"Songs from the inner mind" - The Symbiosis albums. Review by Alan Hewitt.

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As some of you may know, when he isn't working with his brother; John Hackett works with another group of musicians that are collectively known as Symbiosis. Most of these albums would be considered to be within the "New Age" or "Relaxation" bracket. All well and good, but there is something more to this music as I will try to explain.

The first album I listened to was titled "Songs Of The Peach Tree Spring"; a suitably oriental title given the fact that a lot of the music on it was inspired by an Eighth Century Chinese poet: Wang Wei. Chinese and Japanese music has always been more in touch with the natural elements than Western music and this album is no exception. There is an innate sense of harmony throughout the tracks on this album and if you liked Joji Hirota's "The Gate" (reviewed in #40 of TWR) then I think this album will certainly be a welcome addition to your collections.

The second album which I listened to is titled "Autumn Days" which opens with a track called "Pastures Green" which I cannot help but think could have almost been written by Anthony Phillips! The attention to the detail of the musical aural landscape here is phenomenal and John proves that he is no mean acoustic guitar player himself on this one! "Alhambra" is another track which vividly portrays its subject matter; the Moorish palace in Granada, Spain. The silences between the music are as eloquent as the music itself here although the tune itself is pure Spain! From the grandeur of Spain to the fascination of the Far East; another highlight from this album is "The Golden Temple" which is a delightfully wistful track with a hint of humour thrown in. Yet another album which will reward repeated listenings.

The final album which I have heard so far is "Lake Of Dreams" which is very much a "Best Of" album and one which certainly displays the collective talents of this remarkable group of musicians and one which should be an essential purchase for fans of John's flute playing alone but which will reward your ears and mind with much pleasure!

My thanks to John for taking the time to speak to me about his work with Steve and Symbiosis and for kindly giving me the copies of the albums which I have reviewed here.

The complete range of albums by Symbiosis are all available details are as follows:

  • Tears Of The Moon SYM2001 C63 (Cassette).
  • Songs Of The Peach Tree Spring SYM2002 C46 (Cassette)/SYMCD2002 (CD).
  • Touching The Clouds SYM2003 C90 (Cassette)/SYMCD2003 (CD).
  • The Inner Voice SYM2005 C60 (Cassette).
  • Lake Of Dreams SYMCD2006 (CD).
  • Autumn Days SYMCD2007 (CD).
  • Amber and Jade SYM2008 C60 (Cassette)/SYMCD2008 (CD).

For more information and catalogue, write to: Symbiosis, PO Box 2000 Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3JH, UK.

Symbiosis: Songs Of The Peach Tree Spring (SYM2002)


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Symbiosis: Autumn Days (SYMCD2007)


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Symbiosis: Lake Of Dreams (SYMCD2006)