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Steve Hackett - At the Edge of Light CD (album) cover

AT THE EDGE OF LIGHT

Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog


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5 stars Like most Steve Hackett albums At The Edge Of Light grows on you and by now has become my most played album of the year by a long way. One of the most prolific prog composers with a huge body of work (I think this is his 25th album), Steve always maintains a decent standard in everything he releases. This release is one of his strongest in years. My favourite tracks are Underground Railroad and Those Golden Wings. Underground Railroad has a bluesy opening that uses its railroad theme to develop a great foot tapping conclusion Those Golden Wings is a huge ballad, which develops through several phases including a choral section and concludes with a wonderful guitar solo. The album concludes with Hungry Years, probably the most commercial track on the album, Descent, a track with a Bolero-style rhythm, and finishes with a lovely choral ballad called Peace. I rated this a strong 4 Stars when I first discovered it but I must now raise that to 5 as I finally recognise its quality. And of course I am really looking forward to Steve's Selling England By The Pound tour where this year's release will get a pretty full airing alongside my favourite album of all time.
Report this review (#2121011)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an amazing achievement coming so late in Hackett's career. The playing on every song is superb, and he incorporates eclectic world music styles with ease. Consistent from start to finish, progressive and surprisingly uplifting (from the interviews you would think this was going to be an all out political album). The top 3 songs are in the "eye of the sun" (the riff and bass are unbelievable), the "underground railroad" (spine chilling vocals and fantastic progression from blues/gospel to prog!) and "golden wings" (one of his greatest solos and epic beyond belief). Honorable mention to the intro track ans shadow and flame which take us to the far east, and convincingly so. The only criticisms I have are "descent" which sounds exactly like the devils triangle by king crimson which plods along a little too long (but not nearly as long as Triangle), and some overbearing orchestration on "beasts of our time". These complaints are very minor and overall this album is a masterpiece. If you're a fan of Steve Hackett you MUST OWN THIS ALBUM. Its just as good if not better than spectral mornings and voyage of the acolyte, and is light years ahead of his last album!!!!.
Report this review (#2121493)
Posted Saturday, January 26, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars What an impressive evolution! 45 years of solo career, 18 studio albums... Though I'd say really memorable are only Spectral Mornings, Guitar Noir, Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth and Beyond The Shrouded Horizon. (Sorry I cannot share the epidemic enthusiasm for Voyage Of The Acolyte, I find this album over-sophisticated on the verge of bad taste.) Fortunately, soon after his solo debut Hackett stopped competing with Banks in composing music, and really became Hackett. Not Hackett from Genesis but Hackett himself. After his three brilliant late 1970s albums (Please Don't Touch, Spectral Mornings and Defector), there's not too much to be said about his 1980s and even 1990s. He had very interesting and fruitful 2000s triumphantly crowned with two extraordinary albums in 2009 and 2011. But since then, something strange occurs. No I don't think that every prog album must be a musical drama or tragedy like Pink Floyd's The Wall. There were plenty of great prog albums with no conflict (or invective, or so) inside, their quintessence may be expressed by the word 'bliss' or 'beatificate'. For example, Wakeman's Suntrilogy, especially Aspirant Sunrise. There were also prog albums bearing 'happiness' or even just 'joy' as a musical quintessence. For example, the only album by ABWH, or Minimum Vital's Esprit d'Amour, or Fanatic by Jadis. But what if some complacency can be heard in joy expressed by musical means? What if the music sounds as if it was written by a rich tourist for other rich tourists? I have nothing against epicureanism in music. But if the only message I get from an artist is 'I'm fine and my circumstances are OK', I suspect I wasted my time for listening. Is a message of this sort enough for a musician of Hackett's caliber? I doubt it. But since Wolflight he steadily makes a rich tourist's music, bringing the only message 'I feel fine and enjoy my life', full of superficial joy and confined emotions. At The Edge Of Light seems to be the extreme degree of Hackett's current musical epicureanism. Not only the emotions but even the melodies and arrangements are confined. Yes there're a couple of interesting orchestral moments in Beasts In Our Time and Those Golden Wings. There are also pleasant hints of world music in a few tracks. But where is that unique and inimitable Steve Hackett of spectral mornings and shrouded horizons? Who took him away? and does he plan to get back in the foreseeable future?
