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Hillage, Steve: Searching For The Spark

Through Uriel, Khan, Gong, System 7 and a lengthy solo career, guitarist and vocalist Steve Hillage has long followed a varied, individual path that has defied genre and convention. Arguably he was bringing ambient and dance to space, avant-garde prog rock long before anyone else, but no matter what he was doing, it was with a singular vision that has and continues to, set him apart from most other acts and artists.

Searching For The Spark is an impressive retrospective set, 22 CDs in all brought together to illustrate the many sides of this revered musician. For obvious reasons Snapper/Madfish haven't been sending out fully completed sets for review, so what we have here is a mere 7 track sample of the far more in depth look at Hillage's career this set contains. So without the box at our disposal, maybe best let the press release reveal what's inside…

Searching For The Spark is a 22 cd deluxe box set containing all the work guitar great and electronic music innovator Steve Hillage recorded from his studio debut (1969's Arzachel) to the first System 7 album in 1991. 



The set includes: 

* Arzachel

* Khan's Space Shanty, 1972. 

* All eight of Hillage's classic Virgin Records solo albums - Fish Rising, L, Motivation Radio, Green, Live Herald, Rainbow Dome Music, Open (and Studio Herald), For To Next (and its companion And Not Or) - plus bonus tracks. 

* System 7's debut from 1991. 

* Live in Deeply Vale, 1978. 

* Two BBC performances from The Paris Theatre recorded in December 1976 and November 1979. 

* Eight CDs featuring recordings taken from Steve's personal archive, including four superb concert performances (Brighton Dome November 1977, Munich April 1979, Hammersmith Odeon November 1979, The Steve Hillage Band Live At The Gong Family Unconvention 2006) and four discs (Sparks Volumes 1-4) packed with previously unheard and unreleased tracks, demos and alternate takes.


Accompanying the recordings is a magnificent 188 page - 32,000 word - coffee table book. Written and assembled by Steve Hillage and Gong family expert Jonny Greene, the book contains hundreds of rare and previously unseen photographs and cuttings. In addition there are three reproduction promo posters, two lyric booklets, a high quality enamel badge, a 60 page scrap book containing more photographs and cuttings, and a certificate of authenticity signed by Steve Hillage and his creative partner Miquette Giraudy.

...and there's no denying that all sounds both exhaustive and exciting.

So what does this brief taster allow us to discover? Well, we start with "Aftaglid (Tambura Backing Track Mix Pt2)" recorded in 1974 during the Fish Rising sessions at The Manor, where an unsettlingly dreamy chime of guitars makes way for powering drums and sharp, yet floating fret-work from Hillage. Up next is "Beginning To See The Light" a never completed track from 1977's Green demos, Hillage's vocals muffled in a hissy mix and yet the psychedelic strum proves rather irresistible as a surprisingly pop-edge is brought into play. Another uncompleted piece arrives in the shape of the Khan Mk II era piece with Dave Stewart, "Madman's Rap", this never previously released track from 1972 proving a highlight in this glimpse into what the main set contains; a flurry of notes tumbling forth as trademark slicings of guitar interspersed by organ and (again) barely perceptible vocals becomes a genuine enticement to discover more.

With nothing official in the box from Hillage's time with Gong, a key period in his and their career, the inclusion of some of the guitarist's own 1973 recordings from the Gong house in Sens, France is more than welcome. Here we get an echo guitar piece, "The Golden Vibe", which thoroughly and languidly lives up to its name.

And with much of this set made up of archive live material, it's fitting that the sampler closes with superb live versions of "The Fire Inside" (recorded in 1979), "It's All Too Much" (1977) and "New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype)" (1979). All three emphasising different strengths in the Hillage armoury and impressing through their excellent sound quality and authentic live vibe.

In truth it's nigh on impossible to give a score to a 22CD box set based on 7 songs. However what I will say is that from the press images and video, the set looks magnificent and covers almost everything a Hillage completist could hope for. Purely based on this promo CD, the score below reads four stars out of five, but I've got a funny feeling that if I was holding this considerable release in my hands for real, it may well get full marks.

