Steve Hackett – Under A Mediterranean Sky
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 21/01/2021
Running Time: 51:14
Review by Chris Galea
I first met and interviewed Steve Hackett about 20 years ago, the day before he was due to perform in Malta for the first time. The theatre where we met was (and is) one of the oldest enclosed theatres in the world. As the interview ended and we strolled into the streets of Valletta, black dust filled the air and car alarms kept going off. The Etna volcano in nearby Sicily was erupting and winds were blowing the volcanic ash southwards. Both of us were fascinated at that unusual sight.
Since then, Steve Hackett has performed in Malta, and indeed in other Mediterranean countries, several times and his fascination with the area’s quirks, history and ways of life has given rise to this album.
With “Under A Mediterranean Sky”, Hackett has coalesced his feelings for the Mediterranean into music form. There are no lyrics…the music provides all the stories…and the album is largely dependent on acoustic instruments.
Basically, each composition in the album represents a country that lies around the Mediterranean Sea, from south European to north African territories to the Middle East and all in between. For example, ‘Scarlatti Sonata’ has a Spanish flavour to it – it is one of the album tracks consisting entirely of acoustic guitar. ‘The Memory Of Myth’, on the other hand, mixes folk guitar with orchestral instruments to evoke images of ancient Greece – and the resulting effect is magical. ‘The Dervish And The Djin’ contains some spooky Middle Eastern melodies and uses a range of string and wind instruments in addition to hand percussion accompaniments.
Closing the album, ‘The Call Of The Sea’ is a haunting track dedicated to the Mediterranean itself. The arpeggios flowing up and down the guitar neck symbolise the sea’s waves. Some grand orchestrations within this composition reminded me of the countless days – and nights – that I spent lying by the same sea simply listening to the music created by the waves as they brushed against the shore. Such are the evocative qualities of this album!
“Under A Mediterranean Sky” is prevalently romantic in nature but also contains several moments of drama. Despite recurring elements all tracks have their own personality. Credit for this is due to Steve Hackett’s enduring talent as a composer. Case in point is the opening track ‘Mdina (The Walled City)’. Mdina (pronounced ‘Imdina’) is a Maltese city that has changed little since the time of Christ – the composition’s cinematic orchestrations alternating with Hackett’s folk guitar have a spirit that’s unmistakably Maltese.
It’s hard to fault the quality of these tracks. Ever since the time he played with Genesis, Steve Hackett has regularly crafted albums around guiding themes, but he has also proved that there are many ways to go about doing that.
I know, this publication is called ‘Ever Metal’ and although Hackett has often been involved in Metal and Rock music before, there’s none of that here. But who cares! Good music is still good music, no matter the genre.
‘Mdina (The Walled City) (Official Audio)
01. Mdina (The Walled City)
02. Adriatic Blue
04. Joie de Vivre
05. The Memory Of Myth
06. Scarlatti Sonata
07. Casa del Fauno
08. The Dervish And The Djin
10. Andalusian Heart
11. The Call Of The Sea
Steve Hackett – Nylon, Steel String & Twelve String Guitars, Charango, Iraqi Oud ( Tracks 1 – 11)
John Hackett – Flute (Track 7)
Roger King – Keyboards, Programming & Orchestral Arrangements (Tracks 1 – 11)
Malik Mansurov – Tar (Tracks 3, 8)
Arsen Petrosyan – Duduk (Track 8)
Christine Townsend – Violin (Tracks 5, 10)
Rob Townsend – Soprano Sax (Track 8)
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