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Steve Hillage - Fish Rising CD (album) cover

FISH RISING

Steve Hillage

 

Canterbury Scene

4.15 | 419 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Even though there was a sever personnel crisis in the Gong ranks in the last stages of the You album recording and the aftermath of the Radio Gnome Invisbile trilogy's completion, you can tell by listening to Steve Hillage's debut album Fish Rising that there were strong reasons why Hillage joined Gong in the first place. More than half of this material had already been written for a Khan sophomore album that never became a reality, so the cosmic nature of this concept was already there. Also, the Gong trilogy releases reveal themselves as spaces of musical growth for Allen and Hillage: in this way, the presence of Gong fellow members as support musicians is more than just a conicidence or a convenience, it is the natural result of the kind of musician and creator than Hillage was by then. Fish Rising is as brlliant a testimony of the spacey side of Canterbury as any of the last two Gong's trilogy albums. The repertoire's structure has three long compositions as its basic skeleton. The keyboard department is shared by Dave Stewart's typical chops on organ/electric piano and Tim Blake's synth cosmic paintings: the latter are a bit subdued under Stewart's deliveries, but they definitely leave a proper mark in those special moments in which a Hillage lead gets particularly eerie and a synth is needed to complete the atmosphere. The opening suite Solar Musick Suite very much reminds us of the overall mood of Khan's Space Shanty, but the enhanced refinement in performance and arrangements is obvious. References to Gong's signature sound might be somewhat obvious, but the whole ensemble's sense of order is more related to Hatfield and Soft Machine's calmer side. In the end, this is just the birth of the Hillage sound: period. The sax washes by Malherbe and the organ layers by Stewart help to set the meditative ambience: the b and c portions are instrumental, the former being quite relaxed and the latter displaying a cosmic undertone that sets a slight variation to the track's overall scheme. 'Fish' is just a brief jazz-rock prelude to the dreamy soundscapes of 'Meditation of the Snake', which is an amazing journey of guitar and synth layers that reflect the most surreal realms of reality. When 'The Salmon Song' kicks off the album's second half, it pertinently delivers a jam-friendly structure in order to bring back a more earthly feel. Even though the middle section is very spacey, it mostly works as an interlude of the more explicit first and final sections. The album's gem is the closer 'Aftaglid', which thoroughfully recapitulates the dreamy aspect of space- rock and the weird sensuality of Gong-related Canterbury. The opening section is a soft electric raga that eventually shifts to a wild play of guitar multi-textures, which in turn ends up segued into an exotically driven acoustic guitar solo. 'The Lafta Yoga Song' is a lovely (but perhaps a bit sarcastic) Indian hymn that features heavily exotic tones. The last two sections are mostly jam-based, giving room for Hillage to expand on his particular soloing style: section f is rougher than section f, which has the mission of compeleting the whole picture with a more pronounced spacey sensbility and a less sharp edge. Fish Rising is exciting, beautiful, colorful, plethoric - this initiation of Steve Hillage as a solo recording artist is simply masterful.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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