Wolflight – Steve Hackett
I have always been into Steve Hackett’s music since I got into Genesis back in the 70’s and many would say that his first 4 albums are amongst his best work to which I would say the first 3 certainly had more of a solid body of material that was written for them and I do also like his 4th album Defector. But over the years of buying his albums I have got something from every one of them and it was back in 2011 after buying his 21st studio album Beyond The Shrouded Horizon I sort of lost track of him. I did buy the second Genesis Revisited album he put out in 2012 and even though that is classed as his 22nd studio album I see that has more of a compilation of Genesis material and not so much the music from his own solo career.
I blame Soundcloud for losing track of many artists material because I spent much more of my time making music of my own and collaborating with many others on it during 2011 – 2016/17. I did however still buy his live concerts he released on DVD & Blu Ray and I always like to watch a live concert and having more recently been back into my record collection and updating it over the past couple of years and the fact that I did see that he was releasing Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra: Live at the Royal Festival Hall last October to which I have just reviewed, made me check out the last 3 studio albums he had released between 2015 – 2019.
I also purchased all 3 of his last studio albums back in October that I never had and was very well surprised to see that Hackett was now entering into the 5.1 surround market and for a surround FREAK! like myself this was much more of an enticing reason for me to buy them. The other thing that is also very good about them is the way they have been presented with high quality packaging and no expense has been spared here at all. However, there is something very disappointing about Steve Hackett’s 23rd studio album Wolflight, but before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.
The Packaging & Artwork…
Both discs come in a high quality thick cardboard Mediabook which is the same material used to make an hardback book. Clear plastic trays on the left and right panels hold the discs firmly in place and it comes with a 20-page fixed booklet and is a very neat and attractive quality package. The book comes with all the linear credit production notes and lyrics, it also comes with 10 high resolution photographs that are associated with the 10 tracks that was written for the album. The only down side is that the book does mostly consist of photographs and hardly includes any informative information.
The album was released in 4 media formats that come in the form of a Digital Download. A Double Vinyl LP + CD Limited package (now out of print). A CD only edition and a Mediabook that includes a CD & Blu Ray. Being a Surround FREAK! the Mediabook was my preferred choice and I purchased it from Amazon UK for a bargain price of £11.30 and at that price it’s a steal for a quality package like this. It does normally retail at around the £17 mark.
The design and layout were done by Harry Pearce and the photographic artwork was done by Maurizio and Angéla Vicedomini. The interesting thing about the albums front cover is that it shows Steve Hackett crouched down with a pack of wolves and most people would probably think the photograph had been done in Photoshop.
But the photograph is genuine and Hackett (apart from the light of day which was altered) did have his photograph taken with real wolves and spent a good bit of time with the wolves for them to get used to his scent for the photo shoot to be taken. Like much of the photography and artwork in the mediabook it’s quite stunning and looks even more impressive on the Blu Ray disc itself.
Wolflight Album In Review…
Steve Hackett’s 23rd studio album Wolflight was released on the 30th March 2015 in the UK and on the 7th April in the US. The album contains 12 tracks (counting a couple of bonus tracks) spanned over an overall playing time of 62 minutes, 56 seconds and his is first original solo studio album since Beyond The Shrouded Horizon in 2011. It’s a album that Hackett got quite excited about and called it his best album, though I am sure many artists would say the same thing about their latest albums they had produced at the time.
The one thing I will say about Hackett’s music is that since he got together with his other half Jo his music does tend to have more of a film soundtrack feel about it and I think a lot of the inspiration for his music comes from the exotic places he goes to visit with her all over the world. He’s also introducing more of World Music into his style by using different instrumentation, though that is not that unusual for him and in the past on his 3rd album Spectral Mornings for example he did add some oriental flavour with the use of the koto. On this particular album he also played some instruments he had never used and played before such as the Oud and the Tiple and brought in other musicians with other instrumentation.
The one thing Hackett as always retained is his own style though I would say there is also a different approach to some of his song writing these days and this is an album that does contain some very well written songs upon it, and some maybe heading in more of a popular direction and approach in how he has gone about things.
