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 Steve’s early 70’s Tangerine Dream sound was a long time 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 so the first tentative steps of Steve’s music being let loose upon the world were taken. He subsequently became a part of the underground UK synth music scene and had ten cassette albums released during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and played live at several synth music festivals in the UK and shared the bill with Wavestar, Ian Boddy, Mark Jenkins, Neuronium, etc.
The opening suite of tracks from Steve’s 1983 debut album.
FROM DISTANT SHORES
1983 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 001
From Distant Shores Part 1
Chamber of Bells
Tower Of Maxt
Rite Of Oscenai
From Distant Shores Part 2
1984: An excerpt from “From Distant Shores Pt 1” appeared on the INKEYS No 7 cassette-zine, compiled by Dennis & Jeanette Emsley.
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 and Ian Boddy’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.
Music for Flute & Synthesiser
with LINDA HILLMAN
1985 Mirage 60 min cassette M613
Courtyard Of The Lion
Temple Dance 1
Chamber Of The Moon
Valley Of Enchantment
Temple Dance 2
Pillars Of Sand
1985 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 002
In Times Past
1985: An excerpt from “Evocations Pt 1” appeared on the INKEYS No 13 cassette-zine, compiled by Dennis & Jeanette Emsley.
Linda & Steve on Hergest Ridge 1986
1986: “Evocations 3” appeared on the ELECTRO SYRINX VOLUME 2 compilation cassette, compiled by Terry Hopkins.
1986 Eye Tapes 55 min cassette EYE 003
New Horizons Part 1
New Horizons Part 2
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 and Linda had been pupils 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.
with LINDA HILLMAN
1987 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 004
Re- release of the Mirage cassette with new synth parts added to a shortened title track and “Silver Sleep”, plus a new mix of “Reflections” from “Evocations”.
1987 Eye Tapes 50 min cassette EYE 005
Previously unreleased material from the early 80’s.
Timelevels Part 1
Timelevels Part 2
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.
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.
1988 Eye Tapes 60 min cassette EYE 006
Tower Of Maxt (1987 Arrangement)
Steve, Linda & Pete 1987
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 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.
Steve & Linda, London 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.
1989 Eye Tapes 90 min cassette EYE 007
Gates Of Babylon
Call Of The Sea
In Shadows Realm
1989 Eye Tapes 90 min cassette EYE 008
From Distant Shores
Chamber Of Bells
Tower Of Maxt
Rite Of Oscenai
From Distant Shores
“Electronic Séance” & “Alignments” performed live at Network 23 Concert, March 18th 1989, Cardiff, Wales:
Video by Simon Maddocks (video & sound unfortunately out of sync)
Steve & Linda at Cardiff
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”).
The 1990’s – Steve Hillman – The Official Website of the Electronic / Prog / Space Rock – Orchestral – Composer and Musician