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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 856 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With his third effort "Spectral Mornings", Steve Hackett achieved unquestionable maturity as a prog persona in his own terms. While his amazing debut "Voyage of the Acolyte" found him exploring his Genesian side and "Please Don't Touch" found him playing tentative roles at a set diversity of musical sources, "Spectral Mornings" first establishes the very essence of Hackett's aesthetic vision. Of course, you can tell some stylish resources akin to vintage Genesis, but those are simply pieces of Hackett's mind now exclusively portrayed on his solo input. The dynamic and catchy 'Every Day' opens up the album in a very colorful way: with its lyrics presenting a pessimistic portrait of drug addiction with a deceitfully joyful mood, this track shows how one can address a serious issue with an inventive sense of fun in a rock context. The finale's long guitar solo is one of the most captivating ones ever written by Hackett; it would be fair to point out that the rhythm section's fortitude helps to provide an extra dose of energetic vibe to the closing section. 'The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a Renaissance- inspired acoustic ballad based on acoustic guitar and harpsichord. The addition of mellotron and guitar-synth layers, as well as incredible flute flourishes by Steve's brother John, provide this rack an enhanced sense of magic. 'The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere' is yet another bucolic number, this time set on a Far East spirit. The dialogues between the koto and the flute are properly mediated by mellotron washes and floating percussions. This piece is segued to 'Clocks - Angel of Mons', one of the most ballsy Hackett pieces ever. The alternation between the clock-like effects and the main motif (which sounds like a rocker reconstruction of one of the most popular melodies from "Carmina Buranna") finds the perfect climax with that explosive tribal drumming portion at the end: John Shearer rules! 'The Ballad of the Decomposing Man' is another ironic track, this time less gentle and less majestic than the opener 'Every Day' and a bit more drastic. This tale of low safety for electric plant workers finds an unlikely counterpart in the instrumentation, which starts with Charleston and ends up with a tropical rumba flavored with calypso touches. Weird, extravagant, even silly, yet genius in its unique way. Hackett's solemn side reveals itself in a very pure form in 'Lost Time in Cordoba', a melancholic classical guitar piece that wanders across various moods: the brief passages in which the flute joins in are simply captivating beyond words. Then comes the mini-suite 'Tigermoth', an exercise on sonic variations that starts with a mood of massive psychedelic rock, ornamented with an interlude of mellotron layers and synthesizer effects. The second part is an acoustic ballad in which the acoustic guitars and the vocals are playfully interfered by weird keyboard adornments, mostly emulating carnival sounds. The namesake instrumental is a majestic gem, one of the most beautiful instrumentals ever in the history of symphonic prog. The melodic basis is simple, yet effectively delivered through the use of guitar textures and augmented by the mellotron orchestrations: the final result is very hypnotic, with a noticeable touch of mystery that creates an unreal, foggy mood, very much in the vein of the ambience mentioned in the title. This is my favorite Hackett album for the 70s, and what's more, it is to me a real masterpiece of prog. "Spectral Mornings" comprises perfectly the best of Hackett's prototypical vision and a sense of surprise disseminated in strategic places.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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