Spirits Burning made its first appearance in 1986 in the psychedelic underground scene from San Francisco when a number of musicians from different bands started jamming together. In 1996 Don Falcone, keyboard player of Melting Euphoria and Fireclan, revived the project with the idea of bringing different musicians together and allow everyone to play, but also bring in musical input. A first album was released in 1999 which included Steven Wilson amongst others. Over the years to follow several albums were released in different line ups.
Make Believe It Real is the third album together with Bridget Wishart, after Earth Born (2008) and Blood Lines (2009). Bridget Wishart was shortly the singer for Hawkwind and later for Astralfish and Mooch and several more bands. Spirits Burning has a large number of people with a Hawkwind connection on this release: Dave Anderson, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bernard, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Simon House, Paul Hayles and Dan Thompson. Furthermore there are contributions from regular Spirits Burning contributor Daevid Allen (Gong) and Twink (The Pink Fairies, Hawkwind and Stars, a band that also featured Syd Barrett). And a lot of other little less known but still experienced people.
With so many people with a Hawkwind connection it is no surprise that the album is dominated by space rock. But it also has elements of psychedelic folk, progressive rock and even some psi-trance influences. With so many people involved it sounds remarkably coherent. The jamming and improvisations have been carefully worked out to proper songs, very well orchestrated and it sounds like the album of a small group of fixed people rather than a loose collective. Bridget Wishart is not a very expressive singer. Her singing is rather soft and introvert but it gives the music a mystical atmosphere. The closing track of the first disc is a quiet track that starts with a piano improvisation and acoustic guitar and violin, reminding a bit of Popol Vuh. A second similar track has been left on the shelf for a follow up album and it provides a blue print for a new direction.
Make Believe It Real is an album that needs a few listens but then it grows better and better. It is a must for Hawkwind fans. But I recommend it for open minded music lovers as well. It is an illustration that space rock is not some relic from the 1970s, but that it is still vital and ever evolving music well into the 21st century. May the force be with you...
**** Erik Gibbels (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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