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"In Search of Hawkwind"

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cover imageOriginally a series of 7" split singles released on the Trensmat label, this compilation collects all the original releases on one CD and also includes a few covers not previously released as part of the series. Featuring a fantastic selection of bands (this is not a collection of also-ran bands doing a crappy tribute album) which for me are mainly an improvement on the originals. Hawkwind are one of those bands whose influence I appreciate more than their original recordings and to hear some bands I truly love interpreting their music has given me a new found enthusiasm for Hawkwind themselves.

 

Critical Mass

Mugstar have been the driving force behind the album and they are represented twice, once with "Born to Go" (originally on the split with Mudhoney) and again with the previously unreleased "Paradox" from my favorite Hawkwind album Hall of the Mountain Grill. They take a fairly straight reading of the music but play like there is no tomorrow (and there just might not be if they play any harder). Elsewhere Moon Duo and White Hills put more idiosyncratic spins on the songs; the former taking a minimal electronic approach and the latter start from a place that closely resembles Hawkwind but push through the invisible boundaries into something more resembling Japanese psych like Les Rallizes Denudes or Up-Tight.

Bardo Pond’s interpretation of "Lord of Light" from Doremi Fasol Latido combines Hawkwind's interstellar drive with Bardo Pond's own smoked aesthetics; the cosmic synth sounds traditionally associated with Hawkwind marrying perfectly with the chunky guitars and Isobel Sollenberger's flute. Mudhoney do an equally good job of putting their own spin on Hawkwind's music. Their version of "Urban Guerilla" could have come from Superfuzz Bigmuff; they completely deconstruct Hawkwind’s space mystic vibes and transpose the song to the American northwest. This is plaid shirts and weed rather than glitter and LSD.

Not all the songs are as successful as the ones mentioned above, Magoo's cover of "Space is Deep" is a bit flat in comparison to the blissed out sounds that can be heard throughout the rest of In Search of Hawkwind. It sounds like they are trying too hard to capture Hawkwind’s superficial sound without fully engaging in the spirit of the music. The same cannot be said for Acid Mothers Temple & the Cosmic Inferno who have made a career out of continuing where Hawkwind left off. Their take on "Brainstorm" lives up to the song’s title; the music rages through my mind like a supernova.

I tend to be more critical of tribute compilations than any other form of release. Along with bad split singles, bad tribute albums bring out the worst in second tier artists and the worst in me. However, In Search of Hawkwind is an almost perfect example of a tribute album. The bands included all exemplify the influence of the original artist and most of the pieces chosen are executed with love, care and tonnes of enthusiasm.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 17 October 2010 23:02  


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