BEGINNINGS

Steve was born near Birmingham in the heart of England and grew up in Smethwick where as a child in the 60’s he was pulled like a powerful magnet to the new sounds he was occasionally hearing on TV and radio created by electronic music. Even though a young child, conventional instrumentation seemed old and too familiar yet these new sounds seemed so futuristic, vibrant and colourful. During the early 70’s he proceeded to obtain any albums that featured the synthesiser such as Perrey & Kingsley's "Kaleidoscopic Vibrations" and other Moog type albums such as Marty Gold's "Moog Plays the Beatles", Walter Carlos’s “Switched On Bach”, Tonto’s “Zero Time” etc. As the early 70's progressed, he was also beginning to hear the instrument used in bands such as ELP, Genesis and other progressive rock acts and also in a more experimental vein, by bands such as Hawkwind, Gong and Tangerine Dream.

 An immensely powerful impact was made when he heard Tangerine Dream for the very first time in 1972 in a live broadcast from Germany on the BBC. This was well before Radio One's John Peel began giving them airplay and was akin to a mystical experience because it was as if something in the music was calling out from across great distances of space and time. Steve had the strong sense that the nature of the music was forging a bridge between other worlds and dimensions. His awareness of this magical aspect of music motivated him to begin his own excursions into the realms of sound.

 At around this same time, as if being guided, at the age of 15 he “accidentally” made himself a rudimentary audio generator when the idea dropped into his head to connect the electronic circuit board of a dismantled tape recorder to the family record player amplifier. To his amazement out from the loudspeaker came a varied array of fantastic electronic sounds, not just oscillating whistles but many strange rhythmic sounds, bubbles and white noise.

 Steve attended the sixth form of Oldbury Technical School at the same time that the famous comedian Frank Skinner was also a pupil and he also met his future wife Linda there. Steve gained a place at Wolverhampton College of Art but as the 70’s progressed music got the stronger hold over him. Linda went on to attend Birmingham School of Art and also began having private flute lessons. Along the way an electronic organ, reverb and echo unit were obtained along with an Akai reel to reel tape recorder. A track from those far off days called MOON DRONE, which was recorded in 1978, can be found on the Auricle Records CD-R titled Dronsz: http://home.btconnect.com/ultimathule/tachyon/various/10dronsz.html

Steve enrolled in several music courses and passed several grades in the theory of music but in the main taught himself to sight read, compose and to play the guitar and keyboards. He was also being drawn to a wide genre of music from medieval, baroque, classical, folk, eastern, film, progressive rock, etc. and all were to leave a mark on his musical output over the following years.

During the early 80's a 4 track Teac multitrack recorder (Portastudio) and a Yamaha CS30L synthesiser were bought (from Black Sabbath keyboard player Jez Woodruffe) and a demo was subsequently sent to various record companies but to no avail - sadly his early 70’s Tangerine Dream sound was out of fashion with the record executives at that point in time! However, by then he had become aware through a mail order and record shop outlet called Lotus Records in Stafford, that an embryonic underground music scene of English musicians were carrying on the musical traditions set forth by Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, etc. Lotus were also beginning to stock cassette only albums by what was then just a handful of UK musicians pursuing this style of music such as Mark Shreeve and Ian Boddy. Steve & Linda therefore made the decision to start their own self financed label called Eye Tapes. The first self produced album FROM DISTANT SHORES was released in 1983 - the opening seagull sounds were created by the audio generator Steve had “made” when he was 15. Thankfully Andy Garibaldi, the owner of Lotus Records, took a stock of the album and Steve subsequently became a part of the underground UK synth music scene.

 FROM DISTANT SHORES 
1983 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 001 

From Distant Shores Part 1
Chamber of Bells
Tower Of Maxt
Atlantean Meadows
Rite Of Oscenai
Jewelled Eye
From Distant Shores Part 2
Vortex
Moonflow
Illuminere 1 
Altair

1984: An excerpt from “From Distant Shores Pt 1” appeared on the INKEYS No 7 cassette-zine, compiled by Dennis & Jeanette Emsley.

