on 15 April 2012
I have followed Mr H for ages - having eagerly awaited the releases of such albums as Spectral Mornings and Defector ( I was still in to Wind and Wuthering whilst he was doing acolyte and Please don't touch - oh and doing my a'levels so missed out for a bit ! ) any way off and on i have bought SH's stuff as a long term fan - and whilst he has been solidly producing good music for years and universally slagged by the trendy music press , his following has not diminished despite the more expanded usage of 'just for men' . I didn't like most of Cured or Highly strung , but stuck with it and went to see him on the Darktown tour - where I thought he seemed a bit fed up and not really enjoying doing small venues in provincial towns ( Leeds ! ) . Any way I bought wild Orchids , which prompted me to get various other live and studio albums and generally catch up . and you know the time off really made coming back all the more worth while .
I got Live rails .........bloody hell .......... with a Girlie in the band too !.. mad Nick on Bass and Roger ever faithful on Keyboards . I sent an Email to Steve through Hackett songs saying how much I liked the album .....he replied in person ...... bloody hell .......I then got Tunnels mouth ...... isn't the intro to Sleepers gorgeous ? Then I got 'Beyond' .......bloody hell ......This guy is 62 ....SIXTY TWO ..... has done more than Genesis ( who never recovered from his departure in my view ) , is gracious enough to play some of his Genesis stuff without any seeming resentment live - and accepts the ROAR of approval from all the other old farts out in the auditorium ...... he played Holmfirth with A STINKING head cold and still produced an Epic performance ... modestly and with humour ..... what a guy , with a band I hope he can hang on to . Brilliant man . I wish him many more years of entertaining and thrilling people with his skill .... cannot see any one ever being as good as this band live ... well maybe if he tours with Chris Squire .... Steve Howe and Jon Whetton , backed by Pallas , Joanna Hogg of Iona and still with Gary , Rob , Amanda , Roger , Lee and Nick - now that would be a SHOW.
on 1 October 2011
"The New Studio Album from Former Genesis Guitarist". You would think that considering Steve Hackett left Genesis 34 years ago and has a solo discography far larger than that produced in the entire history of the band Genesis, he may have outgrown that particular moniker but NO!
Steve Hackett, herein reffered to as "The Former Genesis Guitarist" (TFGG), has produced another scorcher of an album. Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (BTSH) may have a very pretentious name but the music is beautifully and masterfully pulled off leaving you with chills gliding up and down your spine. I expect great things from TFGG anyway but this exceeded any expectations I might have had previously. Not only is it a fitting addition to the FFG discography but it is actually a real credit to it. The emotional power of Beyond the Shrouded Horizon is not to be doubted. Nor is the impeccable playing and singing throughout.
As usual TFGG opens with a belter. Loch Lomond is a classic FGG track with a long instrumental rock introduction. The lyrics are brilliant but seem to be describing a tropical lake of some sort so I'm not entirely sure what Loch Lomond is doing in this song. One of the first things that struck me about this song is that TFGG really pushes his voice. I'm not saying that he's a bad singer but his voice has never been as strong as, for example, The Original Genesis Frontman or even the Former Genesis singer/drummer. On Out of the Tunnels Mouth, TFGG started trying new things with his voice and on this album has found a confidence in his singing which really brings a whole new dimension to his music.
Loch Lomond flows into "The Phoenix Flown" which is essentially an instrumental extension of Loch Lomond but is very welcome here. TFGG has always written fairly epic and powerful instrumental pieces, both electric and acoustic, and BTSH is no different. The perfect example being that The Phoenix Flown is followed by "Wanderlust" which is a short and very nice acoustic piece which serves as an introduction to...
Til These Eyes is a very mellow and slightly melancholy song with the typical, semi-mystical, ambiguous lyrics we have come to expect from TFGG. There is a brilliant balance of moods on this album which stops it becoming overwhelming and Til These Eyes is certainly one of the most downbeat tracks on here but is followed by possibly the most upbeat tracks.
