I’ve often opened blog posts with regrets about being behind on review commitments or not getting to stuff as quickly as I’d really like to, but really there’s a bit more to it than that because the volume of emails I get from people hoping to get a review or a mention is growing regularly and I’m additionally conscious that I don’t cover even half of what I get sent links to (I had three different submissions today alone) and I really regret that. You’d think that the Internet offers fantastic opportunities for musicians to get their music out to their target audiences – and it does – but the sheer volumes of creative outpourings create a whole new problem of being heard amongst all the great material being produced. I’m not prolific on this blog, I know that weeks can go by when, through print demands or nine-to-five stuff, it goes untended , then I’ll try and have a bit of a burst and catch up… I wish I could produce the quantity of high quality and knowledgeable reviews that friends such as Scott Heller are blogging (check out Scott’s always excellent blog on the links list) but I don’t always get the time.
Stephen Kavanagh’s ‘Zendad’ album I’ve had the link to since January, listened through it at the time and really liked it and completely failed to deliver the promised write-up that I committed to. Which is wrong of me, because blog readers here will really like this record, and because Stephen is another of those musicians producing really good stuff and struggling to get that music heard among the myriad of other releases – and this blog should be about trying to get a few people along to have a listen and support the music.
Where does it fit within our genre? Well, it’s a inventive, imaginative Hawkwind derivation in a lot of places – that’s to say it wears its influences on its sleeve and its predominant influence is the band that really causes us all to be here enthusing about space-rock in the first place. And in terms of being Hawkwind influenced it has something of an 80s Hawkwind vibe, but not in that Heavy Metal or Grungy way, more that it has the atmosphere or aura of 80s Hawkwind in its thoughtful, trippy keyboards (go and listen to ‘After The Fall’ in this respect and you’ll hear what I mean) and it’s as though it’s a Hawkwind as Hawkwind might have been if dominated by Harvey Bainbridge and Huw Lloyd-Langton… and then it’s also Hawkwind as a ‘lost’ Dave Brock solo album from the time of Earthed To The Ground. It’s a soft rock space-rock, floating in dreams, easy going and peaceful and instantly likeable.
What’s it all about? It says it’s “a concept album that explores the themes of conspiracy theories, reptilian bloodlines, alien life forms, UFOs, the exploration of outer and inner space, the fall of man and the coming of the new age.” Sitting listening to it on my computer the words just drift across its surfaces and that’s possibly what’s intended. There’s comfortingly repetitive lyrics on the title track that are breathed over some light and airy music, again keyboard-led but leading into some nice guitar. “Guardians from a higher place take us to another place.” The words aren’t the important bit, it’s all about the delightful sounds that they float upon.
‘Elohim’ crosses over into Tangerine Dream territory, slipstreams slightly away from space-rock to a degree but still has a languid spaciousness that intoxicates. When it detours from that modus operandi it’s still wearing its soft rock credentials - ‘Beyond The Sun’ rocks up and rocks out but it only seems heavy in contrast to what’s come before, its riffs and Eastern lines are robust but hardly muscular but its a nice and steady beat and in any case, ‘Starlight’ takes us back around again to what’s best about this album, the gentle and elegant space keyboard sound that absorbs the listener in a diverting and pleasing manner.