Nik Turner is one of the founding members of Hawkwind. He was a member from 1969 to 1976 and rejoined the band from 1982 to 1984. Turner played saxophone and flute and he occasionally sang. He was also involved with Inner City Unit, Sphynx and guested on works by the late Robert Calvert (Hawkwind), Psychic TV, Mother Gong, Sham 69 , Sting and The Stranglers, to name but a few. Currently Turner plays in Space Ritual, a band named after the live album by Hawkwind (see review) from 1973. With this band he tries to recapture the sound and spirit of that Hawkwind era.
On his new solo album, Turner is accompanied by a remarkable group of musicians. Producer Jürgen Engler plays the guitars, Moog synthesizers and Mellotron. Engler is the musical mastermind of the German band Die Krupps , a band that was founded in the early eighties. They blended the industrial sound of Einstürzende Neubauten and the electronic sound of Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundshaft (DAF), both representatives of the so-called Neue Deutsche Welle. Engler also recorded the album Other Places (1996), together with Dieter Moebius (Cluster) and Mani Neumeier (Guru Guru). He was also involved with the Space Explosion project (1998) that featured Engler, Moebius, Neumeier, Chris Karrer (Amon Düül II), Zappi Diermaier and Jean-Hervé Peron (both Faust).
Besides Engler Nicky Garratt from the punk band UK Subs plays the guitars, while Jeff Piccinini of the punk band Chelsea plays the bass guitar and Jason Willer the drums. Furthermore there are contributions from Steve Hillage (Gong, System 7) on guitar, Chris Leitz on the Mellotron and the typical violin sound of former Hawkwind member Simon House.
Just like Space Ritual this album also returns to the early Hawkwind as far as the sound, the artwork and the lyrics are concerned, although the track Coming Of The Maya sounds a lot like Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun by Pink Floyd. Singing has never been Turner's strongest point and this album is no exception. However, his flute playing is still outstanding and the contributions from the other band members are substantial. Musically Space Gypsy doesn't add new elements, but it does take the sound of the early Hawkwind into the 21st century. For Hawkwind fans this album is a required purchase. For devotees of psychedelic music, space rock and other cosmic music this album is recommended as well.
Space Gypsy has been released as a regular digipack CD, as a limited edition gatefold vinyl with a 7-inch bonus single and as a special limited deluxe box version which includes a bonus CD with rough mixes, instrumental versions and additional flute and saxophone improvisations.
****- Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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