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Anthony Phillips - Slow Dance CD (album) cover


Anthony Phillips

Symphonic Prog

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Moogtron III
Crossover Team
4 stars This album is one of Ant's very best. The music is soundtrack-like, like it's predecessor Tarka (Tarka was actually meant to be a soundtrack). There's no singing on it: the music is a mix between electronic instruments (synthesizers) and acoustic instruments like oboe, trumpet and harp. A mix between keyboard oriented rock and classical music, though Slow Dance has more emphasis on electronic music than Tarka. The record is not unlike " 1984" , though that album suffered from a rather cold, sterile sound. SD sounds warm, and although the music is purely instrumental, it never gets boring. There's a lot of adventure in the compositions, several time changes, and a very original attitude to the use of synthesizers alongside strings and other acoustic instruments. Don't expect any library music. Ant has written a lot of that, but this album showcases far more interesting music. I think this record is quite underrated and is in no way inferior to acknowledged masterworks like The Geese And The Ghost and Trespass (you know, Trespass, Genesis' second album; Ant Phillips was playing the guitar on that one; he was important for the band in those days; I'm insulting your knowledge right now by mentioning this, aren't I?). If you've got a taste for subtle, but interesting instrumental music, than I can recommend this one. It has some of the best melodies and harmonies written by Ant, and the production is flawless and organic. Do yourself a favour, and try being an archaeologist: wipe off the sand from this artefact, will you?
Report this review (#25984)
Posted Thursday, August 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the one of three PERFECT Anthony Phillips albums (The Geese and the Ghost, and Antiques being the other two). A totally instrumental album, Ant draws on all his best stuff, save his solo piano playing. Divided into 2 parts, the album thunders and whispers, it exhilarates and saddens. The opening five minutes and the closing 2:30 seconds take me to a different world everytime I hear them. The outro will remind you of Geese Fly West/Sleepfall. In the history of Prog Rock, this album should stand out as one of maybe 25 albums that best epitomize the genre. Someone should also score this for an orchestra! That cross-over almost always fails to satisfy both Prog and Classical fans - Slow Dance would not. Please buy this album! It is sure to please, edify, move, and fulfill you!
Report this review (#25985)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I cannot for the life of me figure out why this album hasn't gotten more traction. It's brilliant. I read one review of this album somewhere that concluded with "Watch your back Mike Oldfield!" - he wasn't kidding. SLOW DANCE is such a monumental piece of music, it's got to be listened to!!! With sweeping orchestration, perfectly infused keyboards and synths, percussion, and the harp!!! (I love that harp), it is, no kiddiing, a 5 star album. No vocals, just lush, instrumentation. PHILLIPS takes the listener on a journey, a joy ride, a trust walk, a peek into the wiindow of the heavens. The level of feeling that OLDFIELD evokes with loud, thrilling sounds, PHILLIPS accomplishes with beauty and understatment (not that there aren't some ballsy bits in here. There is a jostling section that'll knock your socks off!) Evoking just as much, but a different kind of emotion! Without getting into a proper "review" of the album, you'll have to trust me on this one, THIS IS AWESOME, CLASSIC PROG MUSIC. A giant, thematic work in two parts. Go to your local (on-line?) music store and DEMAND a copy of this CD. Then INSIST that you pay double the price. Haggle up! If they give you a funny look, ask to see the proprietor. It will be money well spent. And the look on the clerks face - priceless.
Report this review (#25986)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is impossible not to like this album - especially if you like symphonic music, Vangelis, The Enid and suchlike. However it is not a typical Anthony Phillips album - there is more Classical music influence here than in his classics like The Geese And The Ghost, Wise After The Event, Private Parts & Pieces I and II. You'll find similarities to Glazunov and other Russian composers. There is a definite structure to the work and it abounds in gorgeous melodies and chord changes. It is extremely well arranged and performed and is similar to what Tony Banks did on "Seven". There is not much guitar on it though, and it cannot really be called rock, but overall, it's a joy to listen to.
Report this review (#25987)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars All my fellow prog colleagues reviewing this masterpiece are right on target! Firstly, Ant is one of the first and bravest prog artist, with a long history of daring attempts at breaking new ground, some succesful , some less so. From typical pastoral Brit Folk (The Geese & the Ghost") , the whimsical Brit Prog of "Wise" and "Sides" , the sci-fi Prog of "1984" and of course, the massive Private Parts anthology (containing piano only, 12 String only, Synth only, acoustic duets, solos etc..) , this shy, stagefright stricken, very English, cricket loving & ultimately charming prog icon has constantly kept true to his word of doing things his way. "Slowdance" cannot be compared to any of his previous work, simply because it's as close to real symphonic classical music as one could hope to hear in progland. Including orchestral arrangements has not always been a success because of the clash of egos between virtuoso "rockers" and a dedicated group of "serious" music professionals! Why this recording overcomes all the misconceptions is entirely due to Ant's dedication to compose a extensive piece of music that caters to HIS strenghts and HIS vision. Hence, his 12 string guitar stills is the baton wielding conductor, adding lush orchestrations, with glimpses of oboe & flutes , held together with astute use of different keyboards , including various synths which is most courageous under the circumstances. This is a 2 part melancholic suite with a central delicate melody, interweaving pastoral segments with appropriate grandeur where deemed necessary.

