Chromium Hawk Machine - Annunaki (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Chromium Hawk Machine

Annunaki (2018)

Black Widow Records

Annunaki, the debut album by Chromium Hawk Machine, begs the question: “is this marathon, two disc, 125 minute set the manifestation of the Hawkwind-Chrome dream taken to its farthest limits, or is it just two hours of dudes jamming?" Composed of legendary Hawkwind vocalist/sax player Nik Turner, Chrome shredder Helios Creed, and Jay Tausig of D’Arcana, the album sets forth the promise of letting three cosmic weirdoes really freakout. And, it does come with pedigree- Creed backed Turner live and in the studio in the ‘90s, resulting in some of Turner’s best solo material and arguably the finest Hawk-related live album, Space Ritual 1994.

Annunaki bears the marks of a later day recording by legends, as previously set by artists Creed’s former bandmate Damon Edge, Johnny Thunders, and Twink. That is, this record appears to have been written and recorded in a day, or maybe a few at most, it was released with little to no fanfare or press, and you really have to search to find it.

The recordings themselves appear to be mostly improvisational- One tack breaks the half hour mark, another almost breaks 20 minutes and a few others come close to that. But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Turner has long been a jazz fanatic and while many Hawkwind recordings did have freeform sections, rarely did they really go full on manic freakout in the studio. Likewise, Creed is truly a master guitar player. Throughout these passages, his rumbling buzzing guitar maintains that distinct, darkened razor tone. All the while, electronic bleeps and saucer sounds swirl around the studio while Turner contributes his unique form of freeform, avant-garde sax blasts.

As is expected, when Turner does contributes vocals, he cuts lyrics like only he can, covering his trademark fields- dying suns, the universe exploding, aliens controlling the human race. As one of the inventors of this genre, it is a treat to hear Turner crank out these sci-fi fairy tales like only he can, and of course, as he delves deep into space, it’s suggested that he thinks these stories aren’t fiction but fact. He might be right.

The album forgoes structure- even Chrome’s most bizarre cuts had some skeleton- in favor of allowing the three musicians to work off each other in a loose manner. Turner and Creed really are two peas in a pod and the galactic maniacs are on the same vibe here, summoning an organic spacey vibe that only few can conjure. that being said, this isn’t always an easy listen. As “Crying Moon, Dying Sun” reaches minute 25, the trio bouncing trippy sax lines against a shimmering, distant guitar, they’re operating more off mood and tension than composition. Both Hawkwind and Creed were as indebted to texture and mindtrips as they were to actual songcraft, and when the situation dictated, allowed mood and cosmic connection to wash away what a composer might dictate. In these moments, both groups were often at their apex, channeling a connection and understanding that just wasn’t possible through the written format.

Annunaki attempts to achieve this feeling the whole time, without break and without traditional sonic buoys. That is to say, this is Hawkwind and Chrome for expert level space rockers. The massive run time and extended jam sections does make it easy to drift away here and there without the mental hooks. That being said, this record doesn’t play it safe and dares the listener to reach the level that Turner and Creed exist on, nearly alone. Whether you can make it up to those heights ia as much on you the listener as it is the three mad architects herein.