In a Crystal Presence…..


Some musings about the newly released box set of three albums from Crystal Presence (Tim Blake)….Alan Dearling

I only heard the first two of what are often referred to as Tim Blake’s ‘solo’ albums a long, long time ago on vinyl. But my memories were fond ones. And I have much enjoyed Tim’s electronica/synth presence on the Gong’s Radio Gnome Invisible triad of albums: ‘Flying Teapot’, ‘Angel’s Egg’ and ‘You’. Then again, Tim has also been in and out of the Hawkwind ‘family’ many, many times, but some of his own playing and compositions have frequently formed the exhilarating high-water marks, sparkling electronica in the heart of the mind-numbing Hawkwind beats. Those include two of the tracks from the second Crystal Presence album, ‘Blake’s New Jerusalem’ (1978): namely, ‘Lighthouse’ and the title track, ‘New Jerusalem’. As Ian Abrahams has said in the sleeve notes for newly re-mastered box set:

“ ‘New Jerusalem’ took up the whole second side of the vinyl release, and became an almost mythic part of the history of electronica, while the other track with its own life and longevity outside of the album is the haunting and studied space travelogue of ‘Lighthouse’, with its ‘Star Trek’ ‘Captain’s Log’ spoken entry, its pensive soundtrack inching it outward to infinity and its lyrical ode to galaxies ‘where crystal people dwell’.”

If ‘Blake’s New Jerusalem’ is something of a crown of creation in the Crystal Presence box set collection, the first album ‘Crystal Machine’ from 1977, was certainly a harbinger of electronic creativity. It can hold up its musical head in the company of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Phaedra’ or Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’. Hypnotic, exhilarating, looping and spiralling threads of sound. Melodic repetitions, musical meditations that still fed into so much of that mid-70s (still) hippy period, which perhaps bizarrely continued to exist in the midst of, and in the aftermath of punk. The fact that two of the longer tracks on ‘Crystal Machine’ were recorded ‘live’ also adds to the spontaneity and energy of ‘Last Ride of the Boogie Child’ (Seasalter Free Festival 1976) and ‘Synthese Intemporal’ (recorded at Le Palace Theatre Paris in February 1977). The final track, ‘Crystal Presence’ is darker. An ‘out there’ space recording drifting deep into the outer limits of the universe.

The third album in the box set, ‘Magick’, was released over a decade later in 1991. Again, it was recorded ‘live’ in Tim Blake’s adopted home in a windmill in Brittany. Tim Blake has said of ‘Magick’:

“I like to take my time, whereas ‘Magick’ was done in an instant, but it wasn’t a bad instant. Looking back on the songs, years later, they’re good songs. It was a different step in my life, actually. I wasn’t particularly interested in the music world when I made that, but I went to America twice playing ‘Magick’ and that was very stimulating. The record had the effect of getting me interested again.”

‘Magick’ is a brooding, slightly love-lorne, musical entity. Plenty of moments of pomp and grandeur, plenty of melodic ear-worms, but perhaps a bit ‘over-the-top’ into the proggy territory of Rick Wakeman with imagined moments of cape-swirling and softly-swirling vocals and synth sounds!

Tim Blake: Crystal Presence: The albums 1977-1991
has been released in 2024 by Esoteric Recordings, a label of Cherry Red Records. For more information about Tim Blake and his music go to







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