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Nick Magnus

Symphonic Prog

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Nick Magnus Hexameron album cover
3.64 | 51 ratings | 10 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Singularity (7:42)
2. Dancing on the Waters (8:44)
3. Marduk (9:02)
4. Sophia's Song (5:56)
5. Double Helix (2:24)
6. Brother Sun Sister Moon (4:50)
7. Seven Hands of Time (5:19)
8. The Power of Reason (5:32)

Total Time 49:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Nick Magnus / keyboards, computer, composer, arranger & producer

- Steve Hackett / guitar (1,7,8)
- Geoff Whitehorn / guitar (2)
- Melvyn Hiscock / slide guitar (6)
- John Hackett / flute (1,5,8)
- Ninian Boyle / violin (4,5), viola (5)
- Clare Brigstocke / voice of Order (3), soprano vocals (8)
- Debi Doss / voice of Chaos (3)
- Anthony Patterson / voice of Marduk (3)
- Siobhan McCarthy / voice (4)
- Pete Hicks / voice (6)
- The Bears' Chorus / chorus vocals (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Mark Easton

CD Magick Nuns Records ‎- MNCD 1001 (2004, UK)

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NICK MAGNUS Hexameron ratings distribution

(51 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(61%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

NICK MAGNUS Hexameron reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
3 stars Nick Magnus is well known as Steve Hackett keyboardist. He did a good but uneven album because, despite it has some brilliant parts, there are many detachable moments.

BTW, the first two long and instrumental tracks are plenty of beauty: atmospherical soundscapes and creative structures with lot of melodical sense and, in the same vein, the Hackett brothers participation in several themes is an additional gift to progressive ears (John Hackett is an underrated musician, he plays the flute really good!).

Sadly, the sung songs could be included in an AOR album without any problem: they are simple and basic pieces, specially "Marduk" (too long and reiterative, without surprises and rythmically very poor). Even "Sophia's Song", a nice celtic track with the beautiful female voice, seems to be out of place.

Anyway, "Singularity", "Dancing on the Waters" and "The Power of Reason" well worth the purchase. 2004 wasn't the best year for progressive music, but "Hexameron" -even when isn't a wonderful effort- has very interesting parts. Isn't a bad idea to listen to it with the remote control and the "skip" button ready.

Review by Fishy
4 stars If you like progressive music, it's impossible to dislike the sound of the keyboard as it's one of the essential parts of what this music is all about. Prog fans aren't keen on solo albums of keyboard members of progbands. Rick Wakeman may be the exception but the solo outings of Geoff Downes, Don Airey, Richard Wright or Jordan Rudess and many others seem to please few ears. Some of these albums may come too close to electronic music which is a different kind of music. I suppose fans of prog don't like the way keyboards are used for replacing "real" guitars, basses and drums. Other releases may come to close to soundtracks as well.

"Hexameron" is not an exception to some of the mentioned diseases but nevertheless this is a fine effort. Years ago I bought "Straight on till morning" and it didn't impress me at all. I wasn't expecting a lot when I put this cd in my player but soon I had to revise my judgement on the music.

"Singularity" is a beautiful but soft opening track with a sound which holds many colours. In this track Magnus' keyboards are supported by the guitar and flute of the Hackett brothers. Hackett fans should immediately recognise some elements which sound familiar to them. Although the keyboards are the dominant instrument, the guitar solos are an essential part of the music. On Hackett albums you can notice the opposite. On "Dancing on the waters" it get's even better. The opening tones of this lovely track may give you the impression this is an album full of ambient sounds for relaxation purposes. Gradually the sound gets broaden by orchestral keyboards and a splendid female voice singing heavenly melodies. Eventually you would start to believe in life after death. The tracks of Nick Magnus could be described as an flower which opens inch by inch, gradually revealing moments of extreme beauty. Although no Hacketteers can be spotted on "Marduk", it would fit in on "Spectral mornings" quite nicely. The spooky sound of the mellotron is tributary to Hackett and the voice of the guest singer has some similarities with the voice of Peter Gabriel. I'm wondering if Magnus had the intention to revisit some of his glorious past but this is a great track anyway although it needs a few spins. Next track "Sophia's song" could be included on albums of the Irish folk band Clannad without noticing any difference; still this song is very good, sometimes reminding a bit of the main theme of the Titanic movie ; Yes that's right. The charting success of Celine Dion. It's not a coincidence this kind of music appears on this album. Magnus produced some compilation albums of Irish folk music in the past. It gives "Hexameron" an interesting alternative touch but this kind of romantics have nothing to do with progressive rock but I don't mind this at all. Many progressive music lacks emotion. "Double Helix" is a dreamy instrumental in the tradition of "Hands of the priestess" although Magnus wasn't there when the first Hackett was recorded.