Much of the material for the album was written and recorded between 2012 – 2014 and the album was put together in sections on paper like a plan or like storyboarding a film. It was also made whilst Hackett was selling his house and studio and 11 of the tracks were recorded and mixed by his long-time keyboard player Roger King at Map Studios in London. King also mastered the album there too.
To be perfectly honest I am not 100% sure this is the right studio but it is the only recording studio that goes under the name of “Map Studio” though it is also known as Map Studio Cafe because there is also a cafe in the premises too and is situated in Kentish Town, London. It also has live recording rooms as well and the studio was founded in 1990 and over the years has played host to artists such as Skip Mcdonald, Roots Manuva, Miss Dynamite, Dawn Penn and others and I cannot say I have heard of any of them :))))).
If this is not the recording studio, they used the only other logical thing I can think of is that Steve Hackett’s own home studio was also called Map Studios. The final bonus track on the album was recorded and mixed by Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson in Hungary and some of the instrumentation from a couple of the musicians were also recorded in Hungary by Tamas Barabas down to Hackett’s connections with the band Djabe he has collaborated with.
The Blu Ray.
The Blu Ray’s main menu looks pristine and stunning and a lot better than the artwork on the vinyl album and CD and some HD film footage of the clouds in the background add a GREAT” touch to it. It’s a lot better than the pictures I took of it too and looks more lifelike especially on my 50″ UHD 4K TV. The menu itself presents you with 4 options “Play Album”. “Track Select”. “Audio Select” and “Interviews.
Navigating through the menu options is simple enough and by clicking on the “Track Select” a menu drops down displaying all the tracks without having to load to another menu screen as you can see in the picture above.
The “Audio Select” gives you the choice of 3 audio soundtracks 2 of which are surround mixes and by default the audio is set to the DTS Master 5.1 mix. There is also a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a LPCM Stereo mix. Only the main 10 tracks that make up the original album have the option of all 3 audio soundtracks and the 2 bonus tracks are in Stereo only. All 3 formats are in 24 bits & 48K.
The “Interview” section contains the extra bonus material and all 3 interviews are of Steve Hackett talking about the making of the album. The first of which is a 7-minute interview of him discussing the recording of the album. The 2nd is of him discussing the artwork and comes with a running time of 7 minutes, 18 seconds. The final interview is the longest and he discusses each track on the album and it has a running time of 31 minutes, 24 seconds.
All the interviews were filmed by Paul Green of Film 24 Productions and are very useful for informative information especially has the 20-page booklet did not provide hardly any at all and was mostly pictures.
Whilst the music is playing it displays a different hi resolution picture for each track. These are the same images that are also in the Mediabook and once again they look pristine and much better on the Blu Ray. The Blu Ray authoring was done by Ray Schulman and he’s done a TOP JOB! on the menus.
The 5.1 Mix.
So far everything about this whole package is of pristine high quality and it’s such a shame that something has to let it down especially for somebody like myself who is a surround FREAK! The 5.1 mix is the biggest reason for me buying most music these days and it does entice me to buy these types of packages a lot more than any other format. Since I have been into surround from 1994 onwards, I have come across many really bad 5.1 mixes. But I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever encountered one as bad as this for what it actually does to the album.
To be perfectly honest whenever I buy a package like this that comes with a Blu Ray or DVD and is accompanied by a CD in the same package. It’s very rare I will ever play the CD. I do rip them onto my hard drive so I can listen to them on my computer when I am working away on it, and on rare occasions I may play the CD to test it out for a review I am doing of the album, especially if the CD is the only thing that contains the new mixes. But I will always play the 5.1 mix first most of the time.
Now both the stereo and surround mixes were done by Roger King and I think this was his very first attempt to do a 5.1 surround mix and as a rule Benedict Fenner does the surround mixes on most of Hackett’s live Blu Ray & DVD releases and apart from the surround mixes Steve Wilson done of Hackett’s first 4 studio albums I do not recall any other of Hackett’s studio albums being given a 5.1 mix until the release of Wolflight and the 2 studio albums that followed it.
Having put the Blu Ray in my player and playing the 5.1 mix I experienced one of the most abysmal experiences I think I have ever encountered. There was hardly anything coming out the rear channels and whatever was coming out of the front channels made the album sound like the most boring thing I have ever encountered before. At one stage I was going to send it back for a refund because the album did not do one single thing for me or say one single Dickie Bird to me and it was completely BORING!
