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Steve Hughes - Once We Were - Part One CD (album) cover


Steve Hughes


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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK composer and musician Steve HUGHES is a rather well known name in progressive rock circles, known for his tenures in bands like Kino and The Enid, as well as his past in the current progressive rock darling Big Big Train. In 2013 Hughes launched a solo career with the release of the album "Tales from the Silent Ocean". "Once We Were-I" is his sophomore studio production, and was released by Progressive Promotion Records in the spring of 2016.

Hughes' own description of his music is progressive ambient art rock. Personally I'll opt for eclectic to be a better description of the contents, as there's a whole lot of music at hand here that couldn't be described as ambient other than in minor parts. The key ingredients appear to be classic symphonic prog and neo-progressive rock, with a subtle addition of elements from folk music and jazz here and there, explored in a context that, at least in sum, comes across as hard to accurately define. Those fond of sophisticated progressive rock with strong ties to the symphonic and neo-progressive aspects of the genre appear as a likely key audience for this production, and at least for me, this is a recording that is well worth spending some time getting familiar with.

Report this review (#1581231)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars

Towards the end of 1991 I received a demo tape from a young Dorset prog band who wanted to know what I thought of their music. That band was Big Big Train, the tape was 'From The River To The Sea', and their drummer was Steve Hughes. In the very dim and distant past I saw Steve perform with both Big Big Train and The Enid, and consequently always thought of him as a drummer. So, when this album arrived my initial reaction was "surely it can't be that Steve Hughes", but indeed it was. This is the first of two albums, if you hadn't worked it out from the title, and this was released in May 2016, with part two following in December the same year.

I fully expected that Steve only provided drums and vocals, so I was somewhat surprised to see that he also provided bass, keyboards and guitars. He did of course also utilise some guests, and some names immediately stood out for me such as Dec Burke (Frost*), Keith Winter (Shakatak) and Alex Tsentides (The Enid), and the overall feeling is very much of a band, not a project. With a few guest guitarists, it isn't possible to say just how much of the guitar on this album was provided by Steve himself, but I do know that he is the only keyboard player, and he is no mean slouch in that area at all.

Amazingly, the album starts with a song that is more than half an hour long! What is immediately apparent right from the off is that here is a musician who not only knows exactly what he wants to achieve, but can make that happen and ensure that the listener is taken along for the ride. This is progressive music that is touching on many bases, from eclectic through crossover and fusion into a rhythmic drum-driven style that I have only previously come across in the music of Bill Bruford. Drummers think of music in a quite different way to other musicians, and there are passages that could only be written by someone who has that as a first instrument with a rhythmic attack where the other instruments must keep up. There are elements of Camel at time, but really this is quite unlike anything else around and is one hell of a long way from when I first heard him. Superb

Report this review (#1709699)
Posted Monday, April 10, 2017 | Review Permalink

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