Pete Hicks does the vocals for "Brother sun sister moon". He was another member of the Steve Hackett band in 1979 and 1980 but I never liked his vocals too much since it lacks a bit personality. On this album he appears on this less memorable song. A good melody for the chorus but on the musical side nothing excitable is happening. It's reminiscent to some tracks from "Cured". This brings us to the weak elements of "Hexameron". Keyboards are used for imitating drums, percussion and rhythm guitar. Even in 2005 I do prefer a good old fashioned drum sound especially for the rock tracks. The sound of a bass guitar is even more irreplaceable. Although it must be said that even if you're aware of that, it doesn't spoil the listening experience. Another critic I have is concerning the innocence spread all over the album. In the seventies prog music needed to be larger than life but it seems out of this world now. There are other prog artists who use some pastoral or ethereal atmospheres in their music but usually there is a counterpart present, here there is not. But maybe I'm word-splitting now.

Quite gracefully the ending of "Brother Sun Sister Moon develops into "Seven Hands of time" another instrumental track where we can spot Hackett playing some tremendous guitar parts. Again this could have appeared on a Hackett album but the atmosphere is different. On a Hackett album this would have sounded rather restless, here it sounds soothing. Maybe those computer rhythms aren't so bad after all.This is simply breathtaking music ; the perfect escapism. There's a church choir opening "The Power of reason". I never liked this kind of music too much but here it does sound great. It leads to the albums climax which is a reprise of the wonderful melodies of the opening track.

Let me get this right. Although not a masterpiece, "Hexameron" is an excellent album full of great melodies and excellent song writing. If you like "Spectral mornings" and "Defector" you should really check this one out, fans of Hackett will surely welcome back the musical elements that's gone lost in the Hackett albums of the 90's and 00. It may be inappropriate to compare his work to the efforts of Hackett but after hearing this album, it's hard to deny the influence Magnus had on the quoted albums. I was pretty surprised the material on "Hexameron" has the same level of quality of "To watch the storms" although musically there hardly is a comparison. "Hexameron" contains some elements of other musical styles as well like Irish folk music, Gregorian music or ambient. This makes it interesting album but you'll have to be in the mood for this kind of stuff. One of the finest prog albums of 2004.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There are mostly some fine moments here, the disc kicking off on a tremendous pace such as when Hackett brothers (also John on flute) show up with their usual brio on the highly movie soundtrackish opener "Singularity" . Second strong chapter: "Dancing on the Waters" starts out swirling in lush atmospherics, featuring the semi-legendary guitarist Geoff Whitehorn and Magnus' wakemanesque piano work. But if you enjoy (as I do) some fanfare bombast (the choir mellotron fade out) and operatic wailing, then Clare Brigstocke's soprano voice will enthrall you. "Marduk" is where the first questioning creeps in, sounding more like Alan Parsons Project than anything else, Tony Patterson's voice is way less convincing throughout (a rather laughable Gabriel imitation, should have left the mike to Clare !) and some wimpy synthesizer soloing that recalls Monterrey Jack rather than Moog. A few pretty decent Whitehorn guitar leads save this from oblivion, as the 9 minutes labor on. "Sophia's Song" is an overtly direct Celtic reference, with some resonating Gaelic vocal work from Siobhan McCarthy, remindful of Maggie Reilly's work with Oldfield, as well as a dash of languid violin that turns this into a lovely piece that has more than just merit, it's a majestic highlight! John Hackett's delicate flute leads the highly bucolic "Double Helix", a medieval interlude that pleases. Here is the second difficulty: "Brother Sun Sister Moon" possesses a main melody that is impressive but on the fence of being another Alan Parsons template. There is a poppy veneer that makes it somehow a tad corny. It does not happen often that I get into a conundrum, unable to make a direct simple assessment of a song but this is one of those slippery prog soap bars I just can't come to grips with! Is it great? No, Is it lousy? No. Then what in blazing Mellotrons is it? Perhaps it has to do with some half baking tendencies (that seem to also occasionally occur with Steve Hackett!) mainly due to those programmed drums that give everything a tinny tone that is remindful of a Buggles title , "the Age of Plastic". Get a real drummer, mate. With "Seven Hands of Time" we dive straight into Hackettish splendor, a monster instrumental (with more of the crappy tin drums) but with Steve unleashing a typical crushingly gorgeous solo, sandwiched between rich "temporal effects". The rousing finale "The Power of Reason" is another Hackett brothers extravaganza, loaded with dignified interventions: Clare is back to her wailing, gigantic group choir work, a couple of alluring Steve ventures, some ravishing piano work, sultry flute from John and an overall sense of prog mastery. Frankly, it's the 2 tough cuts described earlier that prevent this from penta-stardom. Ditch the PC and get some tom toms! 4 hacketts
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars It must have taken more than six days to make this album?!