Never overtly complex for the sheer sake of being "pro" , Ant prefers to keep things "prog" , in his own special way. Even though "Slowdance" is right on the edge of classical music, this nevertheless remains an album of inspired themes, grandiose playing and thorough enjoyment. Obviously, our more agressive progfans might not find this to be their cup of tea, they must realize that we are talking about Anthony Phillips and this is nor wallpaper music nor is it Dream Theater. This remains my favorite Sunday morning album of all time.

4.5 rhythmic embraces

Report this review (#25988)
Posted Saturday, March 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm, torn between giving this a 4 which I think it deserves and a 5 just to help bring it wider attention which it very much deserves. If anyone heard Geese and wants Ant's other best and most consistant work this is the one. The first part is absolutely beautiful and has definite greatness as it builds to a gorgeous climax and outro. The second part is quite good and pleasing but doesnt quite reach the heights of the first part. Still, this and Geese are wonderful and would be enjoyed by any Genesis (Prog) fan.
Report this review (#25989)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Extremely underrated album. By listening to this album it comes as no surprise AP wrote a lot of stuff for TV programmes, some parts could be used for such purposes quite easily especially for nature documentaries. But I don't mean this in a bad way, although the instrumental music would improve by adding images to it, this is highly enjoyable on audio as well. There's not much Phillips albums I like to listen to from start to finish. Most of the albums of AP have some moments of brilliance but are failing in keeping my attention for all the time due to the lack of variety of instrumentation. But this is different. You can hear lots of classical instruments like oboe or harp, a string quartet, flutes and many layers of keyboards. Listening to this album I was wondering if this could be described as rock music in any possible way. Some parts are pure classical, other parts have electronic or new age tendencies but not much rhythm can be found on this album. Often the name of Mike Oldfield comes to mind but Slow Dance is a lot more soft. This is the kind of stuff which listeners can use to set their mind on ease and to dream. Like the title suggests, Slow Dance develops slowly from one mood to another on two sidelong tracks. Every now and then the delicate music swells to an impressive wall of symphonic sound but mostly this is soft and gentle stuff. Still the overall mood is melancholic. You shouldn't guess this is work of a guy who started his career as Genesis' first lead guitarist as the most dominant instrument is the keyboard. This album made a fan of me. Since then I kept on looking for another Phillips album that was on par with "Slow Dance but there really isn't one. "Tarka", "1984" and the two missing links albums show some similarities for the orchestrations and atmospheric sounds. The missing links albums are more fragmented as the several excerpt have no relation to each other. As you can expect "1984" was meant to be cold and sterile. On SD Phillips takes time for an organic, warm sound full of beautiful melodies. 25 minutes is a long time for an instrumental track, but I don't mind if the music is gripping all the time. Still can't believe this instrumental music doesn't bore me for one second ; quite an achievement. Some of the excerpts are suitable to be played on their own. Too bad you are unable to play these sections separately. Although being released in 1990, the sound of the album is timeless capturing many style elements which were used to create a romantic mood somewhat comparable to some of soundtracks of the seventies which were typical for that era. Sometimes these kind of romantic moods are too much for my liking. Still a great album anyway but you definitely have to be in a very quiet mood for this.
Report this review (#35976)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is Anthony Phillips' best album. But I'm not grading this on a curve. This piece deserves 5 stars. It stands up against any other ***** work on this site. This is a complete album. No vocals here, very classical in nature, it's grand, and sweeping. Every time I play this album for other people, no matter what their tatstes in music, they all comment how wonderful they think it is. If you want to hear the finest offering from one of the legends of Prog Music, do yourself a favor, RUN don't walk to get this album.