Limited to 2500 sets and priced at £200, this may only be aimed at Hillage fanatics, but I'm guessing they'll be very happy with what they get for their money.

CD 1 - Arzachel - Arzachel (1969): 1. Garden Of Earthly Delights [02:48] 2. Azathoth [04:26] 3. Soul Thing [04:32] 4. Leg [05:49] 5. Clean Innocent Fun [10:34] 6. Metempsychosis [16:58]

CD 2 - Khan - Space Shanty (1972): 1. Space Shanty [08:59] 2. Stranded [06:35] 3. Mixed Up Man Of The Mountains [07:14] 4. Driving To Amsterdam [09:22] 5. Stargazers [05:32] 6. Hollow Stone [08:16] Bonus Tracks: 7. Break the Chains [03:31] 8. Mixed Up Man of the Mountains (First Version) [04:28]

CD 3 - Fish Rising (1975): 1. Solar Musick Suite [16:55] 2. Fish [01:23] 3. Meditation Of The Snake [03:10] 4. The Salmon Song [08:45] 5. Aftaglid [14:46] Bonus Tracks: 6. Pentagrammaspin (2006 Remix) [07:46] 7. Aftaglid (Power Trio Backing Track) [13:00]

CD 4 - L (1976): 1. Hurdy Gurdy Man [06:32] 2. Hurdy Gurdy Glissando [08:54] 3. Electrick Gypsies [06:54] 4. Om Nama Shivaya [03:33] 5. Lunar Musick Suite [11:59] 6. It's All Too Much [06:26] Bonus Tracks: 7. Eight Miles High (Backing Track) [04:34] 8. Maui (Early Version of 'Palm Trees') [04:41] 9. Shimmer [03:50]

CD 5 - Motivation Radio (1977): 1. Hello Dawn [02:48] 2. Motivation [04:07] 3. Light In The Sky [04:12] 4. Radio [06:13] 5. Wait One Moment [03:25] 6. Saucer Surfing [04:28] 7. Searching For The Spark [05:35] 8. Octave Doctors [03:38] 9. Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) [04:00] Bonus Tracks: 10. Leylines To Glassdom (T.O.N.T.O. Version) [02:50] 11. The Salmon Song (Power Trio Backing Track) [09:12] 12. The Golden Vibe (Alternate Mix) [02:50]

CD 6 - Green (1978): 1. Sea Nature [06:42] 2. Ether Ships [05:07] 3. Musik Of The Trees [04:54] 4. Palm Trees (Love Guitar) [05:21] 5. Unidentified (Flying Being) [04:31] 6. U.F.O. Over Paris [03:10] 7. Leylines To Glassdom [04:07] 8. Crystal City [03:36] 9. Activation Meditation [01:03] 10. The Glorious Om Riff [07:53] Bonus Tracks: 11. Unidentified (Flying Being) [Live at Glastonbury 1979] [04:54] 12. Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) [Live at The Rainbow Theatre 1977] [07:28] 13. Octave Doctors [Live at Glastonbury 1979] [03:40] 14. Meditation Of The Snake (Alternative Mix) [03:17]

CD 7 - Live Herald (1978): 1. The Salmon Song [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [07:38] 2. The Dervish Riff [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [04:24] 3. Castle In The Clouds/Hurdy Gurdy Man [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [07:00] 4. Light In The Sky [Live at Oxford Poly May 1978] [05:16] 5. Seaching For The Spark [Live at The Marquee Club August 1978] [11:15] 6. Electrick Gypsies Solar Music Suite [Live at The Rainbow Theatre November 1977] [06:00] 7. Radiom/Lunar Musick Suite/Mediation Of The Dragon [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [15:23] 8. It's All Too Much/The Golden Vibe [Live at Oxford Poly May 1978] [07:17] Bonus Tracks: 9. Solar Music Suite [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [14:37]

