Under A Mediterranean Sky with Hackett

Steve Hackett will release his new acoustic album Under A Mediterranean Sky on 22nd January 2021.

The record will be available as a limited CD digipak, gatefold 2LP + CD + LP-booklet and digital album through InsideOut Music.

His first acoustic solo album since 2008’s Tribute, it takes inspiration from Steve’s extensive travels around the Mediterranean with his wife Jo.

Working closely with long-time musical partner Roger King, Hackett has used his time during 2020’s lockdown to create a musical journey around the Mediterranean, painting vivid images of stunning landscapes and celebrating the diverse cultures of the region. Famed for his rock roots with Genesis, and through his extensive solo catalogue, he has often demonstrated the exquisite beauty of the nylon guitar; at times venturing into the exotic ethnic and often supported by dazzling orchestral arrangements.

“A lot of acoustic ideas had been forming over the years, and it felt like the perfect time to create this album,” noted Hackett, “a time to contemplate the places we’ve visited around the Mediterranean with the kind of music which evolved from the world of imagination.

“Because we can’t really travel, substantially at the moment, I hope that the album will take people on that journey. Whether you sit down and listen to it or drift off to it with a glass of wine.”

Tracks featured on Under A Mediterranean Sky are as follows: ‘Mdina – The Walled City’ (S. Hackett/R. King), ‘Adriatic Blue’ (S. Hackett), ‘Sirocco’ (S. Hackett/J. Hackett/R. King), ‘Joie De Vivre’ (S. Hackett/J. Hackett), ‘The Memory Of Myth’ (S. Hackett/J. Hackett/R. King), ‘Scarlatti Sonata’ (Domenico Scarlatti), ‘Casa Del Fauno’ (S. Hackett/R. King), ‘The Dervish And The Djin’ (S. Hackett/J. Hackett/R. King), ‘Lorato’ (S. Hackett), ‘Andalusian Heart’ (S. Hackett/J. Hackett/R. King) and ‘The Call Of The Sea’ (S. Hackett).

‘Andalusian Heart’ was released as the first single from the album, and that was followed near the end of 2020 with ‘Mdina – The Walled City’, and this year  ‘Sirocco’ is available too.

You can watch the official videos for all three here at RAMzine.

Discussing some of the tracks, Hackett said: “At first hand, I’ve marvelled at the mystical whirling Dervishes.”  Along with otherworldly beings such as the Djin (Genie) they sprang from Persia’s dreaming past. ‘The Dervish And The Djin ‘captures the atmosphere of this most exotic of civilisations with the help of Hackett’s touring band regular – Rob Townsend’s soprano sax, the tar of Malik Mansurov (from Azerbaijan) and Armenian Arsen Petrosyan’s duduk. “Of course, those countries are virtually at war with each other,” Hackett noted, “And there has been something like a thousand casualties (at the time of writing) on both sides. Again, it’s a case of music being able to do things that politicians fail to do – something constructive.”

Steve Hackett photo by Jo Hackett.

Hackett and his wife Jo were enchanted by the little Faun statue in the House of the Faun, Pompeii: “The villas there seemed to come back to life as we walked through those wonderful atriums and gardens,” and this inspired ‘Casa Del Fauno’ thatfeatures both his brother John Hackett and Rob Townsend on flute.

The only non-original piece is Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata. This embodies the Baroque music of Italy, a sensitive interpretation embellished with cross-string trills, a technique introduced to Hackett by the fine classical guitarist, the late Theo Cheng.

Hackett also expresses his admiration for the flamenco guitarists of Andalucía who are celebrated on ‘Andalusian Heart’. “One of the flamenco guitarists was showing me the extraordinary things they are able to do,” Hackett explained. “Seeing the gypsies playing and dancing in caves there, you get the feeling that these people are dancing for their lives.”

Under A Mediterranean Sky features Hackett playing nylon, steel string and twelve string guitars, charango and Iraqi oud with keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements by King, who co=produced the album, with King recording and mixing the tracks at Siren Studios. Featured musicians are John Hackett and Rob Townsend, flute (‘Casa Del Fauno’); Malik Mansurov, tar and Arsen Petrosyan, duduk & Rob Townsend, Sax (‘The Dervish And The Djin’); Christine Townsend, violin (‘The Memory of Myth’ and ‘The Call Of The Sea’). 

“I had a great time doing this album, seeing it take shape, and I’m very pleased with the outcome. I’m very proud of it,” said Hackett. “The nylon guitar has a very individual sound but, within the compass of what the nylon-strung guitar can do, there are a lot of different tones. You can do the full-on attack, the kind of salvo that you expect from the flamenco players but, at the same time, it can also be very gentle, gentle as a harp. It’s shades of black and white.  It’s also exciting to play alongside instruments from around the world, as well as a wide range of orchestral sounds.”

In other Steve Hackett related news, it has been revealed that he has added an additional show to his Seconds Out + More! UK Tour due in 2021. The show will be at the Stockton Globe on 15th October.

Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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