Report this review (#42712)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars At almost 15 yrs old, this CD is beginning to show signs of age. Since most of the music is synth driven, the present-day listener will be able to detect some "retro" sounds coming from ANT's stack of keyboards as technology has improved so much since 1991. That said, the music itself continues to envelop the listener like a compassionate embrace. This is a big budget album by AP standards. He brought in several other muscians to provide the strings, brass, and woodwind (and harp) as well as legendary producer SIMON HEYWORTH of Tubular Bells fame. The result is awe-inspiring. This is one of my "desert island discs", I cannot part with this album - ever. While the music itself is not complicated, it is layered and intricate. Don't expect to be blown away by this, but rather, expect to be swept away by its beauty. A magnificent record!
Report this review (#50415)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I listened to this again this morning, just to be sure that I wasn't hallucinating. Nope - I'm not! This is, to be sure, one of the finest syth/orchestral tracks out there. It's 50 minutes of awesome, melodic sounds. Woven together by layers of sound, booming basses and lilting piccolo's keep this contained. The last three minutes of this album are SONIC PERFECTION. This must have been a massive undertaking from concept, to writing, to re-writing, to rehersals, to recording, to editing. One listen and you will see, hear, and feel, this was done by a perfectionist. Whether it is late at night, or before the sun comes up, this album always seems to capture the mood. What's after CD's? MP3's! And after that. . . ? Whatever is going to be the 7th generation sound medium, SLOWDANCE better be on it. It's too good.
Report this review (#71891)
Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't really add much to what has already been said by previous reviewers of this CD. Everyone loves it! All I can say is, to those of you who have not heard this magnum opus, you don't know what you're missing! Unlike many virtuosos, who write music that showcases their particular talent, especially in soloing, Phillips writes songs/music first. His mastery of the instrument comes through without him having to constantly show off his skilsl. Synths, keyboards, and more synths. But it's not about the technique - it's about the music! One listen, and you'll see why. Ten listens, and this will be left in your will to your favorite person in the world.
Report this review (#72067)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A bona fide Prog masterpiece!!! They don't get much bigger than this. Very few musicians have even attempted to pull off something this grand. Fewer, still, have succeeded. Well, let's call this a brilliant success. From the opening chords, to the final etherial escape, this CD will keep you riveted. Prog, New Age, Classical, and Modern styles of music are all to be found here, in just the right places. Yes, this is reminiscent of Oldfield - (or is Oldfield reminiscent of Phillips?) There are no vocals on Slow Dance, it is a pure instrumental. But this does not mean it is missing something. Vocals would detract from this grand score. This is the gift that keeps on giving. Every time I sit down to "experience" this album, I discover something new. Beauty and wonder await you!
Report this review (#84003)
Posted Monday, July 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8.8/10 Great

Slow Dance is full of shockingly good melodies and mixes various moods into an overall very nice, melodic experience. The entire album may have reached masterpiece status had Ant picked the right use of intrumentation, especially synths. There are moments in this song that still give me goosebumps, even though I almost depise the synth work and fake drum effects. I could never really get into the 80's use of fake drum work and "cheesey" synth sounds, but the music on here is so wonderful it can be dealt with. Aside from this small gripe, the construction of this album is pretty awesome, with a few parts a little to intense and out of mood. Ant seems to be writing a soundtrack here, and it works really well when you think of something story or movie-like in your head while this plays. It really could have been a soundtrack! The only problem is it would have been a soundtrack most likely for that of a cheesey 80's movie. The epic melodies are still there, though, and if you can get past the 80's sound there is really a great journey to be had. Give it a shot!

Report this review (#144344)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Well, I can't always give five stars rating. And again I'm going against the stream. When I've marked Beardfish's new album with five stars, two other reviewers gave it three. Not there's majority of five stars, but I'm gonna give it four. I mean there's nothing bad about it, right ?

