Steve Hillage

For to Next/And Not Or

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For to Next followed Steve Hillage's last effort by a few years, and during the interim the evolving synth/new wave scene seems to have captured his imagination. For all intents and purposes a collaboration with keyboardist Miquette Giraudy, the album features relatively light and bouncy synthesizers augmented by Hillage's sometimes spacy guitar solos and sleepy vocals. Gone is Hillage's upbeat mysticism, replaced by the fashionably bleak outlook popularized by synth rock acts like Ultravox, Visage, and Gary Numan. Thus the mix of ingratiating melodies (always a Hillage hallmark) and a sense of social malaise on tracks like "These Uncharted Lands," "Anthems for the Blind," "Glory," and "Bright Future." It's a setting that keeps Hillage's talents too confined, especially for someone whose natural milieu is the unbounded aether of cosmic consciousness exemplified on albums like Motivation Radio and Green. There are moments, as on "Frame by Frame," that the old guitar magic reappears to create an interesting "discosmic" amalgam, which could be seen as a harbinger of System 7. But Steve Hillage simply doesn't have the voice or the necessary gimmickry to pull this sort of synth-driven music off here, falling slightly behind Pete Shelley and Tony Banks in the line of nice guys who lack the vocal chops to cash in on their own ideas. Perhaps recognizing its own lightweight status, the album was originally accompanied with a free instrumental LP, And Not Or; the two were combined on a single CD in subsequent reissues.

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