The following day I decided to play it again and I got exactly the same thing and it sounded like there was a ton of things missing from the mix. I even put on other 5.1 content to check my system out to make sure there was nothing wrong my end. It was then that I decided to play the stereo mix and as soon as I did, I started to enjoy the album straight away. Like I said I have come across some really bad surround mixes before but I can honestly say I have never come across one like this where it sounds like half of the tracks are missing and it made it sound boring and diabolical.
I have no idea what Roger King was trying to achieve here but he’s completely COCKED-UP! the surround mix and its unplayable. You would have to be completely stoned out of your head or stick a needle in your arm to enjoy the surround mix because it makes the album sound nothing like it supposed too. There is no way I could even give him 1 out of 10 for the job he has done here and it is by far the most diabolical mix I have ever heard in my life LOL…
Musicians & Credits…
Produced by Steve Hackett & Roger King. All compositions by Steve Hackett (except tracks 2, 7 & 8 by Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett. Tracks 4 & 5 by Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett / Roger King. Track 9 by Steve Hackett / Roger King. Track 12 by Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson / Steve Hackett). All tracks Recorded & Mixed by Roger King at Map Studios between 2012 – 2014 except (Track 12 Recorded & Mixed by Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson. Malok Mansurov & Sarah Kovács recorded in Hungary by Tamas Barabas. Mastered by Roger King at Map Studios. Blu Ray Mastering by Peter Van’t Riet at Fine Tune. 5.1 surround Mix by Roger King. Design by Harry Pearce. Photographic artwork by Maurizio and Angéla Vicedomini.
Steve Hackett: Guitars – Lead / Harmony & Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 & 10). Oud (Tracks 5 & 9). Tiple (Track 7). Banjo (Track 8). Harmonica (Tracks 4 & 8). Percussion (Tracks 1, 4 & 7).
Roger King: Keyboards & Programming.
Nick Beggs: Bass (All tracks except 3). Chapman Stick (Track 8).
Gary O’Tool: Drums (Tracks 1, 2, 3 4, 5 & 8).
Rob Townsend: Saxophone (Tracks 4 & 8). Dudek (Track 5).
Christine Townsend: Violin & Viola (Tracks 1 2, 3, 4 & 8).
Chris Squire: Bass (Track 3).
Hugo Degenhardt: Drums (Tracks 9 & 10).
Amanda Lehmann: Vocals (Tracks 2, 3, 4 & 8).
Malik Mansurov: Tar (Track 2).
Sara Kovács: Didgeridoo (Track 2).
Jo Hackett: Vocals (Track 4).
The Album Tracks In Review…
The album Wolflight is an album where everything merges and collides and breaks down barriers between cultures, human and animal worlds according to Steve Hackett. Much of the concept was inspired by the 20 countries he had visited. The album’s title reflects the hour before dawn which is when the wolves hunt and according to himself much of the album was written in the wolf light.
I think since the release of Beyond the Shrouded Horizon back in 2011 Hackett has gone down more of a Cinematic road and approach with his music and that is where some musical aspects have changed slightly. But there is an element of rock that also cuts through all the dramatization with his electric guitar that hardens up some of the smoother edges. Some of the material along the album also puts me in mind of his 2009 album Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth and even Chris Squire who featured on a couple of tracks on that album gets to play on one here. Sadly, it was only a couple of months after the release of this album that he died.
The album flows along like a concept album with how most of the track’s tailspin into one another and much of his regular long-time band are with him. It’s now become a writing team of 3 since he married Jo and she does a good job in contributing to many of the lyrics just like David Gilmour’s other half Polly Samson does for him. Roger King has contributed to the writing for many years and plays a major role in putting Hackett’s albums together more so these days. So now let’s take a look at all the individual tracks on the album as well as the couple of bonus tracks.
Track 1. Out of the Body.
