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Hawkwind – Leave No Star Unturned

Easy Action

Over the years there have been innumerable live Hawkwind releases, of varying degrees of officiality and legality. The majority of the officially sanctioned releases are worthy of attention, even those put out by latter-day, non-classic line-ups. The unofficial releases range from essential documents of the psychedelic warlords in full battle cry, to recordings so laughably poor that they were quite plausibly recorded on a dictaphone by someone loitering outside the venue. During a force 10 gale.

I’m not sure whether this particular release is approved by head Hawk Dave Brock and his current cohorts, but it is brought to the world by Easy Action, a label that has previously put out a slew of more than worthwhile MC5, [post=iggy-pop-california-hitchhike text=”Iggy Pop“] and [post=stooges-action text=”Stooges”] live releases, and even before playing the CD the signs are encouraging: the presentation, at least,

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Faust – Live at Klangbad Festival/Various Artists – Avant-Garde in the Meadows

Play Loud!

Faust - Live at Klangbad FestivalAlthough this DVD was released in late 2010, the footage — shot at the second annual festival held in Scheer, southern Germany — dates from 2005. Scheer is a small provincial town that since the late 90s has been the headquarters of Faust (or rather one of the two Faust factions, this being the one grouped around keyboardist Jochen Irmler and the Klangbad label). There are actually two films on the disc — a 70 minute record of Faust’s performance at the event, and a slightly longer film titled Avant-Garde in the Meadows which gives an overview of the festival’s three days.

The Faust performance features the aforementioned Jochen Irmler and one other figure from the group’s early ’70s origins, Arnulf Meifert, apparently absent from Faustian circles for many

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Various Artists – In Search of Hawkwind

Critical Mass

In Search of HawkwindIn Search of Hawkwind is a tribute album, whereby nine venerable old battle hymns originally cranked out by the veteran psychedelic cosmonauts are re-interpreted by younger, hipper bands, mostly from the US (at least I think so — I’m not actually hip enough to have heard of all of them). There have been other Hawkwind tributes, but they’ve tended to be low-budget releases featuring deservedly obscure free festival-type acts, though the likes of Acid Mothers Temple (of whom more below) and Wire’s Colin Newman have popped up on them too. This looks to be a bigger-league affair, nicely packaged and featuring a couple of biggish names in Mudhoney and the aforementioned Acid Mothers, alongside established neo-psych stalwarts Bardo Pond and a clutch of younger acts: Kinski, Mugstar, White Hills, Magoo, and Wooden Shijps

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Hawkwind – Alien 4

Atomhenge

Hawkwind - Alien 4Ah, the mighty ‘Wind. Where to start? Let’s assume that readers have at the very least a passing knowledge of Hawkwind‘s classic 1970s material and mythos. That decade’s long strange trip went roughly thus for the Hawks: early ‘electronic barbarian’ days in the Ladbroke Grove freak scene, then the never-bettered industrial strength trance-riffage of the Space Ritual era, before moving on to leaner, tighter, sci-fi dystopianism in the post-punk era. Almost every (official) Hawkwind release of the 70s is a timeless classic, and the band’s influence can be felt in virtually every countercultural music trend since. Under Dave Brock‘s stewardship, the band maintained a sizeable cult following throughout the 80s, as one of the house bands on the free festival scene, and if their material got patchier, they were still enough of a live draw to end their

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Faust – Is Last

Klangbad

Faust were the most radical and baffling of all the 70s German groups to acquire the ‘krautrock’ label. Their music was only tangentially related to the likes of Amon Düül, Can, or NEU! – on the group’s early albums, musique concret, tape loop experiments, folky guitars, parping saxophones, proto-industrial noise and impenetrable dadaistic lyrics all rub up each against each other in an endlessly fascinating musical and conceptual stew. Ambiguously poised between playful and aggressive, and containing almost no information on personnel or context to allay the listener’s perplexity, these albums remain some of the most challenging and rewarding of the 70s.

From around 1976 onwards, however, the group lay apparently dormant save for very occasional live performances by various members, before being reactivated at the start of the 90s by a trio of original alumni: organist and

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Faust – Schiphorst 2008

Salamander

Schiphorst 2008The Schiphorst 2008 CD is a live album, recorded at the festival held quite literally in the rural backyard of founder member Jean-Hervé Péron, and is as ramshackle as you like. The tone is set by the packaging, which successfully conveys a flavour of the event – the front cover photo depicts a microphone struggling for visibility amid dense clouds of stage smoke, and elsewhere in the case and inserts we get to see one of Faust’s customised old cement mixers standing in a state of magnificent decay in the farmyard, the festival’s ticket office (a brightly painted wooden shack), and a large female pig named Lilli-Sau munching hay in her enclosure. Having perused all this, it’s no great surprise to find that the band’s

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Nurse With Wound (live)

Wet surrealismLondon Fields Lido, London 19 July 2008

Nurse With Wound at London Fields Lido. It just sounds so right. And it was, too: pleasingly strange, charmingly eccentric. It was the culmination of a series of underwater sound events, staged at various venues around the UK under the banner of Wet Sounds. Their website will tell you what you need to know there. Essentially, the set-up is this: music is played through a high-quality underwater sound system installed (temporarily) in a public swimming pool. Those swimming in the pool can thus have a quite literally immersive musical experience: with ears below the water line, a whole new listening experience is suddenly available.

Wet Sounds at London Fields LidoNWW and Andrew Liles were

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