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Anthony Phillips

Private Parts & Pieces IX - Dragonfly Dreams

Review by Gary Hill

I've heard and reviewed a large cross-section of Anthony Phillips' music. One thing you can count on with him is quality. What you can never be certain about is the type of music you'll get. Here we have an album of mostly instrumental music. It has a bit of a New Age vibe to a lot of it. While probably the majority of it is acoustic guitar based, there is also some keyboard music here. All in all, this is quite a pretty and entertaining set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Openers
Delicate and quite intricate acoustic guitar work serves as the "opener" referenced by the title.
In the Valleys
Here we have another gentle acoustic number, but it's perhaps more "song" like than the opener.
Something Blue
Even further into the "song" like direction, this has a bit of travelling folk music vibe. Beyond that, though, the overall concept isn't changed dramatically. The gentler, mellower section later in the piece is particularly pretty.
Quango
There is a definite jazz guitar vibe to this piece of music. At less than a minute in length, it's a short one.
Lostwithiel
Feeling a bit like Synergy or Tangerine Dream, this is a big change with more of an electronic arrangement. The keyboards on this are quite atmospheric, but still manage to convey melody at the same time. This lands in the neighborhood of New Age music.
Under the Ice
Feeling almost like an extension of the previous piece, this atmospheric number seems both bleak and beautiful. This does feel like a slow moving, barren vista found under the ice.
Sarah Blakeley's Evening
This builds out into more of a rocking zone. It definitely has elements of old Genesis sound. It's still intricate. It's just more powered and vibrant. It's short at less than a minute and a half long.
She'll Be Waiting
The only song on the disc with actual vocals, this is a pretty cut. It's part progressive rock and part folk rock.
Still Time
A short guitar based piece, this is another intricate number.
Hills of Languedoc
Gentle acoustic guitar leads this piece out, as well. There is a lot of energy in the number.
Luigi Palta's Confession
Coming in with much more of a rocking (but still acoustically driven) sound, this has a definite folk rock kind of vibe to it.
The Tears of Pablo Piraguas
Atmospheric textures bring this piece into being.
Melancholy Flower
The title really fits this track. This is intricate and pretty, like a flower, but there is a melancholy texture to it. It's a slow moving piece.
Night Song
There are some operatic female vocals here, but they are more like instrumentation than actual vocals. This is another pretty and slow moving piece, but it's more electronic than the last one. It is quite atmospheric.
Chinese Walls
This is the epic of the disc, weighing in at 17 and a half minutes. It starts with the acoustic elements in slow moving, intricate textures. It gradually grows outward from there. While the volume level doesn't really change, the cut makes its way through a number of movements and themes, and it does intensify at times. It's hard to believe this piece is as long as it is because, despite the fact that it's strictly acoustic guitar, it never feels tired or redundant, and the time just seems to fly by.
Old Faithful
Atmospheric keyboard textures hold it together as the acoustic guitar weaves pretty patterns and melodies.
Summer Ponds and Dragonflies
This rises up delicate and very beautiful. I'm reminded of Phillips' work in Genesis to a large degree.
Lost and Found
More electronic, this number is bouncy and rather fun.
 
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