Prairie Angle is another rock instrumental with a very uplifting feel. Once again it serves as an introduction to a song which in this case is A Place Called Freedom. Set in the wild west, this is basically a love song. The guitar and flute mix beautifully to create a real feel of adventure and freedom. Lyrical verses are interspaced with long instrumental interludes to create a truly wonderful track.
We're bought straight back to Earth with Between the Sunset and the Coconut Palms. As the name would suggest, the lyrics in this track are amazingly pretentious. Not that I'm complaining as TFGG's lyrics are some of my favourites from any artist I listen to. It's in the same vein as Til These Eyes as far as mood is concerned though it has a slightly more positive chorus.
Waking to Life is an interesting track because lead vocals are handled by Amanda Lehmann. The mood swiftly soars with the guitar into another mystical love song which seems to concern someone infatuated with someone they've only ever seen in a dream. The simple one line chorus of "And I've never seen your face before" is enough to make Waking to Life worth playing over and over again. I'm sure Amanda Lehmann is smiling when she sings this.
The next track Two Faces of Cairo is a stand alone instrumental set in Egypt. I can't think of how to describe this one other than incredibly epic. The textures and tones of this song threaten to steal the whole album and I would be tempted to call it the most epic track on here had I not heard the rest of the album.
Looking For Fantasy is a track that TFGG claims Jimi Hendrix sang to him in a dream. He describes it as "uncharacteristic" of Jimi Hendrix. Hmm interesting that. Anyway, it's another melancholy song about a "flower girl" who's somewhat stuck in the past with references to all sorts of things that probably mean something to people of a certain age.
Approching the end of the Album we run into Summer's Breath which is a short acoustic introduction to an atomic bomb of a track Catwalk. Catwalk is a very bluesy number which some ferocious sounding guitar and guest bass from Chris Squire. At one point TFGG even makes his guitar imitate a cat which is quite amusing. Once again, if this were my first listen, the title of "Most Epic Track on TFGG New Studio Album" would have a new contender but the last track is about to shoot the rest of the album to pieces with an AK-47.
Turn This Island Earth. This track is an entire sentence in itself. It was apparantly based on a film that TFGG enjoyed as a child. It's a shame I already used the phrase "incredibly epic" to describe Two Faces of Cairo because now I'm going to have to make up words for Turn This Island Earth. The mood shifts from dark to ecstatic, ecstatic to epic, epic to dark then right back to epic. There are so many words for this song that TFGG struggles to even fit them in. This is a modern prog epic and is a fitting finale to a brilliant rock album by the genius that is TFGG.
Overall, this may be my favourite FGG albums of all time. Out of The Tunnels Mouth was brilliant in itself but now seems like a glimpse of what was to come. All I can say is, I've bought tickets to see TFGG, you should too. Any track off Beyond the Shrouded Horizon performed live is not something you're gonna want to miss. and yes he'll play some Genesis stuff as well).
on 26 September 2011
As stated by the last reviewer, this CD is really up there with some of Steve Hackett classic's, where some artists offerings tend to get weaker as the years pass, this is not the case with "Beyond the Shrouded Horizon".
You really feel like you have been on a journey after listening to this, fantastic musicianship, with guitar solo's played with emotion, this is as good as it gets! Roll on next years UK tour!
on 19 February 2012
I started out as a relatively strong Hackett fan having purchased each of his 1st 6 solo releases and having essentially lost interest in Genesis after WIND AND WUTHERING. Those first 4 solo records were quite good even the inconsistent PLEASE DON'T TOUCH (c'mon, 'Hoping Love Will Last'?). I found CURED particularly hideous and HIGHLY STRUNG only slightly better. And that's where it ended for many, many years. As one reviewer so aptly put in another review (and I'm paraphrasing) "as much as I admire Hackett and his abilities, no Hackett album has fully satisfied me." Even with those great early records, tracks like "Leaving," "The Toast" and "The Virgin and the Gypsy" bored me to tears. So I walked away from Hackett after HIGHLY STRUNG without any great reservations. I figured he peaked early like so many other of my favorite artists. I checked back with GUITAR NOIR in '93 and knew I hadn't missed anything. Sounded like standard album rock (Asia) to me. Thanks for the good times Steve. GENESIS REVISITED was nice but I preferred the originals. And again, that's where it ended.