CD 8 - Rainbow Dome Music (1979): 1. Garden Of Paradise [23:15] 2. Four Ever Rainbow [20:30]

CD 9 - Studio Herald (1978) / Open (1979) : Studio Herald: 1. Talking To The Sun [06:00] 2. 1988 Aktivator [02:29] 3. New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype) [08:52] 4. Healing Feeling [06:07] Open: 5. Earthrise [08:35] 6. Open [05:17] 7. Definite Activity [04:44] 8. Getting Better [02:59] 9. Day After Day [06:19] 10. Getting In Tune [03:16] 11. Don't Dither Do It [05:06] 12. The Fire Inside [06:18] Bonus Tracks: 13. Don't Dither Do It (1974 Power Trio Backing Track) [04:47] 14. Four Ever Rainbow (Part 3 Alternative Mix) [08:55]

CD 10 - For To Next / And Not Or (1983): For To Next: 1. These Unchartered Lands [05:39] 2. Kamikaze Eyes [04:50] 3. Alone [05:22] 4. Anthems For The Blind [04:30] 5. Bright Future [05:08] 6. Frame By Frame [05:53] 7. Waiting [05:24] 8. Glory [06:28] And Not Or: 9. Before The Storm [07:07] 10. Red Admiral [06:12] 11. Serotonin [05:37] 12. And Not Or [06:27] 13. Knights Templar [04:33] 14. Still Golden [05:54]

CD 11 - System 7 - System 7 (1991): 1. Sunburst [07:25] 2. Freedom Fighters [05:21] 3. Habibi [06:10] 4. Altitude [05:59] 5. Bon Humeur [07:27] 6. Fractal Liaison [02:10] 7. Dog [05:53] 8. Thunderdog [02:26] 9. Listen [06:24] 10. Strange Quotations [06:36] 11. Miracle [07:09] 12. Over And Out [03:28]

CD 12: 1. The Salmon Song [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1976] [09:14] 2. Hurdy Gurdy Glissando [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1976] [12:31] 3. Meditation Of The Dragon [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1976] [07:40] 4. It's All Too Much [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1976] [09:52] 5. Encore: Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1976] [10:09] Bonus Tracks 6. Aftaglid [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [06:41] 7. Electrick Gypsies [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [06:00] 8. Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) [Live at The Rainbow Theatre March 1977] [08:05]

CD 13: 1. Electrick Gypsies [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [06:04] 2. New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype) [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [08:33] 3. Light In The Sky [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [05:12] 4. Unidentified (Flying Being) [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [07:56] 5. Radio [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [10:15] 6. 1988 Aktivator [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [02:32] 7. Crystal City [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [04:32] 8. The Glorious Om Riff [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [07:03] 9. It's All Too Much [BBC Radio 1 in Concert 1979] [07:02]

CD 14 - Live At Deeply Vale, July 1978: 1. Saucer Surfing [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [07:51] 2. Searching For The Spark [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [10:29] 3. Octave Doctors [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [04:20] 4. The Salmon Song [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [10:23] 5. Crystal City [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [05:00] 6. Radio [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [07:17] 7. Palm Trees [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [05:37] 8. Light In The Sky [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [05:04] 9. Hurdy Gurdy Man [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [07:26] 10. Lunar Musick Suite [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [03:58] 11. Sun Song (Reprise) [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [01:30] 12. Activation Meditation [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [04:11] 13. The Glorious Om Riff [Live at Deeply Vale Festival July 1978] [04:48]

CD 15 - Live At The Brighton Dome, November 1977: 1. Octave Doctors [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [04:06] 2. It's All Too Much [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [06:30] 3. Light In The Sky [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [04:27] 4. Radio [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [07:01] 5. Aftaglid [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [05:07] 6. Electrick Gypsies [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [05:47] 7. The Salmon Song [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [03:08] 8. Solar Musick Suite (Part 2) [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [06:41] 9. Motivation [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [06:47] 10. Saucer Surfing [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [07:38] 11. Searching For The Spark [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [14:43] 12. Hurdy Gurdy Man [Live at the Brighton Dome, November 1977] [05:26]

