(All Album Reviews by AdmKirk)
To most people the name Anthony Phillips means nothing. Even to those who are well versed in popular music, he's only known as a footnote in the history of Genesis. Serious Genesis fans know him as the original guitarist and co-founder with Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Peter Gabriel. Phillips left the band after the second Genesis album in 1970 just as Genesis was beginning to get their first taste of success. Phillips was replaced by Steve Hackett. Later Phil Collins would join and Genesis would be become an international success in the 1980's.
Phillips suffered from terrible stage fright and it became obvious that he could not remain in Genesis but he wasn't about to give up on his music. He spent several years working on his music and re-emerged in the late 70's as a solo artist. He has released dozens of albums since then, mostly instrumental albums featuring intricate acoustic guitar pieces and spacious synthesizer work. He's occasionally joined by his former band mates and does collaborations from time to time with Joji Hirota, Harry Williamson, Enrque Berro Garcia and Guillermo Cazenave. He's also done soundtrack work for a number of nature films.
His latest project, in collaboration with percussionist Joji Hirota, is called Wildlife and features music from a number of wildlife/nature documentaries. The material was recorded between 1994 and 2000. The albums 45 tracks are anywhere from less than thirty seconds to two and a half minutes and are simply gorgeous.
Relying on Hirota's evocative percussion and Phillips' pillows of synthesizer clouds, the music is, at times, menacing or thoughtful and playful depending on what type of music the wildlife scene called for. The great thing is that you don't need the visuals to appreciate the music. As track after track rolls by the album takes on a very unified feel. Something not expected from a compilation of film music. A track taken on its own might not mean much but as part of the whole it takes on a life of its own.
Since many of the tracks are so short they must make their impact quickly and Phillips and Hirota don't fool around. They get right to the heart of the music, make their musical statement and move on to the next piece.
Perhaps the album isn't the best place for the uninitiated to start when looking at Philllips' body of work, but for long time Ant fans this would be a rewarding purchase.