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?