Hawkwind - The Machine Stops - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hawkwind - The Machine Stops

by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2016-04-15

I have to admit, even though Hawkwind has been a band since 1969 and I’ve seen them in concert, I have never had a Hawkwind album. I’ve also never read a Michael Moorcock (what a name to live up to...) SF novel (he reportedly played with them at some point) and frankly, I had no idea they were still a band. And a band of space rockers at that! 

The concert I vaguely remember attending, there were these long-haired dudes with five or six guitarists playing droning psych music long before the term shoegaze appeared. They were impressive, though, and now that I think about it, played as tightly as the last band of five-plus guitarists all on stage jamming - Brian Jonestown Massacre.

But I have read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster, taught it in class, in fact, and do believe it was one kick ass novel of a smothering computer state written in 1909.   This particular album surprised me much like the last Buzzcocks album surprised me.  The music is fresh, creative, and not at all dated, as you might expect from such an old band.  But they rock it out.  If such intensity and creativity went into all of their albums since 1969, well, perhaps they might be worth a look at in retrospect.

The Machine Stops is filled with space rock, electronica, guitar solos, a ballad here and there, and just good old-fashioned rock and roll along the way.  In fact, songs like ‘Solitary Man’ and ‘Synchronized Blue’ are straight-up rockers that frankly, surprised me.  Hawkwind can rock.  And if you throw in a heavy dose of spacey, science-fiction synths on top of waves of droning guitars like on the song, ‘The Machine’, and build to a grand spacey Universe-spanning goth rock song like ‘The Harmonic Hall’ then you have what this band of Psychic Warrior musicians are all about.  Add in sufficiently cryptic lyrics like I am Hexagone (I am actually Hexagoing…) and you are in for a fantastic musical journey through a concept album of near epic proportions.

While I think the novel, The Machine Stops, was more about the isolationism and alienation that the late 1800s industrial revolution begat, and not so much about predicting home vending machines and the like, Hawkwind have put out a solid, contemporary rock and roll album well worth investing in.  And it should be noted that E.M. Forster engaged music in his works in an almost abnormal fashion that has triggered analysis and books for over a century.  He liked music very much.  He would have liked Hawkwind.

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