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.