Hexameron is, if I'm not mistaken, the collective name given to the six days it took God to create the world as described in The Book Of Genesis in The Bible.

As I mentioned in my review of his latest album, Children Of Another God, Nick Magnus is most known for his membership in Steve Hackett's backing band in the late 70's and early 80's where he played keyboards on such important Hackett albums as Spectral Mornings, Defector and Highly Strung. Like on Children Of Another God, no less than four out of six members of the Spectral Mornings and Defector line-up is present on this album, including Steve and John Hackett on guitars and flutes respectively and vocalist Pete Hicks and, of course, Magnus himself. But despite Magnus' background with Hackett and the presence of the two Hackett brothers as well as Pete Hicks on this album, the music found here is not really a lost Steve Hackett album (even if Steve adds some wonderful guitar lines to a few songs). The music here is closer to Mike Oldfield and even sometimes Vangelis than to anything Hackett. The music here is symphonic in structure but rather soft and laid-back for the most part with some Celtic and "New-Age" influences. It is hard to put a label on the music; though both "symphonic" and, in some sense, "progressive", I hesitate to call the majority of it Symphonic Prog.

Hexameron opens with two rather long instrumentals that together run for more than 15 minutes. This gives you the impression that the whole album is instrumental, but it isn't. Though the two first tracks are more than listenable, I get the feeling that the album doesn't really get off the ground until the third track, Marduk, which is the first vocal number and the first I would call Rock. The lead vocals on the first part of the song are by Peter Gabriel-sound-a-like Tony Patterson which makes this song sound like a lost Genesis song. It is, however, a conceptual song that also has lead vocal parts by others playing different roles. It is one of the highlights of the album for me and probably the most progressive song.

Sophia's Song is a lovely Celtic-sounding tune with nice female vocals but hardly progressive in any sense of the term. The strong diversity of the songs of this album makes me feel that the album as a whole lacks direction. Magnus is evidently a very good composer, but he wasn't quite sure what kind of album he wanted to make here. Next up is a wonderful Classical instrumental that is dominated by the two Hackett brothers on acoustic guitar and flute respectively. This one would have fitted nicely on almost any Steve Hackett album. Brother Sun Sister Moon is sung by Pete Hicks and is more of a melodic Pop Rock song. The two last tracks are back again to the style of the first two even if Seven Hands Of Time have some vocals.

Overall this is a good and quite beautiful album with no weak tracks as such. However, as I said above there seems to be no real direction and the individual songs take you to radically different places. Limiting the number of lead vocalists or opting for a wholly instrumental album might have benefitted this material. Having this said, I must add that this will certainly please any fan of the softer side of Symphonic Rock.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Come the millenium and Nick Magnus still got himself involved in various different projects, like in 2001, when he rearranged songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney to adapt them to the West End musical ''All you need is love'', which was performed throughout the summer.At the same time he established his own label Magick Nuns Records to release his own music.His next work ''Hexameron'' was a concept album around order and chaos and featured the talents of Steve Hackett alongside his regular participants John Hackett, Geoff Whitehorn and female singer Clare Brigstocke.A few more guests appear also on choirs, violin and slide guitar.

