Steve Hackett

Beyond the Shrouded Horizon

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At 61, Steve Hackett continues to fly the flag of early Genesis-style British progressive rock on his ambitious 2011 studio album, Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. He reminds listeners of his majestic approach to electric guitar playing at the outset on "Loch Lomond," and then alternates the heavy rock playing with delicate acoustic work, starting with the brief "Wanderlust," actually an introduction to the longer "Til These Eyes." Some of the songs have vocals with ethereal lyrics, on which Hackett's modest singing voice is supported by several others, including that of his brother, co-songwriter, and flute player John Hackett. A Middle Eastern flavor is added on "Waking to Life" (with guitarist Amanda Lehmann on vocals), while "Looking for Fantasy" has a stately, classical feel, with Hackett contributing nylon-string guitar, leading into the Renaissance-styled "Summer's Breath." But "Catwalk," which follows, is one of the disc's more raucous rockers, and the nearly 12-minute "Turn This Island Earth" encapsulates many of the styles that have gone before. The album's first disc is accompanied by a second CD running just under 29 minutes that is more of a guitar showcase, with vocals only on a couple of tracks. Again, Hackett alternates full-on rockers with soft acoustic passages, even pausing in mid-disc for the classical piece "Pieds en l'Air," composed by Peter Warlock. The album ends with the martial rhythms of "Eruption: Tommy" and another shredding extravaganza, "Reconditioned Nightmare." The guitarist remains at the peak of his powers, and if listeners have heard much of this kind of thing before, they are not likely to be disappointed by hearing more of it. [Beyond the Shrouded Horizon is also available in a release that includes only the first disc.]

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