CD 16 - Live In Munich, April 1979: 1. The Salmon Song [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [06:28] 2. New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype) [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [08:28] 3. Hurdy Gurdy Man [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [09:35] 4. Unidentified (Flying Being) [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [09:15] 5. The Dervish Riff [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [03:23] 6. Hurdy Gurdy Man [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [06:24] 7. Motivation [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [05:39] 8. 1988 Aktivator [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [02:28] 9. Crystal City [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [03:18] 10. Activation Meditation [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [01:31] 11. The Glorious Om Riff [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [06:09] 12. Meditation Of The Dragon [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [02:44] 13. It's All Too Much [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [07:08] 14. Encore: Electrick Gypsies [Live at Schwabinger Brau, Munich April 1979] [05:21]

CD 17 - Live At The Hammersmith Odeon November 1979: 1. The Fire Inside [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [05:35] 2. 1988 Aktivator [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [02:24] 3. Crystal City [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [03:15] 4. Activation Meditation [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [00:43] 5. The Glorious OM Riff [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [06:18] 6. Day After Day [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [06:13] 7. Getting In Tune [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [03:41] 8. Palm Trees [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [04:51] 9. New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype) [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [08:30] 10. Healing Feeling [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [02:15] 11. Open [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [07:17] 12. Saucer Surfing [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [06:51] 13. Searching For The Spark [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [06:17] 14. It's All Too Much [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [05:48] 15. Encore: The Salmon Song [Live at the Odeon, Hammersmith November 1979] [06:36]

CD 18 - Live At The Gong Family Unconvention, November 2006: 1. Hello Dawn [Live at the Gong Family Unconvention November 2006] [03:45] 2. It's All Too Much [Live at the Gong Family Unconvention November 2006] [05:57] 3. Aftaglid [Live at the Gong Family Unconvention November 2006] [08:44] 4. Solar Musick Suite Part 1 [Live at the Gong Family Unconvention November 2006] [11:53] 5. The Salmon Song [Live at the Gong Family Unconvention November 2006] [07:41] 6. These Unchartered Lands [Live at the Gong Family Unconvention November 2006] [10:58] Bonus Tracks 7. Palm Trees [Live at the Sonesta Koepelkerk December 1979] [04:50] 8. New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype) [Live at the Sonesta Koepelkerk December 1979] [08:15] 9. Healing Feeling [Live at the Sonesta Koepelkerk December 1979] [02:04] 10. Solar Musick Suite (Early Version) [Live with Gong at Hammersmith Palais October 1974] [08:32]

CD 19 - Sparks Volume 1: 1. Goblin [1970 Demo made in Canterbury] [06:17] 2. Escape Of The Space Pirates [1971 Khan Demo and Early Versions] [01:35] 3. Hollow Stone (Acoustic Demo) [1971 Khan Demo and Early Versions] [06:50] 4. Stargazers (Guitar Demo) [1971 Khan Demo and Early Versions] [06:04] 5. Canterbury Sunrise [1972 Rehearsal Recording from Khan Mk II with Dave Stewart] [08:16] 6. Madman's Rap [1972 Rehearsal Recording from Khan Mk II with Dave Stewart] [04:00] 7. Wiring Out The Ground Loosely Now [1972 Rehearsal Recording from Khan Mk II with Dave Stewart] [03:21] 8. Five Piece [1972 Rehearsal Recording from Khan Mk II with Dave Stewart] [04:46] 9. The Dervish Riff [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [01:49] 10. The Golden Vibe [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [03:39] 11. Water Trip [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [01:52] 12. Leyline Drips [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [05:11] 13. Pre-Glid [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [02:28] 14. Hanging Lead [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [04:35] 15. Melting Leadatron [1973 at the Gong House, Sens - a Cappella Echo Guitar Recording] [04:51]