Report this review (#2132377)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars I received a preview copy of this album for my podcast and can say it has seriously grown on me. I am an admitted Hackett fan, but my love for this album goes beyond my support of his career. He has synthesized his sounds and influences on this release, presenting a mixture of guitar clinic, compositional dexterity, and very good vocals. This release is rock/prog/blues/gospel/world and at no time is it cliched. Steve has really gifted progressive rock fans, and fans of Genesis with a strong and truly progressive release. It is always interesting, well played and tight. It is 4.5 stars in my mind, rounding up because I know it was made in a very short window!
Report this review (#2132652)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.25: as today in 2019, the most recent album of Steve Hackett and the the 25th in his career . Musically, It is a very good album, I'm impressed with the quality of this one, very eclectic sound, including more heavier guitars and dark symphonic ambient, it sounds like a combination of king crimson riffs, neo symphonic and a few of their classic roots from genesis. In fact, sometimes it sound like space and ambient rock, so you never get bored because of the constant changes in the music. Lyrically, i consider it good, In my interpretation,it has very dark thematic too, it talks about you have to affront that kind of periods and appreciate more the things that matters to you. Vocally, his voice accompanied very well the music and adds different melodies and tonalities to the songs. The songs are very progressive, a lot of changes of rhythm are present, the keyboards set a dark ambient and the guitars are very heavy, they surprised you every time they appear among the dark ambient, the solos are really entertained. A very different work in comparison with his first albums and genesis work, but a very good work made at the final product. A really good album, his third best in my opinion and an excellent addition to any prog collection.
Report this review (#2133392)
Posted Friday, February 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
rdtprog
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Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars The album title illustrates the idea that the world is on the edge of falling in a dark place or that we can discover a way out where conflicts, war could leave the place to peace and love. Steve is trying to bring with his music light into this world that contains elements of shadow and light. First off, the production is perfect from the first note, this not amateur recording. Again, Steve is joined by a group of musicians from all over the world. He praised their greatness in the booklet and in the documentary on the DVD. It's not often that we can hear in prog rock music instruments like tar, sitar, and didgeridoo. I just learn that last word yesterday... It's no surprise that we find some world music but never for too long. Apart from Steve's great guitar playing what strikes me is the methodical work of Roger King on all the orchestral arrangements. Here, the machine has helped a lot the human bringing that atmospheric vibe, the perfect soundtrack for a movie that takes you in a different place in a different time. There is a variety of songs. "Hungry Years" is a pop song. "Those Golden Wings" is the love song and there are some vocal and protest songs. At the end of the album, we have a trilogy of songs starting with a copy of Ravel "Bolero" with the song "Descent" and ending with the vocal and peaceful song that gives hope to the future of the world. The first 2 tracks are linked to each other and show a great and heavy start that continues until the short didgeridoo break in the track "Under the Eye of the Sun". The longest track "Those Golden Wings" is a beautiful love song where the gospel choir arrangements and the romantic intro add to the emotion. "Conflict" shows again the great orchestral arrangements of Roger King. This is not a perfect album, some will not love to hear the same Hackett style, but for me, I can take the same Hackett each year and in surround, it's even better.
Report this review (#2134697)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #105

