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Anthony Phillips - Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England  CD (album) cover

PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VIII: NEW ENGLAND

Anthony Phillips

 

Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 46 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars The best Private Parts & Pieces album!

For those who might have followed my series of reviews of Anthony Phillips' Private Parts & Pieces albums, you will have noticed that I am not a big fan of these albums. Many of these albums focus on only a single aspect of Phillips' diverse artistic ambition and skill, and some of them even focus on only a single instrument (most commonly the acoustic guitar, but sometimes piano or synthesisers). This observation can not without justification be extended to Phillips' discography as a whole with albums in many styles including Classical music, Pop Rock, New-Age, Folk, ambient/electronic, etc.

Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England stands out for me, however, in pooling the respective strengths of some of the previous albums in the series. Like on many previous Private Parts & Pieces albums we have here again some acoustic guitar pieces, some piano pieces, and even a couple of vocal numbers, but the compositions are stronger this time around. It does not just feel like Ant strumming away on his guitar, but that he actually took care to perform some carefully crafted material. There is also a nicer flow to this album that makes it feel like an organic whole instead of just a collection of independent pieces like most other Private Parts & Pieces albums very often do. New England is in many respects Phillips' most consistent album, at least since 1981's conceptual 1984 album (which is very different from the present album in style).

For this album, Ant has relaxed the synthesisers, but alternates between stringed acoustic instruments (mostly guitar, but also some lovely mandolin) and piano. There are several guests appearing on some interesting instruments, some of which are more "exotic" than others, but all of which add to the diversity of the sound palette of the album.

Much of this album, like the three-part title suite for instance, reminded me of Amazing Blondel in its soft melodic approach and Medieval-flavoured, folky, acoustic nature. Other parts are more Classical, some experimental, and yet others are towards easy-listening. The ten plus minute Sunrise And Sea Monsters is an odd fusion of jazzy easy-listening with more experimental passages.

One of Anthony Phillips' more enjoyable albums

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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