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Anthony Phillips - Private Parts & Pieces XI - City Of Dreams CD (album) cover


Anthony Phillips

Symphonic Prog

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Sea of tranquillity

City Of Dreams is the eleventh and, at the time of writing, latest entry in the Private Parts & Pieces collection and also Anthony Phillips' most recent solo album to date. The album features as many as 31 instrumental tracks, all of which are rather short (with running times between just under a minute to just under four minutes). Instead of making up segments of a larger, continuous piece of music, the individual tracks very often fade out to silence before the next one begins, thus emphasising the compilation nature of the Private Parts & Pieces series.

Most of the pieces here can perhaps be defined as ambient or electronic, but there are also some Classical, acoustic guitar and piano pieces that are characteristic of Phillips' oeuvre. There is even a tiny bit of electric guitar, which is unusual, on the track called King Of The Mountains. Some works by Vangelis and Mike Oldfield come to mind (in the case of the latter, particularly recent albums like Tr3s Lunas and Light + Shade).

While definitely an improvement over the previous two Private Parts & Pieces albums, City Of Dreams is not particularly impressive in its own right. Though it is a good addition to the collections of the fans.

Report this review (#1139945)
Posted Friday, February 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars If synthesizers are involved, proggers like to steer clear (with some exceptions). Synthesizers usually bring a poppier, giddy approach to their style, instead of truly taking advantage of the vast variety of sounds it's capable of.

Here, Anthony Phillips creates a whole universe of sound. Surrounding you in a flurry of calming and relaxing touches, tones, and keys. The wave of crystalline keyboards, a wall of sound if I've ever heard one. Luckily, this one's multitracked. You can tell time and patience was put into this little beauty. Now, I shouldn't call it 'little' since it's 31 songs, but it has a 'fragile' sound. No, not that Yes album, but a precious and peaceful representation. The title of the album explains the overall feel.

The only tracks I can't get into are the various City of Dreams songs, I-IV and Mystery Train. They're each a little over a minute (or less) so that's a small complaint, they all just sound too similar for my taste. Sure, there's an addition of some new texture or sound, but the lack of a new piece doesn't impress me. I love the variety, and each song is a completely different. A different sense of 'peaceful'. Ambient music has a risk of becoming boring, but this isn't the case. With each song so short, there's plenty of new ideas to present. It isn't Eno-ambient, there's multiple textures going at once. (No offense to Eno, I love his music, but for a different reason. I have to be in the mood. With this, I can listen to it and become entranced that easily.)

Some stand-outs (though they really ALL are remarkable) is: King of the Mountains, Astral Bath, Air & Grace, Sunset Pools, The Deep, Night Train (one of the more lively pieces on here), Sea of Tranquility (introducing the harp makes this possibly the most beautiful song on the album), Realms of Gold (which is a little haunting, though beautiful, which shows that a 'realm of gold' could bring both elegance and danger. Also has a distant, quiet choir in the backdrop), Days of Yore (sounds like an out-of-tune acoustic guitar, a nice change of pace), Act of Faith (reminding me of Soiree, a luscious piano piece. Highly inspirational, and sadly, very short too), Grand Master (sounds like Anthony brought an organ into the ocean and started playing!), Anthem for Doomed Youth (the choir's front- and-center here), and The Homecoming, a great meditative closer to this meditative album.

Since nearly EVERY song is a highlight, I highly recommend that you listen to the previews on Amazon. Since I'm impatient, Amazon's mp3 price-tag of $8.99 was fair, so I grabbed it the first day it was released on here. The mp3 album title is listed as Private Parts & Pieces XI, NOT City of Dreams strangely enough. Those 57 minutes fly by, and it's always a rewarding experience when you turn it on again.

It's not as revolutionary for Ant Phillips as Seventh Heaven was, but it's still brilliant in its own sense. Please, just give it a listen. I used to love Mike Oldfield and his style, until I discovered Anthony Phillips' captivating discography.

Report this review (#1163599)
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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