''Hexameron'' was a much more focused effort by Magnus, enlightened by the comfort of a project, which wanted the composer to circulate his ideas around spacious and electronic atmospheres.It is though a highly symphonic album, always driven by the piano and synthesizers of Magnus, recalling his days with THE ENID, even if the atmosphere here is far from bombastic, it's mostly an attempt on ethereal, cinematic symphonic music with enough guitar, bass and drums content to consider it a Symphonic Rock album.There are still some GANDALF-like New Age climates to be found in the more laid-back instrumentals, most of them also feature some dreamy female voices, but it has its moments of grandieur as well, based on more bombastic executions and intense keyboard explosions.The music is still very reminiscent of STEVE HACKETT's late-70's/early-80's material with a special nod to keyboards than the guitars, but sharing practically the same mood for elaborate, melodic and refined arrangements with some fading GENESIS underlines.A couple of tracks revisit MIKE OLDFIELD's Celtic-inspired soundscapes and the music is extremely well-crafted during these cuts as well.That appears to be the main negative factor of the album as well, the dominance of dreamy and angelic tunes/arrangements and the lack of more dynamic and passionate material.

Anyway, this was another nice effort by Magnus, this was his beloved style after all, a smooth, atmospheric approach on symphonic music with plenty of beautiful textures and definite blinks to the 70's.Recommended.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars One may quibble with the retro aspects of Nick Magnus' solo work, such as essentially re-uniting the moving parts of that glorious STEVE HACKETT band for the umpteenth time, while they remain as electrifying as ever . One may question his abutment of lulling vaporous instrumentals against more orthodox popular songs, while what seems most illuminating is how nobody can agree on which, if either, overturns the ox cart. One may demand wherefore he includes convincing odes to Celtic splendor that would make CLANNAD, CAPERCAILLIE, ALTAN, and ROSE AMONG THORNS blush, while brusquely waving off the considered possibility that the man is evolving and that one axis of this hexameron might sprout a fiddle, tin whistle and a windswept yarn or two. But what is undeniable is the facile musicality of it all. It would seem that Magnus' work on several mammoth recorded and live productions in the 1990s has endowed him with a compiler's acumen without obscuring his melodic muse. If the album does crest anywhere, it does so on the merging of the sweeping "Brother Sun Sister Moon" piloted by vocalist Pete Hicks with the dazzling Hackett shiver fest that is "Seven Hands of Time", which would have been one of the, if not THE, high point on almost any of Steve's best early excursions. Nick Magnus may not be defining a new genre but his resurgence here embodies the soul and heart of a time before so many of our heroes let us down, and it does so six ways to Sunday.

Latest members reviews

4 stars My first encounter with Nick Magnus opus was "Children of Another God", though I already was aware of his important contribution to Steve Hackett's solo endeavor. Myself a long time follower and appreciattor of Steve's music. Children...gave me a big shot and good impression, I was deeply grateful s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1381926) | Posted by oskkar | Friday, March 13, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Instrumental musical art With some vocal units, and parts of rock here and there. Of course, excel and dominate Magnus keyboards and synthesizers. Very well accompanied by the Hackett brothers, and Geoff Whitehorn on guitar. My disappointment lies in the sampled ... (read more)

Report this review (#936672) | Posted by sinslice | Friday, March 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is worth putting on the map. It has an eighties prog. feel to it, with an even tempo throughout and polished production. The use of familiar singers restricts creativity however. Use Anthony Phillips' singer and it sounds like... Anthony Phillips! Same with the use of IQ's Peter Nic ... (read more)

Report this review (#39657) | Posted by | Sunday, July 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Pesonally I find this to be a weaker effort than Nicks earlier Inhaling Green.The music just isn't as interesting.A bit of a dissapointment .Oh well but its still good that someone is trying to create instrmuental prog.Overall 2.5 stars but being the generous soul that I am I'll round up to 3 ... (read more)

Report this review (#39648) | Posted by | Sunday, July 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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