CD 20 - Sparks Volume 2: 1. Don't Dither Do It [1974 Pre-Fish Rising Home Demo] [02:40] 2. All The Time In The World [1974 Pre-Fish Rising Home Demo] [03:44] 3. Beginning To See The Light [September 1974 Fish Rising Sessions and Additional Tracks] [06:04] 4. Fish [September 1974 Fish Rising Sessions and Additional Tracks] [01:07] 5. Light In The Sky [September 1974 Fish Rising Sessions and Additional Tracks] [07:25] 6. Electrick Gypsies [September 1974 Fish Rising Sessions and Additional Tracks] [05:20] 7. Aftaglid (Tambura Backing Track Mix) [September 1974 Fish Rising Sessions and Additional Tracks] [12:42] 8. Pentagrammaspin [September 1974 Fish Rising Sessions and Additional Tracks] [06:21] 9. Hurdy Gurdy Man (Early Version) [1976 L Demo in the Chicken Loft] [04:08] 10. It's All Too Much [1976 L Demo in the Chicken Loft] [05:58] 11. Om Nama Shivaya [1976 L Demo in the Chicken Loft] [03:31] 12. Electrick Gypsies [1976 L Demo in the Chicken Loft] [04:26] 13. Hurdy Gurdy Glissando [1976 L Demo in the Chicken Loft] [08:00] 14. Lunar Musick Suite (Part 2) [1976 L Demo in the Chicken Loft] [08:28]

CD 21 - Sparks Volume 3: 1. Hurdy Gurdy Glissando (Gliss a Cappella) [1976 Rough from Todd Rundgren's Studio] [01:56] 2. Hurdy Gurdy Man (Backing Track First Take) [1976 Rough from Todd Rundgren's Studio] [06:20] 3. Light In The Sky [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [03:42] 4. Radio [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [04:10] 5. Searching for The Spark [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [06:01] 6. Saucer Surfing [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [03:59] 7. Hello Dawn [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [02:54] 8. Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [05:48] 9. Don't Dither Do It [Spring 1977 Red Demo] [01:47] 10. Sea Nature [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [03:08] 11. Ether Ships [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [02:45] 12. Unidentified (Om Orgoniser) [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [01:49] 13. Leylines To Glassdom [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [03:46] 14. Musick Of The Trees [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [05:29] 15. Beginning To See The Light [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [03:55] 16. Healing Feeling [Spring 1977 Green Demo] [01:42] 17. The Fire Inside [Summer 1979 Open Demo at Crofton Cottage] [05:08] 18. Getting In Tune [Summer 1979 Open Demo at Crofton Cottage] [03:08] 19. Give It Some Heft [Summer 1979 Open Demo at Crofton Cottage] [04:03] 20. The Snakecharmers Ball [Summer 1979 Open Demo at Crofton Cottage] [02:07]

CD 22 - Sparks Volume 4: 1. Time Lines [1983 Single B-Side (Studio Pre-Mix)] [06:16] 2. Before The World Was Made [1983 Single B-Side (Studio PreMix)] [03:36] 3. Explosion [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [03:56] 4. Rescue Mission [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [04:23] 5. Infomaniac [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [02:39] 6. Forgotten Pleasure [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [03:35] 7. No Fret [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [05:23] 8. Never Let You Go [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [04:22] 9. Everest [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [05:43] 10. Congo Glide [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [02:46] 11. Bird's Eye View [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [02:24] 12. Crystaline [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [03:05] 13. The Aperture [1980-82 Unfinished Track] [02:15] 14. Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [01:36] 15. Spanish Castle Magic [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [02:43] 16. Bon Humeur (Demo) [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [03:17] 17. Strange Quotations (Demo) [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [02:16] 18. Floating World [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [03:21] 19. Work It Out [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [02:52] 20. Glid [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [01:58] 21. Future Fifths [1989-90 System 7 Demo] [05:41]

Added: January 1st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Searching For The Spark promo video
Hits: 1147
Language: english

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