Searching For The Spark 1969 -1991 is an amazing career spanning box of delights, ranging from Steve’s recording debut, 1969’s Arzachel to the first System 7 album in 1991. Also included are Space Shanty by Khan, all 8 Virgin solo albums (Fish Rising, L, Motivation Radio, Green, Live Herald, Rainbow Dome Music, Open, For To Next / And Not Or), Deeply Vale 1978, 2 BBC performances from The Paris Theatre in December 1976 & November 1979, and finally 8 CDs from Steve’s personal archive consisting of 4 superb concert recordings (Brighton Dome November 1977, Munich April 1979, Hammersmith Odeon November 1979, The Steve Hillage Band Live At The Gong Family Unconvention 2006) and 4 discs packed with previously unheard and unreleased tracks, demos and alternate takes (Sparks Vol 1-4).
Accompanying the recordings is a magnificent 188 page coffee table book written and put together by Steve Hillage and Gong family expert Jonny Greene which contains hundreds of rare and previously unseen photographs, cuttings and memorabilia.
In addition there are 3 reproduction promo posters, 2 lyric booklets, a high quality enamel badge, a 60 page scrap book containing more photographs and cuttings and a certificate of authenticity personally signed by Steve and Miquette.
This ultimate all encompassing Steve Hillage package is strictly limited to 2500 boxes.
Writing in his celebration of fishing, The Compleat Angler, published in 1653, Izaak Walton, noted that »No man is born an Artist nor an Angler«, suggesting that proficiency in both areas of activity takes time, patience and dedication to achieve. Over the course of several years Steve Hillage has mastered both. While Hillage's time as an angler has afforded him the joy of casting a line outwards to see what might be reeled in, the landing of 'Searching For The Spark', a 22 disc box set, provides listeners with an opportunity to celebrate an artist that’s hooked in hundreds of thousands of fans around the world for over five decades.
Though he’d been taking piano lessons since he was four, in 1960, aged nine, like so many of his generation, he became intoxicated with the guitar. Turned on by the Elysian twang of The Shadows’ »Wonderful Land« and Buddy Holly’s slapback cool, he caught the six-string bug big and began the transformative process of turning a dream into reality.
Growing up in the suburbs of London in the 1960s, a teenage Hillage plugged into the creative current flowing through the city, soaking up the excitement and energy of seeing Hendrix and many others several times, and channeling it into his own playing. Just nine years after picking up a guitar and Bert Weedon’s »Play In A Day«, he recorded his first album. Beloved by fans of psychedelia, Arzarchel was recorded in a single day in the summer of ’69. Citing his influences as »a wide range of exciting ‘60s psychedelic rock – in particular Hendrix, various great blues guitarists, Cream, Pink Floyd, Captain Beefheart and a strong side order of John Coltrane«, it's a confident performance from someone aged just 18.
Quitting university in Canterbury to concentrate on music full-time, his short-lived group, Khan, released their sole cult status album, Space Shanty in 1972, and later that year, while playing with Kevin Ayers in France, he met and joined Daevid Allen's »Gong«. It’s surely no accident that Hillage’s arrival coincided with Gong’s most successful and critically acclaimed period.
»Fish Rising« (1975) united Steve’s passion for fishing and philosophy through a heady combination of metrical complexity, symbolic lyrics and powerful muscularity, resulting in one admiring review, comparing him with guitar gurus, John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana. Though musically very different, like them, Hillage possessed his own distinctive voice as a player; an instantly recognisable tone conveying boundless enthusiasm, whose songs songs and solos mapped out their own transcendent space wherein hope-filled arpeggios mutate into mesmeric, Echoplexed patterns or shimmering drifts of haunting glissando.
»L«, released in 1976 and produced by Todd Rundgren, marks a point where artistic and commercial success converge for Hillage, ushering in a run of Top 30 albums that included »Motivation Radio« (1977), and »Green« (1978). In concert, his team of top-drawer players created a formidably powerful sound whose essence was brilliantly captured on 1979’s »Live Herald«.
Hillage’s perpetually inquisitive nature led him to create »Rainbow Dome Musick«, a proto-ambient, chill-out album for the Mind Spirit and Body Festival of 1979. The ripples gently emanating from this album, conceived with his partner in music and life, Miquette Giraudy, would seep into the fabric of techno and and ambient house music of the late ‘80s. Nearly a decade after its release, upon entering a club and hearing this music mixed against some beats, Hillage was struck by how well these two apparently disparate elements dovetailed together. »It was like an epiphany - a real cathartic moment for me. It was like I’d arrived in my new musical home - everything just felt right.« That chance encounter marked the beginning of new stage in his personal and musical evolution, eventually coming to fruition in the ‘90s when Hillage and Giraudy founded System 7. Since then the pair have released numerous albums. Acclaimed for their forward-thinking experimentation, the pair have travelled the globe with their creative melange of electronic dance music laced with a liberal dose of psychedelic sensibility.
As someone who produced albums by artists as diverse as Simple Minds, Murray Head and Tony Banks during the ‘80s and collaborations with Youth, Alex Patterson, Paul Oakenfold and other dance scene luminaries from the '90s onwards, it’s no surprise Hillage’s ability to see beyond the confines of genre and expectation rightly earned him the Visionary award at 2013’s Progressive Music Awards.
Showing no signs of easing up on his ongoing musical commitments, the 64 year-old Hillage sees Searching For The Spark, which features hours of unreleased material and an accompanying 188 page book, as a definitive account of what is a remarkable musical journey. »Above all I’m happy if this helps people to get the best understanding of my music and how it all came about. For Miquette and myself the story continues!«