Now to the album. As a lot of Anthony Phillip's work, it's very quiet. You can even use it as an Ambient Music (special term used by me, sometimes), but that would be waste. This thing has one thing that I appreciate a lot. And I'm not afraid to call it Melody. By the way, I'm probably gonna not use track-to-track style (heh) here. Music here is nice, slow (dance) and pleasant. You're going to love it. Did this first part of first track just ended after five minutes, or is it continuing ? In these collected songs (which are long) is it always hard to tell (for me). It's different rhytm, using other instruments, but something here is similar. Well, everything here is similar to everything elsewhere here, because of theme of this record, but I mean ... yes, this should be one themed track. Even I didn't realise that songs has changed from part 1 to part 2 on a first spin. ENDing now. Nice synth work (or I'm confused and it's real orchestra). Recommended.

Report this review (#229493)
Posted Sunday, August 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sublime quality in every way, Slowdance is phonically superior over almost 90% of all music in the history of mankind. Being ultra romantic without being lame, Ant Phillips created this piece of art that flows effortlessly over 50 minutes and after listening session, it only leaves a huge impression over our mind. It changes my perception over music for the rest of my life.

Contemporary, easily digest without having to sacrifice the complexity, modern form of classical music disguised in a prog suit, this album makes all wannabe-s look stupid. The arrangement, dynamic, melody and musicianship is so good without having to show off. This album shows us that in music world, mental ability is far more powerful and could create more impact over one's mind than physical ability.

5 stars, no less. Essential piece for all music lover.

Report this review (#247407)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A rare example of perfection within the confines of an album suite, 'Slow Dance' is the 'Thick As A Brick" of ambient-oriented progressive music, a must own pair of movements that touches everything from pastoral classicism to infectious worldly beat to electronics and back again, creating a feeling of transcendence that only grows more and more prevalent as the minutes pass and leaving you breathless by the end.

If you don't own this album, you ARE doing yourself a grave disservice, as this is the closest to perfection that New Age ever got in terms of musical engagement...and furthermore the best thing that Anthony Phillips has done since the late 70's. Get this!

5 stars.

Report this review (#251958)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I quite appreciated the first solo album from this artist. Between then ('77) and this "Slow Dance", some thirteen years have passed and if you take out his "Private Parts II", there were few albums that could thrilled me.

This work is flirting with classic music: this is rendered with several orchestration passages which are not too bad, but as usual: this is not my cup of tea. Most of the music that is played here is rather delicate, very personal and intimate even in the presence of an orchestra.

At times, this piece of music does sound as an early Mike Oldfield one. This is of course not a handicap: I just want to tell that this oeuvre is quite diverse and features a lot of themes throughout its fifty minutes.

Even if you are not a classic music lover (like myself), there are sufficient beautiful moments to share during this "Slow Dance". Peaceful acoustic guitar parts of course, some lovely harp and other truly melodic passages, including some emotional flute ones.

I am afraid though that I won't be as laudatory as some of my fellow reviewers: I guess that depending if you are into classic or not, it will have a major impact on your opinion about this release. You might know my point of view about this by now?

Anyway, this is a pleasant album after all: lots of symphony, harmony and even spacey soundscapes are available. As a whole I would love to rate this work with seven out of ten. But you know the story on PA? So, three stars is the final rate.

Report this review (#531708)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Phillips turns multi-instrumentalist on this album, creating a single continuous piece of music on which his guitar playing is eclipsed by his use of synthesisers and other instruments. Don't expect a Tubular Bells retread, however, even considering the similarities in format: this piece is rooted in Anthony's classical music interests, the synths doing a decent (if somewhat dated) job of standing in for an orchestra. Fans of Phillips' guitar playing will feel very disappointed, those fond of his ear for classical composition may be enchanted - for my part, I think it's a good listen, though the rather dated and cheap synth sound prevents it from attaining excellence.
Report this review (#592138)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1990, a breath of fresh air.

Listed as New Age at the time, a clearly superior sonic flight to it. Calm and deliberate, emotional and rhythmic. One of the few times that this virtuous and skillful musician was surrounded by eminent musician to accompany it, appropriate to the occasion. Often failed in the task of building and maintaining a stable band.

Few units of guitar, just to keep in some sections. Phillips's task is mostly played with keyboards.

A risky decision. This is a dangerous mix, but the result ends up being positive, pro. The time has passed and approved by fire, from my point of view, this work. Not the genius of Oldfield´s Amarok, at that same time, but it's a respectable and qualified.

