SHM-CD in a Cardboard Sleeve ℗ 2017
1. Behind The Smoke
2. Martian Sea
3. Fifty Miles From The North Pole
4. El Niño
5. Other Side Of The Wall
6. Anything But Love
7. Inca Terra
8. In Another Life
9. In The Skeleton Gallery
10. West To East
11. The Gift
12. After The Ordeal
13. Jazz On A Summer Night
Night Siren is Steve Hackett's 25th solo CD and while it's not a conceptual work of art it does have a theme that pulls the strings in a same direction of travelling across the globe. As an explorer, Hackett utilizes wast number of strange instruments to exhibit the image of the world we live in. Sometimes these soundscapes provide a beautiful painting, allowing us to submerge in it's tranquility and ignore the bad forces pulling it apart, until the state of utopia is replaced with a rude awakening to a proverbial rose that lost it's smell, rotting away our society.
The warm and cold treatment throughout the album serves the purpose of rethinking humane practices, for the sake of the universal peace. To achieve this, Hackett travels to places distant from each other, to bridge the voices and performers in a music with a parallel vision.
Behind The Smoke is an effigy masterpiece to the current refugee crisis telling us the story of how it started and the way it unfolds. The music is dramatic and Steve's guitar playing is nothing short of breathtaking.
Martian Sea is a mashup of various 60's vibes. You have everything, from Beatles tingles to sitar tangles and psychedelic passages entwined with some of Hackett's trademark soloing in an upbeat song that is one of my favorite on the album.
Fifty Miles From The North Pole is a prime example of a perfect juxtaposition of something as beautiful as the nature of Iceland with mysterious music in the vain of a Secret Agent Man and a children choir recalling the ambiance of Another Brick In The Wall.
El Niño How do you describe a climate cycle using music as your only method of expression? Easy. Build the base with frantic tribal drum beats then raise the tension with guitar phrasing. Let it cool down a bit with mellow orchestration and halfway through join in with your guitar for the final blow.
Other Side Of The Wall is a progressive ballad with obligatory changes in the rhythm, but as sweet as this song is, for me it feels out of place with rest of the material.
Anything But Love starts out with a fiery flamenco guitar intro, to present the catchiest song on the album. By the end of it, Hackett trades the acoustic guitar for an electric one to captivate the audience with an extravaganza closure in a style of Santana.
Inca Terra does a great job of bringing the vision of Peruvian cascading waterfalls to our mind's eye. I swear, for a brief moment, I saw the condor fly.
In Another Life Steve is ready to give us a lesson in history and to point out how we, as humanity, haven't learned anything from the mistakes we made in our past. It's a story where Redcoats terrorized the people of the Highland. We are reminded how familiar the theme sounds today. Sure, it's another place on the Earth that suffers now, but the outcome remains the same. "Unearth the sword I forswore to use / When all is lost there's nothing to lose" is the line that is as bleak as the future of these people.
In The Skeleton Gallery uses powerful shifts in musical tapestry to describe our nightmares. The beginning of the song flows smoothly, allowing us to fall into a sweet dream, then sharply turns around to evoke images that makes us wet our beds. I guess it's different for everyone, but for me... Oh man, what I saw was terrifying. There was a legion of fascist Clowns marching in an endless parade. Yep, that's what I saw.
West To East brings the journey to an end, with a powerful message to seek peace in times of turmoil. For this song Hackett brought in an Israeli and a Palestinian singer to sing about the importance of practicing what we preach.
The Gift is the only song Steve didn't wrote on the album. It's a beautiful instrumental and if you listen closely you just might hear it saying how life is a fragile gift best to be cherished.
The version of the CD I got also has two Bonus tracks. After The Ordeal (Genesis Cover) and Jazz On A Summer Night. Both of these songs are Instrumentals aimed to calm the waves of an otherwise dramatic and powerful album.
Rating: 8 wailing sirens in a choir of 10
I've been getting into his solo work small bits at a time. Of course I know his Genesis work and the one GTR album - which I like and Niels introduced me to Genesis Revisited II which is fantastic. This led me to his then new release "Wolflight" - which is actually quite good as well.
You're dead on his guitar work, its phenomenal all the time. Some of the best acoustic work I've heard and his lead work is always on point and interesting, he's definitely an interesting artist.
Agreed. At this point I have more Hackett solo releases in my collection that Genesis and other members solo works combined together. And I love the GTR, project as well.
Thanks for reading Scott.
Nice review Yngve. You are quite a good writer. I enjoy doing album reviews, but my writing is pretty simple and not nearly as descriptive. Maybe I'll pick me up a thesaurus one day so I don't have to keep saying "cool". Anyway, I enjoyed your writing.
I really know nothing of Steve's work. I mean, I've heard plenty of Genesis' music, but not the earlier prog stuff. But everyone says he is terrific. I listened to the first song you posted, and it's pretty dang good. Niels has certainly sang his praises here, maybe I'll have to pick up something.
Thank You, Sir.
You flatter me, but don't sell yourself short. After all, me trying to join the ranks of yourself and TageRyche is one part of this writing, while the other part of the credit goes to Steve Hackett, who's release inspired me to tackle the review.
Thanks for reading and your kind words, RJhog.