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Steve Hillage - Fish Rising CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 452 ratings

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4 stars Looking at this album's cast list (Gong's Tim Blake, Didier Malherbe, Pierre Moerlen, Gilli Smith, Miquette Giraudy are all here) and the titles of some of the tracks here (Solar Musick Suite and Aftaglid, for God's sake), it's tempting to describe this superb album as the album that Gong never made. There would be two things wrong with that though. The first is that Gong and its various members made numerous offshoot projects (Mother Gong, Planet Gong, Gongzilla, Falun Gong (just kidding with that one) and even a mass appearance with Clearlight) so that this album would be one of just many that "Gong" never made. And secondly, unlike most Gong albums, this album bears the mark of Hillage the composer thus making it more a successor to the fantastic Space Shanty album he cut with the one-off group Khan prior to his stint with Gong.

The 16-minute opener Solar Musick Suite is a stunning composition. It's full of Hillage's muscular guitar jamming, balanced at times by another Canterbury icon (and Khan alumni) Dave Stewart on organ as well as Gong's Tim Blake's spiralling synth. The space-rock slaloms are frequently breath-taking and match his greatest work with his former bands. Even his thin vocal style suits the song perfectly. Hillage is also not afraid to throw some ballsy hard rock moments into the mix, and that just adds to the excitement the composition generates.

Amazingly, the rest of the album doesn't let up. Even the minute long tune Fish manages to fit quite a bit in it, starting off with some aural soundscapes, and ending with a brief vocal duet, with a Gentle Giant like mid section thrown in for good measure! Meditation Of The Snake features some bubbly shimmering guitar/synth exchanges with Blake, while the pulsating Salmon Song is a rockier piece that also flows fantastically, with one glorious spaced-out mid-section.

The closing epic Aftaglid is almost as powerful as the title track, with hefty doses of psychedelic rock, outstanding spacey solos and even a little bit of funk. It lets the sun set on a magnificent work that is surely one of the peaks of Hillage's great career. This album is every bit as essential, and arguably even more accessible than Gong's most powerful works. ... 87% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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