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DAVE BROCK & THE AGENTS OF CHAOS Agents Of Chaos Esoteric (2011)

Dave Brock

In 1987, ten years before the 'Distant Horizons' Hawkwind album reviewed below, Dave Brock made a decision to investigate how the Hawkwind sound could be transformed while also experimenting with styles which he couldn't conceivably gig with Hawkwind.

The album opens unpromisingly with the two dimensional 'Hi Tech Cities' and yet the second track, 'A Day' is for all the world a new age tune with a pan pipe lead underpinned with some keen synth work. In the absence of any drum beat, you could even describe it as a jig and just while you are moving with medieval merriness, the madrigal morphs mystically.

We have to remember that electronic music was at the time being defined by pop bands like Ultravox and Human League. So we can't overlay the technology we have now with what existed then. Brock's experimentation is all the more pronounced is we put it in the context of what utter dross was being served up on TOTP in this period and has defined what most people see as "electronica" now.

In this context, Brock's experimentation with electronic is summed up by the middle track, 'Heads' which takes on the simplicity of the aforementioned contemporary styles but overlays it with something far more wholesome with an array of synthesiser tracks underpinned by a hypnotic rhythm.

Malcolm Dome says in his sleeve notes, this is "an album of its time." I agree with Malcolm, but I am not so sure that this album has dated as much as this seems to imply.

The Tan Dream-like 'Wastelands of Sleep' and 'Mountains in the Sky' do suffer a little from what we would now see as archaic sequencing and yet this is part of its ethereal charm. You could sit back with a glass of cider in Brock's North Devon garden and let this song wash over you. This is what should have been on TOTP.

Similarly 'Into the Realms' evolves into a trance like signature. Dave Brock and Hawkwind were definers of a new ambient trance genre. The club owners of Ibiza should lay garlands at Dave Brock's feet.

I perhaps contradict myself below when I say that Brock/Hawkwind were sometimes naive in the use of synths, but my point still holds true that they embraced the new technology and experimented with its vast potential rather than relying on factory presets which basically what most of their contemporaries were doing in the 80's.

To add to the sales potential, Brock has added two good bonus tracks to the mix and we are presented with far more holistic re-master than on the original release.


Review by Keith Thompson

Keith Thompson presents Rockwaves on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 21:00 GMT+1

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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