The album opens up with an instrumental track that Steve Hackett wrote and it’s also the shortest track on the album. Right at the start of the intro the wolves are howling hauntingly and the drums and other instrumentation kick in and takes you along in a hurried pace to represent following them along like in dream in the way of a chase. Both Christine Townsend (no relation to Rob) and Roger King take care of the orchestration side of things very well whilst Gary O’Tool and Nick Beggs provide the driving force and pace. Steve Hackett provides the power with his driving rhythm and lead work on his electric guitars, he is also contributing towards the percussion too and it gets the album off to a GREAT! flying start.
Track 2. Wolflight.
The albums self-titled track is one of the 4 lengthier tracks on the album and opens up with Sara Kovács on the didgeridoo and Malik Mansurov playing a tar to which the both musicians were recorded in Hungary by Tamas Barabas the main composer and bass player from the band Djabe. Hackett had seen Mansurov play the instrument whilst he was playing in Budapest and was impressed by the fast speed, he could play it and likened him to a cross between John McLaughlin and Ravi Shankar.
The tar is an instrument that originally originated in Persia in the middle of the 18th century and is associated and shared by many cultures and countries including Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and others near the Caucasus region.
The body is a double-bowl shape carved from mulberry wood, with a thin membrane of stretched lamb-skin covering the top. The fingerboard has twenty-five to twenty-eight adjustable gut frets, and there are three double courses of strings. Its range is about two and one-half octaves, and it is played with a small brass plectrum. Though they can also come with less and even more strings and a different shape depending on the different countries that play them. For example, the Azerbaijani tar has 11 strings and is a slightly different shape from the Persian Tar and was developed from the Persian tar around 1870 by Sadigjan.
The intro takes up all of 33 seconds of the 8 minutes you get here here and then goes into an acoustic section with Hackett on his nylon stringed guitar accompanied by Christine Townsend on violin & viola, Roger King throws in some other orchestration and glistening bells on his keyboards which beautifully take you along for another 20 seconds. Hackett then switches to a 12-string guitar and the vocals come into play and although Amanda Lehmann’s voice is mixed in here in parts her voice is only really lending a bit of support and Hackett does take on all the lead vocals throughout the album apart from one of the bonus tracks.
“Wolflight” is a song that utilises the 12 string, nylon and electric guitar in individual sections of it and Hackett excels on them all and it is also heavily backed up by the drums. percussion and orchestra and are built on GREAT! progression and strong themes throughout. The vocal section in particular reminds me of some of the material we seen on albums like Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth and Wild Orchids which are also quite strong well written Hackett albums and this track is up with the material on those albums and is an excellent piece of work.
The song is credited to both Steve & Jo Hackett and I know his wife contributes to the lyrics though it would not surprise me if Steve himself had an hand in some of these lyrics also because he is excellent with lyrics himself and these are excellent and pertain to the wolves fight for freedom in how their land and their light can be taken up by mankind. It really is GREAT! song and is my personal favourite track and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 3. Love Song to a Vampire.
It’s not unusual for Steve Hackett to do songs about vampires and songs like “Vampyre with a Healthy Appetite” from his 1993 album Guitar Noir and some dark tracks like “Darktown” and “The Devil Is an Englishman” on other albums can have that haunting sense of horror about them too. However, this is perhaps a different appraoch in that it’s a love song to a vampire and was inspired from the film series of The Twilight Saga which was an American romantic fantasy film based on Stephenie Meyer’s 2005 novel of the same name. So, this do have a sweeter way at looking at things especially over the most part of the song and the darker dramatics play more towards the end of the song and Hackett wrote both the music and the lyrics for this one.
It’s the longest track on the album and weighs in at 9 minutes, 17 seconds and starts off very well with the nylon string guitar accompanied by the orchestration provided once again by Christine Townsend and Roger King whilst Hackett and Amanda Lehmann handle the vocal side of things. Hackett also plays a couple of GREAT! lead guitar solos on his electric and the first one is a bit reminiscent to Snowy White’s lead solo work. The second solo is more fat and aggressive and comes into play in the more rocked up section that comes into play after the orchestral dramatized section around the 7:47 mark. It’s also only in that final guitar solo section and during the first guitar solo that Chris Squire’s bass can be really heard more so, and he features on this one track on the album.
Overall a “Love Song to a Vampire” is a fine piece of work that contains some strong themes and is very well dramatized with the orchestral work and it contains some GREAT! lead solo work from Hackett and is a qite a good album track.
