Nektar: Time Machine

First album in four years by veteran prog rockers.

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Despite being led by Roye Albrighton, Nektar are often bracketed with the pioneers of Krautrock by virtue of the fact that they first flourished in West Germany in the early 1970s. In fact, they were quite the antithesis of Can and Neu! – with their penchant for concept albums and elaborate instrumentation, they had much more in common with English prog.

Comeback attempts over the years have seen Nektar opt for a pragmatic, streamlined, chromium-plated, radio-friendly sound, but for Time Machine, they return to the hallowed topography of early albums like Remember The Future. Billy Sherwood, formerly of Yes, joins in on bass and production duties.

The cover is a Dali/Roger Dean-inspired imaginarium of chained molluscs and docked flying saucers above the clouds. The arrangements are clean, involved, flawlessly executed and dramatically segmented, with beguiling interludes on A Better Way and Tranquility – but marred by Albrighton’s portentous but vague lyrical concerns, as on the title track (‘Time… we’ve seen it all before/ Time… to watch it drift away’), sometimes delivered as spoken-word orations.

Music like this once enjoyed Olympian dominance. Now it feels as rare, remote and disregarded as the Yeti. An irrelevance, then, yet one feels a bit protective of it.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.