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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Anthony Phillips

Missing Links I - IV

Review by Gary Hill

Anthony Phillips is such an intriguing artist. I think many people know of him because he was the original guitarist in Genesis. The thing is, he was only there for one of their albums, and has released so much music since then. His music is hard to pin down in terms of style and even instrumentation. He's done solo piano albums, solo guitar albums and much more. He's touched on all kinds of different styles. This new box set collects four albums and adds a CD of previously unreleased stuff from a period that is probably best described as his "New Age" era. Mind you, not everything fits under that heading, but most of it does. One thing you can always count on with Phillips, though, is quality, and this delivers. It should be noted that the third album in this set was actually released as "Anthony Phillips and Joji Horota." This set also includes a massive booklet along with the CDs (in their own cardboard sleeves) all inside a cardboard clamshell box. Please note the inconsistencies in capitalization rules come from the track listing on the box. Other than changing the album titles from all caps, I've copied the titles precisely as listed on the box.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
CD One:
            
Missing Links Volume One:
              
Finger Painting
              
A Collection of Library and Television Music 1979-1989
                     
Force Majeure

Fast paced keyboard type textures bring this into being. The cut has a real New Age meets fusion vibe with an electronic arrangement. It works to more symphonic prog textures, but still based on the electronic angles. It has some bombastic percussion built into the composition.

Mountain Voices
This comes in textural and atmospheric. There are some synthesized textures that resemble voices. This is more slow moving and ethereal than the opener was. It's no less electronic, though.
Lord of the Smoking Mirror
There is an ominous symphonic processional vibe to this piece.
Sea Horses
I love the dreamy kind of quality of this piece of music. There is a playful sort of underwater vibe, very much befitting the title of the song.
Dungeons
Another that's quite symphonic, this one has a dark and dramatic tone to it.
Between the Rings
I love the electronic sounds and concepts on this number. It's a more energized piece, but it's no less dramatic. There is a darkness and a sense of majesty here.
Evening Ascent
There are some great electronic melodies and flavors built into this. It has a science fiction vibe to it.
Streamer
Fast paced, this has science fiction, symphonic sound and more built into it.
After the Rain
A bit moodier, this has some intriguing electronic textures and vibes.
Rottweiler
This is another with a lot of science fiction at its heart. It's dramatic and intriguing.
Sad Fish
Not a big change, this is another strong piece of electronic music.
A Song
Only 40 seconds long, this has guitar along with the keyboards. For some reason, it feels like a holiday piece to me.
God's Chosen Car Park Suite
There is a majestic, rather symphonic opening movement to this suite. Then it shifts to a more textural movement. There is another distinct movement later that seems to bring some mystery and exotic textures and sounds
Tropical Moon Over Dorking Suite
The evocative sounds that bring this into being have some hints of a Genesis-like sound to me. This gets very classical as it moves onward.
Fountain Pool
About a half-minute in length, this piece has world music elements in a dreamy kind of arrangement.
C.Q.
There is a playful, classical texture to this piece.
Three Piece Suite
The electronic concepts driving this have a science fiction feeling to them. There is a real Vangelis meets Synergy thing as it gets more powered up further down the road.
Boulevard of Fallen Leaves
This is very much in line with classical soundtrack music. It's a pretty piece with a lot of emotion and some definite variety and contrast built into it.
Land of Dragons Suite
At nearly 13-minutes of music this is an epic piece. There is an Asian vibe to a lot of the track. The cut has a nice electronic meets symphonic vibe. There are some dramatic moments built into this as it evolves. After the eleven-and-a-half-minute mark this explodes out into a powered up, symphonic sort of arrangement.
And A Prayer
A pretty and rather symphonic arrangement is on hand here.
Tierra Del Fuego
This electronic piece isn't a big change, but it is effective.
Paradise Found
A piano based piece, this is a pretty number with a lot of classical music built into it. It's also packed with emotion. It turns electronic with something that feels back-tracked further down the road.
CD Two:
            
Missing Links Volume Two:
                 
The Sky Road
      
A Collection Of Archive, Commission And Unreleased Album Material
                
Exile

There are some cool angular melodies built into this. The cut has some intriguing percussive qualities, too. It turns more toward a song and rock music based texture further down the road.

