I guess most prog rock devotees are familiar with the British multi-instrumentalist Anthony 'Ant' Phillips. He's best known as a founding member of Genesis. In this legendary prog band he played guitar and did the backing vocals. He left the band in 1970 following the recordings for Trespass, their second album. Phillips suffered from stage fright and according to his physician the best thing to do was leaving Genesis. He's also known for his work on the twelve-string guitar; his influence can be heard throughout Genesis' early records. In 1977 he started a solo career with his first album The Geese And The Ghost. Alongside recording prog rock albums, he also wrote a considerable amount of music for television, movies and so-called 'library music'. Phillips has always been an outstanding guitarist, whose music is drenched with influences of folk and classical music.
In 1978 he recorded the first volume of the Private Parts And Pieces series. Now 34 years later he released City Of Dreams, the eleventh album in this series which contains almost one hour of music divided into 31 tracks. While listening to these tracks it's hard to believe that I'm listening to the same musician who recorded The Geese And The Ghost 35 years ago. The main reason why City Of Dreams cannot be compared to his early work is a completely different musical approach. On his debut he used singers and the acoustic guitars formed a major part of his music. You can't find these characteristics on City Of Dreams, which is totally instrumental and mainly performed on keyboards. Only occasionally an electric guitar can be heard.
You could say that City Of Dreams is a very atmospheric album that prevailingly sounds mellow. The many soundscapes created with the keyboards sound very rich. These inventive musical landscapes are an ultimate rewarding journey for one's imagination. You can dream away on all those beautiful keyboard parts: just close your eyes; imagine mountains and oceans and the true nature of our planet. No traffic lights, rush hours and the stress of a daytime job. It's a pity that most of those beautiful ambient pieces last only a couple of minutes, but fortunately many of them are placed successively without a silence in between. This way you get the feeling that you're listening to a rather long track only interrupted by a moment of silence every now and then.
The music on this eleventh part of Private Parts And Pieces is rather difficult to compare to other acts, but I guess that the names of musicians like Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Philip Glass will give an indication of the musical direction of this beautiful album. This record once again shows that Anthony Phillips is still an amazing composer and musician who will certainly please a lot of prog heads!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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