SteveHackett press credit Rick Pauline pressLondon, December 2014 – Steve Hackett has never been tied to conventions. If you have followed his distinguished career, then the music has always been assertive, challenging and restive. But, even for those who have been devotees of Hackett’s craft and catalogue ‘Wolflight’ is a little different. “Ever since I got involved with the music business, I have wanted to make this album, to break the rules.” And that’s exactly what Steve Hackett has done here. Not only is there a strong rock idiom involved, as one might expect, but he has also brought in so many other elements, showing how contrasting pulses and rhythms can be used to expand horizons. “It’s got a rock band, an orchestra, animals. There’s world music, folk. It’s pan-genre, and no genre outstays its welcome. This whole album is inspired by those ancient tribes who helped to shape Europe, in fact the world as we know it. There’s certainly an ancestral thread running throughout.  “For me, it’s about opposites complementing each other.”  It’s the contrasts between the differing shades of music which give ‘Wolflight’ its colour and dimension. Hackett has introduced so many other instruments into the style that what the listener gets is a cinematic sweep, where the screen is envisioned as a canvas that’s not so much blank as vibrantly opening its pores to creative impulses. “You hear a tar (from Azerbaijan), an Arabian oud (lute), a duduk (Armenina woodwind instrument)…all invoke remote regions and cultures that stretch back across time.  “I also wanted to show how both the electric and acoustic guitar can be so emotional. If you think about it, the guitar can do so many different things. It can be orchestral, it can be a brass section, it was a synthesizer before they existed. The guitar can certainly scream if you whip it hard enough! For me, the guitar has always been a voice, and I wanted to bring out this aspect.”  But the sounds go beyond the implications of the guitar. What Hackett has done with orchestral manoeuvres might surprise many. “I wanted to prove that an orchestra can be just as groovy and as heavy, primal as any rock band. There’s an orchestral use of bass for instance that brings to mind Stravinsky or ‘Psycho’. I want to change people’s minds about the way they view music – what they like and don’t like.” There are curves in this album to take you by surprise. It reflects the overall philosophy of the album, in that it immerses itself in an era of human history, when humanity was not only evolving, but learning to revolve around fixed axioms. By mirroring this period, Hackett focuses on the turbulent elegance of sound. “I’d liken what happens on the album to a guerrilla raid. In that you never know what is going to happen next, or how it will strike you.”  The album’s title itself is a strong reflection of the way in which Hackett wants the music to be perceived. “It’s the name that’s been given to the hour before the dawn arrives. This is the period between day and night, when the light has still to emerge. I did a lot of the writing on the album in that period, because I found myself getting up at 5am. I got to appreciate why it was so important to primitive man. It is a special period of the day, when much of the album was written. You’re in an altered state because you’re closer to the world of dreams.”  But Hackett’s fascination with the wolflight came into even sharper focus when he actually spent some time with wolves in Italy, an hour from Rome. “They were Czechoslovakian, and wouldn’t have been allowed into the UK. But I got to know the wolves in the period I had with them. They are very affectionate, intelligent creatures, and seemed to be able to read my mind. “There was one incident when I was worried that one wolf might fall off a wall, so put my hand up to steady him, and he started licking it. This was a bond of trust between us.”  ‘Wolflight’ is a culmination of a vision and dream, one that the man has had for a number of years. Namely, to bring together seemingly disparate musical disciplines, and in doing so to tell a story through music that goes back to the dawn of civilization… The album took more than two years to create, as it had to be recorded during breaks in a hectic, demanding touring schedule. “But it was all the better for having to do things that way, because it meant every time I could go back to the drawing board, and ask myself what isn’t yet on the album that should be there.”  From the drawing board to the canvas, Hackett has fashioned a true work of art – primal, savage, soothing, elegiac, evocative. ‘Wolflight’ is a tribute to the enduring power of art. “This album has a dramatic filmic quality. Much of it is about struggle against dark forces, the fight for freedom and the triumph of the spirit. It’s primal and spooky, but melodic and romantic too. It runs the gamut of dynamics. It takes you on a journey, initially diving into a vortex of dreams and nightmares and finally resolving in an embrace.”  
 
Malcolm Dome