John Hackett: Another Life

After 10 years the flautist returns to the rock world.

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An accomplished flautist who has spent most of his time either in the classical realm or as part of ambient ensemble Symbiosis, John Hackett has mapped out a career distinctive enough to dodge comparisons with older brother Steve.

The nature of his latest solo effort, however (his first true excursion into rock since 2005’s Checking Out Of London), tends to invite more obvious parallels. Another Life finds him joined by his more famous sibling, who sprinkles deft guitar over more than half these tracks, alongside another noted affiliate, keyboardist/drummer/producer Nick Magnus and ex-Genesis man Anthony Phillips. Indeed, Phillips’ playing on Satellite – graceful, balletic, delicate – is a high point. Alas, the rest of the album is less striking, partly down to its predilection for soporific ballads and po-faced lyrics (courtesy of Nick Clabburn, reprising his role from Checking Out Of London) that too often resort to cosy cliché. Full of rich, considered textures, you can’t fault the playing. But the injection of urgency on Burnt Down Trees is a welcome respite from the torpor, sounding like a less antic version of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, with two great guitar solos to boot.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.