ambient scene setter – more new age, Teutonic Tangerine Dream than rumbling Space Rock as the studio doodling finally calls time after ten minutes. You get the impression that it’s a track that could have no end; an improvised groove that could take off anywhere, gentle pulses decorated with squeaks and whines as an alternative the relentless pumping riffs. The Utopia Strong take note of your influence. Maybe. It’s the only track attributed to the full quintet, with Brock and Martin again the songwriting catalysts. The former provides the first of the familiar stories of far-off places in The End that chugs along with trademark gusto aided and abetted by expansive drum fills and rushes of space wind.
Not highly polished musical precision, no strange time signatures or technically complex dexterity, the MO is (and always has been) about feel and groove and creating an experience. Same as it ever was. The benefits of being together and playing together in the studio rather than using technological communications shines through.
Aldous Huxley sees them incorporating soundbites to another celestial wash of sounds and having got used to the new age of Hawkwind, we’re taken on another playful journey as the sonic winds underpin an unusually jazzy outburst on They Are So Easily Distracted. Could the title refer to the fact that the quintet suddenly decided to head off into a Space Jazz jam? Maybe, but again, the template is tweaked. The ominous spoken intro to Rama and the hypnotic vibe they channel on I’m Learning to Live Today gets us back on a more comfortable track that’s not fallen far from the tree pulsing away with vigour. However, the balance comes with the sonic theme of The Future Never Waits that places a strong emphasis on more ambient sounds and brushstrokes which have dominated the first half of the album.
If you’ve not twigged yet, The Future Never Waits follows the concept of life cycles. One that began with The End, is brought to a conclusion with The Beginning – the reminder to “upload your consciousness here and leave your body at the door marked ‘incinerator‘” – and to step forward for the ‘beginning’ of the next part of the journey. Very late period Beatle-y with the piano part and mournful delivery (plus the “whatever gets you through the night” Lennon quote) while the deep synth /lawnmower drone suggests we’re about to hear “it’s one o’clock and time for lunch.” Probably my favourite section of the album.
And so the Space Rock pioneers bring several decades of music-making to another fitful conclusion. A band for whom the groove is key to their popularity, in 2023, they’ve shown that they’re not averse to slipping out now and again to see what’s over the parapet. Interesting what you might find, as they’ve found on The Future never Waits.
Here’s Rama (The Prophecy):
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