Hackett, Steve - To Watch The Storms

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMA 2058-2/SPV 085-65732
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:28:00

To Watch The Storms is an adult album, though one doesn't have to be forty-something (or older) to appreciate it; one just has to have reached a certain level of emotional or intellectual maturity. Accepting of the fact that you are getting older, and, you hope, a little wiser. That is, if you are still struggling through your restlessness of youth ? regardless of your chronological age ? then you might find To Watch The Storms far too mellow and laidback. To Watch The Storms is adult in terms of being stately, but not stuffy (the quirky and dark "The Devil Is An Englishman" -- another example of Hackett's dry and droll British humour --; the tribal-march and middle-eastern motifs of "The Silk Road;" and the cheerful, happy, and danceable medieval-folk "Come Away" will dispel that); elegant but not haughty. Hackett isn't morose or gloomy ? rather the music reflects someone who is happy and content, yet just a bit wistful. A sense of nostalgia permeates many of the album's tracks, resulting in something that is often delicate and subdued ? perhaps no more so than on "Frozen Statues," a brief, somber, moody, late-night-in-hotel-lounge like piece that one could imagine a crooner like Frank Sinatra singing while in a particularly blue mood; or on "Wind, Sand and Stars," a solo acoustic guitar piece that soon becomes more classically influenced, with piano in the lead, backed by strings. The overall tone of the album is one of amused detachment. Not that Steve Hackett seems distant from the music itself, but that he is remarking upon things "over there," regardless of whether that "over there" is spatial or in time. "Strutton Ground," which opens the album, is a mellow piece that harks back to an earlier time, recalling both Camel and Hackett's The Voyage Of The Acolyte. That doesn't mean it sounds dated. One gets this same feeling from the wistful "This World" ? a father seeing his daughter grown up and out on her own.

"Frozen Statues" is followed up by the angular and dark "Mechanical Bride," a piece that would seem more in character with latter day King Crimson (at least to me) than Hackett. Here Hackett tears things up with jagged and acidic guitar bursts, soon leading the rest of the band into frenzied, industrial workout full of squeaks and rust and grit (so it's not all somber reflection). That band includes Roger King on piano, organ, synth, and vocoder; Rob Townsend on brass, woodwind, whistles and "one man Serpentine chorus marching band;" Terry Gregory on vocals, basses, pedals and "thunder;" and Gary O'Toole on vocals, acoustic and electronic drums, and "percussion with regular and ferocious beatings!"

"Brand New" begins with acoustic guitar, as does the earlier "Wind, Sand And Stars," but becomes a much more lively, rocking piece that Hackett's playing a fiery solo that seems taken more from straight ahead rock than prog. "Rebecca" is mostly a lyrical and pastoral piece, though there is a section where percussion by way of electronic drums ? and an excellent use of them, too ? comes to the forefront. Hackett, of course, solos beautifully here again, in another piece that underscores the underlying mood of the album. The instrumental "The Moon Under Water" is a shimmery and liquid solo acoustic guitar piece with Hackett as wandering minstrel playing on the shores of gently rippling lake, the music and air warm and romantic, quite evocative of the imagery that the title suggests. "The Serpentine Song," featuring Hackett's brother John trilling beautifully on flute, is lovely pastoral song that wends its way around your ears, ending the album on a bright and warm note, even though the lyrics describe a rainy day (metaphor, of course).

To Watch The Storms is an album that works its charms on you slowly; details emerging with each subsequent listen ? as all good albums should do. It's an album that leaves you in a good place, peaceful and content? and maybe just a little bit wistful. Excellent.

Strutton Ground (3:04) / Circus Of Becoming (3:48) / The Devil Is An Englishman (4:27) / Frozen Statues (2:58) / Mechanical Bride (6:40) / Wind, Sand And Stars (5:08) / Brand New (4:41) / This World (5:19) / Rebecca (4:20) / The Silk Road (5:25) / Come Away (3:13) / The Moon Under Water (2:14) / Serpentine Song (6:56)

The special edition adds four additional tracks: Pollution B / Fire Island / Marijuana, Assassin Of Youth / If You Only Knew

Steve Hackett - vocals, guitar, optigan, harmonica, koto, rain stick, chimes, quatro
Roger King - piano, organ, synthesizer, vocoder, programming
Rob Townsend - brass, woodwind, whistles & one-man serpentine chorus machine
Terry Gregory - vocals, basses, pedals & thunder
Gary O? Toole - vocals, acoustics & electric drums, percussion
John Hackett - flute solo (13)
Ian McDonald - sax (7)
Jeanne Downs - backing vocals
Sarah Wilson - cello
Howard Gott - violin

Genesis - Nursery Crime (1971)
Genesis - Foxtrot (1972)
Genesis - Live (1973)
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)
Genesis - Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975)
Genesis - Wind And Wuthering (1976)
Genesis - Trick Of The Tail (1976)
Genesis - Seconds Out (1977)
Please Don't Touch (1978)
Spectral Mornings (1979)
Defector (1980)
Cured (1981)
Highly Strung (1983)
Bay Of Kings (1983)
Til We Have Faces (1983)
GTR - GTR (1986)
Momentum (1988)
Genesis - Three Sides Live (1982)
Genesis - Genesis Archive 1967-75 (1988)
Time Lapse (1992)
The Unauthorised Biography (1992)
Guitar Noir (1994)
Blues With A Feeling (1994)
There Are Many Sides To The Night (1994)
A Midsummer's Night Dream (1997)
Watcher Of The Skies: Genesis Revisited (1997)
The Tokyo Tapes (1997)
Darktown (1999)
Genesis - Genesis - Turn It On Again (1999)
Sketches Of Satie (2000) (w/John Hackett)
Feedback '86 (2000)
Genesis - Genesis Archive #2 (2000)
Live Archive 70s 80s 90s (2001)
Live Archive - Newcastle (2001)
To Watch The Storms (2003)
Live Archive NEARfest (2003)
Live Archive 03 (2004)
Live Archive 04 (2004)
Genesis - The Platinum Collection (2004)
Metamorpheus (2005) (w/The Underworld Orchestra)
Live Archive 05 (2005)
Live Archive 83 (2006)
Wild Orchids (2006)
Tribute (2008)
Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth (2010)
Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (2011)
Genesis Revisited II (2012)

Steve Hackett Live (VHS) (1981)
The Tokyo Tapes (DVD) (1998)
Hungarian Horizons - Live In Budapest (DVD) (2003)
Somewhere In South America - Live In Buenos Aires (DVD) (2003)
Once Upon A Time (DVD) (2004)
Spectral Mornings (DVD) (rec 1978; rel 2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 14th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.hackettsongs.com
Hits: 724
Language: english


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