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Anthony Phillips

Field Day

Review by Gary Hill

This new reissue from Anthony Phillips includes two CDs of instrumental music. It's almost exclusively just acoustic guitar. There is a DVD included here, too, but it's audio rather than video and includes 5.1 mixes of the same songs on the CDs. There are a few long tracks here, but a lot of this is in the less than one-minute to less than two-minute range. Doing this as a track by track review is a bit insane, just because there is an inherent similarity based on the approach, to a lot of this music. That said, all our CD reviews at MSJ are track by track, so here we are. This lands under progressive rock on the strength of Phillips' time in Genesis and some of his other solo work. That said, this sort of rather classical acoustically driven stuff is progressive, if not rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One
                    
The Voyage Out

Intricate and quite pretty, this is sedate and short.

High Fives
I love the intricate acoustic guitar work on this number. It's an acoustic guitar solo.
Credo
While still based on rather intricate acoustic guitar work, there is a bit more of a "song" sort of vibe to this. It rises up more toward rock sounds, too. Yet it still manages to be quite intricate and involved.
Cerise
Pretty acoustic guitar elements drive this number, too. It's a bit less reflective and more song-based than some of the others.
Runaway Horses
Seeming to come out of the previous number, this has a real rocking texture. It's energized and song-like.
Home Sweet Home
Things take a step back in terms of intensity here. This is a grounding kind of short acoustic number.
Steps Retraced
At over four minutes long, this is the longest track to this point by far. The acoustic guitar elements bring it in, and it grows outward from there. This works through a number of shifts and changes. At times it's more of a song type thing. At other points it's much mellower.
Field Day
Intricate acoustic guitar that feels a bit like a travelling song makes up the musical concept for the title track. This is rather fun and quite pretty.
Nocturne
Gentle and so beautiful, this piece might be mellow, but it has so much emotion packed into it.
Tryst
At about four-and-a-half minutes of music, this is another of the longer cuts here. It comes in quite mellow and almost seems like an extension of the previous piece. There is a real classical music element to it further down the road. This doesn't wander far from its origins, but manages to keep it interesting. It's evocative and quite interesting. It has some great melodies at its core.
Girl in the Gallery
Delicate and quite pretty, this is another intriguing and quite pretty cut.
Bel Ami
Energized and rocking, this really is one of the most rock song sort of pieces here. Yet it doesn't sacrifice intricacies or melodies to achieve that.
Concerto De Alvarez
Almost eight-and-a-half minutes long, this is a true epic of the set. In fact, it's the longest, with only one other coming anywhere close. This rises up gradually with a fairly sedate movement painting the early parts of the cut. It gets more rocking at times and manages to drop back down at others. There is a real contrast between the softer and louder parts of the piece. This is dramatic and powerful. It's also quite pretty.
Lifer
This piece is quite contemplative. It's also very expressive and evocative.
Chasing the Light
Feeling quite a bit like something Phillips might have done with Genesis, this is rich and lush. There are all kinds of layers of sound built into it.
Parlour Suite I
A mellow, classically inspired piece, this is a nice start to the suite.
Parlour Suite II
While this seems to carry on the themes of the previous movement, this is even mellower and more stripped back.
Parlour Suite III
Here the suite gains a bit of energy and more of a folk rock kind of basis. It still has plenty of classical music in the mix, though.
Parlour Suite IV
I like the melodies on this number a lot. It has some pretty lines of guitar and is fairly slow moving and stripped down.
Parlour Suite V
This has a sweeping kind of vibe to it as it rises up from the previous movement. At almost two minutes it's tied with one other for the longest part of the suite. It is packed with feeling and covers a decent amount of territory.
Parlour Suite VI
This does a great job of continuing the feel and allowing it to evolve and grow.
Parlour Suite VII
Less than a minute in length, this is mellower, slow moving and quite classical in approach. It feels rather sad.
Parlour Suite VIII
At one-minute-and-47-seconds long, this is tied for the longest piece of the suite. It does a good job of bringing things to a satisfying conclusion with pretty and quite mellow musical melodies and sounds.
Swoon
The intricate classically styled acoustic guitar treatment that makes up this number is particularly pretty.
River of Life
This feels like Genesis in some ways to me. It's intricate and effective.
Momento
I like the way the lines on this number seem to build and then stop to be reborn again.
Open Road
