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Steve Hillage - Fish Rising CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 451 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars Renowned guitarist STEVE HILLAGE has been part of the Canterbury Scene since the late 1960's. He was involved with two early one-album band projects: the psychedelic Arzachel (Uriel) album in 1969 and Khan's outstanding "Space Shanty" album in 1971. He's also been a longstanding member of the Jazz-Rock band, Gong. More recently, Steve Hillage was one half of the electronic dance duo, System 7. He also teamed up with ambient musician Evan Marc in 2008 to record the album "Dreamtime Submersible". The album reviewed here, "Fish Rising" (1975), is his first album in a long solo career spanning four decades and seven studio albums. He followed the "Fish Rising" album with six more releases in the late-1970's & early 80's:- "L" (1976); "Motivation Radio" (1977); "Green" (1978); "Rainbow Dome Musick" (1979); "Open" (1979); & finally, "For to Next" (1983). Many of Steve Hillage's bandmates from Gong featured on his first solo outing, including most notably, Pierre Moerlen on drums and percussion and Mike Howlett on bass. The line-up also included Dave Stewart on keyboards, who later paired up with Barbara Gaskin for "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To) in 1986. The 2007 remastered CD edition of "Fish Rising" added two bonus tracks to the original five pieces of music on the album.

"Fish Rising" consists of three long suites of music and two shorter songs. The album opens radiantly with the four-part "Solar Musick Suite", the longest piece on the album at nearly 17 minutes long. The first part "Sun Song (I Love It's Holy Mystery)" bursts into view like a brilliant ray of sunshine. This warm and melodic prog is positively glowing in rainbow colours with some simply sensational soaring guitar riffing from Steve Hillage. He's in fine voice too with his rich silver-toned vocals adding to the sense of warmth. It's a joyous and uplifting song with a flower-power message of love and peace and eternal optimism as these lyric reveal:- "So people look into each others eyes and gaze at them with certainty, We're gathered here today from all around to celebrate eternity, The spirit in the air is never far immersed in our totality, And the answers that we sit and hope to find, Are living here in side of we." ..... This joyful and invigorating music feels like the burgeoning arrival of spring, where colourful flowers are blooming in a twisting and transitional dance of new growth, as mother nature shakes off winter's cold embrace. This is warm and radiant music to stimulate and rejuvenate the soul. The "Solar Musick Suite" merges effortlessly into "Canterbury Sunrise", a lively Jazz-Rock instrumental, giving Steve Hillage a chance to really shine with some impressive soloing and with Dave Stewart providing sterling accompaniment on the organ. Next up is "Hiram Aftaglid Meets the Dervish", a wild and uninhibited whirling dervish of stirring Canterbury Scene music that's very reminiscent of some of Caravan's wilder Jazz-Rock freak-outs. Finally, there's a brief reprise of the glorious opening "Sun Song", to leave one feeling in joyously buoyant mood. Next comes the simply-titled "Fish", which is a bit of a tuneless mess to be perfectly honest, with the discordant music thrown together in a seemingly haphazard fashion. This is a fish that would have been better left in the ocean. The only good thing about this musical mash-up is it's less than 90 seconds long. Moving swiftly on now with the dreamweaving "Meditation of the Snake", a swirling and twisting magic carpet ride of transcendental ambience that washes over the listener like a blissful dreamwave of sound.

Opening Side Two now, we're going fishing with the 9-minute aquatic suite, "Salmon Song", and it's a pretty good catch too. It's a psychedelic rainbow trout swimming in a sea of spacey guitars, combined with some heavy sonorous riffing, and not forgetting those trademark Hillage guitar glissandos which soar right up into the stratosphere. This is one fish you won't want to throw back into the sea. And now we come to the album highlight, the 15-minute-long seven-piece suite, "Aftaglid", to bring the album to a dramatic and powerful conclusion. This is a real psychedelicatessen of musical styles, featuring gently pastoral acoustics, wild psychedelic riffing and Middle Eastern mantras, all combined together into a magnificent musical melange of sound.

"Fish Rising" is an album full of psychedelic delights, featuring super soar-away soloing, spacey New Age ambience, dynamic keyboard virtuosity, and jaunty Jazz-Rock, all combined together into a delicious potpourri of Canterbury Scene music. This fish-themed album will have you hooked.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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