A marvellous achievement from one of the UK’s most innovative rock musicians…
Released on 24 March 2017 through Inside Out Music and reviewed by Dean Pedley
The last few years may have seen Steve Hackett heavily revisiting his Genesis years but his desire to release new material still holds steadfast with The Night Siren (incredibly his twenty-fifth solo album) being a relatively swift follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed Wolflight. The roll call of collaborators reveals a real embarrassment of riches with the likes of Roger King, Gary O’Toole and Nad Sylvan from his live band included alongside numerous musicians from around the globe – part of Hackett’s theme for the album of celebrating multicultural unity and diversity. And so Israeli and Palestinian singers rub shoulders with a multitude of instrumentalists from Iceland, Azerbaijan and elsewhere with even Nightwish’ Troy Donockley popping up to add a Celtic flavour with his Uilleann pipes on ‘In Another Life’. Underpinning the whole album of course is Hackett’s exquisite virtuoso guitar work which, like the finest of vintage wines, seems to grow ever more impressive with each passing year and ensures The Night Siren will surely come to be regarded as one his finest accomplishments.
Opening the album is ‘Behind the Smoke’ and Hackett really throws the kitchen sink at this one; powerful ‘Kashmir’ inspired orchestration trades places with his sky bound solos against a backdrop of Eastern European mysticism highlighted by Malik Mansurov’s tar and Amanda Lehmann’s dreamy vocal. Continuing Wolflight’s adventurous exploration of combining ancient music elements with those found in the present ‘Martian Sea’ is driven along by the sitar and the other-worldly, languid, ‘Fifty Miles from the North Pole’ recalls the frozen landscapes of the Artic, taking its lead from a show Hackett and his band played in Iceland.
Every track may appear to have something thematically different going on but The Night Siren still presents a cohesive end result which is a significant part of its appeal. The instrumental ‘El Nino’ successfully combines tribal drumming with powerful guitars and swirling orchestration to create an undercurrent of turbulence and chaos and ‘Inca Terra’ sees Nad Sylvan and Amanda Lehmann combine for a Peruvian Cloud Forest inspired song that moves through the ‘Musical Box’ like whimsy of the middle section before Hackett’s explosive guitar cuts through. Anyone who has ever suffered from night terrors may want to skip the sinister ‘In the Skeleton Gallery’ with its nightmare journey into the authors childhood memories but is followed by a the elegiac ‘West to East’ which is a musical cousin to the opening song and offers a heartfelt and sincere hymn for peace amongst the chaos. With so many different elements it will be fascinating to see Hackett present the album in live performance and the upcoming UK tour will see songs from The Night Siren included alongside Genesis classics. Released on 24 March through Inside Out Music, The Night Siren is a marvellous achievement from one of the UK’s most innovative rock musicians.
9 out of 10
- Behind the Smoke
- Martian Sea
- Fifty Miles from the North Pole
- El Niño
- Other Side of the Wall
- Anything but Love
- Inca Terra
- In Another Life
- In the Skeleton Gallery
- West to East
- The Gift