Steve Hackett: At the Edge of Light
Steve Hackett is an enigma within the prog-rock world. As Genesis’ bespectacled secret weapon in the early 1970s, he crafted some of the genre’s signature guitar moments— utilizing weepy volume pedal swells and ambient leads, emphasizing atmosphere over virtuosity. But that very lack of flash underscores his outsider status in a community of shredding axemen. His solo career has also defied convention, with his most recent LPs blending multiethnic instrumentation with heavy riffs and lavishly stacked pop harmonies. At the Edge of Light , his 26th solo studio album, continues a prolific hot streak he sparked with 2012’s Genesis Revisited II , offering the usual prog-gone-globetrotting vibe of his recent records Wolflight and The Night Siren . “Fallen Walls and Pedestals” opens in the vein of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” unfurling Eastern string samples over a heavy, Bonham-ish drum stomp. Then, one track later, Hackett unwinds with a lush symphonic waltz, crooning over fingerpicked acoustic guitars, flutes and saxophones. The album spirals out in that zigzagging fashion—it’s impossible to predict where one track might end or the next might begin. Sitars and tablas? Check (“Shadow and Flame”). Full-blown choir and orchestra? You bet (the multitiered epic “These Golden Wings”). The grandiose peak arrives with “Underground Railroad,” which veers from bluesy dobro and harmonica to wailing gospel to scorching jazzfusion. Hackett is a master of sonic surprise—where his peers rely on prowess alone, he depends on drama.