Once in a blue moon Hawkwind mainman Dave Brock takes some time out from his day job to cook up a solo album.
Beginning with 1984’s Earthed To The Ground, he has produced a handful of releases that stylistically bounce back and forth between idiosyncratic experimentation and the sort of territory that Hawkwind fans will be wholly familiar with. His previous outing – 2012’s Looking For Love In The Lost Land Of Dreams – was well-received, and it seems as if the amusingly titled Brockworld (perhaps what you’d get if he opened his farm to the public and started charging for donkey rides) is set to follow suit.
Since Hawkwind debuted way back in 1970 – and probably well before that – Brock has shown a deep concern for Mothership Earth and the dark and dangerous destination that we as a species seem determined to drive her to. So it’s no surprise, then, that the same environmental anxiety rears its head here, particularly when we consider that Brock – at a sprightly 74 – has seen more mindless ecological destruction and societal disintegration than most of us.
A decidedly diverse collection that fits snugly together.
Musically, Brockworld traces the trajectory outlined above, and Hawkwind fans can get together with lovers of prog and psychedelia in general appreciation of the pot-scented potpourri on offer. Life Without Passion kicks things off with trademark hypnotic riffs and rhythms, pulsing bass lines and swirling synths, topped off with Brock’s distinctive vocals.
On the heavier side of things are the highly atmospheric Leviathans Of The Air, the weighty cosmic drama of Horizon, and the ominous Domain Of Those That Fly, the latter harking back to the High Rise scenario on Hawkwind’s 1979 concept album PXR5.
Counterbalancing these are lighter interludes (musically speaking) such as the quirky Getting Old And A Single Man, or offbeat moments such as Unity and The Last Tango keep things interesting throughout. Throw in tracks such as the positively upbeat Falling Out Of Love, the frantic-cum-pastoral The Age Of Psychedelia, and proggy coda The Patient and you have a decidedly diverse collection that nonetheless sits snugly together.
Maybe some of the best ideas might have benefitted from being further fleshed out – 15 songs in 46 minutes is hardly testing the limits – but then again it’s refreshing to find an album like this not pushing 80-plus minutes simply because technology makes it possible. As for you and I and the rest of humanity – we have a predicament, not a problem, the difference being that predicaments don’t have a solution.
Mr Brock may well have figured this out.