Steve Hillage: ‘Rainbow Dome Musick’


Steve Hillage has had a very diverse career, dabbling in music from Hard Rock (early bands including Khan), Prog Rock (Mike Oldfield), Ambient (this album), Art Rock (Kevin Ayers), Punk Rock (Sham 69), Pop (Sting), The Canterbury Scene (Caravan and Egg), Dance (Solo), and the simply bizarre Gong.

Hillage is a masterful musician, especially on the guitar.  In 1979 he released this album, “Rainbow Dome Musick”, in collaboration with his long time partner Miquette Giraudy.  When the album was released on vinyl you got one piece of music on each side, each running at just over twenty minutes.  It is quite the most soothing music that this Dog has ever listened to and is often a part of the early morning ritual of getting out of the basket.

And don’t be put off by the ‘Ambient’ tag on this album, it’s very pleasant music.

The first piece opens with water running over rocks in a stream as the guitar gently breaks in with added lilting keyboards.  This opening is really Miquettee’s contribution to the album with her lovely use of sequencers overlapping loops as the music drifts into your brain.  It brings with it a feeling of calmness, even meditation.  Hillage’s guitar work is sympathetic and subtle while the piano lines rise in fifths throughout the score.  There are no drums or vocals played on this entire album, keeping the feeling of calmness all the way through.

The second piece of music is Steve Hillage’s work.  “Four Ever Rainbow” opens up with the sound of a bell drawing your attention and the piece has a lot more guitar and synthesizers tripping across the music, flowing with textures and tone coloring.  Expounding calmness at every ripple, it gives the listener a feeling of being in an oasis of peace.  There is a lot more interplay between the instruments, but it never gets cluttered and leaves you feeling relaxed and rested.

This work was originally written for the Festival of Mind, Body and Spirit in London in 1977 and the music alone takes you back to that period of time, a more peaceful time.  The festival is still held biannually in London and there are similar festivals held all over the world.

Hillage was forever changing his musical outgoings, but this is one I wish he had returned to again.  He made similar sequences of music in some of his solo albums but never a whole album, or with such effect.

A lot of Steve Hillage’s music has gone on to be far more influential than people ever imagined at the time.  Although this album did make it into the charts when it was released (number 48 in the British hit parade), Hillage never became what you would call a star.  Well respected and known in many different genres for sure, but as with the music on this album, he remained quiet and would often allow himself to drift away on a musical cloud.

Steve Hillage in 1979.
Steve Hillage in 1979.

The British newspaper The Guardian put this work in its top one thousand albums of all time.  Quite who compiled this list I am not sure, but to give it such a high standing he must have been a very earnest fan too. – 5 stars

Artists on the album:

Steve Hillage – Electric and acoustic guitars, glissando guitar, Fender Rhodes, ARP synthesizer and moog synthesizer.

Miquette Giraudy – Double sequencer, Fender Rhodes, ARP omni, and Tibetan bells.


Garden of Paradise

Four Ever Rainbow

Note: Written By Mott the Dog and Hells Bells. Mott the Dog can often be found in deep meditation at Jameson’s Pub, Nova Park, Soi AR, North Pattaya.