Steve 1984

Linda 1984

 

In 1985 Steve’s second album titled EVOCATIONS was released. Also released that year was an altogether different album called ASHTAR. Martin Reed was a pivotal member of the synth music scene at the time having his own label called Mirage which had released Mark Shreeve’s first albums. Martin had liked a track from FROM DISTANT SHORES called JEWELLED EYE which featured Linda improvising on flute. He was interested in releasing a whole album of similar styled music that would feature flute against a backdrop of ambient synths to create music that was spacious, ethnic and mysterious. In 1987 this was re-released on Eye Tapes with some additional synth parts added to some tracks and in 2003 Auricle Records released this as a ltd. edition CD-R. http://home.btconnect.com/ultimathule/tachyon/hillmansteveandlinda/01ashtar.html

ASHTAR 
Music for Flute & Synthesiser
with LINDA HILLMAN 
1985 Mirage 60 min cassette M613 

Ashtar
Courtyard Of The Lion
Temple Dance 1
Seachild
Chamber Of The Moon
Silver Sleep
Valley Of Enchantment
Ancient Dawn
Temple Dance 2
Pillars Of Sand
Golden Flame
Awakening Dream
Twilight 


EVOCATIONS
1985 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 002 


Evocations 1
Evocations 2
Journey Back
Evocations 3
Reflections
Evocations 4
Nocturne
In Times Past
Evocations 5

1985: An excerpt from “Evocations Pt 1” appeared on the INKEYS No 13 cassette-zine, compiled by Dennis & Jeanette Emsley.

1986: “Evocations 3” appeared on the ELECTRO SYRINX VOLUME 2 compilation cassette, compiled by Terry Hopkins.

NEW HORIZONS 

1986 Eye Tapes 55 min cassette EYE 003 

New Horizons Part 1
Starcycle
Suntower
Solace
Dreamwalk
Moondance
New Horizons Part 2
Silver Wheel
Vanguard
Suntower
Sunset

John Palmer, another leading figure of the scene during this time had founded EMIX - Electronic Music Information Exchange - which was a fan based magazine and distribution service. In the magazine in 1986, John put forward the idea of hosting a series of concerts around the UK to feature live synth acts which EMIX would back. Steve promptly put his name forward and as fate would have it the West Midlands was the only place in the UK where sufficient interest was shown. An EMIX member living in Birmingham became the local organiser and remarkably he chose Warley High School as the venue. Remarkably as the school had formerly been known as Oldbury Technical School where Steve had been a pupil a decade or so earlier! The EMIX gig was to be Steve’s first live appearance and he enrolled the help of Linda on keyboards and flute and his brother Pete on electric guitar and keyboards. Fellow synth artist Pete Tedstone also played live on the evening of 14th March 1987.

Steve, Linda & Pete, EMIX Concert, Warley High School, 14th March 1987

ASHTAR 
with LINDA HILLMAN 
1987 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 004 

(Re- release of the Mirage cassette with new synth parts added, plus a new mix of "Reflections" from "Evocations" and a shortened title track)

Ashtar
Courtyard Of The Lion
Temple Dance 1
Reflections
Seachild
Chamber Of The Moon
Silver Sleep
Valley Of Enchantment
Ancient Dawn
Temple Dance 2
Pillars Of Sand
Golden Flame
Awakening Dream
Twilight 


TIMELEVELS
1987 Eye Tapes 50 min cassette EYE 005 
Previously unreleased material from the early 80’s.

Timelevels Part 1
Island
Auryus
Timelevels Part 2
Suntower
Into The Night 1
Into The Night 2

1987: “Island” and the title track from “Ashtar” appeared on the ELECTRO SYRINX VOLUME 3 compilation cassette, compiled by Terry Hopkins.

 

1987: “New Horizons Pt 1” appeared on the SYNTRAX No 2 cassette-zine, compiled by John Palmer & Andy G.

 

Linda, Steve & Pete, May 1987, Promo Shoot

Linda, Steve & Pete, May 1987, Promo Shoot

 

On the strength of Steve's EMIX gig, Andy Garibaldi of Lotus Records invited him to play at that years UK Electronica at the Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford, on 21st November 1987 with Wavestar headlining. Andy was the organiser and once again Steve was aided and abetted by Linda and Pete. The following year in 1988, WORLDS BEYOND was released and was the first album where Steve finally added some digital synth to compliment the analogue sounds he’d been using for several years. "Tower of Maxt", "First Light" and "Earthpulse" were recorded at the Triangle Studio, Aston University, Birmingham.

