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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. bbqplatypus318
    December 6, 2013 @ 12:28 am

    I came across this album during my college-age krautrock binge, and it was, primarily, that propulsive and percussive motorik that drew me to it. The concept and visuals behind it didn't really begin to interest me until later listenings. But of course, as you point out, the performance was a Space RITUAL and not merely an aural account of space. And for it to be a ritual, you have to be present, which sadly we can't today. But this is the closest thing we have. I've long thought that the mark of a good live album is that it makes you wish you were there to see it, which Space Ritual certainly does.

    Of course, to most people (or at least most Americans), Hawkwind is primarily known as "the band Lemmy was in before Motorhead." Though this is understandable – Motorhead is more populate in the U.S. And there is at least one important parallel: Hawkwind has always been the psych band that punks also liked, while Motorhead has always been the metal band that punks also liked. He is, in any case, a huge part of the sound here, straddling the line between bassist and rhythm guitarist. Not that every member of the ensemble wasn't important, of course.

    I am inclined to think, as I think you are, that the poetry interludes succeed because of their cheesiness rather than in spite of them. I particularly like the Dalek-like interjections in "Sonic Attack."


  2. Iain Coleman
    December 6, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

    At the time, the intended audience for the album would have been expected to supply their own visual spectacle with the aid of their psychoactive chemicals of choice.

    I've been a fan of Hawkwind for ages, and I love this album in particular, but I would be wary of any attempt to discern any coherent philosophy behind it all. Hawkwind were more about playing with whatever ideas came to hand, whether through sci-fi, drugs or the pseudoscientific mystical zeitgeist, than any kind of deeply considered philosophy. Musically, they are doing their exuberant best to fuck the audience up, and they blast the audience with ideas just as much as with light and sound.

    My abiding memory of my first Hawkwind gig was the instrumental opening, during which a dancer came on stage in a luminous skeleton outfit. Pretty cheesy, but you should have heard the shrieks dotted around the concert hall of the people whose acid had just kicked in and were utterly terrified by this sight. You can bet the band knew exactly what they were doing when they thought that one up.


  3. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    Hawkwind is primarily known as "the band Lemmy was in before Motorhead."

    For me (predictably) the Moorcock connection is the primary association.


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