Reviewed by MJBrady on 24 May 2003
Remember Steve Hackett? He was the one time guitarist for the legendary progband Genesis, back when they were an actual progband. Since his departure from Genesis, he seems to have forged himself into a virtual no man's land when concerning his genre styles. He like so many other legendary prog artists, attempted to carve out a niche in the radio world, if for nothing else, to insure some sort of an income from his efforts. Unlike some of his peers, his music really never made it into the mainstream, and his labors have seen him continue to produce albums of various content, some interesting and some not so much.
This 2003 release shows a compilation of songs that provides a sort of microcosm of his many years as a musician/ songwriter/etc. Some of the songs are of the variety that one would have expected from other ex-Genesis members named Peter and Phil. But contrary to those pop-centric songs, he has also offered some far more interesting and thankfully progressive music to round this project out, and it is so nice to hear him playing his guitar again, in fact, from the best of my recollections, he was always a good guitarist, but seems to have improved in leaps and bounds. Whether it be a sizzling solo on the electric, or deftly fingerstyle playing on the classical, it is a pleasure to hear that aspect of his talents in the music.
There are some occasions to over synth the music, while he renders vocals over the processed backdrop, but each song seems to surprise with clever mixes of modern and retro progressive ideas. In an era where the term progressive has become convoluted and misunderstood, let alone properly applied to artists, it is safe for this reviewer to use the term in it's most accurate purpose in describing Steve Hackett's To Watch the Storms release.
This cd provides a nice mix of musical textures, giving a high level of listenability, it seldom sounds like the same cliched typecasts song after song as many bands and artists can be guilty of, in fact, this music seems to lead your attention into each successive song with anticipation. Even when a song may have a hint of slowing things down, a change in direction will turn things around.
This cd is a pleasurable effort, and shows that at least one Ex-Genesis member hasn't forgotten where he came from, and where hence he shall return, and that is to his progressive roots.
Reviewed by Nuno on 13 Jun 2003
I really, and absolutely, LOVE this album!
A matter of honesty that I thought to be necessary for you to better know the why’s of my next lines.
The first thing that I like about this album is because it shows, once more, that one of the historic personalities in Progressive Rock has not give up this cause, nor failed when pursuing the major objectives that we defend in this style. This means that Steve Hackett is still searching, trying and delivering something new with each album. Even if faithful to the notable characteristics that brought him fame amongst proggers. In fact, To Watch The Storm is a cradle of surprises, a fountain of new experiences for the everlasting fan.
If you take the faked innocence of Circus of Becoming, the dark electronic anthem The Devil Is An Englishman, the tormented beauty of the David Sylvian reminiscent Frozen Statues, the strange, world percussioned, experimentation of The Silk Road or the Krimsonian thickness and duality between frenzy jazz and progressive mastery of Mechanical Bride, you will find that this 2003 release from SH continues to defy pre-conception and static coziness, finding new paths, new ground and producing new seeds to plant there.
The second reason has to do with beauty and harmony, served in the most melodic golden plate. From the hauntingly orchestrated to the jewel guitar fingering and the classic piano tapestry of Wind, Sand and Stars, the grieving mood and sentimental This World, the minstrel beauty of Rebecca that later oddly turns into modern spacey/techno electronics only to return to its calm tempered attitude, the touching guitar solo in The Moon Under Water to the relaxing closing Moody Bluesyballad Serpentine Song.
These two major pillars combining forces are strong enough to support a ceiling of shining incrusted diamonds, that tend to ofuscate the listener, making him close his eyes and dream of the richness there is in the world outside.
Rich in dreams that urge to become true. Rich in positive feelings that are meant to be felt. Rich in great music to be played.
To sum: I really, and absolutely, LOVE this album!