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Anthony Phillips - The Geese And The Ghost CD (album) cover

THE GEESE AND THE GHOST

Anthony Phillips

 

Symphonic Prog

4.02 | 257 ratings

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Flimbau
4 stars This is an album reflecting some of the finer tenets of the music coming from the progressive music scenes of England during the 1970s. It is an album built around gentle melodious symphonic accompaniment framing the virtuosic acoustic guitar skills of Anthony Phillips and Michael Rutherford, as well as vocal contributions from Phil Collins. The work is frequently pastoral in nature drawing on the medeaval and baroque influences of traditional English folk balladry as well as the more modern sounds of the synthesizers and rock instrumentation contemporary to Symphonic Progressive Rock. Fans of early Genesis, Camel, Yes, Gentle Giant, as well as the more eclectic leanings of Pentangle, Gryphon and Fairport Convention will find this album to be a rare gem. The album opens with the track "Wind- Tales" an instrumental piece. Gentle mellifluous volume swells swirl about the listener replete with phantasmagorical notes played in reverse. The piece is short and quickly ascends to a climactic apex before softly drawing down to its conclusion. This piece is an important bookend to the album setting a distinctive overall color to the thematic qualities that the music will continue to explore throughout the albums duration. As the final notes draw to their conclusion we immediately segue into the swelling bell like tones of an electric guitar run into a soft delay. Phil Collins makes his vocal debut on this second track of the album "Which Way the Wind Blows". This track bears some of the hallmarks of Collins' later work with Genesis, particularly the more gentle tracks from the album Trick of the Tail. "Ripples" and "Entangled" both come to mind. A 12 string guitar plays the main progression whilst electric guitars duet counterpointed melodies beneath and synthesizer flourishes contribute to the atmospheric feel of the tune. The next arrangement is perhaps the penultimate work of the album, a medley of decidedly medeaval flavored acoustic and symphonic arrangements reflecting the times of King Henry. The first section is a short piece entitled "Fanfare" and is a triumphant proclamation sounded on a brass ensemble and a strummed acoustic accompaniment. This quickly segues into part two "Lutes Chorus". Soft flute lines are played over an arpeggiated guitar duet. An interesting piece of trivia is that this is in fact John Hackett on flute, brother of Steve Hackett of Genesis fame. Part three "Misty Battlements" opens with the chords of a 12 string guitar slowly building into a rolling soundscape before falling before thunderous strains of part four "Henry goes to War". This section is very dramatic and does much to impart the crashing sensations of a military engagement. Martial drum rolls and the booming calls of cymbal crashes echo the sounds of cannon fire and the climactic struggle of men at war. A final electric guitar flourish sounds the end of the struggle and the opening strains of part five "Death of a Knight" reprise the initial themes of the piece. Twelve string and classical guitars play the funeral dirge and the piece draws towards conclusion with the epic sounds of a vocal chorus reprising the opening melodic themes. With part six "Triumphant Return" this epic draws to a conclusion. The next track "God if I saw Her Now" returns us to the sounds of the earlier vocal work on the album. Again gentle electric guitar melodies accompany Phil Collins and the dulcet tones of Viv McCauliffe whose work would later be featured on the Camel album "I Can See Your House from Here". This is a short and sentimental work that serves to break up two of the longer instrumental stretches of the album and is again very similar to songs that Phil Collins would sing in his later career as Genesis' front man. "Chinese Mushroom Cloud" opens with a slowly reverberating musical theme that builds around a harmonic 12 string guitar arpeggio before collapsing back into itself much as its title suggests. This is a preview of a theme to be reprised later within the albums second large instrumental work, "The Geese and the Ghost" parts one and two respectively. "The Geese and the Ghost, part one" opens with a slightly whimsical acoustic flourish. There is a hint of tragedy to this intro, a feeling of perhaps gentle regret before the music begins to scale up in slightly in tempo and feel. A natural harmonic sounds and again the soft sounds of Phillips' acoustic accompaniment sketches a picture of tender memory. This piece evokes a considered portrait of times past, loves lost, youth in repose, etc. It is a hazy reminder of the distant days of summer and the golden days of times gone by. As it reaches its transcendental conclusion a swelling synthesizer fades us into the reprised theme from "Chinese Mushroom Cloud". Played with vigor and multiple harmonized 12 string and acoustic guitars "The Geese and the Ghost, part two" is a rollicking romp carried forward by its intricately picked acoustic arrangements, and staccato string accompaniments. Underlying this all is still the gentle feelings of regret from part one, however this is tempered by the vibrant strumming of tempestuous 12 string guitars and riffing harmonized electric guitars. This piece is clearly one of Phillips' finest works and definitely a testament to his ability both as a player and composer. "Collections" is a poetic look at life's reflections. It is perhaps a snapshot of many of the themes of the album encapsulated in the words of the artist. Phillips lyrics speak to both the tragedy and the comedy of life, and perhaps most importantly the understanding of the worlds beauty in all its forms. As the album draws to a close with the opening piano trills of "Sleepfall- The Geese Fly West" we are reminded of the overall pastoral and beautiful feel of this album in its entirety. This is a gentle song and serves as the appropriate bookend to the opening track "Wind- Tales"

To me this album is a work of wonder. An artist at the height of their abilities crafting a truly wondrous piece of music that both defies convention and invites the listener to experience something beyond the traditional constrains of contemporary "pop/rock" music. Phillips' "The Geese and the Ghost" is something of a portrait of the sensibility of the entire Progressive Rock music movement of 1970s England. Intelligent romantic young men seeking to create something more profound and lasting than mere radio hits. There is a naivete and innocence to this album and it is that which truly draws the listener in. This music will speak to a deeper feeling within the human experience than much that was written before or since its inception. I highly recommend it.

Flimbau | 4/5 |

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