NIK TURNER AND YOUTH – PHARAOHS FROM OUTER SPACE (Painted Word Music 2018)

Nik Turner

This is a collaboration that looks cautiously promising on paper. I occasionally stumble across Nik Turner’s musical endeavours, and while I cannot confess to being much interested in anything jazzy he has done, there’s no removing the fact that he was integral to Hawkwind when they were seemingly unstoppable. Whatever the myths, facts and otherwise surrounding him as an individual, that one pedigree seems to still have value whether he’s moving forward creatively (2017’s LIFE IN SPACE album, Inner City Unit), or pissing about with various Hawkwind cabaret acts.

And Martin “Youth” Glover – Bassist for the mighty Killing Joke who became one of the important producers of his generation through his work with The Orb’s Alex Patterson on the WAU/Mr. Modo Record label. From there he ultimately clocked up a dizzying array of mainstream production credits before rejoining Killing Joke after the death of his replacement, Paul Raven.

Given the fusion of these personalities, you might be mistaken in thinking that something leftfield and enticing would result…

…you might be very much mistaken.

PHARAOHS FROM OUTER SPACE is a curious, if somewhat goofy title for anything, but Nik Turner’s a Pharaoh/pyramid kind of guy and doesn’t really need a pass for such thematic piffle… what needs a direct zip line into the fiery furnace, however, is this album…

To open, TOTELIC FLYING PYRAMID is a smouldering dungpile of newage unsexy sax. NIBIRU CALLING… well… anyone attaching themselves in any manner with that Nibiru shit has a big question mark floating over their heads… Enough about that and moving swiftly on. With echoes of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” in its electronic foundations, JUNK DNA is a marginal improvement. 7 CYCLES PER SECOND doesn’t really do anything… but is less offensive for it. HERUXUTI kind of shimmers in and out with a discernible bass line (Jah Wobble’s in the credits so I’m guessing this is his input) and apparent guest appearance from English Acid House un-legend Adamski – that this is one of the more solid tracks on the album is lamentable.

There are elements of the electronic production in DON’T STAND STILL IN THE SKY that present some hope… a downbeat supports some bubbling synth, random subtle electronic punctuations and a brief spoken section. MAGNETRON is a highlight… less smooth sax and more experimentation, it could be a outtake from one of Tangerine Dream’s better late career efforts. ASTEROID BELT has the same potential but eventually retreats into everything unremarkable about this album, and the few sax squeals at the end are too little too late. PSYCK SATELLITES IN SUMARIAN wastes no opportunity to waste an opportunity as an interesting electronic backing is augmented by nothing of worth. The final and title track PHARAOHS FROM OUTER SPACE makes an effort to salvage this wreck with a somewhat beefed up and pulsing rhythm… it’s a little more in the direction of what I expected, but then the album’s over and that’s that…

There are an infinite number of entities currently working in ambient music – an engrossing area with a lot of very excellent tangents created by allsorts, not just modular nerds, pedantic producers and Eno arse-lickers. With that in mind, it’s depressing that a couple of veterans (especially these two) cannot add something of reasonable quality to this amorphous universe of sound. What we have instead is cheerless, expressionless meander – basically Kenny G after a joint of shitty soapbar thinking he’s doing something “out there”.

Sporadic ingredients of this suggest that it could have been a contender, but basically, it’s a pile of shite. D minus… must try harder.

Get it here…

…more ambient music reviews here…

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