Both creative and ambitious, prolific composer and accomplished guitarist Steve Hackett returns with Beyond the Shrouded Horizon, his 22nd studio album (if my count is correct). Mostly, this piece offers Hackett signature style of melodic, sometimes progressive, rock bolstered by symphonic notes. Of course, his expert fret work is at a premium throughout.
The disc begins and ends with the most 'progressive' pieces in Loch Lomond and Turn This Island. The latter is heavily orchestrated, but the interesting vocal arrangement over synths is most intriguing. In between these bookends, Hackett and company offer different themes in songs and instrumentals. To the former the light acoustic guitar of Wanderlust introduces the light melodic rock of Til These Eyes, a pleasing and ethereal song. This motif carries on with Between the Sunset and the Coconut Palms and Looking for Fantasy, where the vocal arrangements and orchestrations, another Hackett signature, are beautiful.
Yet, all is not airy lightness. The electric instrumentals The Phoenix Flown and Prairie Angel kick with some real rock gusto. Add the later song, Catwalk and Hackett and band show their rock muscle. This latter song finds Hackett mixing rock and blues guitar for blistering results.
Beyond the Shrouded Horizon is available with a bonus second CD. Thankfully, this was also supplied to us. It's entirely instrumental and begins with a suite called the Four Winds, a mixture of electric and acoustic guitar compositions. Four Winds East kicks more than the other three, but Hackett's classical mastery comes in the West wind. Then, Hackett offers an interesting segue with his interpretation of Peter Warlock's (1894-1930) familiar Pieds En L'Air (French: foot in the air). What follows is, again, classic Hackett, offering some rock fusion in She Said Maybe and then following it with thee ambitious and straight forward melodic rock tunes. All nice stuff. I'm almost inclined to favor the bonus disc over the first.
Once more the prolific and talent Steve Hackett delivers a melodic rock gem with Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. Seems he only gets better with age. Strongly recommended for fans and guitar connoisseurs.