Multiple iterations of space rock pioneers currently in orbit

If you were to ask a physicist the definition of “duality” they’d explain that the term refers to a situation “where two seemingly different physical systems turn out to be equivalent in a non-trivial way.” (Or you could just look it up on Wikipedia like I did….)

Now if you want to see said definition parlayed into a real-time event unfolding in the space-time continuum look no further that the present-day bookings of a certain group of cosmic rockers.

Last week British space rock legends Hawkwind (apparently) played Toronto and Montreal while here in Calgary an entity billed as either Nik Turner’s Hawkwind or Nik Turner’s Space Ritual — depending on where you look — descends on the Palamino in a few days’ time.

Neither group is actually a full-on incarnation of the genre-defying act that once included the likes of Motorhead’s Lemmy and sci-fi author Michael Moorcock in its ranks. The former is a long-running version of the band helmed by the sole original member guitarist Dave Brock while the C-town-bound group is fronted by the titular Turner. The vocalist/saxophonist/flautist played on Hawkwind’s unimpeachable 69-75 classic catalogue before being kicked out by Brock then rejoined the band in the early ’80s only to be shown the door a second time.

“Dave used to fall out with people and sack them sad but true it happened to me a couple of times I moved on” explains Turner. “I think the tour should just be announced as ‘Nik Turner and his Merry Band’ so we avoid all the conflict that it appears that some people seem to thrive upon not the peace and love doctrine that was originally synonymous with Hawkwind and which was largely responsible for the band’s success.”

Not that Turner’s bitter. An old hippie if there ever was one he talks fondly about the classic Hawkwind days describing it as “…the uniting of the tribes — the ritualistic communion of communication.”

Nor he has he spent his time in exile from the mothership stuck in an orbit of nostalgic revelry. Besides entertaining Bedouins in the Arabian Desert he’s jammed in some very trippy places giving the term “musically adventurous” an Indiana Jones -like spin.

“The very awesomeness of lying in the Sarcophagus of the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Cheops chanting and playing my flute that fantastic reverb vibrating the great granite blocks…” he says recounting a few of his more cosmically memorable gigs. “Playing my flute inside the Temple of Inscriptions in the Tomb of the Lord Pacal in Palenque Yucatan…. I find that everything I do in these places is a truly memorable musical experience.”

Turner does return to more terrestrial ventures from time to time playing with an odd amalgamation of prog-rock and punk veterans including members of the U.K. Subs Chelsea Gong Die Krupps and even some old Hawk-mates.

Together they have a new album out Space Gypsy and fans of Hawkwind should be well pleased to find it’s very much in the vein of that band’s sound-effect laden metallic trances.

Still as the original crew gets on in years (Turner is 74) and their ranks thin (guitarist Huw Lloyd–Langton died last year) one wonders if the two disparate versions of the group will ever manage to get it together one last time.

“There still seems to be a little confusion amongst some of the fans as to which band is which” admits Turner. “It would be great if we could do something together — I’ll endeavour to bring this about. [But] I give the fans credit for more intelligence than to confuse the two bands and if I were them I’d be happy to see both. It’s like they say about London buses you wait 38 years for one band then there’s two.”