The first step Steve Hillage took in the world of music was with a band called Arzachel. He played a short while with Kevin Ayers, formerly of Soft Machine, and then he joined Gong. He was guitarist in the band at the time of the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy (1973-74). After Daevid Allen had left Gong in 1975, the band continued for a few years and Hillage became one of the main song writers. Musically the band went into a more jazz-rock direction, making mainly instrumental music.
Hillage started a solo career in 1975. Between 1975 and 1982 he recorded a handful of albums blending jazz-rock, prog rock and psychedelica with even some ambient elements. During the eighties he focussed on producing music for Simple Minds amongst others. In 1991 he suddenly resurfaced with his goa-trance outfit System 7 consisting of Hillage and his wife and long-time musical partner Miquette Giraudy. To date he's still involved with System 7 and he also established Mirror System for the ambient material.
In the weekend of November 3, 2006, Gong held the Gong Family Unconvention at Melkweg in Amsterdam. In this event all Gong members, former members as well as a lot of related bands were playing and enjoying music. Steve Hillage took the opportunity to play his old material again. It was the first time they played together since December 18, 1979. The band consisted of Steve Hillage (guitar, vocals), Miquette Giraudy (synthesizers, vocals), Mike Howlett (bass), Chris Taylor (drums) and Basil Brooks (additional synthesizers).
It didn't end there. Three years later Steve Hillage rejoined Gong to record the 2032-album and to play with Gong on the tour following the release of that album. As a support Steve played with his own Steve Hillage Band. The two opening tracks Hello Dawn and It's All Too Much aren't that good; the band is still searching for the right connection. But with Aftaglid and Solar Musick the magic appears. These Uncharted Lands has been performed live for the first time on which Hillage exposes his glide guitar technique.
The entire show lasts around fifty minutes. It was recorded with different cameras and globally the sound and the images are very good. The video has been edited by Harry Williamson, who used a lot of editing techniques such as changing colours and mixing different images. I assume that he wanted the video to provide a kind of seventies feel. It's a matter of taste, but to me it's all a bit overdone. As a bonus you get a thirty-minute interview with Hillage and Giraudy. The CD contains some old live bonus tracks. This DVD and CD are a must have for the fans of Steve Hillage and Gong, but they're either recommended to people who appreciate adventurous music.
**** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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