Earlier this year, the legendary ex-guitar player of Genesis, Steve Hackett, released his 26th studio album, named as At the Edge of Light. Having enjoyed his two previous works Wolflight and The Night Siren (but mostly Wolflgiht), I didn't hesitate at all! I don't know how to describe it, but this album begins where the previous ones stopped. It is more or less in the same style, but in my opinion is better than both of them. Steve Hackett (as it seems), decided that the style of music he wants to play is this; Progressive Rock with lots of Ethnic influences, and many soft melodic turns. He gave us a first idea of that style with ' the very good ' Wolflight, he went a step back with The Night Siren, and now it was the time for the killing blow! And that blow came with the release of At the Edge of Light. To be honest, I wasn't so hopeful after The Night Siren, and that's why I caught by surprise. I still cannot believe how good this album is!

Steve Hackett managed to 'marry' his very rich Progressive Rock heritage with tunes from - mostly - Anatolian traditional music, and the result is simply breathtaking! Of course, the cherry on the cake is his top-notch guitar performance, but that's not a surprise.

The listener gets a first idea of what's going to follow with the 2-minute-long Fallen Walls and Pedestrals, that works as the album's intro. And then comes Beasts in our Time, one of the album's finest moments without a doubt. But the album's absolute highlight is (in my opinion) the 11-minute-long, Those Golden Wings, which, constantly shifts between gentle rhythms, orchestral backed vocals to a real ear-worm of a riff, to a Carmina Burana-esque choral section to be finally resolved with a three minute guitar solo.

At the Edge of Light includes 10 tracks, and to be honest, to only one that I do not like (yet), is Shadow and Flame, because of its strong Indian influences that were never my cup of tea. I do not wish to continue writing more things, because there is no point doing that. If you take a look around the internet, read the reviews for this album, and even better, listen to it, you will understand why everybody's talking about it.

For me, this is a wonderful album, that shines above most albums that has been released during these last years. As for Steve Hackkett, I believe that it is one of his best works ever! Not paying attention to this album would be a huge mistake! My Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5.0)

Report this review (#2150572)
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Those Golden Wings - real classics - what a treat , what a joy! It starts from gentle symphonic landscape and turned into classy art rock anthem , to me it's a highlight track like Dave Gilmour "comfortably numb" but in in a HACKETTs vein! Fantastically beautiful 11 mins + track to start with! "Beasts in our Time " another jewel and the whole symphonic atmosphere just complements the music. You know, some of themes are close to Camel "harbor of tears" even Steve's vocals!! But to me it's a compliment) I read some not positive comments saying that the album is safe or more of the same .. will not agree.. this is another gem by a master that should be in your collection! After this album I've returned to listen to 4-5 older albums. Ps. Special thank you to Roger King for this symphonic contribution!
Report this review (#2165294)
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is it possible that in 2019, Steve Hackett has released his best solo album? It doesn't seem possible....but I think he may have done it. This album is a fantastic, inspired prog rock masterpiece. I don't even know where to begin praising it. Steve's playing is off the charts. At times he reminds me of guitar god Jeff Beck, at other times Steve Howe. But it's not those guys. It's like Steve has decided to stop being modest and show what he can really do.

The album is powerful, full of great riffs, but it's also melodic and lush. And Steve's singing has left me stunned! He sounds like John Wetton. When did Steve get this voice??

I really can't believe how good this album is.

Report this review (#2204056)
Posted Monday, May 20, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Most well-crafted and diverse Hackett solo album? I would say so. What is to admire about the Genesis maestro Steve Hackett's latest solo works is the fact that he draws a wide palette of musical influences from all over the world and manages to interflow them into something cohesive and conceptual. Unlike most virtuosic guitarists solo albums, Steve is making "compositions", instead of fretboard excursions. Not to mention the fact he has an angelic voice as well. If you are already fan of his work, this album will not dissapoint you, and if you're not familiar with his solo output, this is a great start since it encompasses most of his stylistic diversities.

