Hawkwind - Choose Your Masques
I've read a lot of reviews of this CD where Hawkwind fans trash it. Personally, I have always really enjoyed this one a lot. I think that it is a mellower album than a lot of their catalog, but in many ways it reflects the "space" in space rock better than other releases. One of my favorite Hawkwind songs "Waiting for Tomorrow" is on this disc. I originally had the vinyl on this one, and it seems that the two cuts they added to the CD when they issued it are essentially throwaways. I think the disc was stronger without them. There are a couple of weak numbers on this release other than those, but the funny thing is that it all works pretty well in context. The whole seems to be much more than the sum of the parts. The production could definitely have been better, though.
The highlights of the set include the aforementioned “Waiting for Tomorrow.” The tune has it all - killer spacey yet doom oriented lyrics, a bouncy crunchy main riff structure and Huw Lloyd Langton laying down meaty guitar work all over this. For what more could you ask? The opening two tracks are great, too. They run into one another. Those are the title track followed by “Dream Worker.” A bouncy, heavy texture makes up the bulk of that first song. In typical Hawkwind tradition it doesn't really go anywhere (this band can take the simplest progression and through clever usage of overlayers turn it into something incredible), but there is some very tasty guitar work here, and this one is quite easy to sing along with. It runs straight into the next track, and in fact, they are both included in track one of the CD. “Dream Worker” is a weird, but highly effective piece of space ambience. First keys herald the appearance of an unknown speaker who announces "I have come, but I do not choose now to do what I came to do". Then the sounds of a spacecraft and the commands and responses from the commander are heard, followed by another little bit of space sound snippets. Although in writing this doesn't sound like much, Hawkwind can turn it into a combination of satisfying high art and theater. As this works through a keyboard segment starts working up, and eventually spacey vocals are interspersed over top to create the actual "song" for this one. Again, this is quite effective, in an almost hypnotic way by producing a great spacey texture. So much on this disc is really about atmosphere.
All in all, Choose Your Masques is an album that works better as a whole than by looking at individual tracks. It’s got plenty of killer space rock. While perhaps mellower than a lot of Hawkwind, that just makes the harder rocking sections stand out all the more.
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