Review by Rob Broom for MPM
The Space Lords have been around for well over 50 years now, and this is their 35th studio album, plus of course numerous live albums and compilations.
Rather than sit on their laurels and dial some new ‘sounds like Hawkwind doing Hawkwind’ music in, the band have recorded a superb composition to challenge and immerse their fans in a virtual soundscape.
If this were the 1970’s, we might be declaring this album a masterpiece, if it was given the time to be absorbed, but as we are now in the ‘immediate and disposable’ society this album stands apart as a different experience. It contains wonderful sounds, but for new listeners it may end up being more of a curiosity or something to avoid. However, you would do that at your peril, this album rewards repeated listening, and will give you a chance to simply sit back, relax and disappear into your own mind as the music takes you on whatever journey you want to let it. I have attempted to avoid too much detail on the individual tracks during this review, as that will make it more interesting for you when you first listen to it and then hopefully you will want to immediately listen to it again!
First and title track ‘The Future Never Waits’ is a suitably ambitious opening. At 10 minutes long it is not what you might consider an easily accessible opening track either! Sounding in places more like Jean Michel Jarre than ‘Brainstorm’, its a dreamy theme setting piece, mystical and mesmerising in equal parts.
Second track ‘The End’ is a more recognisable Hawkwind sound, a driving guitar riff and drums with superb overlays of synthesisers giving occasional echos of ‘Urban Guerrilla’ and other Hawkwind favourites. It finishes with the first of several spoken word segments which add a disturbed sense of unbalance to the album, and that is meant in a positive complimentary way!
Third track ‘Aldous Huxley’ takes us on a journey of exploration and whilst the musical backdrop is reassuring, the spoken word parts are deeper in content.
You do need to be paying attention, as next up is ‘They Are So Easily Distracted’, another 10 minute opus that meanders along with piano, saxophone and synthesisers conjuring up magical sounds that are really enjoyable with a meaningful spoken finish.
Rama (The Prophecy)’ picks up the pace in the time honoured Hawkwind manner, driven along by guitar, bass and drums with suitable guitar solos and keyboards weaving in and out. At 8 minutes long it gives you time to really immerse yourself into the rhythms. Live this should be a real stunner and could easily take you into something else thats guitar powered such as ‘Brainstorm’ or ‘Master of the Universe’. However here, on the album, we are taken once again into a contrast with ‘USB1’, another instrumental powered by drums and keyboards. There’s some soaring guitar soloing to hold the whole piece together and then we are brought into ‘Outside Of Time’, a longer piece, with occasional spoken word and electronica spitting up the musical passages.
As ‘I’m Learning To Live Today’ kicks off you could be forgiven for thinking you have just time travelled back to the early 1970s and those classic Hawkwind albums. Another 8 minute piece, this one broods, throbs and mesmerises rather than simply galloping along. Brilliant and enjoyable, this will exciting to hear played live.
The Beginning’ is unlikely to be played on the radio (although it would be good for someone to play it!) and not just because its another 8 minute piece. Its spoken word sections are creative and interesting so pay attention! The music and accompanying sounds are at times jarring and challenging but still mange to create a coherent structure. Its not ‘Sonic Attack’ or 10 Seconds of Forever’, but a modern update that certainly doesn’t sit easy and the lyrical content should give you pause to think and reflect. Nice one Hawkwind!
The album closes with ‘Trapped In This Modern Age’, a song that could easily be played on the radio and is a suitably harmonious closing piece.
As I mentioned at outset, whilst much of the music is laid back compared to the frantic space rock that you might find on ‘Space Ritual’, it is not necessarily something comfortable or simple to listen to. You really need to either to play it through headphones or – perhaps surprisingly considering the content – turn the volume up and let it rip – filling your environment with the sound – to get the best from it.
Hawkwind have been imaginative and brave, they should be congratulated and hopefully the fanbase will enjoy the journey of ‘The Future Never Waits’ as much as I have. Go out and listen to it and then listen to it again so you you don’t miss out.
Time it seems, is keeping Hawkwind creative, interesting, exciting and relevant. The future really never waits, welcome to the future.
The Future Never Waits is available on CD, vinyl, download and streaming: https://cherryred.co/HWFutureNeverWaits