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Steve Hackett - The Night Siren CD (album) cover

THE NIGHT SIREN

Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog


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rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars This new album has been done with a collaboration of many musicians around the world and with a lot of instruments including sitar, tabla, harmonica etc. It was recorded in different places and it's really a prog rock album of a guitar player with many elements of world music, It still maintains the Hackett identity, which has never been far away in the past years from the world music. We can hear influences from his past solos albums and his love for classical music and the flamenco guitar. The music is based around the Hackett guitar playing with many solos, and his supported by classical arrangements. The song covers a lot of different atmospheres from cinematic, eastern music, ballad, etc. I really enjoyed the drums parts on the instrumental "El Nino", the beautiful melodies in the last two songs, and the opener "Behind the Smoke" with his mix of classical arrangments and world music tones which set the table for what's coming next.

There's a message on this album for the acceptance of our cultural differences in this dark times, and if there's someone that can understand this is the man who has been around the world a lot (thanks to his wife) and can share his message the best way he can be by his music.

Report this review (#1705674)
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Skeletons in the closet

As a big fan and follower of Steve Hackett, I of course had to check out his latest studio offering. Coming just two years after his previous album Wolflight, The Night Siren follows basically the same formula that Steve has been following for his last half-dozen or so Rock albums. Re-reading my review of Wolflight while listening to The Night Siren, I realise that virtually everything I said there applies equally to this album. Any of these songs could have fitted equally well on any of Steve's last handful of Rock albums. The same sound and the same dark feel is present and the same range of influences from Folk to Classical to Jazz to Blues, and Prog.

That the style is predictable doesn't mean that the songs are bad or uninspired. Indeed, I think The Night Siren is a good album and actually Steve's best since 2009's Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth. Among the better songs we find opener Behind The Smoke, Inca Terra, and In Another Life. The low point of the album is the whimsical Martian Sea.

Nonetheless, Steve seems to be stuck in his formula and in order to break out of I have a recommendation (that I also made in my review of Wolflight): Steve, why don't you more fully utilise your excellent touring band in the studio and record an album of new material in the style of "Genesis Revisited"? (I say "more fully" because the same people are contributing to this album, but they are basically guest performers on what is essentially a solo album rather than parts of a proper band like on stage, and Steve sings all lead vocals himself instead of using the excellent Nad Sylvan. Steve sings very well, I just think the time is ripe for trying out something new.) I believe that following my recommendation would be a great idea. After all, the Genesis Revisited concept has been massively successful live, and an original studio album in the same style would surely generate lots of interest among Genesis fans and fans of progressive Rock in general.

In conclusion: If you, like me, enjoy the Rock albums that Steve has been putting out during the last two decades, then you will surely like The Night Siren as well. It is another good Hackett solo album, nothing more nor less.