WORLDS BEYOND 
1988 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 006

Tower Of Maxt (1987 Arrangement)
First Light
Moongate
Earthpulse
Oasis
Worlds Beyond
Portals
Ancient Presence
Night Tides
Accumulator

Steve, 1988 Promo Shoot

Linda, 1988 Promo Shoot

NETWORK 23

In 1988, a collective of musicians was founded by musicians Greg Truckell and Kevin O'Neill called Network 23 which Steve was invited to join. A compilation cassette compiled by Greg Truckell, REMOTE VIEWING, Network 23 BOX 001, featuring previously unreleased tracks by the members was released in 1988. Steve's offering was a track called “Star Temple”.

1988: Three previously unreleased tracks, a new version of “Vortex”, “Moon Dance 2” & “Outer Limits” appeared on the SOUNDS UNKNOWN VOL 2 compilation cassette SU3, compiled by Dave Brooks.

1988: “Earthpulse” appeared on the 2nd AMP RECORDS COMPILATION ALBUM cassette AMP C007, compiled by Mark Jenkins.

1988: “Night Tides 2” a previously unreleased track, appeared on THE DREAM IS JUST BEGINNING Electronical Dreams ED 002 cassette compilation, compiled by Clive Littlewood.

  Mark Jenkins of AMP Records, who had by then taken over the running of UK Electronica, then invited Steve to play at St John's, Smith Square, Westminster, London on 3rd September 1988. Headlined by Michel Huygen of Neuronium fame, Steve & Linda shared the bill with the likes of Adrian Wagner, Ian Boddy, Kevin O'Neil, Mark Jenkins, Ash Prema & Land of YRX. Steve's performance was video taped and extracts of this can be found on YouTube:

 "Gates of Babylon" performed live at UK Electronica, September 3rd 1988, Westminster, London:

Announcer and video: Mark Jenkins 

UK Electronica, 1988

UK Electronica, 1988

UK Electronica, 1988

Linda at the Rollright Circle, 1988

On the 18th March 1989 Kevin O'Neill, the then secretary of Network 23, organised a Network 23 Concert in his home town of Cardiff, Wales at the Chapter Theatre where Kevin, Greg Truckell, John Costello and Steve & Linda played. The event was video taped by Simon Maddocks. The same day saw the release of Steve's PHASES album and a compilation of remixed tracks from FROM DISTANT SHORES and NEW HORIZONS called DISTANT HORIZONS.

PHASES
1989 Eye Tapes 90 min cassette EYE 007 

Gates Of Babylon
Sirius
Thru Mists
Alignments
Sashida
Moongate II
Dreamstate
Sentinel
Prelude
Angels Hair
Call Of The Sea
In Shadows Realm
Procession
Phases
Last Light 


DISTANT HORIZONS 
(Remixed compilation) 
1989 Eye Tapes 90 min cassette EYE 008

Vortex
Moonflow
Moondance
Dreamwalk
New Horizons
Vanguard
Suntower
Sunset
From Distant Shores
Chamber Of Bells
Tower Of Maxt
Atlantean Meadows
Rite Of Oscenai
Starcycle
Suntower
Solace
Jewelled Eye
From Distant Shores

"Electronic Seance" & "Alignments" performed live at Network 23 Concert, March 18th 1989, Cardiff, Wales: 

Video by Simon Maddocks (video & sound unfortunately out of sync) 

1989: “Into the Night Part 2” by Steve & Linda appeared on the TABLØID VOLUME 2 compilation cassette.

 1989: “Citadel Pts 1&2” appeared on the REMOTE VIEWING VOL 2 Network 23 BOX 002 compilation cassette, compiled by Kevin O'Neill. (The tracks re-appeared the following year on the “Labyrinth” album with Pt 2 re-titled “Vale of Thela”). 

Go to the 90's

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