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Steve Hillage - L CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

3.68 | 196 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'L' by Space-Guitar Zero Steve Hillage is yet another collection of kozmik tunes which shreds and pulses with colourful synth sequences and supersonic guitar playing, even some mystical textures and Hippy idealism seem to play their part throughout the album. Produced, somewhat heavy-handedly, by Todd Rundgren and featuring his band UTOPIA (Kasim Sulton - Bass, Roger Powell - Synths/Keyboards and John 'Willie' Wilcox - Drums) and various guests, the album gets off to a wonderful start with a great rendition of Donovan's 'Hurdy Gurdy Man', done in true Space-Rock fashion, Hillage's solo a treat. It climaxes into 'Hurdy Gurdy Glissando', an amazing, lengthy track reminiscent of GONG, full of Gliss-Guitar, tablas, chanting, Hillage playing 'da blues' during the intro, a fantastic rhythm then kicks in with an excellent bass line, and Powell's Mini-Moog solo segueing into some searing guitar- work, the track is a masterpiece - it goes on with a dynamic synth sequence and Steve playing a bombastic melody to close. One of the genre's definitive compositions, though in all respect, not truly Canterbury, but Space-Rock. The accessible song 'Electrick Gypsies' finishes side 1 in an almost 'pop-ish' way, and is great relief after the incredible track before it - kind of 'bringing-us-back- down-to-Earth', if you know what I mean....

2nd Side opens with 'Om Nama Shivaya', where Middle-Eastern philosophies and instrumentation help to inspire a wonderful piece of music, from the chant and tambura (an instrument similar to a sitar) at the beginning, through to Wilcox's tricky drum patterns towards the end, the song is very pleasing. The second masterpiece off the album, 'Lunar Musick Suite' (recorded exclusively during the full moon phases of May and June, 1976) is nothing less than mind-blowing. It falls just a second under12 minutes, and is another ever-shifting composition, keeping listeners on their toes with intense guitar runs, trance-like synth patterns, a quite neanderthal drum rhythm which is absolutely crushing (somewhat akin to a caveman taking to tom-toms with a wooden club - and leaves me questioning why Rundgren was such a renowned producer, solo work and Utopia aside) but the driving tempo soon descends and slows down to allow for a bizarre, dark sounding riff (by now we may as well be lost in a distant galaxy) with weird time sigs and phrasing, which gives way to a serene section with some avant trumpet playing from jazz-man Don Cherry, very light and airy indeed. From here, it's back to the unique riff which preceded it and out of the 'murky' mess an incredibly bright key change is discovered, it sounds big and profound, and then drifts off as mysteriously as it came. What an escape - only Hillage is capable of this sort of Space-Travel. A cover-version of George Harrison's 'It's all Too Much' wraps things up quite nicely, but it's not a stand- out song here. In conclusion, a strong 4 star album, coz Steve bettered this before with 'Fish', and will better it again with 'Green' !!

Tom Ozric | 4/5 |


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