Nik Turner (woodwinds, vocals) was a member of the seminal British space-rock band, Hawkwind. Here, he rekindles the days of yore with a splendid new offering that proffers a fresh perspective. To a certain extent, Space Gypsy generates a contrast of how current and perhaps cleaner digital technology contrasts the warmer, full-bodied sound of analog, when considering Hawkwind's 70s albums, for example. Regardless, Turner's tuneful works are standalone entries, paralleling his roots. Coupled with his popping and serrated sax lines, often skirting free-jazz, the artist's wistful flute phrasings add harmonious overtones during the transcendent ballads, complete with mellotron backwashes and a few nods to early pop-based East Indian influences on "Galaxy Rise." Otherwise, Space Gypsy could loom as one of the best Hawkwind albums that never came to fruition.
The streaming synth patterns, pulsating rock grooves and cosmological sine waves are mixed evenly with Turner's reverberating vocals. Amped by Nicky Garratt's crunch chords and fluent psycho guitar licks, the dark ambience of the mellotron performed by keyboardist Jurgen Engler complements the largely thrusting grooves and pieces that spin out of the ozone into a terminal void. At times, the leader's vocals spark imagery of a pagan god foretelling the fate of humanity.
Turner's lyricism spans interstellar topics such as eternity and cross-galactic fertilization; therefore, the phantasmagorical themes are neatly wrapped into a moveable feast of oscillating soundscapes. However, "Coming of the Maya" draws similes to Pink Floyd's 1968 space-rock tome "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," where drummer Jason Willer's rumbling African toms patterns lay the foundation for a wavy dreamscape. Consequently, legendary British progressive rock guitarist Steve Hillage (Gong, System 7) imparts his signature style, shimmering with psychedelic speed licks and distortion-laced voicings amid Turner's steely sax lines on "Anti-Matter."
Generally speaking, not many rock artists or bands can jump back onto the bandwagon and make a noticeable impact, following decades of productive output, leading to creative burnout. But Space Gypsy defies the odds. Turner packs a wallop here, as he forges a crystalline production with artsy panache and memorably melodic choruses for an album that refutes all semblances of time and space.
Track Listing: Fallen Angels STS-51-L; Joker’s Song; Time Crypt; Galaxy Rise; Coming of
the Maya; We Ride the Timewinds; Eternity; Anti-Matter; The Visitor;
Something’s Not Right (Bonus Track).
Personnel: Jurgen Engler: guitar, Moog synths, mellotron; Jeff Piccinini: bass;
Jason Willer: drums, percussion; Nik Turner: vocals, flute, saxophone;
Nicky Garratt: guitar; Simon House: violin (3, 5); Steve Hillage: guitar
(8); Chris Leitz: additional mellotron.