When: Tue., Dec. 1, 8:30 p.m. 2015
NIK TURNER'S HAWKWIND
TUESDAY, DEC. 1
THE POUR HOUSE, RALEIGH—During Hawkwind's '70s heyday, the collective of astral explorers pushed flower-power psychedelia further into space than anyone else. With bold guitar, swooping synthesizers and high-flying Mellotron sounds, Hawkwind pursued sci-fi electronics, mesmerizing psy-fi grooves, earthbound jamming and cerebral poetry. They crossed paths with wispy folk, heavy acid rock, Chuck Berry's proto-rock and The Moody Blues' soft-prog without sounding like any of it.
Saxophonist, flautist and vocalist Nik Turner co-founded the proto-prog space-rock band in 1969. Despite writing "Brainstorm," he's also been booted by fellow founder Dave Brock twice—once in 1976 and again in 1984 after rejoining in 1982. Both Turner and Brock still use the Hawkwind name, but where the Brock-led Hawkwindhas mostly put the spaceship on autopilot, Turner's version at least tries to keep the deep-throbbing, distant-sailing sound moving forward.
Nik Turner's Hawkwind is, technically, an outcropping of Space Ritual, the band he started after legal woes threatened to squash his endeavor entirely. Many of its players are former Hawkwind members, and the band plays many old Hawkwind numbers. They also indulge his discursive solo oeuvre, which has found the enigmatic sax man spouting gnomic nonsense over everything from eerily sacred flute warblings to psychedelic Latin funk.
Hawkwind's best work infused English folk tropes with an acid haze. Turner's take on the material is exponentially more esoteric, constantly bouncing between jazz, blues and hard rock rather than pulling from all at once. Space Fusion Odyssey, Turner's latest opus of cheerful insanity, is a fascinating hybrid of free jazz and fluid psychedelic rock. Not far removed from Sun Ra's interstellar antics, it's by turns confounding and stimulating. Live, Turner's Hawkwind can be hit and miss, too; the band's disappointing 2014 Hopscotch performance was certainly the latter. Still, how often do you get the chance to be launched into orbit by an original astronaut? 8:30 p.m., $12–$15, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh, 919-821-1120, www.the-pour-house.com. —Patrick Wall