SQUACKETT – A Life Within A Day

 Squackett

Esoteric Antenna

Wherein heritage prog seers Chris (Yes) Squire and Steve (Genesis) Hackett bang heads and bring us ‘A Life Within A Day’ – a title perhaps tilted at the four-gestation this took to fruition. It’s faintly whimsical almost, as is the duo’s chosen nomenclature for the project. Hackett Squire? Accountants – or worse, lawyers. Squire Hackett? Too close to BBC TV period drama for safety. The silly Squackett may sound like something served battered with fries but the analogy falls apart fast when you start listening, for this is rich and robust stuff that doesn’t trade on former glories. Yes, there are nods over the shoulder to the sound that respectively trademarked two great bands, but the focus is very much on creating something fresh, contemporary to the current shapes and forms of the genre rather than reformatting the past.

Opener title track is ripe with strings, programming and jokey bombast boasting a Hans Zimmerman-like percussive bed over which Squire’s thonking basslines share centre stage with some frenzied lead from Hackett worthy of the late Ollie Halsall in full flight (no faint praise). This breathless carousel is succeeded by a well-balanced set (“Divided Self” is so catchily upbeat it’s ridiculous; “Sea Of Smiles” is the single) that never flags.

Of course its fun to spot the musical markers of their early careers as well as Steve’s solo work, not least in vocal harmonising that summons eerily at times a sense that the pipes of Gabriel and Anderson are about open up. Quite where they go next is anyone’s guess but, more please. This stands up strong and square against front-line material being released by musicians half their age. It comes in a battery of formats, too: standard CD; limited edition two-disc deluxe edition with hardback cover and 5.1 surround bonus disc, and limited and numbered vinyl (to be filed alongside those treasured old Charisma and Atlantic LPs).

****

Peter Muir

The meeting of Yes and Genesis  and several years in the making. Both have been influential in their own respective bands, and had solo careers in their own rights too, and this combination works well too. Well crafted songs from the outset mixing hard rock and prog.

The opening title track features some decent keyboards, and a feel of the kind of Purple-esque prog Saxon dipped into a couple of years ago (albeit in much softer fashion). There’s plenty of layering, some intricate guitar and bass work, and vocals with a Yes edge. The harsh guitar sound stand out, works well.

Tall Ships opens in much gentler fashion, and the bass work gives a funk edge; it’s not quite ambient but prog heading in that direction. Divided Shelf is much more mainstream, more prog/rock/pop, a decent number with an 80s feel. Sea Of Smiles is upbeat with a hint of jazz. The Summer Backwards opens in acoustic style and builds to a nice prog/pop number. Storm Chaser is a stronger and heavier number but the electronic sounding drums detract.

It is as the light end of modern polished prog with some excellent songs, but at times it does seem to drift rather too much.  Pretty enjoyable though.

***1/2

Joe Geesin


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