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Anthony Phillips: Private Parts & Pieces I-IV

Privates on parade.

Beyond Anthony Phillips’s career-defining albums like The Geese And Ghost and Wise After The Event (and, of course, as a founding member of Genesis, Trespass), there’s an endless array of projects – soundtracks, albums, suites, soundscapes and collaborations – that have gradually been curated into the Private Parts & Pieces series.

The first four albums, now packaged into a clamshell box, represent around a third of the total. It spans the late 70s to the mid-80s, and ranges from a soundtrack to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to an inspired series of duets with Argentinian guitarist Enrique Berro Garcia.

Phillips’ graceful style provides a unifying thread but his real skill lies in writing descriptive pieces that make for pleasurable ambient listening outside the project they were written for, much like Ry Cooder. This even applies to the bonus CD of out-takes. It’s almost entirely acoustic and there’s a relaxing elegance about the playing, even when it sometimes feels inconsequential.

On the rare occasions when technology intrudes, it can be startlingly effective. On Will O’ The Wisp for example, it’s as if Phillips suddenly spotted an effects pedal in the studio and spent the next two minutes discovering the audio delights of flanging on his 12-string.