Energized, intricate and quite powerful, this is also full on innate beauty.
White Spider
The dramatic and intricate opening section on this makes me think of Genesis a bit. This cut is one of the longer ones at over six and a half minutes of music. There is almost a dark and somber feeling to this in some ways. I suppose it's perhaps more of a sense of mystery. There are sections of this that feel downright ominous. Yet around the half-way mark it shifts to something that has a sense of majesty and a real Genesis kind of vibe.
Half Way Out
There are keyboard textures added to the guitar on this cut. It's a short number that's dramatic and serves as a nice bookend with the opening piece. Comparisons to Genesis are not out of the question here.
Disc Two
Weeping Willow
I love the dramatic and intricate acoustic guitar tones that bring this in and build it outward.
The Love Not Shared
Less than a minute long, this is delicate and pretty.
Sojourn
More of an energetic picked guitar element opens this and takes it forward.
Dawn over the Field of Eternity
Another that's rather delicate, this is also very pretty.
Fallen City
Almost five minutes long, this is one of the more extensive numbers on the set. It has a lot of energy and works up toward real rocking territory. That said, both folk and classical musics are a big part of the arrangement at different points.
Rain on the Sag Harbour
Another that's intricate and pretty, that doesn't translate to delicate or particularly mellow here. This has quite a bit of energy and substance at its core.
Days of Grace
Slow moving and quite pretty, there is a lot of classical music built into this. It does have some moments that rise up toward louder sounds, but is overall sedate.
Timeline
Just over half a minute long, this is energized and moving, in more ways than one. It makes great use of the time.
Oubliette
Sedate and quite intriguing, I particularly love the harmonics section late in the piece.
Tania
The intricacies of this number bring a gentle beauty and paint a lovely picture.
Babbling Brook
This does feel like a babbling brook to me. It's short and pretty.
Shimmering Sharon
This is a short one, but it has more of an ambient prog building sort of vibe to it.
Tea Room in Terra Del Fuego
More of a mainstream folk styled piece, this is energetic and intriguing.
Mudlark
Fast paced and more rocking, there is a real world music meets folk prog kind of vibe to this number.
Tearaway
Now, this fast paced number really makes me think of something Phillips might have done in Genesis. It's a powerful and quite pretty piece of music.
Midnight Blue
This short piece has a lot of style in a classical way.
Evening Shroud
Another with a lot of classical music at its core, this is slow moving, intricate and pretty.
Rapscallion
There is a good energy here along with some solid melodies.
Beyond the Castle Walls
With a bit of a sadness to it, this is sedate, intricate and beautiful.
Forgotten Pathway
Another pretty and intricate track, this is more than two minutes long. That extra time allows Phillips to better explore the sonic landscape.
Fairy Ring
There is a bit of a playful edge to some of this piece.
Largo D'amour
Intricate and rather mellow, this also manages to be rather dramatic. It is close to three-and-a-half minutes long, lending more space for development of the themes.
Whippersnapper
I love the building motif that starts this. It has a real olde-worlde feeling to it and some great melodies.
Kissing Gate
Gentle and intricate melodies are on display as this works into being. This is one of my favorites here just because it's so pretty.
To the Lighthouse
The second longest piece here, this one is eight-minutes-and-ten-seconds of music. It rises up with a sound that's very much in keeping with a mellower early Genesis building approach. The piece works forward from that, creating some intriguing melodies and moods. After the two-minute mark it drops way down to a dramatic movement and gradually evolves from there in a much mellower mode. It works out to some more rocking modes by around the six-minute mark. There are definitely valid comparisons to be made to Phillips' Genesis work as this continues to build in intricate ways. That's also true when it drops to a particularly mellow passage beyond that.
Driftwood
Delicate and intricate, this is a particularly short piece that feels like an introduction to the next one.
Festoons and Billows
This rises up from the sounds of the last cut, seeming like it's realizing the dreams of the other one. It's more energetic and driving.
Flotsam and Jetsam
We're back into particularly sedate and intricate territory on this number.
Sunfish Shallows
Folk music with a lot of energy seems to be the driving factor here.
Smart Alec
There is more of an intimate kind of picked guitar vibe to this. It has a bit of a jazz vibe to it.
Prayer for Natalie
Mellow and pretty, this is another strong entry to the set. In fact, it's one of the most effective numbers of the whole collection.
Out and Beyond
Not a huge change, this is another effective instrumental piece.
 
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