HEXAMERON

 


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Hexameron

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Singularity (7'45")
Dancing on the Waters (8'42")
Marduk (9'00")
Sophia's Song (5'55")
Double Helix (2'27")
Brother Sun Sister Moon (4'50")
Seven Hands of Time (5'25")
The Power of Reason (5'28")

Review extracts
An interview with Nick

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GUEST MUSICIANS

Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett - guitar

John Hackett

John Hackett - flute

Geoff Whitehorn

Geoff Whitehorn - guitar

Pete Hicks - vocals

Tony Patterson

Tony Patterson - vocals

Siobhan McCarthy

Siobhan McCarthy - vocals

Debi Doss

Debi Doss - vocals

Clare Brigstocke - vocals

Ninian Boyle

Ninian Boyle - violin, viola

Melvyn Hiscock - slide guitar

REVIEW EXTRACTS

'Hexameron' is one of the best symphonic progressive rock albums I have ever heard... a CD that won't be leaving my player for weeks and will find its way back for years to come. It is a "must buy" for any lover of symphonic progressive rock. - Marc Roy, proGGnosis

'Hexameron' is a must for all lovers of great progressive rock music... . If you listen to 'Dancing on the Waters' and 'Marduk' you know what I mean. Just awesome. - Henri Strik, Background Magazine

This CD is the best, the most beautiful album I have heard in the past 13 years... The guitar playing of Steve Hackett is sober as well as sublime and brings back memories of “Voyage of the Acolyte”... - Walter Haentjens, Prog-Nose.org

Nick has produced another stunning album; a polished diamond of musical genius which his fans will lap up... 'Sophia's Song' is a truly glorious track with lush, crisp instrumentation and if you do not fall instantly in love with Siobhan's voice then you are deaf or dead… or both!  'Seven Hands Of Time' displays the talents of Mr Hackett senior with some stunning wailing guitar that evoke the vastness of time and space alongside Nick's glorious keyboard playing and effects - without doubt one of the best instrumental performances I have heard for along time. Both Nick and Steve are in fine form here.  - Alan Hewitt, The Waiting Room

I love this album. I think you will too. As will any progressive rock fan, that has a taste for great symphonic prog with a certain Genesis influence...  A track with the title 'Marduk' says it all, great lyrics, and one of the album’s finest songs.  - Bjørn Nørsterud, Scream Magazine. Prog Album of the Month, September 2004

The final track 'The Power of Reason' is a dramatic ending to the album, with a beautiful choir leading to the amazing soprano voice of Clare Brigstocke and John Hackett's flute. It's a track that builds up to a tremendous ending, with, whom else, but Steve Hackett taking on the lead guitar mantle in front of the exciting Magnus keyboard work. It's a neck-tingler... - Martin Hudson, Classic Rock Society Magazine 

'Hexameron' is a journey of prog ecstasy... For me, that journey starts in the present day, swiftly jumping back to the late 70's to the time when only a few mainstream prog bands held onto their musical integrity, delighting the faithful who, like now, relish relinquishing themselves to powerful emotional melodies... As I stated at the start of this review, just buy it. This is one stunning album. If you are a Hackett fan, you must also be a Nick Magnus fan. - Jem Jedrzejewski, The Hairless Heart Herald

As an example of classic symphonic prog, ‘Hexameron’ is in a class of its own... Think of this as a journey - close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to start off, at first going through scenery you have not seen before yet which is somehow familiar, as the travelogue continues through more obvious points of reference, until, at the very end, the person or thing or place that you would have crossed deserts, rode oceans and flown skies for, finally appears... an awe-inspiring climax that will leave you jaw-dropped in amazement.  - Andy Garibaldi, CDS.

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NICK ON HEXAMERON - AN INTERVIEW

How did you get to 'Hexameron' from your earlier albums?
Really the progression is from 'Inhaling Green', in particular the title track. The other tunes - well, there are some musical themes that stretch between them, but 'Inhaling Green' can be seen as three separate pieces of music that are interconnected and related to each other because there's an underlying concept.

So would you say 'Hexameron' is a concept album?
Absolutely, yes. It is a concept album, and I like to think of it as a prequel, in some ways, to 'Inhaling Green'.

