From the moment the NASA-style countdown begins, we’re off for distant galaxies with the new album by the Hawkwind co-founder. An impressive crew of guests are strapped in for the odyssey, including his former pal in those cosmic pilgrims, drummer Simon House, members of punk warhorses the UK Subs and Chelsea and German industrialists Die Krupps, and Steve Hillage, no less.
The mood is set to mystical and the lyrics are all crimson dawns and crystal shrapnel. It’s a striking sonic vista, complete with futuristic whooshes and synthesiser beds, but it’s often the traditional instruments that embellish the atmosphere, especially the saxophone on such pieces as Time Crypt, evoking Andy Mackay in the initial Roxy Music years, and flute on the early Floydian Galaxy Rise, all played by Turner himself.
Sometimes the subject matter is more defined: Fallen Angel STS-51-L, inspired by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Even then, Turner and the band manage to capture a real feeling of leaving the Earth behind, a spirit of exploration that culminates with the closing The Visitor.
An album that is, so to speak, not from round here, and all the better for that.