Harvestman / US Christmas / Minsk
Harvestman, the new side project of Neurosis’ Steve Von Till, released In A Dark Tongue last year and it was simply okay, a woodsy autumnal conjuring, but not essential listening. But now Von Till and Harvestman have found their inner rock beast on this album of covers from the catalog of psychedlic warlords Hawkwind. Full potential was only a long, tangled hair away. The same goes for the other two acts doing the total immersion thing in Hawkwind’s oeuvre, noisemongers US Christmas and Minsk. There is something about the primal, questing, haunted music that Hawkwind churned out that really invigorates the so-called Hawkwind Triad to really stretch themselves to their creative limits. The British Hawkwind in their prime were the perfect mix between the psychedelic weirdness of Gong and the straight-line roar of Black Sabbath, and, lest we forget, future Motorhead mainstay Lemmy played bass in their seminal “Silver Machine” lineup. It’s that era we hearken back to in the Hawkwind Triad, all fucking righteous fuzzed-out powerchords, motorik beats, whooshing synths, spaced-out sax, and vocals that find the midpoint between Wino and Buzzo. What’s not to fucking love?
Each of the three bands has a very distinctive take on Hawkwind’s music, and it’s quite telling what elements each group emphasizes from Hawkwind’s sonic tapestry. US Christmas plays it “straightest” of all, in total astral rock goblin mode, giving themselves over to thee infinite powerchord, total mantric rock overload — very evil, almost industrial. Their opener, “Master of the Universe,” really sets the tone for the album. Minsk are totally fucking florid and unreconstructed in their approach — they are the ones who reference Nik Turner’s saxophone lines in the interstellar overdrive of “7×7,” their spacey synth effects are weirder and whooshier, and later they turn “Children of the Sun” into this open-mouthed peyote ritual. Harvestman kinda splits the difference; “The Watcher” is a paranoid crawl, “Down Through the Night” is a phased-out, chopped up mess (in a good way), and mammoth closer “Magnu” is just ridiculous. It makes the whole fucking album — effect-heavy and mysterious rock pigness — with a killer riff that just repeats over and over again. You’ll never tire of it. Submit! Repeat!