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Multi-media artist Russell Mills first earned notice in music circles for his cover designs for acts including Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Harold Budd, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Robert Fripp and Nine Inch Nails; in between exhibiting his paintings, assemblages and collages throughout the globe, he also collaborated with Eno on the book More Dark than Shark and with Sylvian on the audio/video installation Ember Glance: The Permanence of Memory. Mills' first foray into music came in 1982, when he worked with ex-Wire members Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis (then recording as Dome) on the ambient album Mzui/Waterloo Gallery. In 1996, Mills issued his debut ambient recording Strange Familiar, which featured the infinite guitar of co-writer Michael Brook; the all-star Pearl & Umbra followed in early 2000, with Mills having adopted Undark as the name of his shifting backing group. The follow-up was not long in coming; Strange Familiar appeared just a few months later in the summer of 2000, featuring many of the same collaborators and Undark personnel as its predecessor.