Lifeboat Suite
I love the energy and electronic meets organic vibe of this cut. There is a rather soaring classical feeling. It has a movie soundtrack sort of texture. This also works toward more song-like zones as it continues. The suite makes its way to mellower electronic zones, and then turns dark and ominous from there. It gets lush and powerful in a more positive soundtrack way in the final third or so of the piece. Those soundtrack concepts take it through to the end. 
The Bitter Suite
Acoustic guitar brings this into being, and the cut builds outward on that instrument. The number works through a number varied themes and movements, but the focus on chosen instrument remains unchanged. This has some soaring moments. There are classical textures, more folk music based ones and a lot of stuff in between.
Across The River Styx
This is a short keyboard based concept.
A Flock of Souls
More electronic concepts are at the heart of this piece. There is a dark sort of dramatic element at play here.
Along the Towpath
There is an ominous vibe to this. It makes me think of some of John Carpenter's music in some ways. It would fit well in a horror movie. It's dramatic, powerful and one of my favorites here.
The Sky Road
With a lush, almost soaring vibe to it, this is pretty in a New Age kind of way.
Tears on a Rainy Day
With some percussion that feels electronic, this is a pretty song that has some Genesis-like vibes along with some jazz overtones.
Tiwai: Island of the Apes
There is a mysterious and exotic beauty to this piece of music.
Wild Voices, Quiet Waters Suite
Intricate musical concepts bring this into being. There is a drama to it as it works outward. This is a number that makes use of guitar and synthesizer. It turns dark and ominous further down the road in more keyboard based textures that seem like they would be at home in a movie soundtrack. That eventually gives way to a pretty and much more relaxing passage with the sounds of the nature built into it.
Serenita
This is an intricate, classical-inspired acoustic guitar solo. It's dramatic and pretty.
Timepiece
Lush and pretty, this piece is another solid tune.
Field of Eternity (excerpts from the original version)
This reminds me a little of Genesis in some ways. It has an interesting driving energy and vibe. It has some great guitar work in the mix.
The Beggar and the Thief
A cut with vocals, this is acoustic guitar based. It's another that has some links to Genesis music, but actually makes me think of The Beatles for some reason.
CD Three:
                   
Missing Links Volume Three:
                          
Time And Tide
     
A Collection Of Television And Library Music 1992 - 1997
                
Amazonas

A dramatic and lush arrangement is on display here. This is a pretty cut that combines electronic and organic textures into a New Age styled sound.

Peruvian Plains
This almost feels like an extension of the previous piece.
Manatee Garden
This is pretty and lush. It has a tendency toward the dramatic, too.
Turtle Race
More percussive, this has more of a driving energy in some ways. It's still sedate, though.
Indio Wedding
I love the organic meets electronic vibe here. This has a rather bouncy groove to it, yet it's world music soundtrack based.
Underwater Forest
There is a real nature vibe to this lush number.
Fiesta del Charangos
This does have a fiesta feeling to it. It's a fun tune, yet it also fits with the rest here.
Slow Hand Sloth
Mellower music, this has a world music sound. It flows into the next piece.
River Chase
The world music textures continue and intensify with driving percussion and increasing tempo really bringing a sense of a chase to it.
Sacred Kingdom
Mellower and slow moving, this is no less compelling and beautiful. There are dramatic and beautiful layers of sound draped over one another.
African Dream
Another on the more sedate end of the spectrum, this is particularly pretty.
Bedouin Train
I dig the percussion on this a lot. The track has a middle-eastern element, but only to a minor degree. Then again, with that title, what else did you expect?
Sandstorm
Feeling like a continuation of the previous track, the middle Eastern elements are more prominent on this one.
Kalahari March
There is a lot of percussion built into this number, giving it a driving energy.
Songoku
A pretty world music based concept is at the core of this song.
Schuan Journey
A gentle and delicate musical journey, this is an intriguing number.
Slow Boat To China
This is a pretty piece that fits well with the rest.
Back In The Land Of Dragons
A call back to the previous disc, this has Asian textures and intriguing electronic textures.
Shadow Puppet
Tuned percussion sounds and a real driving energy are at the heart of this cool tune.
Sea Jewel
Guitar is a big part of this number. It's a piece that's restive and quite effective in a New Age way.
End Theme For Five
This is a pretty piece of music with a real electronic soundtrack vibe. The percussion brings something special to it.
Minnow Dance
Intricate and effective electronics are on display here.
Sunken Galleons
There is a slightly creepy darkness to this number. There is a sense of mystery to the piece, too.
Haunting The Dark Sea
With the title you might expect a similar tone to the last piece. This is actually gentler and seems to have a more hopeful tone.
Time And Tide
Lush electronic textures are at the heart of this cut.
Okavanga
More of a percussive concept is on display here. This is a dramatic and powerful number with electronics and organic textures both on the menu.
Under Desert Stars
Another classy piece of electronic music, this has some soaring moments.
Lost In A Desert Night
Another pretty and rather gentle number, this has a really interesting New Age texture.
Blue Lagoons
Not a big change, this is another cut that is set in the same kind of territory.
CD Four:
        
Missing Links IV:
                       
Pathways & Promenades
                 
The Golden Road To Samarkand

Powerful New Age textures that still manage to reflect a progressive rock sensibility bring this into being.