Track 4. The Wheels Turning.
It’s all the fun of the fare next and I like these type of songs where you get the good old pipe organ music that is associated with most fairground rides and the fun fare and tracks such as “Carry on up The Vicarage” from his Please Don’t Touch album and the “Circus of Becoming” from To Watch Storms are classics of his. Steve Hackett oddly enough used to work at the fun fare in Battersea in London many moons ago before he became a professional musician, and used to be in charge of the one arm bandit machines in the arcade walking around with his bag of change for those who needed change for the machines. He’s always seen the funfair as a potential danger and would not go on some of the rides such as the high-flying rockets & roller coasters and preferred to keep his feet on the ground.
Mr & Mrs Hackett & Roger king penned this song and the lyrics reflect around the disaster that happened in the early 1970’s when the fairground suffered a major fire killing 5 children and injuring others. I suppose the wheels that are turning here starts the film and rewinds it back to the nightmares he has of the incident and the place.
“The Wheels Turning” has every inch of Hackett’s GREAT! style about it and although it does not remind me of the first of those other two classics songs of his I mentioned it does a bit of the second one and the opening verse in particular has me thinking of “Camino Royale” from his 1983 album Highly Strung and there are other bits of his older material it reminds me of too. His wife gets to add a bit of vocal on this track and this is one of the 3 tracks that his long-time sax and woodwind player Rob Townsend play sax on. Hackett also plays the old Gob Iron (harmonica) at the end of the song too and its very much one of my contenders for the albums TOP SPOT! even though it’s already been grabbed. It really is a GREAT! track.
Track 5. Corycian Fire.
This next track was inspired Hackett’s trip to Greece and the Corycian cave is supposedly the most important spiritual cave in mainland Greece for the ancients. Some called it ‘the golden cave’ because of the way it looked lit by hundreds of torches and there is a ton of other mythical history that has been buried in the place but I won’t go into all that malarkey. The song has a touch of the east and sounds more Egyptian or Arabic but also has a Gothic touch about it too and uses heavy percussion and chanting choir like vocals. Rob Townsend is also on this track and plays the dudek, it’s the first time he’s ever played it and Hackett gets to use the Oud he just brought on the track too.
The oud is a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument with 11 or 13 strings grouped in 5 or 6 courses. It’s commonly used predominantly in the music of the ancient Arabia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Israel and many other places including Turkey and Greece. It looks like they went a bit too far with the neck bending though :))))).
Roger King does all the orchestration on his keyboards on this track and just like the previous one has a part in the writing credits with Steve & Jo. The intro starts with the Hackett on the oud and King accompanies him by playing the harp on the keyboards, he’s also programmed in some eastern stringed sounds which are quite familiar to some of the bowed stringed instruments some of the musicians Peter Gabriel uses for his soundtrack albums and this one does have the mystic eastern vibe that you will hear on Gabriel’s soundtrack album Passion for example.
After the intro the songs opening verse is more Hackett reminiscent and has it progresses along the eastern mystic vibe very much creeps back more so and takes over and the less Hackett like the song gets apart from a bit of a solo he does on the electric guitar to which he also plays a solo on the oud and it’s like they are having a battle with each other and fighting for priority. King also joins in the little battle on the keyboards and then the song goes more gothic to end it all off and is perhaps something more like a scene from the Omen rather than the music that Peter Gabriel did for The Last Temptation of Christ.
Track 6. Earthshine.
A beautiful guitar solo instrumental piece is up next and these days rather than make an albums worth of them he does tend to throw the odd solo into his prog albums and they really light up the album in most cases and this piece certainly does shine and is quite a GEM!. Hackett’s nylon string and acoustic work is really where he gets to show his ability as a guitarist and it brings out the best of him and this is another track on the album, I would put in contention for the albums TOP SPOT!
Track 7. Loving Sea.
Another acoustic song written by Hackett and it was his trip to Mexico that inspired him to write the song. It’s one of those more light hearted relaxed songs like we got to see with some of the material Hackett wrote for his 5th studio album Cured back in 1981. He had also spent a bit of time having some vocal training and he uses 5 part harmonies to sing this one though in all honesty the vocals sound like many of his vocal tracks with the effect he has applied to the vocals and were much the same even back in 1981 on that Cured album. He also plays a Tiple on this track which is another member of the guitar family as you can see below in the picture.
