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Steve Hillage - Fish Rising CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 451 ratings

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2 stars An album I've returned to fairly recently as it was one that never pulled me in back in the 70s. I was never very impressed with the engineering and production; most of the sounds could have benefitted from some better soundboard treatment, better mixing. Plus, though Steve is a master of pulling some absolutely heart-wrenching chords, chord progressions, and melodies out of his beautifully creative soul, his music still feels unrefined and raw, at times even abrasive; rarely do things behave with flow and coherence. I've never seen or heard Steve live, but I wonder how well he'd be able to recreate his songs on stage. (FOr some reason this is important to me. Not only the ability but the desire. Otherwise, what else is a studio recording but an 'on' and 'off'' switch of the recording machine whilst jamming. Replicability denotes effort, structure, discipline, planning, practice, and commitment to posterity.)

1. "Solar Musick Suite" (16:55) contains many flashes of beauty: in sounds, in collaborative outcome, in structural flow. It is not, however, IMHO, a masterpiece of a prog epic. I find it to be not memorable (other than for the fact that it reminds me several times of one of it's masterful predecessors of which I am QUITE fond: KHAN's Space Shanty). (8/10)

2. "Fish" (1:22) is most remarkable for its GONG-like cosmological humor.

3. "Meditation of the Snake" (3:16) could be regarded as ground-breaking for its uses of delays, echoes, and loops, but, after that, is it anything memorable? The lead guitar that takes over for the final two minutes is so steeped--no, stuck--in blues scales that it almost sullies the other stuff. If you want a good experimentalist with guitar and sound effects, try TODD RUNDGREN. I know I do. (7/10)

4. "The Salmon Song" (8:32) quickly kicks into a nice little driving groove before layers of lead guitars begin to build. At 2:25 Steve begins his singing--nice but no really catching melodies. A little magic begins around the 3:45 mark: nice chords and effects, bassoon, scaled down support music. Almost TODD-like! Listening to this album reminds me once again that, for all the grief people give Todd Rundgren, he sure was years ahead of his peers in terms of production knowhow, talent and courage. Some nice space-lead guitar work beginning around 6:40. The bass and drums get a bit annoying. Interesting ending. (8/10)

5. "Aftaglid" (14:42) begins like a Hare Krishna chant: hand/finger bells and simple guitar riffs. By 1:40 we see a transformation into the delayed 'space' guitar for which Steve is quite known. The foundations drum and bass lines are so simplisitic as to make you wonder if the boys thought this was just a sound check or whether they expected the jam to stop at any moment. By 3:50 it finally feels as if the band is clicking--as if the bass and drummer have finally figured out that Steve isn't going to quit, that this is a real 'take' so they'd better get their act together. But then it all disappears at 4:35, fade out everybody but some acoustic guitar, cymbol play and floating-in-the-distant-background space guitar. Gong-like. In the seventh minutes things shift to a more Indian raga-like sound: hand drums, Indian melody being repeated on the guitar; psychedelia in the heavily treated DONOVAN-like vocals here. It's actually kind of a cool, mesmerizing section. At 8:45 we shift back into simple blues-rock formalities (these guys are no Clapton, Bruce & Baker or Hendrix, Redding & Mitchell). As much you can like the signature Hillage space guitar sound, it can't be enough to brainwash you into thinking that this is exceptionally composed or performed music, can it? Perhaps I need(ed) more drugs. (7/10)

BrufordFreak | 2/5 |


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