Album review: HEDERSLEBEN – Orbit


Cleopatra Records [Release date 19.05.17]

There’s a time and place in everyone’s life for a little space rock.  For many of us, that was around 1971 to 1973, but if you fancy reliving your youth (or indeed, were too young to take the trip first time around) then San Francisco revivalists Hedersleben could be worth investigating.

Endorsed by none other than Hawklord Nik Turner, with whom they’ve undertaken multiple successful tours, Hedersleben’s latest release – Orbit – is indeed, like walking through a door in time and space in your pyjamas and emerging on the other side in an afghan coat, loons pants, and badly in need of a haircut.

The brainchild of ex-UK subs guitarist (and accomplished vegetarian chef) Nicky Garratt, the collective that is Hedersleben is a moveable feast, with, for the band’s fourth album a new rhythm section of Doc Miller (bass, vocals and classical guitar) and John Darren Thomas (drums percussion) drafted in, and Jai Young Kim returning from playing keyboards on the band’s last album – The Fall Of Chronopolis (2015).

Each previous album has featured a different vocalist and for Orbit, Alicia Previn (yes, daughter of Andre) has been recruited.  She also contributes violin and, at times, bears a startling vocal likeness to Jon Anderson.

Of course, no self-respecting piece of prog would be complete without a concept – in the case of Orbit, the songs being rooted along the path of a single elliptical orbit around the sun from the reaches of the Kuiper belt, past Earth, around the sun and back into darkness.

Escapist nonsense, of course, but actually Orbit is a rather enjoyable journey with plenty of shades of luminaries like Hawkwind, Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator and the like, without ever seeming to mimic, imitate or re-create.

So what you get is some great ‘old school’ playing, plenty of melody and time changes, and bucket loads of ambience.  It makes a refreshing change to some of the ‘new’ prog bands who simply can’t capture the free flowing hedonism of those pioneering days.  And in that sense, Hedersleben have the era nailed.  Who’d have thought an old punk would have it in him?  A remarkably enjoyable ‘trip’.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

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