The first mention of the tiple comes from musicologist Pablo Minguet e Irol in 1752. Although many variations of the instrument exist, the tiple is mostly associated with Colombia, and is considered the national instrument of that country. It’s about 18% smaller than a standard classical guitar. The typical fretboard scale is about 530 mm (just under 21 inches) and the neck joins the body at the 12th fret. It looks very much like a smaller version of a 12-string guitar to me. He also uses his electric guitar for some of effects that give the impression of the sea’s waves washing over you.
Track 8. Black Thunder.
“Black Thunder” is another one of the longer tracks and the lyrics are based around the subject matter of black slavery in West Virginia. It’s very much a rock blues song and Hackett also plays banjo and harmonica besides his electric guitar. Both Christine and Rob Townsend return to lend support with the sax and strings which helps to bring in some of the dramatics that come into play later on as the song develops along, and Nick Beggs gets on the Chapman Stick for this one. It’s another of the better powerful tracks on the album and Gary O’Tool injects quite a lot of the power on the drums along with Hackett’s well driven guitar and GREAT! solo work. I like the jazzy ending too that Rob Townsend gives to the piece on the sax too.
Track 9. Dust and Dreams.
Another of the tracks written by Hackett & King and the title very much depicts the desert and this instrumental piece was inspired by the desert in Morocco which is the place where Hackett happened to spot a couple of musicians playing the oud and made him go out and buy one himself.
Both this and next track it leads into features Hugo Degenhardt on the drums and Nick Beggs is playing more of a dominant role on the bass which provides the backbone for Hackett to work his guitar around and for Roger King to fill in the orchestration of the desert flavour on his keyboards. I qutie like this one and Hackett’s solo work is quite tasty in that it does sort of sing to you.
Track 10. Heart Song.
The final of the songs that was written for the album is a love song that Hackett wrote for his wife. It effectively works as a Segway in transporting you from the desert onto the beach and besides singing some loving words he also throws some lovely guitar solos and it winds off the album very well.
Track 11. Pneuma.
The first of the bonus tracks is another delightful instrumental piece played by Hackett on the nylon guitar. Pneuma is an ancient Greek word for “breath” although this is perhaps more associated with Spain with how he’s playing here and it really is another little GEM! and excellent bonus track to have. It’s another contender for the albums TOP SPOT! even though it was not really written for the album.
Track 12. Midnight Sun.
The final bonus track was written by Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson & Steve Hackett and was done with the Icelandic band Todmobile. Thorvaldsson is the real name of the bands guitarist who goes under the sudo name Þorvaldur B. Þorvaldsson. This is the only track on the album that Hackett does not sing on and the bands main singer Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson takes on the vocals. He bumped into the band when he went to see them live playing songs by the Yes with the original singer of that band Jon Anderson in the previous year in 2014 and that’s how he got to do this song with them.
It’s quite a good song and parts of the vocal melody line remind me of the Blind Faith song “Can’t Find My Way Back Home“. Although it perhaps could even sound like a bit of a cross between GTR & Asia in some respects too in that it has a bit more of a popular feel about it.
To sum up Steve Hackett’s 23rd studio album Wolflight, I think overall it’s a very good album but not by any means a solid one but then again solid albums are more of the rarer breed perhaps, but if you enjoyed albums like Wild Orchids, Out Of The Tunnels Mouth and Beyond The Shrouded Horizon I cannot see why you would not like this album even if I do not think it’s quite on par with those 3 albums I mentioned.
I do get the feeling that Hackett is heading in more of a dramatic direction with his music and also introducing more orchestral and other world music instrumentation to try and give you something a bit different. But his formidable style is still very much reminiscent and manages to breath freely and cut through it all.
To be honest I myself I am not so keen on a lot of world music and I’m not that keen on some of its instrumentation either, especially with how certain instruments sound such as tar’s and sitars for example. But they are OK! in small doses and I do think they can help to be a bit more creative in some respects too.
