Future shockers

The long, strange trip that has befallen cosmic prog-rock outfit Spaceseed is a 16-year overnight success story. Or at least that's how guitarist/vocalist John Pack views his band's journey from its earliest rumblings circa 1988 to becoming the U.S. backing band for Nik Turner of British space-rock pioneers Hawkwind. With its self-released first offering, Future Cities of the Past Pt. 1, Spaceseed literally carries the lineage of its most apparent musical influence into the future.

For a strikingly Hawkwind-inspired group that, previous to pairing with Turner, had released only one cassette nearly a decade ago, this seems an unexpected realization of Spaceseed's work. But the union has been a long time in the making. "We started supporting Nik in the '90s after opening for him at the Masquerade," says Pack. "We maintained correspondence for about eight years before we did our first work together."

Future Cities is a jaunt through metallic science fiction, rock and psychedelia, where Turner's acid-drenched vocals and trademark saxophone help create a labyrinthine swirl of sound.

Live, Turner and Pack front a fluctuating lineup that includes such colorful full-timers as Gal Axy (keyboards) and the Subliminator (vocals). Crafting a head-expanding presence that wafts between Spaceseed numbers and classic Hawkwind material, the group yields results that combine structure with improvisation, changing shape according to venue. "If you're playing at the Masquerade, you tend to improv with the heavy-metal aspects of the music," explains Pack. "But if you're in an art gallery in D.C., you want to do something that sounds like Yoko Ono making out with a Theremin."-- Chad Radford

Nik Turner and Spaceseed play the Masquerade Sat., Sept. 25, 7 p.m. (doors) $10.