"At the edge of light" starts with a 2 minute overture named "Fallen Walls and Pedestals". It is dominated by dark and gloomy symphonic orchestrations, later on joined by Hackett's stratospheric guitar. Overall bombastic sound, stellar production, no less can be expected. Perfect mood-settling interlude. And the title resonates well with the music, instilling that world-ending, "on the edge" feel, which is further complemented by the title of the album. The track segues into "Beasts in Our Time". The opening is very unsettling, again having the notable symphonic tinge, and then we hear how well Steve's vocals have aged just like a fine wine. There is emotional dissonance, created by the next orchestrations, flowing into another acoustic vocal section. Again, really good compositional techniques. And then - Rob Townsend's incredible sax is presented, accompained with John Hackett's soothing flute. After a brief guitar solo and a somewhat dreadful, movie-like orchestration, Steve goes balls-to-the-wall with heavy Crimson-esque riff underneath beastly soloing, until the end of this dark and theatrical piece.

As a musical antipode, the next track - "Under the Eye of the Sun" begins with a fast, pumping and uplifting melody. We hear Jonas Reingold with great and heavily audible bass work, reminiscent of Chris Squire. It truly feels like a tribute to the classic Yes years with the high-pitched, light, chorus-like vocals, reminding us of Jon Anderson. After a short solo, we get to a really interesting and spiritual didgeridoo and flute wind section. That is actually the first time i hear didgeridoo in prog. The whole bridge feels like moving through a cave, and at the end of it, the reprise of the main riff can be interpreted as seeing the light again. Enjoyable composition, rather relieving.

"Underground Railroad" has strong, underlying Western American feel with the sitar and Hackett's vocals, which could've been on any Johny Cash song, for instance. Simply proving that Steve is a chameleon when it comes to expressing emotions and themes with his music. Somewhere in the middle, we come out of the "cowboy" vocals with straightforward hard rock, flowing into a moderate beat solo, ending with chorus, similar to the previous song, backed by Tina Turner-esque yells, only to strenghten the American feel.

The next piece is without a doubt the highlight of the album, no coincidence it's the longest one. "Those Golden Wings" has everything you would want in a Steve Hackett composition. The beginning is a classical orchestration with Christine Townsend's viola in front. Really catchy vocal melodies in the acoustic partition. Thereafter we get to a symphonic driven part with Nick D'Virgilio's simple, but effective drumming, leading to a celestial vocal part, reminding me of Steve Hogarth's voice. After a swift bridge, the track divulges into full blown orchestra, with an operatic note throughout. Just epic. Crustily, Hacket takes up with very Rush-inspired riff and rhythm section as well. A quick reprise occurs, and the beautiful and vivid vocal line is presented again. After a short symphonic bridge with acoustic guitar, the track ends with a prolong solo, enough as a reason as to why Hacket is an unparraled guitar magician. "Shadow and Flame" begins really occult-y with the way the vocals are delivered and the Goblet drums. Then we have interweaving violas, decaying and progressing in volume, and the incredible parade of sitar, giving huge Indian/Oriental feel. Wicked piece. Short, but interesting.

"Hungry Years" is your usual pop-rock song, in the vein of Bruce Springsteen. Moderate, non-changing beat throughout. Relaxing, catchy vocals. Nothing that extravagant, or proggy here.

"Descent" is something like battle theme, with a marching drum section, and ominous classical orchestration behind it. Aptly named, truly feels like aviation descent. Good idea, but underdeveloped in my opinion, it feels a bit repetitive.

"Conflict" is again very movie, soundtrack-inspired, orchestral score with some fast guitar playing towards the end.

"Peace" is doing a great job as a closer. The beginning alludes to "Bohemian rhapsody" a little with the emotional vocals and main piano. This is probably Hackett's best vocal arrangement in this album. It starts soft, and builds up tension, released in the heavenly chorus middle section. The track ends with Steve's remarkable sharp and expressive guitar soloing. Laconically, this is probably his best solo recording in terms of musical variety - instruments, motifs, genre- intersections, etc. There are some moments, lacking huge inspiration, but they for sure are in the minority. After all, Steve Hackett aged 69 this year. Not many musicians still continue to produce intricate, intense, proggy pieces, while not succumbing to pastoral and overly laid-back works at this point of their life. Kudos to Steve for that spirit. Recommended for every fan of progressive rock.

Report this review (#2241980)
Posted Monday, August 5, 2019 | Review Permalink

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