Thankfully they are only used in small doses and the one thing that helps this album a lot is that you do get a good dollop of Hackett’s acoustic playing throughout the album and that is where he does really excel and shine. The combination of both acoustic and electric guitars works extremely well on this album too. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Wolflight“. “Earthshine“. “The Wheels Turning“. “Out of the Body“. “Dust and Dreams” and I would also include the bonus track “Pneuma“.
In conclusion Wolflight is quite a good body of work with the material that was written for it. There are bags of acoustic work throughout the album that does help it a lot and its self-titled track is a personal BIG! fave of mine and one of Steve Hackett top songs and up there with his strongest body of work. Both the instrumental tracks “Earthshine” and “Pneuma” are pure GEMS! and I personally cannot say there is a bad track on the whole album either.
The biggest let down for me was the 5.1 mix on the Blu Ray and from the many reviews I have read there is supposed to be a fault with the 5.1 mix and a couple I noticed said that they were aware of the fault and would at some point fix it. Obviously, nothing has been done to rectify the fault as many also pointed out and it’s a real shame especially has that was one of my main reasons that enticed me to buy the album.
I have no idea what Roger King done to the surround mix but just like I said in the 5.1 section of my review, this is the most extraordinary mix I have ever encountered and it makes the album sound completely diabolical and so BORING! It could be a case that he had some of the tracks muted when he done the mix-down because it does sound like tracks are missing and he must have put quite a few in the rear channels. The fact that you can hardly hear bugger all coming out of the rear channels makes me think that he did put a good few of the tracks in the rears. It’s that bad I cannot even give it anything more than 0 out of 10 and it does nothing for the album at all listening to it like this and is a complete waste of space on the Blu Ray disc.
Thankfully all is not lost and the stereo mix is very good even the 24-bit master stereo mix on the Blu Ray is very good too. The interviews on the Blu Ray are also quite informative and I would also say the bonus tracks are a worthy addition so it is worth getting the Mediabook over the CD especially if you can get it at the price, I paid for it or no more than around £12. These Mediabooks are of far more superior quality than the DigiPaks and DigiSleeves which is why a package like this gets the top marks and at that price point it’s still a bargain despite the disappointment of the 5.1 mix. There is still GREAT! value to be had here and it’s quite a good album.
Out Of The Body And Into The Dream…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Out of the Body. 2:29.
02. Wolflight. 8:00.
03. Love Song to a Vampire. 9:17.
04. The Wheels Turning. 7:23.
05. Corycian Fire. 5:46.
06. Earthshine. 3:20.
07. Loving Sea. 3:22.
08. Black Thunder. 7:32.
09. Dust and Dreams. 5:33.
10. Heart Song. 2:50.
11. Pneuma #. 2:53
12. Midnight Sun #. 4:31.
2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #139”
I have no idea, how the issue with the 5.1. mix could happen. Somebody like Hacket, who have access to the best studios and engineers should be able to get the mix right and even, if there would happen something like accidentally muted tracks, it should be recognised during quality control. So it seems that nobody has checked the mix before it went to the pressing plant and that’s a shame for somebody famous as Hackett.
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Steve Hackett does things not so much different to yourself these days and yes, a studio was used for this album but it was only a small studio where he would of hired the recording room for his keyboard player Roger King to record him and himself and a few other musicians. For example, the drums would not have been recorded there and many of the other instruments. They would have been recorded at various other places and just as you work with other musicians and they send you the stems to mix that is the process that went into making this album and Roger King done all the mixing in Pro Tools.
At the time they made this album Hackett had also sold his house and did have his own studio at his house but had to pay to use another studio instead. In his new house his studio is like my set up and in his living room and his last 2 albums were recorded that way with him just plugging his guitar into the computer and recording it direct to the computer. His keyboard player Roger King does all the rest. Hackett is not tied to any record company and his records maybe released through Inside Out Music but that is an independent label and nothing more.
The chances are is that this is the first 5.1 mix Roger King has ever done. Now there is nothing wrong at all with the stereo mix but the 5.1 mix is completely Cocked Up. He has also done the stereo and 5.1 mixes for the 2 albums that followed it and they are fine. It’s only this one where he has messed things up.