ANTHONY PHILLIPS - Strings of Light (2CD/DVD) - review online!

  • Do love Ant but TBH I would prefer an album in the style of Slow Dance or perhaps more akin to his WATE or Sides material. Love Ant's guitar albums but struggle to listen to a whole album of 6-12 string tunes. Just me folks. Prefer the band or multi instrumental material.

  • Do love Ant but TBH I would prefer an album in the style of Slow Dance or perhaps more akin to his WATE or Sides material. Love Ant's guitar albums but struggle to listen to a whole album of 6-12 string tunes. Just me folks. Prefer the band or multi instrumental material.

    I fully appreciate what you're saying.


    Even though, for example, I am quite fond of Field Day, it's an album I have to be in the right mood for, whereas most of the other albums - the band albums, the Missing Links, the PP&Ps - I can randomly pull out and play without having to weigh whether or not I'm in the right mood to enjoy it.


    Speaking of struggling with albums...

    When the discussion turns to Slow Dance, I feel like I'm watching others through a pane of glass.

    It seems everyone who is into Ant's music loves Slow Dance and I just don't experience that same level of euphoria that others seem to get with that album.

    I don't hate it or dislike it - it's just far from being one my favourites.

  • I share your view on Slow Dance, without any doubt one of Ant's best albums, nonetheless I never really got into it. I love Field Day so I am the more excited the new album will be its successor. :)


    Field Day took a few years after I purchased it to grow on me; then again I got to a point I was nearly exclusively listening only to Field Day and other Ant albums plus some Brian Eno and Harold Budd stuff, I remember I got so used to that kind of music it was like a shock when I put on Steve's Spectral Mornings for once: whoa, a hell of a lot of instruments all playing at the same time, each instrument plays something else and still it works together, on top of it someone keeps singing lyrics all the time, and as if all that is still not enough, it's a studio production with overdubs and effects and everything. That made me realize what complex music we are used to hear all the time and how long the evolution in music history has gone from tunes for a single instrument to a full studio band production. I just love how Ant makes it to put a certain mood and emotions into just a simple unaccompanied guitar tune that doesn't require any additional instruments of effects or vocals.

  • ...And funny you asked him about Sceptred Isle - Pathways and Promenades has always been one of my top fave Ant albums. :)

    The two Missing Links albums I have — Pathways & Promenades and The Sky Road — are amongst my favourites as well.

    Along with PP&P2, they are probably the instrumental albums of Ant's I listen to the most.

    If I play them while I'm driving, working in the office when no one is around (as is the case this moment) or just relaxing, the music seems to fit in as both a pleasant and proper soundtrack.

  • Absolutely loving it. I'm not a guitar expert by any means but the overall tone of the album is much more pleasing than Field Day.

    Haven't had a chance to listen to the whole thing in 5.1 surround yet - that pleasure still to come.

    So thankful that Ant is still making such wonderful music.


    Cheers,

    RS

  • I've now had a chance to listen to the 5.1 surround mix. To be honest, I've never quite understood how solo guitar works in surround i.e. how can you be 'surrounded' by one instrument?!


    Obviously there are layers in the mix here so I have to say it works brilliantly. It really is immersive and I can't recommend it highly enough.

  • I can't find the time right now to give a longer in-depth review so for now I'll just share my first thoughts:


    I can't say anything about the 5.1 mix, I don't have a surround setup, just a regular stereo. However if I choose the "Dolby" something option in the audio menu the DVD allows me to listen to the whole double album in one go, the sound is slightly more "surroundy" nonetheless.


    Now, regarding the music itself:


    - By any means another real good Ant Phillips guitar album. Ant is far from appearing old and tired, so no worries, this is not one of those "one more for the fans" albums. Also, Ant always seems to be more original and individual when he creates guitar pieces; I love his keyboard works too but I can see how it might sound too generic to some - not so his guitar pieces. It's all there: the bizarre tunings, that special sound that still indicates this is the original Genesis guitarist.


    - Naturally, Field Day is the one album which is easiest to compare to this one. In some ways both albums are similar but there's a couple differences as well:


    - Field Day suffered a little bit from a large number of short pieces that "ended before they started". That's what took me some time to get used to that album, it made it sketchy in a way. Not so Strings of Light: 2 x 12 tracks, yes two or three very short ones that last only about half a minute but that's it. Ant has always done such little shorties (think of Chinese Mushroom Cloud), but those aside each track gets its chance to come to life.


    - Overall, the album seems to be even more on the calmer side than Field Day or most of Ant's other albums. Field Day still had some fast-played pieces, some with a joyful sound, some more angry or rocky; Strings of Light does have a few of these moments too but really not too many. Still, this doesn't mean the album gets boring or lullabyish.


    - Ant wouldn't be Ant if he didn't some really quirky things to the mix. The one track that stands out most is "Mouse Trip" - a short track which doesn't have any chords, it is nothing but a simple melody (or a few notes rather) played with muted strings (I guess?... my guitar skills are more than limited) and a lot of electronic effects. This track could be straight from some little kids cartoon.


    - The only instrument that is not actually a guitar is the Bell Cittern, featured in two tracks here; this instrument sounds familiar from Field Day. That aside, it's all guitars here, so no mandolins or charangos or bouzoukis.


    I am not doing the album justice yet with these unsorted random comments, these were just some of my first impressions - no matter what, a good and very enjoyable album. Ant still does it.


    One little thing yet: the booklet has a thank you note that mentions among others a certain Rachel Pycroft for writing the "perfect fan letter". Really not meaning to be too gossipy but... I wonder if Rachel was active in the old forum. ;) She seems to be the luckiest Genesis fan on Earth. :)