Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Xenon Codex - Tracks & References

The lack of a view, according to Huw Lloyd-Langton: 

“I haven’t heard it – simple as that!” (Interviewed by the author).

What they said then:

 “This creature of dinosaur-like proportions has no apparent sense of direction and looks to be in a severe fit of pain, with a desire, it seems, to be put out of its misery for good.” (‘Captain Kirk’, source unknown).

What they say now:

Having already dismissed The Chronicle of the Black Sword, Trevor King rounded on The Xenon Codex: “Little had changed apart from the dreadful electronic drum sound and a preponderance of high-tech keyboards.” 

Tracks and references:

The War I Survived

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (Kurt Vonnegut, 1969) is a novel concerned with the blanket firebombing of Dresden by the allies in 1945.

“‘The War I Survived’ didn’t come easily at all. I was staying in London during the summer of 1987, on Nassau Road, in Barnes. A room at the top of a house with a big picture window – with an aerial view looking off toward Putney Bridge. I selected a book, and decided to write a lyric based on Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. I was thinking back to the days when Calvert would select a book for inspiration. It seemed like a great idea to do something like he would do. I was always consciously trying to write something that might sound like it was inspired by Calvert back then. I listened to his music a lot. Getting into his words and wit. That’s what I liked best about Hawkwind – Bob’s words. So there I was reading Slaughterhouse-Five, jotting down my impressions. Trying to find images that impressed me, or phrases that struck me as key phrases. Then I wrote image fragments, over and over. Trying to get them to flow together. It was the jigsaw puzzle that I played with that summer when I wasn’t out on the streets or at a gig.” (Roger Neville-Neil, lyricist for 'The War I Survived', interviewed for Sonic Assassins).

Wastelands of Sleep

“It’s about sadness and depression… everything going wrong, but 'escape in sleep/from all of your sorrows'.” (Kris Tait)

Neon Skyline

“It was written for Ledge of Darkness, but when that didn’t come off it got used because it was around.” (Alan Davey)

Lost Chronicles

“It was written for Huw to play a long guitar solo over. I had this chord sequence, all very nice and pretty, and said, ‘Huw, the sequence goes around and around, and each time it goes around we build it again. We just have to decide how many times you want to go.’” The music starts with Bainbridge playing a slow and studied progression over a synthesiser wash and a quirky, recurring off-key oscillation. The composition builds gradually, the bass and drums coming in early, meandering around like a travelogue film score, as the musicians await the arrival of the maestro. Langton appears mid-track and throws in a glorious guitar line that weaves spellbindingly through the remainder of the piece until he reaches a natural peak and takes his leave on the penultimate cycle. “Just ‘take it away, Huw, off you go’, which he was simply brilliant at doing.” [Harvey Bainbridge, Sonic Assassins]


Probably originally considered for Choose Your Masques, as this instrumental turns up on a bootleg of demos for that album under the title ‘See’.


The concept of the artificially maintained disembodied head being enslaved for its mental powers is a fairly common SF convention, as in Greg Bear’s novel Heads. The concept is also used to good effect in the comic book series Nexus, wherein a collective known simply as The Heads work together to provide a source of fusion power.

“The lyrics for ‘Heads’ was written around Easter 1987 in a flat over a butcher’s shop on Rosehill Parade, in Oxford. The words came easily and just flowed out of the pen. Many things converged to spark this lyric: my living conditions, being in contact with new ideas and uniquely skewed perspectives. Not to mention that the people I found myself around were making some mighty interesting plans for the future. I had joined the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group as an excuse to get and socialise, drink a pint or two, listen to the university types talk about the science fiction books they liked or about their own lives. This is where I first heard about Alcor. I made a mental note to find out more. 

“Alcor Life Extension Foundation is a cryogenics company in California. A place where you can arrange to have yourself frozen for the future. There was only one catch – you had to die first. For a modest fee, you can arrange to have your life insurance pay for cryogenic storage. Your put on ice, and science and technology should make advancements while you sleep the big sleep in their fridge, hopefully to the point where they can figure out how to reanimate you. And then you’ll find yourself living in the future. Why, it’s the next best thing to immortality. Step right up and sign on the dotted line.

“I think in 1987 it would have cost $35,000 to have your head frozen. $100,000 to have your full body frozen. A couple of chumps in the fiction group had signed up for it. I was all ears listening to them boasting about the details. It sounded like a good idea for a Hawkwind song. I kept thinking about it. What would be your last thoughts as you drifted off into oblivion? What about all the people you knew? Watching their last signs of life as you yourself were iced. Eventually I sat down and the words just came. One of those rare trance-like states where you find several hours have passed – but it only felt like a few minutes. Some of the best stuff comes to you when you don’t try, between being awake and asleep, or the subconscious starts singing, spilling its guts all over the page.  I thought about it for several days. Made a few changes. And then sent the lyrics to Dave with the working title ‘Spare Parts’.” (Roger Neville-Neil, interviewed for Sonic Assassins)

Mutation Zone


Probably stands for electro-magnetic current, or possibly a twist on E=MC2

“I gave him this weird thing called ‘E.M.C.’, which was this attempt to do trance music, although it didn’t work out unfortunately. [Bidmead] didn’t know what to do with it, so I just said, ‘I’ll do it then.’" (Harvey Bainbridge, Sonic Assassins)

Sword of the East

‘…blood of the past…’, a spiritual successor to ‘Hassan I Shaba’, refers to the Crusades of the 11th – 14th centuries, a series of expeditions instigated by the Roman Catholic Church to secure dominion over the Muslim-held Palestine. 

Good Evening

“It seemed like we all went mad, plugged in and hit the record button; ‘Good Evening’ was the result. Dave put all the weird noises on the end.” (AD)

A Note on the Album Title: 

Barney Bubbles claimed to hail from the planet Xenon (as did former Roxy Music collaborator Brian Eno), first mentioned in Hawk-lore on the cover notes for Doremi...

The Xenon Codex is released as part of Atomhenge's GWR Years box set in January 2017

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