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A Short Bio:
Hugo Martin Montgomery Campbell was born in Egypt of British parents in 1950 and grew up in Kenya until moving back to England at age 12. By the time he arrived at the City of London School in 1966, he was known to his schoolfriends as Mont (although his parents called him Martin) and was an aspiring guitar player. Very soon he became acquainted with fellow pupils Dave Stewart and Steve Hillage. Inviting the latter to join his current band, he elected to switch to bass guitar.
It was while studying music 'A' levels at the City of London School that Campbell discovered the music of Stravinsky, who subsequently became his major influence as a composer and arranger, resulting in the incredibly complex pieces he later became reknowned for while a member of Egg (1968-72) and National Health (1975-76). As a matter of fact, Campbell wrote almost all of Egg's material on their three albums.
After almost four years in Egg as bass player (occasionally doubling on French horn) and vocalist, Campbell threw in the towel in 1972 and quit the rock scene altogether to become a plumber (!) and, later, enter the Royal College of Music, taking composition and French horn as joint study. While a student there, he reformed Egg with Dave Stewart and Clive Brooks to record hitherto unreleased compositions which resulted in The Civil Surface. He contributed a couple of wind quartets (which featured neither of his colleagues) to fill the album.
After two years at the Royal College of Music, Campbell grew bored of his studies and responded positively to Stewart's offer to join his new band National Health. This rekindled his enthusiasm for composition, resulting in such classics as "Paracelsus", "Zabaglione", "Agrippa" or "Starlight On Seaweed", but again the lack of success, culminating in a disastrous French gig in June 1976, had him quit the rock scene for good. It would be twenty years before his compositions for National Health eventually appeared on disc with the release of the Missing Pieces CD on East Side Digital and Voiceprint.
In the late 70's, Campbell (who in the meantime had dropped his school nickname in favour of Dirk) formed Mosaic, a little acoustic group of two guitars, flute and violin, for which he wrote "pleasant, undemanding pieces", playing at weddings and suchlike events. The band recorded a tape which didn't see public release. This was also the case with a tape of more personal recordings entitled Individual Extracts. In 1983, he suddenly became interested in non-European musical traditions, going on to acquire skills on a number of near- and middle-eastern wind instruments. Simultaneously, he began writing and perfoming film and TV music, notably for director David Anderson.
In the early 90's, he started work on his first solo album. In late 1996, Music From A Round Tower was eventually released to critical acclaim. This largely instrumental work, consisting of 20 pieces linked together and forming a cohesive whole, was conceived using new technologies such as sequencing and MIDI, but with special care paid to authenticity. Campbell plays a variety of wind instruments, as well as using computer-generated sounds. Dave Stewart, a contributor and co-producer of the album, called the results "real progressive music for the 90's".
As of April 2004, here is what Dirk/Mont has to say about his current musical activities : "I have started a musical partnership called the World Wind Band which arises from an RSC connection with Jan Hendrickse, a young flute player who shares my interest in things esoteric and ethnic. We are shortly to perform in Greece and Iran on obscure wind instruments from various parts of the world. We have recently performed in my home town of Lewes to a rapturous invited audience unfortunately not including Arthur Brown, a friend and fellow Lewesian, who was regretfully unable to attend".
Any chance of a follow-up to Music From A Round Tower ? "No chance whatsoever of a follow-up, sorry. There certainly won't be anything similar. As to any future original material, there'd have to be something as exciting compositionally as when I discovered multitracked MIDI sequencing 15 years ago, and there just isn't. At the moment I personally have nothing to say in the western musical language. But I admire those who have !".
Needless to say, don't expect Campbell to pick up his old bass guitar again and play rock music, even "progressive" : "Music with bass and drums is inevitably limited", he says, "because it's a dominating sonority with very limited powers of expression. Rock music is about a rather fixed, limited stratum of musical experience, and one that I no longer feel particularly drawn to...".
In early 2009 Campbell was a major contributor to BBC4's acclaimed progressive rock documentary Prog Britannia.