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Anthony Phillips - Private Parts & Pieces V-VIII album reviews

Dusting off Genesis-founder Anthony Phillips' hidden gems.

This beautifully-presented, boxed section of founding Genesis guitarist Phillips’ Private Parts & Pieces curios collects soundtrack work, homeless compositions and other selected flights of fancy. 1985’s Twelve, for instance, began life as an orchestral suite inspired by the calendar months, before financial restraints forced its evolution into a collection of 12-string guitar compositions. It contains some masterful playing – evidence of Phillip’s post-Genesis classical study – but the overall effect might generously be described as ‘ambient’, or otherwise just ‘flat’. Things pick up on piano-led collection Ivory Moon, the 15-minute Old House benefits from its patchwork of sections and recurring theme, evoking feelings of darkness, mystery and empty space. VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars is the highlight of the set. An album of mixed mediums, it sounds unarguably fresher in its conception.

Cathedral Of Ice – the concluding section of five-part opener Ice Flight – summons creeping, glacial tones that will have you reaching for the thermostat. In contrast, Beachrunner’s cascading acoustic play is set for warmer climes and comes dangerously close to featuring a topline. Meanwhile, End Of The Affair combines both elements in stunning fashion – a gem that sees Phillips’ soft synth lines sparring with Quique Berro Garcia’s classical guitar – the results falling somewhere between Local Hero and Concierto de Aranjuez.

VIII: New England features the only two songs with vocals, Sanctuary and Unheard Cry. Phillips’ voice is affecting, yet buried in the mix, as if to obscure the shy songsmith further. Finally, Extra Pieces II is die-hards only territory, with the exception of the superb 1987 classical guitar instrumental The Riddle Of The Sands, which seems inexplicably buried here. Phillips originally intended to call VIII, ‘Pieces Of Eight’, and perhaps that’s an appropriate analogy for this whole boxset. There is treasure to be found here, but expect to dig for it.