Top positive review
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A great album, one blip and some patchy bonuses
on 29 November 2010
This review concerns the remastered Atomhenge album with the bonus CD.
I'll start with the original album. After the disappointing Sonic Attack, Choose Your Masques was a significant return to form. It has one main blip and one pointless filler but besides that it borders on classic status. The title track grinds away with a metallic (not heavy metallic) edge. Based around a demo from the Weird 7 album it's a great opener. The drum machine is prominent with Martin Griffin adding in fills to good effect. Not exactly what Griffin wanted to do and he left the band soon after but very effective. This is used throughout the album. Then a classic slice of Hawkwind synth music with Dreamworker. Rounding off a classic start we get Arrival in Utopia - Hawkwind heavy rock at it's best.
Next up is the pointless Utopia. Some ambient synth and bell like sounds and then a repeated spoken line to finish with. Then it's blip time. For some unknown reason the band recorded Silver Machine in the studio for the first time. The original was OK but this plods along and does the album no favours. Without it we might be in five star territory.
Back on track next as Hawkwind enter techno land in 1982. Void City is simple and effective early techno. Then we get Huw Lloyd Langtons Solitary Mind Games driven by a repeating guitar line and atmospheric keyboards and Martin Griffin's splendid fills. Then it back a few years to a splendid Calvert/Brock simple rocker with Fahrenheit 451. Scan is a typical brief filler and we finish with another Lloyd Langton Track Waiting for Tommorrow. All in nearly all it's a great album as long as you skip Silver Machine.
On this release CD1 has the B side re-recording of Disappear in Smoke (aka Psychedelic Warlords). It's better than Silver Machine but not a patch on the original. Then it's more Silver Machine - a longer version of the single of the re-recording. Longer is not a good adjective to use with this track.
Onto CD2 and a slew of bonuses. A few new tracks and alternative versions of tracks on the main album. Most of this is only really of interest to the hardcore fans. The alternative versions are not vastly different but there are a couple of very worthwhile additions. These are Candle Burning, a Lloyd Langton track and rather good and Recent Reports another decent bonus especially once it gets going. The song bit is not so good as the middle instrumental bit. Radio Telepath is also new. A simple two chord riff sounding like a Brock solo track - not too bad although a bit of an unfinished idea.
For the others 5/4 starts with The Scan followed by some rock music in 5/4 time and then some reversed Scan. It was previously available on the Out and Intake bits and pieces album. Lato is actually another shorter largely Void City version without the drum machine as Bainbridge and Brock work out the idea. Oscillations has been heard before, on Dave Brock's solo album Earthed to the Ground for instance, and here it is cut with the intro of Void City. Lato Percussive Electro (Earth to the Ground) in which we can recognise Earthed to the Ground but it doesn't stand comparison with the Dave Brock version. Nik Turners playing sax on it. To finish with you can listen to the single version Silver Machine. No don't, just turn it off. One version is bad enough but three is a nightmare.
I'm not sure we need the very similar alternative versions. But then they are bonuses, and they are bonuses to a mainly splendid album which would get 4.5 stars if we could award such marks.