Report this review (#982893)
Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars His magnum opus, no doubt. A work in which all his creativity focused. If Antonio Vivaldi was still alive in our days, I believe he would write music of the same kind. We all know Anthony Phillips as a refined and romantic guitarist who created his own guitar universe, existed in that universe himself since 1970 (one might say Anthony Phillips was the spirit of Trespass, and I won't dispute) until 1988 (Tarka), and returned to it after Slow Dance. Because Slow Dance contains nothing Trespass- or The Geese & The Ghost-like. And I dare to assume that only Slow Dance is genuine Anthony Phillips at his full capacity. Twentieth century's Vivaldi who seriously outgrew his predecessor. Phillips fully expressed himself as a musician in this incredible, profound, majestic, encyclopedic work. Perhaps a musicologist of 22nd or 23rd century answering a question 'what was Anthony Phillips' will first mention not The Geese & The Ghost, even not Back To The Pavilion or Twelve, but Slow Dance. This album makes Phillips a protagonist of progressive music, a figure in prog as major as Banks, Emerson, Fripp or Wakeman. And not surprisingly, with Slow Dance the artist conquered a peak which it was impossible to keep at. Guess that's why Slow Dance didn't open a new chapter in his career. An instant marvel occurs once. Phillips of 1990s and later is again good-old Phillips of Trespass, The Geese & The Ghost and Private Parts & Pieces, beautiful but habitual. From time to time, only occasional weak echoes of Slow Dance can be heard in his later works (for example, in The Sky Road from 1994 and Seventh Heaven from 2012). What was and what should never be...
Report this review (#1057386)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a wonder album. Many people know who Anthony Phillips is, yet few actually know his music well. Apart of the conventional, pastoral prog albums early in his solo career (recalling the music of times when he was in Genesis) to many acoustic albums devoted to piano and his beloved guitar. Other than this, he had a few unsuccessful pop flings and some shots for orchestral/synthesizer music. The album in question belongs to latter territory and what an album it is!

Being surrounded with such amount of film (and new age) music, there's very much to compare it to, but only very rarely this type of music has achieved such an emotional effect. A two-part composition is presented, with alternatiing amazingly beautiful, magical themes with endless, interesting variations. Sound is bright but very, very deep and massive at moments (e.g. the beginning sequence).

This is one of my all-time favourite albums. This is for everyone that puts beauty first.

Report this review (#1377012)
Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is phenomenal! I have listened to some of Mr. Phillips other work, and I think his presence really elevated Genesis' Trespass album. The pastoral sound which he brought to that group was sorely missed by me when he left. His music has always been peaceful and enjoyable to some degree. However, the only other recording by him that I own is Geese and the Ghost, which I like but not nearly as much as this one. But suddenly, out of nowhere, nearly twenty years later, the hand of God falls on Ant, and he creates this masterpiece. The equivalent of two side-long epics in the tradition of Thick as a Brick, this is an instrumental composition of incredible magnitude. And most surprisingly of all, his incredible guitar takes a backseat on this one. This recording is so filled with orchestral instrumentation, it could easily be classified as semi-classical, although comparisons to Michael Oldfield could easily be made, as well. The record starts out with one of the most enchanting themes I have ever heard. This theme will reoccur throughout the recording, and provides the glue which holds the entire piece together. A harp sound sets the mood, and then the orchestra enters bringing warmth and power to the main theme. Simplicity seems to be the key in this masterwork. Much of the record is spent is soft reflection between a couple of solo instruments playing counterpoint with the current melody line. Although there are a few segments where percussion takes center stage, the recording is so soft and pastoral, it is hard to classify it as rock at all. (after all this is a progressive-ROCK site) Transitions between musical passages are almost seamless, which is hard to fathom in a nearly 50- minute composition. The repeating main theme serves its purpose well here. Part two is a bit less interesting than part one, but only a little. On the downside, there are some cheesy-sounding synths and sampling from time to time, but that was a reflection of the time it was recorded. If you are a fan of classical or semi-classical music, Michael Oldfield, soft instrumental music, even easy-listening, you will find a lot to like here. If you insist that your music always have a driving beat, you will miss a real hidden gem. Final score: 4.75, rounded up to 5 stars, no doubt.
Report this review (#1389838)
Posted Sunday, March 29, 2015 | Review Permalink

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