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Anthony Phillips - Private Parts & Pieces V - Twelve CD (album) cover


Anthony Phillips

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars I cannot beieve that I am the first reviewer of this album - it's shocking that other Genesis fans have not gotten to it yet. It's a completely solo and instrumental effort (with some multi-tracking, it seems) played on Ant's trademark 12-string guitar. Beautifully composed and perforrmed piece of work, very atmospheric and impressionistic and quite complex. Ant is an absolute genius in fusing folk music with classical, although this album leans more in the classical direction. Should be heard in one sitting, multiple times for best results. Also features one of the best drawings by Peter Cross.
Report this review (#25969)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really dig ANTHONY PHILLIPS, but this album doesn't do it for me! It's cleverly titled in that it refers both to the number of months in a calendar year AND the number of strings on his guitar. Song #1 is entitled "January", song #2 "February", and so forth, down to #12 "December". I think Ant is an awesome guitar player, and certainly one of the best 12- string players in the business. But it's very hard to pull off an entire album of one person playing a 12-string guitar without any other instrumentation (I don't think there is even any over-dubbing on this). It'd be kind of like listening to 64 minutes of Frank Sinatra singing a cappella. He's got a great voice, for sure, but that format would be a tough sell! That said, there are some spine tingling moments to be plumbed on TWELVE. As always, Ant employs all his best techniques, from strumming the strings so hard, you think he'll break them, to cradling so delicately, you have to strain to hear them! He uses every inch of every string, for grabbing chords, picking, and harmonics (I think AP has found more places on a string to make harmonics than anyone else knew existed!). All of the tracks would stand up just fine - mixed in with some other material. But all them, put together on a "concept" album, "leaves" me feeling a bit like song #10 "October"
Report this review (#25970)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is really a neoclassical, not a prog-rock album. In that genre it is an overlooked masterpiece, and I would be a solid five stars. As a prog-music album I'd give it four, but am giving five to compensate for "barko".

"Twelve" consists of 12 pieces for 12-string guitar, each of which depicting one of the months of the year. I could not help being reminded of the solo guitar pieces of [Brazilian classical composer] Heitor Villa-Lobos.

It's probably more interesting (and DEFINITELY more musical) than most "comtemporary classical" music being written these days. I'd love to see a score published!

There is great textural variation in the music, in terms of volume, harmony (from consonant to sharply dissonant), and playing techniques.

It is not only evocative but holds up VERY well to repeated listening. As another reviewer remarked, one needs to hear it a few times before one truly appreciates it. It went into my iPod favorites list after two listens.

CAVEAT: I am an avid prog-rock (and to a lesser extent, fusion jazz) fan but also very much into serious classical music. Maybe the typical reader here isn't.

Report this review (#25971)
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not only does it take a lot of creative muscle to write and record 12 pieces -60 full minutes - of solo acoustic 12-string guitar. . . it takes a lot of *actual* muscle! But Ant pulls it off here with an aplomb, grace, and exemplary musicianship. Yes, the 12 month/12 song/12 string gimmick is unusually non-tongue-in-cheek for Ant. True, it's a lot to take in in a single listen. Best bet: have some esspresso handy. Ant does seem to include some impressionistic reflection of the "mood" of each month, so perhaps beginning the album with "September" and ending it with "August" would make for better pacing. Still, despite the impressionistic "stillness" of much of the music (i.e. there's no beat, you can't dance too it 8-) the music has a lot of depth.

On most pieces (if not all), Ant seems to be using one sort of alternate tuning or another. Most cleverly, on a couple of pieces, he also tunes one or both of the unison courses (pairs of strings) to different notes, allowing him to play chords within chords within chords. I've never heard anything like it

Report this review (#70236)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is another full acoustic guitar album from Anthony. And to be honest, I have had quite a difficult time to go through those twelve pieces of music.

I understand that it is easier to depict the months of the year while painting: at least you can show some darkness for January, some icy and cold landscape for February, some windy atmosphere for March, some return to a normal time in April, the first nice day and the flowers for May, the light of June, the hot and oppressive feel during July & August etc. This is valid in the Northern hemisphere of course.

While performing all these tracks about the course of the year, I couldn't feel any particular difference between each of them. OK, it gets a little wilder for twenty seconds during "April"?

This is an album for acoustic guitar player who could discuss amongst themselves the skills, quality and style and maybe find out some limitations about the artist. But I am not such one. In terms of prog or personal impression I would rate this work with one star, but since this album is definitely for a certain audience, I won't be so harsh and I upgrade it to two.

Report this review (#531704)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Seasons and their change became an important subject for human culture during last centuries (no idea why but that's the fact). A cycle of four violin concerti by Vivaldi, an oratorio by Haydn, a set of pieces for solo piano by Tchaikovsky, a set of four tango compositions by Piazzolla, a concept album by Los Canarios... et cetera. And finally, a set of pieces for acoustic guitar by Anthony Phillips. Most likely it should be compared to Tchaikovsky's The Seasons first of all, because these two works obviously belong to the same genre, no matter if more than a century divides them. Tchaikovsky's piano cycle is a worldwide recognized masterpiece. And I dare say that Phillips' guitar cycle bears the comparison. The artist surpassed himself in this fabulous work. He found so fresh sounds, chords and combinations of sounds, built so unusual relationships between sounds that Twelve should be considered one of his best releases - and one of the best works on the 'seasons' subject ever. Besides that, Phillips widened the expressive capacities of acoustic guitar. How to express weather and its seasonal changes by means of a solo instrument? Before Phillips, we knew only how to do it on piano, thanks to Tchaikovsky. With Twelve, a new chapter in chamber instrumental music, we learnt how to do it on acoustic guitar.

It's not easy to mark the best tracks on Twelve. All are beautiful. Maybe the most original and innovative are January, February, March and December. Looks like Phillips is most successful in 'snowy' guitar pieces. And when the snow thawed, something reminding The Geese & The Ghost began. It's also beautiful but not new, not inventive enough, quite typical for Phillips.

P.S. And not to be forgotten: Twelve is one of the longest single vinyls ever. 65 minutes. This should be mentioned as well.

Report this review (#1057382)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Twelve tunes played on twelve strings

The remarkably prolific Anthony Phillips released even more "private parts and pieces" on this fifth entry in the series. Private Parts & Pieces V is subtitled Twelve and features 12 instrumental numbers all of which are performed on 12 string guitar. This album is even more "private" than most albums in the series as it features only Ant playing only a single instrument and nothing else. As such the sound is rather unidimensional and monotonous.

Supposedly the album is a conceptual one with the 12 tunes representing the 12 months of the year, but it is really hard to hear why any particular number is intended to represent any particular month. The concept appears rather ad hoc and may, for all the listener is able to perceive, be an afterthought rather than something on which the actual tunes were based. Of course, being conceptual doesn't mean that it has anything to do with progressive Rock or with progressive music of any kind.

The music is mostly pleasant and it works reasonably well despite its instrumental simplicity. Sitting through the whole thing in one go is however a rather tedious exercise and it is not particularly memorable.

Like most entries in the Private Parts & Pieces-series, this is recommended only for fans and collectors or for whose with a particular interest in the 12 string guitar.

Report this review (#1135960)
Posted Sunday, February 23, 2014 | Review Permalink

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