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


Anthony Phillips


Symphonic Prog

4.02 | 337 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
2 stars Much like what you might deduce from the album cover, Anthony Phillips delivers a pastoral set of songs in bright and pleasant colours on The Geese and the Ghost. Some of the naiveté in the scene and the brush-strokes of the cover reflect the music quite admirably, even though there is room for a lot more subtlety and delicacy than one is led to expect.

Comparisons to early Genesis seems to be plentiful, and rightly so. That subdued elegance and understated melodic beauty can be found all over The Geese and the Ghost. You hear it all the time in gentle but agile strummed and picked guitar, which comes across as near serenade-like, or perhaps as the sounds of a long-gone lutist. A sense of mysterious wonder and chivalrous courts as well as familiar folk-inflicted melodies from all instruments (but perhaps most notably the different flutes and guitar) moves the album effectively into a classical/mediaeval/Renaissance mash-up folk-symphony. And that is where it stays, for most part. It certainly lacks a lot of the oomph you find in early Genesis and, more importantly, its dynamic range, both instrumentally and vocally. The main exception to this rule is the suite Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times. Sadly, it feels a bit contrived, with its musical shifts and changes lacking effective segues, motivation and sometimes even backing in the underlying music. Many of them come across as a bit hollow and unmotivated.

The rest of the compositions comfortably, almost lazily, float on for the most part, witch granted is pleasant enough, but there is a tendency for it all to sink into the background, an unintended loss of power to hold on to and affect the listener. Being dominantly acoustic, the atmosphere is often airy and warm (infused by silken organ, Mellotron and harmonium), with smooth and pleasant textures being just as important as the melodies. If you listen closely and intently, however, you might be surprised by the affluence of instruments that rise out of these soothing meanderings; half an orchestra, pleasant percussion and tried-and-tested rock and prog mainstays. When used in the best possible way, they come across as a bubbling cauldron of sounds, creating a wonderful, diverse and subtle life in the music. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to overemphasize tenderness and a will to keep the soundscape clean, rendering it a bit bloodless and flat from time to time, if ever so pretty.

Never trying to be overtly intellectual or experimental as an album, and full of sweet melodic appeal, it still manages to fumble when it comes to stirring up real emotions in this reviewer. It is just altogether too fleeting, too fey, and too ingratiating. At the same time there is unmistakable beauty, elegance and skill to be found; just not enough to counterbalance the flaws.

2 stars.


LinusW | 2/5 |


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