Esoteric Antenna 2012
A low-fat line-up of space-rock champions carry out an attention-arresting flying exercise.
The power chords of opener “Stellar Perspective” blow away any suspicious associations of a new HAWKS spin-off with ELO or any other sort of levity, although there’s a lot of symphonic sweep and vibrant delicacy in some of these tracks – ten fresh, if partly road-tested, and a kaleidoscopic reading of Tim Blake’s solo piece “A Song For A New Age”. Yet the keyboardist’s not on board of HLO, the band comprised of guitarist Dave Brock, bassist Niall Hone and drummer Richard Chadwick, who live close to each other, so there’s no other agenda behind it all save for the geographical one. And save for that, their album is an epitome of the HAWKWIND’s progressive component, with their typical Ladbroke Grove roughness close to a minimum.
That’s how it goes for the smooth finale “Instant Predictions” or the panoramic “In The Footsteps Of The Great One”, whereas cinematic “Cities Of Rust” is full with vaguely familiar riffs, and the organ-oiled “It’s All Lies” couldn’t have looked out of sonic place on "Space Bandits". But here almost each piece, even instrumental interludes such as vertiginous “Variation 3”, hosts a string of lesser gems, “All Our Dreams” breaking into Ibiza-cum-bluegrass groove from cosmic grandiosity which begs for philharmonic treatment. At the same time, the bombast is as Earth-grounded as ever, so if “We Serve Mankind” has it in the trance-like way, the deceptively funny but, in fact, ecologically minded “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad” confronts “Stairway To Heaven” with “forests never echo with laughter”. It’s a bright album, still, one deserving a space of honor in the HAWKS’ canon.