Promenade
Acoustic guitar brings this into being. it's intricate and evocative. It definitely calls to mind Phillips' work in Genesis. This has some dramatic twists and turns as it focuses on multiple layers of acoustic guitar work.
Sceptred Isle
I love the beautiful electronic textures of this. It has some of the richest and most powerful sounds of the whole set.
Danza Cucaracha
Here we get another intricate acoustic guitar solo. This has more of a classical music vibe than the previous one on this CD did. This is fairly extensive and covers a wide range of textures and melodies.
Fallen Idol
More textural, this is slow moving and reflective.
Cascades
This does make me think of Genesis in a lot of ways. I'd say that it's too high-energy to quality as New Age, and rather is a full progressive rock piece. It has a lot of layers of sound along with plenty of drama and style.
Sky Dawn
We're back into acoustic guitar zones with this pretty and effective piece of music. Again, it's not far removed from acoustic guitar based Genesis music. It really gets dramatic at times.
Misty Mountains
Textural and pretty, this is a nice respite and definite New Age styled piece.
It-s All Greek To Me
Stringed instrumentation is heard over the top of lush atmospheric keyboard textures. This is another that qualifies as New Age music.
Haven From The Sea
While still in the zone of New Age, there are definite progressive rock textures and sensibilities to this cut. It has pretty layers of electronic music and does get pretty powerful later in the track, taking more into symphonic zones.
Heavenly Gene
Another lush and beautiful piece of electronic New Age music, this has some great moods and tones.
Ironclad
Dramatic and rather symphonic, this is cool stuff.
Water Gardens
I love the chiming beauty of this electronic piece of New Age goodness.
Night Train
A lush and pretty exploration, this an interesting variant of Phillips' New Age sound.
Sleeping Giant
This does have a feel of someone sleeping, particularly a giant. It's slow moving and lush.
Sombrero
More atmospheric New Age music is on the menu here.
Irish Lament
I like the sad sound of the piano on this number.
Aurora
There is a space kind of vibe to this piece of music, but it also reminds me of cicadas in a way.
Without You
Pretty piano weaves a melodic tapestry that is a real feature of this song.
Sad Exodus
This definitely does feel sad. It's slow moving and symphonic.
Summer of Love
Lush and pretty with waves of sound that seem to ebb and flow, there is a serene gentleness to this cut. There are melodies that emerge over the top of that backdrop.
Light Rain
There is more of a jazzy groove to this cut. It has more energy and some tasty melodic work. This really does qualify as fusion.
Halcyon Days

A mellower cut, layers of lush texture serve as the backdrop and intensify later. Some melody is laced over the top of that element to create the picture.

CD Five:
                 
Extra Missing Links
                
Opening Theme For Five

Lush and driving this is intriguing and very short.

Empire of the Elephant
There is a world music element mixed with New Age and other things here.
Great Rift Valley
I love the energy of this cut. It deftly combines world music vibes with New Age concepts and motifs. This is a dramatic piece that borders on progressive rock.
Dwellers of the Deep

I love the intricate guitar work on this song. The lush electronic textures really augment the magic of the number. This is a powerful and quite beautiful number that shines brightly amidst the set.

Exile link
This is just a short electronic tune.
Freeway Dude
The saxophone and whole vibe on this rocking number makes it seem like something from a 1980s movie soundtrack. It's a real rocker.
Sumatra
Tribal styled percussion merges with world music melodic explorations that lean on Asian themes.
Tears on a Rainy Day link
The guitar that brings this into being has some Genesis-like musical links. The cut is intricate and potent as it moves forward.
Is There Anyone Out There?
Trippy electronic music is on display here. There really is a sense of mystery to this short number.
Antibes Cocktail
Electronic percussion brings this into being. As echoey bits of keyboards come over the top it takes on a decidedly 80s sound.
Tropical Moon Romance
A piano based cut, there is an old-time music element at play here. It's melodic and has some definite classical leanings.
Sitar Pastoral
As you might guess, this is a sitar-based number. It has a real jamming kind of vibe to it, and fits well with a lot of 60s music. It has a real folk rock element at its core.
Wings Over The World
A mellower and quite pretty number, this brings us into sedate New Age zones.
Stakeout
With electric guitar, this is much more of a rocking number. -It's quite the powerhouse.
Bush Babies Suite
The sedate tones that start this are a stark contrast to the previous piece. The intro runs through for about the first minute. Then the cut works to a faster paced jam for a short time before a world music inspired journey takes control. There is quite an exploration that ensues as it continues.
Sky Road link

Piano is the motif here. This is an evocative, if brief, piece of music.

Citizens of the Coral
More lush New Age styled music is on hand here. This gets powerful before it's over.
Estrangement (Piano Mix)
Powerfully emotional, this piano arrangement has a lot of classical music in the mix.
Night Search
There is some great electronic passion in this number.
Granada
Spanish guitar based, this is an acoustic guitar workout.
A Noble Spirit
This keyboard based number feels a bit demo-like in terms of the sound quality. Still, it's entertaining.
In the Heart of Africa
Textural and atmospheric musical elements live at the heart of this as it gets underway. Percussion rises up after a time as the number gets more energy infused.
Malvern Hills
This is another pretty piece of mellow electronic music.
Flight of the Snow Geese
There is a feeling of watching geese flying along with the sense of freedom that flight conveys. There is an element of beauty and wonder here, too. This is another pretty electronic number with a New Age angle.
Never Meant To Be
A pretty, yet melancholy vibe is on hand in this piano piece.
New Alchemists Suite
There is plenty of electronic energy here. This gets powerful before it's over.
The Beggar & The Thief (instrumental version)
As you might guess, this is an instrumental version of the song that ended the third disc of the set.

 

 
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