STEVE HACKETT – At The Edge Of Light (2019)
“At The Edge Of Light” is former Genesis STEVE HACKETT twenty sixth studio album (!) about which the pre-release publicity emphasizes Steve’s ‘world music‘ preferences. While on the album he continues his penchant for incorporating musicians and instruments from around the world, they all come under the umbrella of Hackett’s progressive rock roots to create an album so diverse and so damn good it rendered me speechless if I’m honest – I just sat and looked at the speakers and mouthed the word “wow”…
Eighteen months in gestation, “At The Edge Of Light” is a reflection of Steve’s world view in all its wonder and horror and features all the usual suspects – Roger King (keys, etc.), Jonas Reingold (bass), Gary O’Toole (drums), Rob Townsend (saxes, clarinet, etc.) and brother John on flute – but also the likes of Nick D’Virgilio & Simon Phillips (drums), Sheema Mukherjee (sitar), and sister-in-law Amanda Lehmann (vocals). Musicians’ musicians every one of them.
The ‘world music’ shows its hand in opener ‘Fallen Walls And Pedestals’ with its middle Eastern vibe and pounding drums a great counterpoint to ‘that’ guitar. However, don’t be fooled: this is progressive music.
‘Beasts In Our Time’ has one of those pastoral acoustic openings that Hackett does so well only to segué into an anthemic orchestral riff and electric soloing of the highest order – prog with all its ducks in a row.
The middle-eastern theme recurs in ‘Under The Eye Of The Sun’ together with outstanding bass work from Jonas Reingold and we visit the southern USA on ‘Underground Railway’ with Steve’s dobro sounding like a National Steel on a great riff – the station where blues meets prog…
For me, the zenith of this album comes on the eleven minutes of Hackett heaven of ‘Those Golden Wings’, which constantly shifts between gentle, orchestral backed vocals to a real ear-worm of a riff, to a Carmina Burana-esque choral section to be finally resolved with a three minute guitar solo that will drop your jaw. Amazing.
North African rhythms and an Indian flavour dominate ‘Shadow And Flame’ and Hackett allows us to draw breath with the light relief of ‘Hungry Years’ before the malevolent triptych of war and peace ‘Descent’, ‘Conflict’ and ‘Peace’ bring the album to a close.
In his long and distinguished career at the forefront of everything that’s good about progressive rock, Steve Hackett has consistently delivered albums of the highest calibre in a genre blessed with the finest musicians.
With ‘At The Edge Of Light’ he’s taken even his exceptional abilities to another level.
01. Fallen Walls and Pedestals
02. Beasts in Our Time
03. Under the Eye of the Sun
04. Underground Railroad
05. Those Golden Wings
06. Shadow and Flame
07. Hungry Years
Steve Hackett – electric & acoustic guitars, charango, sitar, harmonica, vocals
Durga, Loreley, Amanda Lehmann – vocals
Jonas Reingold – bass
Nick D’Virgilio, Simon Phillips, Gary O’Toole – drums
Gulli Briem – drums, percussion
Dick Driver – double bass
Roger King – keyboards, programming, mixing & mastering
Ben Fenner – keyboards
Malik Mansurov – tar
Sheema – sitar
Paul Stillwell – didgeridoo
Rob Townsend – sax, bass clarinet, duduk
John Hackett – flute
Christine Townsend – violin, viola