Report this review (#1708084)
Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Review #51. On the 24th of March 2017, Steve Hackett released his 25th studio album named as The Night Siren. Having enjoyed his previous album 'Wolflight' a lot, I was curious to see what this new album of his will sound like. And the truth is that, it sounds like a sequel of Wolflight. The general style is the same and the elements that can be found in Wolflight are present here once more: The combination of many different music styles, the strong Ethnic influences and Hackett's guitar in a leading role of course. The truth is that, many of the songs in this album were recorded during the Wolflight sessions, that's why these two albums look very much alike. For the needs of the recordings, Hackett worked with no less than 17 session musicians, from many different countries around the world, proving that music is a universal language that can unite people. There are a wide variety of instruments being used in the album, from the classic guitars/bass/drums, up to saxophone, viola, trumpet, flute and even didgeridoo and tar among others. The album is a very pleasant and enjoyable one, but despite the interesting compositions, the overall feeling I get is that 'Siren' is a weaker album, in comparison with 'Wolflight'. But is a very pleasant and listener-friendly album without a doubt. Favorite songs so far: Behind the Smoke and West to East. My Rating: 3 Stars
Report this review (#1709842)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a good, entertaining, and interesting album that is better than Wolflight mainly because the ideas here are more developed. "Behind the Smoke," one of the highlights of the album, is a exciting, heavy song that does a great job as an opener with catchy melodies, a dark feel, and a great buildup in the middle. "Martian Sea," a song with a bit of a punk vibe, is not one of the best tracks on the album, with a chorus that is just too catchy and an instrumental section that seems like it might have just been improvised. "Fifty Miles from the North Pole" is better, with interesting singing, guitar playing, drumming, and mood changes that keep the song interesting for its seven minutes. The instrumental "El Niño" is in my opinion the best track on the album. This track is very melodic and also musically interesting with its seamless time signature changes and its signature Steve Hackett style. "Other Side of the Wall" is a less interesting track that does not really go anywhere. "Anything But Love" is a fun song with Latin influences that still manages to feel like Steve Hackett. "Inca Terra" is one of the best tracks on the album. This track just manages to pack several different styles, with good vocal melodies, interesting rhythms, and changes in atmosphere, all while still being very cohesive. "In Another Life" really just seems like a generic filler track. "In the Skeleton Gallery" is another highlight of the album, with a dark vocal section giving way to a part with a weird rhythm followed by some great guitar playing and drumming. "West to East" is a simple song with a fun, happy chorus, and the instrumental part from the first track works extraordinarily well as a part of this song. "The Gift" is an emotional ending that works well but is not one of the more memorable parts of the album. While this album does have a little bit of filler, it is overall a worthy and memorable part of Steve Hackett's career, and it is more than worth checking out.
Report this review (#1719607)
Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One has to admit that legendary guitarist Steve Hackett has carved out quite a career, easily the most prolific and consistent of all the former Genesis maestros. Eschewing commercial fame and fortune, this consummate artist has always remained faithful and committed to a progressive rock experience defined by his unique and pioneering style. While there are a few technician-focused fans who would want an endless revamping of his classic Firth of Fifth solo, done in 100 different variations, he is the master of his own destiny and rightly so. Thus, all his solo albums have a linear core that is his undeniable muse which explains why this, his 25th studio album, fits perfectly in the grand Hackett scheme of things. What I really enjoy the most is his allegiance to a dedicated crew who understand his vision and craft, thus supplying the perfect platform for his compositions. Master keyboardist Roger King has been around for decades, applying dense symphonic sheen to each track, the powerful Gary O'Toole's drumming has also been around for quite a span. Wind man Rob Townsend applies all forms of flute, sax and such. Throw in past contributors Amanda Lehmann, Nick D'Virgilio, Ben Fenner, Nad Sylvan, Troy Donockley and a few newcomers and you get exactly what you expect: a diversified and entertaining set list that spans a wide swath of style and sound. On the other hand, I truly miss the exotic low end presence of the masterful Nick Beggs, perhaps one of the finest bass players on the planet. The biggest difference with "Wolflight" (seen by many critics as a very similar album) is that the tracks here seems to flow one into another with nary a whimper or doubt. This is especially obvious within the first bloc of 4 tracks.

Lest we forget, Steve also sparkles on acoustic, Spanish and nylon guitar, as witnessed by a few non-electric releases that form part and parcel of his vast body of work. The opener "Behind the Smoke" is a dizzying vortex of sound and fury, belted with those Kashmir-ian symphonic cascades that conjure Far Eastern images, welded by some whirling dervish pyrotechnics that only he can muster. Wispy, cloudy, opaque and at times blustery, this is a fine opening track and an outright jewel on its own. Slight deflection into a different zone, "Martian Sea" is also very ingenious, incorporating sinewy sitar-guitar noodlings that are awe-inspiring. The James Bond-ish twang of "Fifty Miles from the North Pole" is super cool, very mindful of Phil Manzanera's magical "Listen Now" album, a unique British form of pop-prog that is sadly very understated and yet highly interesting. The atmosphere is lush and dense, a brooding sense of foreboding and I daresay, danger that is ultimately quite thrilling. There is so much genial instrumental activity here: violin, didgeridoo, trumpet, choir voices and double bass. Steve launches a series of blistering bleeds, typical of his slow-hand style, a master of simple complexity (or is it complex simplicity?). The sparkling "El Nino" recalls certain themes that wink back at the Genesis days (see if you prog sleuths can pick 'em out), as well as that main theme in Jeff Wayne's classic War of the Worlds album, the disturbingly ominous orchestrations that instill a sense of dread. There is also a brazen classical lift that many will recognize. It's all very fun.

