Review Summary: An essential psychedelic progressive rock masterwork, phenomenal spaced out voyage.
Steve Hillage begins his solo career with one of the greatest albums of the progressive and psychedelic rock era. Much of the material for this album was written years earlier, even before Hillage joined Gong for their classic "Radio Gnome Invisible" trilogy. Parts were originally meant to be on the second Khan record, Hillage's earlier jazzy, Canterbury style band. Seeing as Hillage was still a member of Gong when recording this album, the rest of the band joins him to carve out his vision. The result is a jaw-dropping spaced out wonder.
The bulk of the record is taken up by three multi-part epics, starting with the highlight "Solar Musick Suite". This 17 minute opus developed from a song originally played with Khan and then Gong, and here it is in it's fully fleshed out glory, taking up almost the entire first side of the LP. Hillage and the band move through many different moods, textures and tempos with graceful ease, playing with time in a way not many musicians can. Hillage's lyrics are idealistic new age spiritual hippy themes, which can be an aquired taste. The song moves through mellow parts, knotty parts and eases into great grooves that let Hillage rip on the Gitfish, culminating in a ferociously intense jam that brings to mind an extremely psychedelic Mahavishnu Orchestra. "Fish" and "Meditation of the Snake" serve as an interlude to the other mega compositions of the record, ending the first side or "Inglid".
The second side "Outglid" begins with the Hillage concert staple "The Salmon Song". If there was a radio single from this album, it's this 8 and a half minute aquatic rocker. With a straight forward rock riff this is the most coventional song on the record. Theres another mindbending complex part in the middle before the main riff comes back in and Hillage once again takes it into the stratosphere with an amazing solo. The last song might be the most complex, with the 7 part "Aftaglid". This track moves through many different sections; loose jams, polyrhythmic chaos, pastoral acoustics, Middle-Eastern mantras, and glorious freak outs. The song builds to yet another intense jam, and brings the album to a very satisfying conclusion.
Steve Hillage has created a masterpiece of a record, one of the last breaths of the original progressive and psychedelic rock era. His later albums would all follow the Zen filled vibes of this album, but never quite reach the psychedelic heights of this.