Hawkwind - DOREMI FASOL LATIDO
Absolute killer of an album from Hawkwind - the recruitment of Simon King providing a compelling drive without losing the tribal force, and the addition of Ian Kilmister solidfying the Hawkwind sound forever.
Add to that a much improved production, a tighter focus on overall structure without losing any of the improvisation and a noticably expanded arsenal of tone generators, oscillators and general good vibes, and the recipe starts to cook... hash browns, anyone?
Brainstorm, and particularly this version, makes this album a compulsory purchase all by itself. Straight away, the lyrics grab you; "Standing on the runway, waiting to take off, you gotta help me, help me to shake off... this body and mind...".
Perhaps the execution isn't as precise as it might be, and perhaps the guitar could do with a little more attention in the tuning department, but none of that takes any energy out of the sonic hurricane that follows, blasting the possibilities of psychedelic rock into new dimensions.
The other things that grab you about Brainstorm are the driving runs and power chords emanating from Lemmy's bass, not to mention his distinctive tones appearing in the backing vocals, and just how incredibly well structured the whole edifice is, despite appearing to be an 11-minute jam session; Each section morphs naturally into the next, always threatening, but never quite managing to descend into chaos.
As with "In Search of Space", a coherence is provided across the album, almost second to none; Space is Deep works best of all for me in this acoustic version, the separation between the guitars adding to the cosmic depth of this track. The electronics, of course, are what really make this something special, but nevertheless, despite being "Hurry on Sundown III" in many ways, it contains that earthy "Om" vibe that would make it work perfectly without the effects. When the bass and drums finally make their entrance roughly halfway through, Turner's flute chirps like some kind of mad space-bird, the underlying pulse of the piece makes itself felt, and continues to beat even as the band break it right down.
The heavily effected electric piano of One Change works very well for this very short Satie-esque piece that serves as a little breather before "Lord of Light" positively overwhelms with its rafts of effects, powerful distorted riffs and driving bass lines. The fact that this begins feeling like a kind of "Brainstorm II" adds to the impact when the band modulate into new territory 2 minutes or so in. Lemmy conjours up some magically winding bass lines and whammo! we're back at the verse again.
Down Through the Night may feel like it's regurgitating earlier material somewhat - but that consideration would cause the listener to miss out on the trip - and coherence - of this album, so if you think it's repetitive, you're missing the point and probably hate all forms of Trance and Tangerine Dream too.
The change to Time We Left This World Today is a bit lumpy, but getting over the shock of that gives you no time to prepare for the assault that follows - so possibly it was deliberate. A massive riff descends into almost atonal, discordant tribal chaos with harsh rhythms, angular sax bleeps, wah-wah washes and insistent chanting.
It might be a fair speculation that Hawkwind held shares in an effects unit company - but hey, that's the Hawkwind sound!
We exit the album via The Watcher, an odd acoustic piece featuring the lead vocals of Lemmy for the first time. The major key feel of the guitars feels distinctly and naturally at odds with the minor key of the melody line, and the piece is all the more sinister and bleak for leaving out the drums. As for the electronics, they finally make their appearance towards the end - as announced by Lemmy, and providing a perfect coherence to a near- perfect Space Rock album.
The Watcher was later rejuvenated by Lemmy on the first Motorhead album, "On Parole", if you are left with any doubts that this is a good song.
Then there are The Bonuses.
"Urban Guerilla" is completely out of place stylistically and lyrically - although it's a great song, and the single version of "Lord of Light" is a really bad edit of the version on the album - so both are pointless. Different releases have different bonuses - but program your CD player to stop after "The Watcher", or buy the vinyl to get the authentic experience.
Collector's tip: The original vinyl came with a nifty "Star Rats" poster, and the sleeve was printed with a rather delicate silver ink that had a tendency to flake off with handling - but looked seriously cool.
Sure it sounds dated now - but who cares? So does Gregorian chant.
In short, one of the greatest Space Rock albums of all time - and most of the rest were also by Hawkwind. All 3 of the "Lemmy-era" studio albums - and the live "Space Ritual" album are fabulous examples of this genre and show a marked progression from here to the mighty "Warrior on the Edge of Time": All are classics (and masterpieces) in their own right - and there's simply no other band like Hawkwind.
Studio Album, released in 1972
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Brainstorm (11:33)
2. Space Is Deep (5:10)
3. One Change (0:49)
4. Lord Of Light (6:59)
5. Down Through The Night (3:04)
6. Time We Left This World Today (8:43)
7. The Watcher (4:00)
Total time 40:18
Bonus tracks on 1996 remaster:
8. Urban Guerilla (3:41)
9. Brainbox Pollution (5:42)
10. Lord Of Light (single edit) (3:59)
11. Ejection (prev. unreleased) (3:47)
Line-up / Musicians
- Dave Brock / vocals, lead & 12-string guitars, co-producer
- Del Dettmar / synthesizer, co-producer
- Michael "DikMik" Davies / audio generator, electronics
- Nik Turner / sax, flute, vocals
- Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister / bass, guitar, vocals (7)
- Simon King / drums
- Robert Calvert / vocals (8,9,11)
- Paul Rudolph (unconfirmed) / guitars (11)