Purple Pyramid 2020
Living up to their original course, British explorers of cosmic enigmas reach out for events horizon.
“The Future Is Us”: this troupe proud proclaimed on their 2019 debut, and here former Hawkwinders deliver on that promise in the strangest way possible. There are still stellar usual suspects involved in a sci-fi adventure mapped out by Alan Davey, but the prominent presence of deceased crew members could be a clear indication of what’s in store for many a project we’re likely to witness rather, sooner than later. Such an approach may perfectly fit the ensemble’s agenda, although waking up the former colleagues’ spirits is as disturbing as it is logical.
With the album’s booming lift-off “Biometrics” – where Davey’s and Simon House’s four-string weapons roar and howl among nebulous synthesizers – simply haunted by Joel Vandroogenbroeck’s flute and Gilli Smyth’s voice, before the sonic assault dies down only for Mick Taylor’s guitar to rave and rage, attack of the dead starts in earnest further on. The serene astral planes of “Cosmic Divide” are possessed with the piece’s co-writer Larry Wallis’ spectral vocals, Ginger Baker’s ghostly drums and Huw Lloyd-Langton’s phantom axe – all less tangible than Paul Rudolph’s in-your-face strum – while the riff-ruffled, if repetitive, “Day Of The Quake” resurrects Robert Calvert, whose demo it’s based on, and pairs his pipes with Nik Turner’s psyched-up sax. Yet how can these powerful shadows compete with the stentorian tones of Arthur Brown, a fiery sorcerer at the fore of “Glass Wolves” which Alan’s grooves drive to feverish catharsis?
But then how can Michael Moorcock compete with erstwhile friends when looking out “Atmospheric Window” and observing “Circles” that Todd Rundgren’s fingers paint and L. Shankar’s violin adds color to? It’s a lighthearted turn of events making for an interesting dynamic of this record, so once Mick Slattery’s licks emerge on “No Doubt” – a mantra of sorts – there’s a feeling of a circle being unbroken, of the past merging into the future. Which is why the folk-informed “Journey” doesn’t seem like the end, Bridget Wishart willing imaginary worlds into existence, whereas David Cross‘ viola and cello chase the even more idyllic, countrified titular number towards the instrumental trap Carmine Appice and Wayne Kramer set in the album’s finale.
The result of it all is unexpectedly, and worryingly, transfixing, and opening the door to new dimensions – beyond our grasp yet within this crew’s reach.