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Steve Hackett - Beyond The Shrouded Horizon CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 399 ratings

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4 stars After a long and successful career, with a vast amount of releases and tours, Steve Hackett gave us once again a great album in this 2011. He seems not to cease ever, he is always cooking something new and most of the times, he creates good songs and albums. Though it is always positive to look for new bands and support recent artists, we cannot help but still listening and enjoying the older ones, provided they are worth it. Steve Hackett, for god's sake, of course is worth it.

This time he offers an album entitled "Beyond the Shrouded Horizon", which consists on thirteen compositions that make a total time of one hour of music. It kicks off with "Loch Lomond" which starts with a dark atmosphere which little by little is lighting it down. Then after a minute we may say the song actually starts; Hackett's guitar is beginning to cook something, while the others instruments help him creating a structure; now another minute later it dramatically slows down, acoustic guitars and delicate vocals (front and back) appear, creating that charming sound that Hackett's music use to share. This is a wonderful opener track, almost seven minutes that will lead to shorter compositions.

"The Phoenix Flown" has a positive and hopeful sound. The guitar solo is gentle, not bombastic at all, and it accompanies drums, bass and synth, creating a short but wonderful instrumental track. "Wanderlust" is the shortest composition, and it offers only Steve Hackett with his acoustic guitar, nothing more. It leads to "Til These Eyes" whose mood is also peaceful and hopeful; here the vocals return and creates that charming yet fantastic sound. This track has orchestral arrangements which I am not sure if were done by keyboards, or an orchestral actually, anyway, it produces a beautiful sound.

"Prairie Angels" continues with that pastoral and charming sound, there are moments (brief ones) where the music may be touching the new age boundaries. This is an instrumental track with Steve's crying guitar and Rob Townsend's winds at first, but just before reaching the second minute, it drastically changes creating a much rockier sound, reminding me of some 70s rock and roll acts. A strange, but good change in this short track. It kindly finishes and links us to "A Place Called Freedom", whose lyrics and musical structure might be the catchiest of the album. The sound is very Hackett, I know you get me here. A joyful track.

"Between the Sunset and the Coconut Palms" has a delicate sound, front and backing male vocals while the acoustic guitar plays, there is also a charming atmosphere softly created by keyboards. The last instrumental minute is sweet, actually the best part of the track. The next song is "Waking to Life" starts with guitar for some ten seconds and later drums appear in a catchy rhythm, while a sitar also sounds and the sweet voice of Amanda Lehmann complements it. Later the instrumental passage takes us absolutely to Indian territories, creating a wonderful background, while percussion and female voice appear once again. This is a great and different track. With "Two Faces of Cairo" the previous emotional and energetic sound vanishes. This track starts with a desolated atmosphere whose background is being built up little by little, primarily by percussion and bass. At a minute and a half the mid-eastern (Egyptian, indeed) flavor appears. There are some guitar riffs and passages where it clearly takes the leadership, but when it quits, the keyboards replace it. This is another highlight of the album, an extraordinary instrumental song. In "Looking for Fantasy" vocals return with their soft and calm sound. So the song itself is like that, soft, charming, relaxing.

"Summer's Breath" is another short track with acoustic guitar and a soft environment of kids playing, ocean waves, birds. It leads to "Catwalk" which really contrasts with the previous tracks, because this has a rockier and even bluesy sound. Both, its instrumental and its vocal passages are cool, though I have to admit this is not my favorite track of the album. Anyway, I like the changes and that the album did not follow a particular style in its entirety.

The last track is a 12-minute composition entitled "Turn This Island Earth", whose first two minutes are slow and atmospheric. Later vocals appear with some effects (I am not really fan of it) and the other instruments (and their respective musicians, of course) begin to built up the structure and offer those different moods, rhythms and passages. What I like of this track is its vertiginous changes in tempo and style that gives as a result an interesting modern progressive rock composition, no matter the roots and experience of the musicians. There is a two-second hiatus at minute seven, then the second part of the song begins with a pastoral and charming sound; later it produces more and more changes, it could even work for a film scene. In the end, it is a very good composition that let us know once again Hackett's compositional skills.

The album is really good, however, it is not one of their best, not even close, but it deserves 3.5 (rounded to 4) stars nevertheless.

Enjoy it!

memowakeman | 4/5 |


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