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Anthony Phillips Various reviews - albums 2005-2013

Sleeping Giant

Anthony Phillips' album releases from 2008 to 2012

Seven Long Years – actually eight long years have passed since Anthony Phillips released his grandiose double album Field Day. Now that the long-expected Anthony Phillips Event of the German Genesis Fanclub is appearing on the horizon it is high time to take a look at the releases with which Ant has pleased his fans in the meantime. The constant work on music for TV and libraries as well as various interesting re-releases of older albums have not left him much time for recording or compiling new CDs. The five albums that have come out since Field Day do not quite rank among his most important in his extensive oeuvre. This evaluation is based on three criteria, at least one of which fits each of the five albums: (1) The album consists partly or complete of recordings and/or compositions that had already been released years before. (2) The album is not a pure Anthony Phillips album (3) None of the piece on the album is at least four minutes long. Lesser though their musical importance may be they still delighted the Phillips fans for these albums contain several much sought-for rarity, continue popular album series or show Ant breaking new ground...

Wildlife (2008) is a compilation of music written for wildlife documentaries. It is a joint album by Anthony Phillips and Joji Hirota, as was volume III or the Missing Links series, Time And Tide. It is a bit surprising that Ant did not release music from this genre as part of the Missing Links series, particularly since the content overlaps with Time And Tide. Wildlife, for example, begins with Creatures Of The Magic Water, which is an alternate version of Amazonas, which, in turn, is the first track on Time And Tide. Other tracks on Wildlife are released here for the first time, e.g. the simple yet impressive Nighthunt (track 29, length 53 seconds) from the documentary "Bears Of The Russian Front". The booklet offers comprehensive liner notes by Ant as well as detailed information on the eleven documentaries the 45 nicely sorted pieces were taken from. Ant particularly refers to the charismatic wildlife filmer and researcher Nick Gordon who worked on the majority of these documentaries and died in South America in 2004. The album is a good choice if you would like to find out about Ant and Joji's music for wildlife documentaries – it is an adventure trip through the realms of animals, sounds and moods with carefully programmed electronic sounds and real instruments.

In 2009 the Missing Links series was continued after all. Part IV: Pathways & Promenades compiles pieces of library music (amongst them Sleeping Giant and two pieces that were used on a German wildlife / science program) as well as a number of pieces that had been released on various compilations and samplers that had become very hard to find to fans. Some of these are real gems, e.g. the merry Promenade in its brillant 1986 version and the trist Danza Cuccaracha, both of which songs prove Ant a virtuoso guitar composer. There is also Halcyon Dreams which evolved during the sessions for Private Parts & Pieces IX: Dragonfly Dreams.

The year after that Ant released a library project titled Ahead Of The Field from 1985. The 1985 library vinyl record, which is not available for sale, looked completely different and had far more information than the 2010 CD whose booklet offered only the suggestive titles of the 14 brief rhythm and synthie pieces (like Stress Factor, Metal Man or Databank) but not details about the project or the pieces. The 1985 sleeve praised the collection as "modern, punchy, industrial themes with the emphasis on rhythm, composed by Anthony Phillips and played by X-Cess" - an album that is interesting only for Phillips collectors.

In 2012 Ant surprised everybody by a cooperation with the young British composer, arranger and producer Andrew Skeet, who made himself a name with sound tracks for films and TV. Their joint double album Seventh Heaven has a neat Magritte motive on the cover and contains both Phillips only and joint compositions, 36 in total. The arrangement frequently use string groups (arranged by Andrew Skeet), but there are also many solo instruments and the odd female voice here and there. There is a familiar name among the highly professional musicians involved: Martin Robertson has worked with Anthony Phillips and Tony Banks several times. The recordings were made between 2008 and 2011. The pieces are mainly in the impressionistic-meditating vein, quite simple, quite short and are barely related to each other. There are several expanded arrangements of pieces that had been on Field Day – expansions that these pieces did not need, and in fact the whole double album is no big musical revelation. The cooperation with Andrew Skeet, like the one with Guillermo Cazenave, does not appear to be as productive as the ones with Harry Williamson or Quique Berro Garcia.

2012 also saw the continuation of a series fans had believed to have ended. Private Parts & Pieces XI: City Of Dreams consists of 31 pieces. They are short, mainly electronic pieces (the longest is 3:10) without larger climaxes. With their soundscape character they show off Ant's talents as a producer rather than a composer, and so this album may be considered the least relevant volume in a series that began in 1978. Unfortunately, the booklet does not offer any information about the music.

So we may look forward to the time Anthony Phillips finds the time and the muse again to find more demanding, complex music, perhaps even the odd song. After all, the musical leader of very early Genesis is always ready for a glamorous surprise.

Author: Andreas Lauer
English by Martin Klinkhardt

Anthony Phillips

Anthony Phillips - Wise After The Event (2CD)

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Remaster Edition 2008 - Double-CD with Bonus tracks.

Genesis - Trespass (CD)

Genesis - Trespass (CD) Genesis - Trespass (CD) Verse kaufen bei

The 1970 studio album - remastered 2008.
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