Esoteric Antenna [Release date 06.10.17]
I recall when chatting to Steve Hackett several years ago he mentioned that he is very receptive to his environment in terms of new sounds and possibilities. This might simply be hearing something ear-catching whilst out doing your weekly food shopping or in a clothes shop. Or, perhaps in Steve’s case whilst globe-trotting.
In the good old days there would be times when you were in a record shop (a record shop, yes!) and hear something that took your fancy. You invariably would query that with the shop assistant. I suppose the equivalent now is hearing something on streamed radio or maybe even – more rarely - just radio.
It is unlikely however you’ll hear a Hungarian jazz rock combo with our venerable guitarist of prog but – whatever – in the good old days it would have caught your ear and ultimately your wallet.
Djabe and Hackett originally got together 10 years ago and subsequently for tours in Europe and ‘Life Is A Journey’ is their first studio foray together (with the live album ‘Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers’ released earlier this year). The album is certainly quite striking and can be enjoyed end to end with each track rolling effortlessly into the next.
It’s a chance to hear Hackett out of his usual comfort zone but fans should be warned that – more than with the live set which included several of his own covers – he is very much in supporting role on acoustic guitar, or occasionally providing sonic texture rather than his trade mark searing and lyrical solos. On some tracks you might even say: “Where’s Steve?”
Most of the guitar heavy lifting is done by Djabe’s Attila Egerhazi. You would perhaps expect him to take the lead in his own band project but his electric style is complementary rather than convincing and perhaps there should have been more deference to their special guest in this department.
The emphasis here is very much on mood, and gentle groove, with a jazz fusion undertow and Aron Koos-Hulas’ trumpet a defining feature.
The package is expanded with a bonus DVD of high definition/surround mixes and film of the band’s club date in Bucharest in June this year.
This really is a splendid album and whether you enjoy it as a backdrop to daylight activity or a late night chill-out you won’t be disappointed. ****1/2
Review by David Randall
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