It wasn't until earlier this year when trying to decide upon which CDs to spend a Christmas gift certificate at a local record store that I noncommitedly picked up SHROUDED HORIZON as one of my selections. As a 2CD album there just might be a couple of tracks that'll be worth it. Wow, was I wrong! There are fully 22 tracks worth hearing. Even slower, poppier cuts like "Looking for Fantasy" and "Til These Eyes" are artfully done. Unlike many Hackett fans I have absolutely no problem with his voice. I'd much rather hear a less-than-perfect lead voice singing with heart (the songs he composed, no less) than the plethora of cliched poseurs littering the pop and rock fields.
Mechanically and artistically he doesn't seem to have lost a step at all. In fact his so-called "shredding" is every bit as explosive as in decades past. His progressive tracks are among the most original within the genre in the entire 21st century - in fact, since the seventies, I'll venture a guess. I also believe his more pastoral/acoustic selections (which comprise a significant portion of his repertoire) are better realized compositionally. I had my doubts years earlier when I read of his blues affections. I may have to go back and give BLUES WITH A FEELING a try. On this album his blues piece "Catwalk" is a scorcher. And bluesy riffs infiltrate many numbers with great effect. Hackett, it appears, given his penchant for blues, classical, rock and world stylings in recent years has a better grasp on dynamics and composition than ever before.
I was so pleased with this CD that I (within days) purchased TUNNEL'S MOUTH, METAMORPHEUS, TO WATCH THE STORMS and TOKYO TAPES with LIVE RAILS on deck. His current band is a creative powerhouse and I can't wait to hear more than the 30 second snippets to LIVE RAILS.
Finally, so pleased was I with OUT OF THE TUNNEL'S MOUTH too, that I conclude Steve Hackett has never released two finer albums in succession than BEYOND THE SHROUDED HORIZON and TUNNEL'S MOUTH. And after 35+ years that's saying a mouthful.
on 3 November 2011
Beyond the Shrouded Horizon is the latest studio album from ex Genesis guitarist and virtuoso Steve Hackett. Since his departure from Genesis, Hackett has easily been the most prolific of the band members with an average of two albums per year to his credit. Unlike his peers, Hackett remains true to the early Prog Rock roots with his approach and attack to music. Although never classically trained, Hackett switches from electric guitar to classical guitar easily, keeping other guitarists in the Prog field in check; such as Steve Howe and John Williams.
If you enjoy early Genesis, with its influx and experimentation in different genres, then you'll love this album. The entire recording is hard to pin down to a genre. One minute you'll be listening to an epic guitar solo, the next to a classical piece, then to a folk piece with soft female vocals, and you'll end up imagining you're standing by the pyramids when Steve's love of the Arabic and Harmonic Minor keys kicks in.
The album does not disappoint. It also sometimes, due to its non-adherence to a genre, doesn't always feel so much like an album, more like a collection of songs; but fans of Hackett will be familiar with that. What it is, is definitely an audic journey, taking the listener to far-away lands.
There are some interesting guest appearances within, such as Chris Squire, bassist extraordinaire from Prog founders Yes, and these only serve to reinforce Hackett's standing in the world of all things guitar and Prog.
If you're thinking whether to get the one or two disk version, get the two. The booklet within is really nice and the second disc has a mini-concerto on it called Four Winds, which is superb, as well as a sequel to Hackett's Air Conditioned Nightmare, entitled, Reconditioned Nightmare. There is also a 3 disk Vinyl edition available which contains a voucher to download an electronic version- so you can still put it on your MP3 player or wireless devices, whilst having the warm luxury of the vinyl for those sit down evenings.
Many moons ago, I remember seeing Genesis at the Birmingham Town Hall on their Foxtrot tour. While Gabriel was cavorting around the stage in his various outfits, my abiding memory is of a certain Mr Hackett sitting at the side of the stage producing a wonderful soundscape whilst looking as though he was nothing to do with the band. And ever since that concert, I have been captivated by the man and his music!