Why a concept album?
Writing 'Inhaling Green', I found myself using very different thought processes to those that I'd used previously writing, you know, individual, stand-alone pieces of music. Having a narrative idea in your mind, it's a bit like television or film, where, if you're writing to a particular scene, the way it's edited suggests a rythym to you, and the mood suggests a melody and tonal colours. You write music in a very different way, when you've got that kind of filmic idea in your mind. Previously, I'd sit down at a keyboard and just play around and improvise until ideas came up that I liked, which I'd then make a note of and come back to later, work on them and turn them into a larger piece. But it's a much more linear process when you're doing it from a concept point of view. You don't put ideas aside in quite the same way and come back to them. You tend to flesh them out at the time. And they lead to other ideas, and ultimately you land up writing something that you simply wouldn't have done without a concept in mind. That's what happened with 'Inhaling Green', and I found I really, really liked doing it that way. Not only did the ideas come more easily, but I found it was suddenly possible to do what I'd previously found very, very difficult, which was to write longer pieces. Suddenly it was a question of having to edit them down rather than flesh them out!  So after that experience, I thought I would like to do a whole album as a concept.

You mentioned film - your work has been described as "movies for the ears". Is this something you consciously strive for?
Yes, it is. Much of my favourite music these days tends to be movie sound tracks. I've always loved composers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Hans Zimmer. They do very, very big broad cinematic scores and, while I can only dream to equal what they do, I can at least attempt to get that idea across in a prog rock context, or a progressive context - that is, according to my own definition of the term ‘progressive’.

So how do you see 'Hexameron' fitting into that progressive context?
Well, I think it comes down to musical categories. Everything gets divided into categories, and those categories get subdivided into yet more categories. In the 70s prog rock was, pretty much, a category in itself. Nobody bothered trying to label Yes, Genesis, ELP or Gentle Giant as different genres. They were just prog rock. Nowadays, it gets subdivided into synth, electronic, electronica, symphonic metal, heavy metal, prog, goth groove, neo - handbag, garage, thrash...!! I don't know where other people think my music fits into this, but I would generally call it a sort of hybrid of prog rock and what used to be called symphonic rock. It's a very difficult question to answer - to find the right words to describe it. Without wanting to be so bold as trying to invent a new category - but I'm going to anway! - I think it's an attempt to blend the more rocky aspects of prog rock with the more extreme symphonic elements seen over the years in bands like The Enid. So one minute you're in a loud, guitar-driven, up-tempo section, and the next moment you're drifting in space with a beautiful, panoramic wash of sound. And all the time I'm really striving hard to get melodies in there, melodies and structure. So that, while there are moments of improvisation, they're moderately brief. Mainly it's very structured and the melodies are interrelated. You'll find themes being re-used throughout the whole album in a very symphonic style, a style of writing that takes two or three themes and develops them, really works on them to the point where you may not even realise they are being re-used and re-invented - almost a classical approach. That may come across as sounding a little pompous, but it's an idea that's becoming increasingly important for me: this sense of cohesion across a whole project. Of course, it's not necessary for all music to be like that - but for a concept album, a sense of continuity thoughout the whole piece can only be a good thing.

Lyrics are a new departure for you in this album...
Yes, in the past I've done wholly instrumental tracks, but as time goes on, you grow and develop, hopefully! A couple of years ago, I embarked on a song-writing project with lyricist, Dick Foster. The kind of music that came out was so different that I thought it would be nice to integrate the two approaches. Not only does it give a whole new aspect that hadn't been there in previous albums, it also seemed a good idea as well to help propel the narrative more effectively, to have some lyrics to help tell the story.

Some things are not so new though... One of the vocalists is Pete Hicks, and there are guest performances by Steve Hackett and John Hackett - something of a reunion going on here?
Well, all four of us are not performing together at any one time on the album, though the first and last tracks do have Steve, John and I all playing together. Those tracks did feel a bit like a reunion, I suppose, because it's two-thirds of the original Hackett live band from '78 through to '80, and maybe people will be interested in hearing an album with all of us on as we are today. I've been working on and off with John since that time anyway. We're always playing on each other's projects - John was on 'Inhaling Green'. I hadn't worked with Pete since the live band split up in 1980, but it was as if no time had passed at all. We just picked up where we left, and had a fantastic time. It was the same with Steve. He really enjoyed himself, worked incredibly hard and did all of those things that only Steve can do!

You discussed the advantages of a concept album for the composer - how about for the listener?
For listeners, I hope that they feel they're being taken on a journey, that there's a story. And that by the time they come to the end of the album they should feel a sense of "aaah! We're there!", we've got somewhere, there's an ending. You've been to a whole lot of places on the way, and some of those remind you of places you've already been, just like in real life. In terms of what that narrative is, 'Hexameron' does have its own underlying concept, but I'd like to think that everyone will find a story in it for themselves.

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