Release date: 25th October 2019
Formats: 2CD/1DVD Digipack
It is seven years since Anthony Phillips released Seventh Heaven: a collaborative effort with Andrew Skeet. Early compositions after leaving Genesis could, without prior knowledge of the composer and on first listen have easily been placed on any early Genesis album up to Foxtrot. This new album, including 24 pieces over the course of two CD’s however, bears more resemblance to recent compositions.
Each wonderfully crafted piece is mainly guitar based and totally instrumental. The opening track, Jour de Fete, is a bright and breezy melody on mandolin which warms us up for Diamond Meadows which has harpsichord effect rhythms lulling you into a serenely, relaxed mood.
This is followed up by three tunes which evoke sounds of a gentle sun-drenched day by the river, which could easily, for those old enough to remember, have sound tracked Tales of the Riverbank. Deep Joy. This is continued on most of disc one apart from a more electric-acoustic sound on Winter Lights and Skies Crying which although continue to ‘chill,’ reflect the weather change.
A complete weather change and contrast is Mouse Trip which gives the impression of a guitar played pizzicato style with faint electronic washes in the background. If most of disc one is the perfect accompaniment to summer days it is never dull to the ear and, like those often too rare occasions of prolonged sunshine we get, you long for more.
And this is exactly what we get although Anthony Phillips throws in a short little surprise on the disc two opener. On a 21 second intro, Into The Void, I assume he is striking the strings with something other than his hand, I’m going for violin bow! But Anthony Phillip’s music is much more than just background music to a sunny day.
His contrasting styles and methods of playing and producing acoustic guitar are rampant on the second half of Strings of Light, particularly on the enthralling Crystaline. The mandolins briefly return to take us home from this delightful Grand Tour of guitar virtuosity on Home Road before our journey ends on the longest piece, Life Story; on which sounds of exquisite elegance are delicately planted.
To use the term ‘track’ for the musical pieces on Strings Of Light does not bear them justice as Anthony Phillips treats us to an ‘ear massage’ in every composition. What a shame he confines himself still to the studio, an evening at the Bridgewater Hall or similar venue would be more than deserving. If it takes another seven years to repeat, it will be well worth the wait. But he won’t do that…….will he?
Below, you can watch an in depth interview that Anthony Phillips did in 2014 about many different aspects of his career.