The Upshot: Massive 22-disc career summation for the cosmic warrior mixes wild experimentation with occasional flirtations with mainstream accessibility.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
A tireless cosmic warrior, Steve Hillage has been plying his eccentric excess for the past 40 years, as much a cult figure as an influential icon. His playful blend of hippy zeal and progressive posturing, particularly as part of the madcap mayhem that marked his tenure with that populist prog band called Gong, found him surpassing the parochial parameters of ‘70s rock, leading to the most unpredictable pursuits this side of fusion-esque jazz. Later, he enjoyed a fruitful career on his own, continuing his experimental arc with a modest bow to erstwhile accessibility.
Searching for the Spark attempts to put all of it in perspective, and with 22 discs covering every facet of his career, both solo and with his various bands, it’s more of less overwhelming, not only for the novice but for the dedicated devotee as well. Nevertheless, the vast array of demos, alternate takes and unreleased live and studio recordings make this a must for the true collector, at least those able to afford the hefty cost of admission. It’s all but impossible to offer any hint on where to begin, but the random psychedelia of “Aftaglid,” the straight-on accessibility of “Beginning to See the Light” and a live take on George Harrison’s sonic freak-out “It’s All Too Much” are as good a place to start as any.
Space may be the place as far as Hillage is concerned, but even the cosmos have cause to expand for this one.
DOWNLOAD: “Aftaglid,” “Beginning to See the Light,” “It’s All Too Much”