When it comes to riffs, power trio Aawks really don’t mess about. A cut above your average stoner rock band, their debut album ‘(Heavy On The Cosmic)’ did exactly what it said on the tin. Its eight tracks fused Sabbath, Kyuss and classic Monster Magnet riffs with a whole world of phased effects – applied to both the guitars and vocals – to leave the listener with the ultimate in fuzzy, buzzy, mind-bending wonderment. On tunes like ‘The Woods’ which combined driving stoner riffs with slower breakdowns and heavily treated lead guitars, and ‘All Is Fine’ which latched onto a rhythm that sounded like a distant cousin of ‘Silver Machine’, it was even possible to hear a huge influence from early Hawkwind bleeding through the slightly echoey vocals and head nodding riffs. With a touch of doom fleshing out ‘Peeling Away’, it was clear that these guys could do incredible heaviness too. Since almost every moment brought something exciting to Aawks’ chosen style, ‘(Heavy On The Cosmic)’ was potentially one of the finest heavy psych discs since Monster Magnet foisted ‘Dopes To Infinity’ upon an unsuspecting world in the mid 90s.
On their second full length release, Supplemental Pills serve up some interesting music that’s at times minimalist, and at times noisy, but absolutely unafraid to hop between styles. Sometimes the material doesn’t even care for much of a tune, but it works. It’s also strangely hypnotic.
Somewhere around the peak of the first UK pandemic lockdown, Gramma Vedetta released their second EP. More than just another short collection of rock tracks, the London based outfit’s ‘A.C.I.D. Compliant’ actually acted as a snapshot in time, with the brilliant ‘Lucid Dream’ providing a musical diary of those tumultuous days in a very direct fashion. Backing up that obvious highlight, listeners were also reminded of their psychedelic and stoner influences, leading to a short but very effective listen.
For a band once considered to be the epitome of counter culture and not in it for “the bread, man”, it sometimes seems as if the twenty first century Hawkwind are just a machine churning out new products. December 2021 brought the career spanning, anthology ‘Dust of Time’ – their fourth release in under two years. Although it was beautifully put together, it didn’t give hardcore fans much they wouldn’t already own. However, it successfully covered a lot of musical ground, and for the keen eared and eagle eyed, a couple of rarer BBC recordings could be found within its sprawling eighty one tracks. It’s hard to please everyone, but the six disc box set had a really good go.
Over the years, the market has been flooded with Hawkwind compilations, reissues and retrospectives. From the comprehensive and brilliant (‘This Is Your Captain’, a huge set pulling together the United Artists albums), to the interesting (box sets of Flicknife and Emergency Broadcast era albums aimed more at the completist), to the perfunctory (various cheap “best of” type sets, thrown together by budget labels with no thought), it seems as if no stone has been left unturned in terms of anthologies celebrating the legendary space lords.