Hemispheres

Hemispheres is the sixth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1978. The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and mixed at Trident Studios in London. It was the final installment in Rush’s post-apocalyptic trilogy, which was a series of three albums starting with 2112 (album) and A Farewell to Kings. It was the also the last of two albums they would record in the United Kingdom before returning to their homes in Canada.

Following themes going back to Rush’s second album, Fly by Night, on Hemispheres lyricist Neil Peart continues to heavily utilize fantasy and science fiction motifs. Similar to their 1976 release, 2112, Hemispheres contains a single, epic song broken into chapters as the first side of the album (“Cygnus X-1, Book II: Hemispheres”) while the second half contains two more conventionally-executed tracks, “Circumstances” and “The Trees.”

The album’s final track, the ambitious nine-and-a-half-minute “La Villa Strangiato,” was the band’s first instrumental release. According to Peart the band spent more time recording “La Villa Strangiato” than they did recording the entire Fly by Night album.

The album contains examples of Rush’s adherence to progressive rock standards including the use of epic, multi-movement song structures, complex rhythms and time signatures, and flexible guitar solos, like those found in “La Villa Strangiato.” In the 2010 documentary film Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, the band members comment that the stress of recording Hemispheres was a major factor in their decision to start moving away from suites and long-form pieces in their songwriting. That change in philosophy would manifest itself in the band’s next album, the considerably more accessible Permanent Waves.

For a short period of time, the album was available in Canada also as a red vinyl LP in a gatefold sleeve with poster (catalogue number SANR-1-1015), and as a limited edition picture disc (catalogue number SRP-1300), both of which have become much sought after collector’s items. Roal Smeet

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