Sunday, June 24, 2007

Steve Hillage: From Hurdy Gurdy Man To Techno-Trance Wizard


Steve Hillage's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" - Live at Otto Hahn Schule, Benberg, 1977

I first came to know of Steve Hillage when he was part of the incomparable and indestructible Gong, circa 1973. Noted for his ethereal, bluesy, ecstatically lyrical guitarwork and near lightspeed arpeggios (which someone described as "paint blistering"), Hillage also had a distinctly angelic aura that made him look and sound like a funky Jesus on acid.

When he began producing solo albums, Hillage brought part of the trance-inducing Gong sound with him - but focused more on the metaphysical and theosophical elements rather than on the pataphysical.

While with Gong he met and connected with Miquette Giraudy (synth and vocals). Steve and Miquette have been partners and collaborators since those heady days with Gong. They have been featured guests on many landmark recordings, among the most notable of which is undoubtedly Cyrille Verdeaux's 1975 epic, Clearlight Symphony.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, musical trends moved towards punk and lounge lizard chic - and Steve Hillage found himself producing younger bands like Simple Minds and Murray Head.

By 1989, Hillage and Giraudy had begun jamming with DJs and techno-trance music producers. They enjoyed it enough to form a group called System 7 (inspired by the Macintosh Operating System then in vogue) which focuses on techno-trance and ambient dance music augmented by live musicians. They also have a record company called A-wave (check out some MP3 samples on their site). Click here for a complete discography.


Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy (System 7 live at the Sonic Rock Festival, Lincolnshire, 2005)

Giraudy & Hillage: Why get married when you can make beautiful music together?



4 comments:

Rory Winter said...

Hillage, Dave Allen & Gong, System 7, Tim Blake & Crystal Machine ... yeah, they're all embedded in my psyche forever.

What a celebration, Uncle Ant, to read these great articles on you blog!

But what's with all those Hillage videos which cant be copied as embedding code has been disallowed by the contributors.

Good music is meant to be shared with all the world. This has to be the ultimate act of elitist snobbery!

Antares said...

I must admit I was initially hesitant to allow others to embed my videos on YouTube. But that's just the anus talking. My heart agrees with the notion that the best things in life ARE free. My head, listening to both the asshole and the lovepump, thinks one ought to at least attempt to reap as much as possible when the crops mature...(who wanna be another Van Gogh or Wolfgang Amadeus? Not me!) but even if one doesn't, waddafuck, the fun of making stuff is always its own reward!

Born2rant said...

Hello There
I only just found your blog and so far I have only read this entry I must read more. It's really well put together.
Today on my blog I mention Steve Hillage who I have met a few times and whose music (not forgetting Miquette's of course) I have loved for a long time. My ex-partner and I were huge fans of Hillage when we met as teenagers. We worked together running gigs for years and then with his success he ended up getting to know and booking all his favourite bands.
I am similar except I've ended up performing more and just doing music with many psychedelic musicians quite by accident (usually unofficially and offstage).
I've recently started to write a blog about some of my experiences , radical events I've been part of and political thoughts .
If you are a Hillage fan you probably will be interested in the bits I write about him when the whim takes me.
Love and Peace
Born2rant X
hippiecounterculture.wordpress.com

Antares said...

Appreciate your feedback, Born2Rant, and will certainly swing by your blog from time to time. Think I'll add you to my blogroll - but is that your blog name, "hippie counterculture"?
If you haven't thought of a suitable name yet, how about that famous line from John Lennon: Grow Your Hair! :-)