So, here we are with a brand new (double) album, sumptiously packaged (as only Insideout Records know how...they really are making their packaging into an art form to rival the old vinyl album packaging!) from a man who can (and does) play music from every conceivable genre - and is it up to the sky high bar that Mr Hackett normally sets - you betcha!
I have been playing this album now for several days and I am truly astounded by the quality, not just of the strong melodies and riffs of the songs and the playing of SH, but the recording itself is both stunning and beautifully arranged, perfectly balanced on a veritable knife-edge.....lulling you into a false sense of the album is the opening "Loch Lomond" that starts with a fizzle but delivers the bang as the anthemic riff cuts in....think: "The Steppes", Riding The Colossus", Valley Of The Kings" and you'll know what I am talking about. And then we are into "The Phoenix Flown", "Prairie Angel" and "Two Faces Of Cairo" with some quieter passages in between - this really is SH at the top of his game.
The inclusion of "Catwalk" changes the mood somewhat as it blisters through a familiar blues line - and is a straight lift (different lyrics but solos included) from the excellent Paul Rodgers album; Muddy Water Blues (where a certain Jeff Beck can be heard handling the axe duties) - searing stuff!
There really is so much here to suit all tastes, and no words can truly convey the absolute master at work - but if you love to hear a guitar (any guitar) played by a musician at the very pinnacle of his powers - then this album MUST be an essential buy.....!
on 7 October 2011
I've been into Hackett since I saw him live in Aberdeen in something like 1979 or so in the Spectral Mornings tour.
It was an absolutely mind blowing experience for a wee 14 yr old kid from the Granite city.
Ever since then I've been disappointed at every turn by albums involving terrible singers, drum machines, misplaced rearrangements.
Buit this is really good. Everything from lovely classical guitars, all out space blues, and proggy excess.
I do however have some reservations about the spinny roundy track. I always wished for a big hackett epic, but...
Spinny roundy tracks seem to be in vogue at the moment ever since The Whirlwind by Transatlantic. This one is like the Enid track Shiva on "Journeys End" (an album I can heartily recommend), but the Enid track is so much more grounded in orchestral composition it outsrtips this one my a country mile. The hackett track sounds like a film score, without the pictures.
In summary, very good album, but leave the epics to those with the grounding in harmonic learnings with he ability to add some compositional substance, rather than simply providing lovely soundscapes....
That said my dream band at them moment is Hackett, Robert John Godfrey, Dave Storey, David Gilmour, Jordan Rudess and on Vocals, a bloody big choir...
on 7 December 2011
So having listened to this album for the past few weeks at home and in the car; what can you say?
Well other than all the usual plaudits about how good it is, how about saying that it is wonderful to feel the energy that flows through this album - it positively grabs you and refuses to let go! Steve Hackett went through a stage of producing interesting enough albums but something was missing. It sure isn't now!
Hackett and his chums are making some wonderful music and he himself continues to make the guitar do things that a frankly remarkable. Yet this is no mindless, ego-fuelled collection of wig-outs or flash, boring Proggy snooze-fests. It is intelligent, thoughtful and at times it rocks - hard!
Get it and enjoy the continuing work of a master craftsman...
on 18 August 2014
Excellent album - some seriously good tracks - Recently bought Heaven & Earth -the latest offering by Yes - once my favourite band now publishing safe, predictable vanilla dirge. this whilst a year or three back, is bright and exciting - some tracks literally make you tingle all over
Chris Squire sits in of a few too - the rumbling bass unmistakable - a very enjoyable listen
and definitely prog elements but - nicely mixed up tempos, in Steve Hackett's unmistakable style
an excellent offering by a true master musician and wonderful guitarist
on 7 October 2011
This album consists of very well produced and arranged music. Having lived through it, I personally think that the track looking for fantasy captures the feel of that time extremely well. The music flows from one track to the other seamlessly, except for one. Turn this Island Earth, in my opinion, should have been more groundbreaking, alien, radical, challenging, and downright revolutionary. I wonder how Steve would have approached it in the seventies, surely not like this? Five stars for everything else, and i'm looking forward to the Feb tour.