Another bend in the road takes the listener to "Other Side of the Wall", perhaps referring to a nostalgic revisit of a 'garden wall' that started this trespassed nursery cryme that sold England by the pound until the Lamb lied down on Broadway. I, perhaps contrary to other critics, found this simple, minimalist piece quite revealing and deeply engaging. Again this segues nicely into a pleasant frolic with the flamenco-tinged "Anything but Love", not really outright prog but this is a perennial Hackett trait. He actually plays harmonica quite well and his extended electric guitar solo adds the necessary fizz to make this sparkle in the rain.

"Inca Terra" is another major highlight, a perfectly constructed prog-rock epic that encapsulates the Hackett musical credo, offering a wide panorama of stylistic twists and turns , quirky vocal harmonics, immediate melodies that need little deciphering , a gentle pace and unforeseen evolution into the deepest progressive rock recesses. Kudos here to vocalist Nad Sylvan, who really shows his mettle, crafting a convincing body of sound. But when Steve unleashes his fiery guitar, the path becomes increasingly clear, the man is quite the legend.

Discovering traditional roots has always been a Hackett tradition, so "In Another Life" offers the Troy Donockley Celtic treatment on his Uilleann pipes, firmly allied with Steve's fluid and ripping guitar lead, this piece strangely sounding almost like a Mike Oldfield composition. Lots of ebb and flow, misty melancholia and cinematic atmosphere.

The windswept "In the Skeleton Gallery" revives the oft-quoted Kashmirian essence, blushed with those slightly Saharan orchestrations, fortified by a pummeling binary pulse and some bewildering wind instrument (clarinet, I believe) work from Rob Townsend. Sinewy, bold and comforting, the track takes the listener into the upper levels of imagery and sound detail. The second section goes in an altogether different realm, an odd marching military pace amid swirling strings and a hard rock denouement that does the trick. Hackett as his most creative and spectacular, taking risks and be damned.

The sweeping euphoria of "West to East" recalls the tormented symphonics of past jewels like "In Memoriam", loaded with colossal contrasts and bombastic expanses. In many ways, archetypal of what makes Hackett an original and dedicated artist, with his very own style and with little need to dilly-dally about. Roger King again shows off his remarkable composing and arranging. The rather upbeat Floydian style is a pure skill that really hits the mark.

The album draws to an end with "The Gift", an affectionate portrayal of the patented Hackett tone, all slippery and emotional. The master of sustain and thrill. And consistently so?. A thoroughly entertaining and professional work from the guitarist who needs no more accolades, "I know what I like" and I choose to like it a lot.

4 blaring eves

Report this review (#1720761)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not a kind of Steve's fan that loves everything he does. So, I'm far from being auto-buyer of Steve's albums. I bought this album after reading a long list of cool collaborators, samples on YouTube, some reviews and in anticipation of a great 5.1 Blu-Ray sound. Yes, I'm 5.1 sucker and collector! :) I was really disappointed! I don't want to write too much about music: other people here did it already. I just want to say I liked it more than I expected. However, the sound and mix SUCK, big time! This so-called "Blu-Ray" "DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio" sounds worse than miserable Dolby Digital DVDs from 1990! Drums virtually non-exists! They are barely audible, and what you hear deep beneath layers of vocals, guitar and keys sounds like kids play on toy drums. Slapping and hissing. Bass guitar is also not there. The only good news is vocals, guitar and keyboard parts are audible. Overall mix sounds like some bad troll grabbed the master tape before it was transferred to DVD and CD and cut all low and high frequencies. Sorry, maybe this is just me, but I can't fully enjoy music that sounds that miserable! As of 5.1, I noticed some sound was coming from rare speakers just a couple of times. Channel separation is poor: instrument parts scattered among channels , everything comes from all channels most of the time, including voice that supposed to come from the center. If you don't trust me, just spin anything else, like, for instance latest The Tangent opus (which is not exactly audiophile quality, but much better sounding!), to hear the big difference! Did Steve listen to this product before releasing it? Probably not, because, according to reviews, people don't give a damn about it. :( Overall: Music: - 4. One of the best Steve's albums with a lot of good tunes, details and nuances. Sound: - 2. The bad mix killed this excellent alum!
Report this review (#1789157)
Posted Friday, September 29, 2017 | Review Permalink

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