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Chromium Hawk Machine - Annunaki CD (album) cover

ANNUNAKI

Chromium Hawk Machine

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.02 | 3 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The Hawkwind-related family tree grows another branch with the arrival of new group Chromium Hawk Machine and their double-album debut, 2017's `Annunaki' for the Italian Black Widow label. The trio is comprised of legendary former Hawkwind vocalist and sax/flute player Nik Turner, founding member of mid-Seventies electronic/noise/post-punk group Chrome, Helios Creed, and multi-instrumentalist Jay Tausig, who just may be the Buckethead of jazzy space-rock with his prolific amount of self-released works popping up over the last few years. The group offer up an ambitious 106-plus minute concept work that is frequently full of improvised jams, and patient listeners willing to give it the time it needs to unveil its heavy aural delights will be in psychedelic heaven.

The album takes its name from the Annunaki, a group of deities that appear in the mythological traditions of the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians, and lyrically the double-set reaches in all sorts of esoteric, religious, spiritual, alien and pseudoscientific directions that may require additional study to truly grasp. Lyrically ambitious it is, but musically it soars to another level entirely, being an overwhelming and hallucinogenic plodding mass of heavy-riffing guitars, swirling spacey electronic effects and other-worldly treated vocals that can literally only be described together as `trippy as f**k' - ahem!

The fifteen minute opener `Cosmic Explosion' sets an early template that much of the album follows. It's an unceasingly psychedelic shamble of hazy wafting sax, full-bodied bass that murmurs with a darkly slinking groove, rattling drums and subtly grinding feedback-laced guitars, and the electronically manipulated vocals pour out with a rambling, heady stream-of-consciousness Robert Wyatt-like drawl. Just as much scuzzy stoner rock as it is reaching space-rock, it resembles a kind of lethargic stew that brings your mind to a crawl whilst also bombarding it with ancient mysterious knowledge - have a nice trip!

The more up-tempo `Time and Terraforming' fuses chugging punky guitars with electronics, ethereal Mellotron wisps infiltrate both `Annunaki Come's near-spoken word intonations and `Buttercups and Poppeyfields' rumbling early Hawkwind sounds, and `Another System [The Adam Is Born]' almost reminds of the 'Tron-fuelled symphonic grandness of the early King Crimson albums before drifting into a sonic collage of stormy dreaminess and meditative trilling flute contemplation.

The second hour long disc is entirely instrumental, and its opener `Crying Moon, Dying Sun' runs a whopping thirty-two minutes. It's a never-ending meander of mellow sax wafts, laid-back swampy electric guitar tendrils snaking alongside weary acoustic strums, fierce distortion-laced drones and intimidating percussion-dominated thrashings. `They're Buying Time', is breathless and racing, carrying a relentless momentum and wouldn't have sounded out of place on later Hawkwind albums like `Hall of the Mountain Grill' and `Warrior on the Edge of Time'.

Twenty minute `My Fuzzy Fantasy' is a spacey improvisation/jam that doesn't sound unlike something like modern spacerockers the Oresund Space Collective. A dreamy blur of spiralling flute, ghostly Mellotron choirs, seductively grasping bass ruminations, steady hypnotic drumming and fizzy bubbling electronics, its an unhurried head-nodding chill-out that slowly grows in drama and power...just let this wondrous closer pick you up and carry you away to the deepest cosmic reaches.

The official Hawkwind is still putting out very worthwhile albums, and Nik Turner's recent solo works have been very well received, but this one might be the most interesting of all, as `Annunaki' especially captures the maddening atmosphere and deep-space mystery of Hawkwind's legendary `In Search of Space/Doremi.../Space Ritual' period without being a mere lazy rehash. Some impatient listeners or those wanting something more tuneful or melodic will find much of the music here deeply tedious, and it admittedly could probably have been whittled down to a more manageable single disc, but it's great to hear a stoner/spacerock album from a bunch of veterans still so uncompromisingly heavy, trippy and deeply psychedelic.

Four stars - Hawkwind fans are going to dig the hell out of this one.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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