Steve Hackett — The Night Siren
(Inside Out Music 88985410462, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-22
Steve Hackett has been making music long enough that he knows what he wants and he knows how to get there. And while in his case, that journey doesn’t involve crazy flights of avant-garde improvisation or experimental electronics, he brings to bear impeccable taste, technique, and imagination coupled with the experience and assurance to pull a project together and make it work beautifully. The Night Siren is undoubtedly Hackett’s work, and anyone who’s heard many of his solo releases will recognize it instantly, not just from his distinctive guitar playing, but from the way pieces are put together. And while a listener could say that in 2017 we don’t need another album that sounds essentially the same as Spectral Mornings, they would be missing the point, and missing out on some great music. First of all, Spectral Mornings is a really good record that holds up very well after nearly 40 years. And second of all, while The Night Siren is similar in many ways to that classic album, it does have plenty to offer on its own. “Fifty Miles from the North Pole” is a case in point, bringing together an almost Porcupine Tree-like heavy riff with slippery Indian-inflected strings, a children’s choir, didgeridoo, and a jazzy trumpet, but still sounding like Steve Hackett. It also has some outstanding soloing, illustrating that even when he’s approaching shred-level speed, he sounds like no one else. Maybe “Let me show you how it’s done, kids” isn’t among his motivations, but it’s certainly among the impressions a listener gets. Yes, kids, this is how it’s done. The balance of delicate acoustic sections with heavier parts is masterfully done, and Hackett has a way of presenting an achingly beautiful song like “Other Side of the Wall” so it manages to never slip into precious sentimentality. The integration of latin percussion which began back in the 70s continues, something which few artists have managed to do so seamlessly. Even the evocation of Andean folk music on “Inca Terra” doesn’t seem out of place, nor do the harmonica in “Anything but Love” or the Uilleann pipes in “In Another Life.” It is glorious to see a master craftsman at the top of his game, and that’s exactly what we have on The Night Siren.
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more