Steve Hackett - At The Edge Of Light

One can only have a look at the output of music Mr Hackett managed in the last decade to find him a very productive musician. Beside his own studio albums (26), live albums (18) and numerous collaborations with other artists/bands like Hungarian Djabe, Dave Kerzner's Continuum, Squackett (with Chris Squire), GTR (with Steve Howe), his brother John and I'm sure I left numerous out. Given the man being on tour with his Genesis Revisited since 2012 (originated from his 1997 idea to do the Tokyo Tapes, where he played Genesis songs live with the creme the la creme of prog (a.o. John Wetton, Ian McDonald, Chester Thompson) it makes you wonder if he perhaps need a SatNav to direct him to his home. 

Now 2019 brings this new album, which we as TVRDO classed as Album of the Month (AOM), another 160 tour dates (mixing the “Selling England by the Pound” album, his first eponymous album as solo artist “Spectral Mornings” and of course his new stuff...) 

‘At The Edge Of The Light’ is, like it's predecessor "The Night Siren" under the influence of "new" music, in that respect a comparison with his former band mate Peter Gabriel springs to mind, also the fact that Hackett is still an explorer of "new" sounds. Again on this album he's using the sitar, didgeridoo, tar and duduk. This makes the album again not stuck in a certain genre, sure it's Progressive but he throws in Blues, Gospel, Classical guitar being Hackett to pieces.  

Hackett explains that while this isn’t a concept album, there is a unity of themes throughout the music. 

“Fallen Walls and Pedestals” has great examples of Hackett’s signature lead style, both melodic and manic(!) which set the scene for what lies ahead, but it appears not to have been finished. I'm missing somethings and at a little over 2 minutes it's the shortest track on the album. “Beasts of our Time” address the subject of darkness and light in the world today, mixing acoustic and strident sections to illustrate the contrasts, the story told by the lyrics and the sound pictures. The layered vocal harmonies on “Under The Eye Of The Sun” give way to some of atmospheric world music elements mentioned above, combined with some very prog keyboard playing. The McBroom sisters’ (Pink Floyd) performance on “Underground Railroad” is a real highlight and one of the first times Steve has brought a gospel style to his music.

Then nealy 12 minutes of epic prog in “Those Golden Wings”. This is a sumptuous offering, with lush orchestration, choir and 12-string guitar supporting his lead vocals. It also features some of the only classical guitar we find on the album. The rhythm section of Nick D’Virgilio on drums and Reingold’s bass is particularly rewarding while Hackett offers the closing solo. This is certainly one of the highlights on the album.

"Shadow and Flame” has the real deal with Sheema Mukherjee on sitar, also accompanied by tabla. These wonderful, traditional instruments meet Hackett’s and co-writer/arranger Roger King’s standard approach to orchestration and percussion, and might even have a George Harrison feel to it.

The final three tracks should be listed to as a whole drawing everything you have been listening to before to a close. We find dark and militairy rhythm like chords in "Descent" which flows into "Conflict" with speeding and furious rhythms and percussion. The track ends with fading strings and a piano is mixed in to become the final part of this section called “Peace”. Then a voice which echoes into a choir with hopeful lyrics. The band joins in and have the song raised with a perfectly harmonized guitar section which leads to a lyrical closing solo. If the rest of the album did not move you in anyway, these closing tracks must certainly do. 

Mr. Hackett will celebrate his 69th birthday on the 12th of February.

© 2019 Jens Bertjens