Steve Hackett - The Circus and the NightwhaleSteve Hackett's thirtieth solo album, "The Circus and the Nightwhale," presents a remarkable blend of various musical styles and atmospheres woven into a cohesive narrative. Drawing a bit from Hackett's own experiences, the album tells the semi-autobiographical story of a character named Travla, navigating through a rite-of-passage tale. It encompasses a sound collage of genres including heavy rock, blues, pseudo-classical, ballads, progressive rock, and acoustic guitar-led pieces, which create a colorful and dynamic journey.

Recorded between tours in 2022 and 2023, the album features a lineup of talented musicians and guests streamed in from around the world. The line-up includes some familiar faces alongside Steve Hackett on electric and acoustic guitars, 12-string guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica, percussion, and vocals. Roger King adds keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements, Rob Townsend plays sax, Jonas Reingold digs deep on the bass, Nad Sylvan and Amanda Lehmann provide additional vocals, with Craig Blundell performing on drums. Nick D’Virgilio and Hugo Degenhardt return as guests on drums, whilst highly gifted engineer Benedict Fenner appears on keyboards and Malik Mansurov is back with the tar, plus Steve’s brother John Hackett is present once more on flute. Collaborating with his wife Jo Hackett and Roger King on songwriting, Hackett delves into themes of post-war London, personal growth, love, and redemption.

The album's tracks intricately paint scenes from Travla's life, from the smoggy streets of 1950s London to the mystical realm of the Nightwhale. Hackett's emotive guitar work, ethereal harmonica, and layered vocals complement the storytelling, supported by a rich tapestry of instrumentation.

Despite its complexity, the album maintains a seamless flow, with each track serving the narrative without excessive embellishment. The production quality conveys a well-balanced blending of musical styles, from the haunting sound collages to the soaring orchestral arrangements.

Available in various formats, the album showcases Denise Marsh's stunning cover art and offers listeners an immersive listening experience. Of greatest interest to high resolution enthusiasts is the CD + Blu-ray mediabook featuring a 5.1 surround sound & hi-res 24-bit stereo mix. Additionally, a standard CD jewel case edition, gatefold 180g vinyl LP, and a digital album download are also available.

Through its evocative storytelling and masterful musicianship, "The Circus and the Nightwhale" stands as a captivating journey through time and imagination, resonating with themes of resilience, love, and transcendence. Certainly, a must have for fans of Steve Hackett, progressive rock enthusiasts, and surround sound collectors.

Released February 16, 2024.

 Format Info

CD + Blu-ray with 5.1 surround sound and 24-bit hi-res stereo mixes.  Also available in other bitdepths on CD, 180g Vinyl LP, digital download, and via streaming services.

 

 

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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.

 

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