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Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of Pripyat

Steve Rothery – The Ghosts Of Pripyat

Sound Aesthetic For Six Strings

Can I think of any recent albums that I would personally classify as “classics”? It’s getting more and more difficult – that’s my semi-diplomatic answer.

I rarely have the time to listen to an album repeatedly, as often and as extensively as I did when I was younger. Sure, I had time on my hands back then, and my pocket money wouldn’t allow for more than one record a month. Whether it was Dire Straits or The Cure, Pink Floyd or Fleetwood Mac. Today (and for me this is the time since the turn of the millennium) there are very few albums that I listen to with the same devotion as the generally popular classics. Subjectively, however, the 2014 album The Ghosts Of Pripyat by Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery is definitely one of them!

Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of Pripyat

Together with his band and guests such as Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett, he recorded the seven tracks at Real World Studios. There is also a short documentary on DVD, which was included with the CD in some editions. Steve and his colleagues sit in the studio’s kitchen and talk about the album via a camera microphone while, presumably, someone is washing dishes in the background. This is acoustically unimpressive, in stark contrast to the material captured during the live recordings in the studio. The band lives the instrumental pieces, you can feel that every fiber of these artists is full of music.

The result is the exceedingly well-recorded music on this album. “Morpheus” – with Steve Hackett on guitar – opens the harmonious song selection. Expansive keyboard pads à la Pink Floyd and a guitar to match set the tone for this album. This is classic rock in the style of old heroes, yet without copying them. Rothery himself makes his jazz chorus amplifier (Roland) sound like it’s floating during the first arpeggios. The lead guitar takes on the role of the vocals in this and the other pieces. You are musically freer without a voice, says Rothery at the kitchen table. Nevertheless, all the compositions are exciting and varied and the first three in particular are catchy tunes. Strong melodies and solos! Goosebumps? Yes, definitely for me – warm shivers running down my spine from the emotionally gripping guitars. I was lucky enough to be able to see Rothery and his band play these first three songs live in exactly the same order. It was a wonderful, unique moment.

“Kendris”, the second track, also relies on strong melodies and Gabriel-like rhythms. Steven Wilson is also a reliable supplier of melodies and a real asset to this song. Driving, building up and getting bigger and bigger, it becomes almost anthemic towards the end, almost Marillion, if I may say so. The highlight for me, however, is the 11-minute “Old Man And The Sea”. It’s a journey of experience that, in its atmospheric density, would take the breath away from even David Gilmour. And the rest of the record? It plays at a similarly high level, even if it doesn’t quite reach the greatness of the first three tracks. In the well-made vinyl first edition, the record is available as a double album at 45 rpm. According to the relevant forums, the new edition from 2020 supposedly doesn’t sound consistently clean. Incidentally, Rothery has been announcing a follow-up album for a good two years – nothing has been released yet, but the guitarist will be on tour in 2024. Hope dies last!

Steve Rothery – The Ghosts Of Pripyat at Inside Out Music.

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