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Steve Hillage - Fish Rising CD (album) cover

FISH RISING

Steve Hillage

 

Canterbury Scene

4.15 | 420 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Steve Hillage's first solo album is possibly his strongest from a prog rock perspective. Recorded at a time when Gong were in turmoil (Hillage would soldier on in the band until the end of the year, quitting after the completion of Shamal), Hillage's backing band includes several Gong refugees in the form of Moerlen, Malherbe, Blake, Gilli Smyth, and of course Hillage's partner and close musical collaborator Miquette Giraudy. This Gong spin-off is rounded off with a few colleagues from the Canterburian end of Virgin's prog stable of the time - Lindsay Cooper of Henry Cow and Hatfield and the North's Dave Stewart - who, of course, had previously played with Stewart in Uriel, Arzachel and Khan, and the previous year had invited Steve to guest on Egg's one-off reunion album The Civil Surface. This impressive ensemble attains a sound which naturally closely resembles Gong of the You era, but with enough Canterbury, jazz and ambient touches to make it a distinctive and different proposition.

The lyrics are, as always when Steve pens them, painfully sincere - whilst Hillage shared Daevid Allen's intent of using musical lyrics to expound New Age ideas and philosophies, Allen would wrap them in his distinctive sense of humour, whilst Steve seems extremely serious about them. (Well, except for the songs about being a fish.) If you share these beliefs, that's probably a bonus, but many listeners will probably find the lyrics somewhat laughable. What saves this from being a weakness of the album is the strength of the compositions and the unique bringing together of Gong's music and more complex musical approaches of the sort that Cooper and Stewart were exploring in their respective bands at the time. Furthermore, Hillage himself proves to be something of a musical Nostradamus, sections of some songs (such as Aftaglid) resembling the sort of ambient/dance music crossover which he and Giraudy would explore under the moniker of System 7 a decade and a half later. I can think of few albums which manage to exemplify their time and, despite that, be so far ahead of their time simultaneously, so Fish Rising earns the fifth star.

Warthur | 5/5 |

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