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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Steven Wilson - To The Bone


Steven Wilson whether you love him or hate him, he is for me one of the artists I championed since re-discovering his work back with his time with Porcupine Tree in 2006 on Classic Rock Magazine and then as a solo artist in 2009 from the first issue of PROG Magazine. Not to mention his work with Aviv Geffen on Blackfield and with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt on Storm Corrosion. And the 5.1 mixes with XTC, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Chicago, and Jethro Tull to name a few. With four studio albums in the can, he releases in what his known as a “pop” album entitled, To The Bone.

Now, mind you, this was not an easy album to review. After a few listens of To The Bone, I find this to be a very interesting release. There’s a mixture of inspirations that he mentioned including Tears For Fears' The Seeds of Love, Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, and Peter Gabriel’s So album. He’s not going to be a gigantic phenomenon, nor going to hit the mainstream, but it’s a diverse release so far he’s unleashed. But, he’s moving forward to challenge new ideas. Same thing with bands and artists including David Bowie, Prince, Genesis, and Pink Floyd.

Walt Disney once said about moving forwards is that “Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That’s is what Wilson is doing, he’s moving on, and seeing what new ideas he will come up next for the years to come.

The follow up to his previous work, Hand.Cannot.Erase is not just a crowning achievement, but again in my opinion another return from the master himself. Again Permanating which will one day become a live favorite, crosses the barriers between Talk Talk, ABBA’s Dancing Queen, and Electric Light Orchestra’s Discovery-era, has this catchy melody with the major and minor chords on the piano with some emotional chorus and rising beats.

The opening title-track and Nowhere Now both co-written by XTC’s Andy Partridge showcases some of the powerful lyrics he helped Steven with. The first track features a blaring Harmonica sound done by Mark Feltham as the lyrics deal with opening the door as the truth has finally come out of the rubble and it’s not a pleasant site. I love how it brings this nod to Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell track, Keep Talking as if it was continuing the form.

Nowhere Now deals with that once for the hope of peace below has suddenly gone. But up above in the afterlife and living in the clouds of Heaven of what happening down there and being free from the violence and danger, makes you wonder that you’re no longer part of the hard and difficult situation. Wilson channels the essence of Pete Townshend-sque guitar styles and lyrics that gives you a tug with sliding guitars and punching riffs.

It segues into the beautiful Pariah. This is the second collaboration that Steven has worked with Ninet Tayeb since 2015’s Hand.Cannot.Erase. Tayeb’s vocals will give you chills and kick you right in the gut on her arrangements of her singing. The duet between her and Steven, brings essence to both Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s Another Day and Don’t Give Up.

While the song deals with depression, giving up, and renewal, the blaring eruptive roar after Tinyeb sings “It will take time.” You can imagine yourself falling into space and knowing that your time has come before someone grabbing your arm and looking at your loved-one pulling you to the surface and knowing there is hope for a second chance.

The intense heavy riffs on The Same Asylum as Before gives the situation on a gigantic reality check and being back in the same hell you were in before, is come to you and karma has come. And it is letting the listener know, that once you’re in, you can’t get out after pulling the same crap you did over and over again by becoming the worst enemy you are now.

And the chance of getting out is zero. Steven is describing to the character by asking the questions of “Was it really worth it? Do you need another reality check to be in the same shit? Or are you proud of becoming your own worst nightmare?” Elsewhere, People Who Eat Darkness has this very Space-Rock guitar riff that is almost a nod to Hawkwind’s In Search of Space-era and essence of NEU’s Michael Rother.

The opening line “I live in the flat next door/And I can hear you fuck your girlfriend through the wall.” That is very intense and knowing the subject of terrorism and danger lurking behind those hallways is not going to be a pleasant by giving a 5 minute chance of escaping, but it is too late. Blank Tapes is an ominous haunting acoustic ballad featuring the Mellotron with another duet between Tayeb and Wilson.

You can close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through an empty house through the rubble and there’s nothing left. Detonation presents Wilson returning back to 2009 from his solo debut with Insurgentes. The first 2 minutes and 20 seconds becomes this eerie atmosphere before it changes into these darken yet hidden corridors. It is an intense mid-section rumble as you run towards the door after you feel the creeps behind you.

The moment you open the door, The character’s eyes are in disbelief and seeing now what is the Divided States of America and seeing the violence, betrayal, and unexpected view and blaming the three gods; Greater, Pale, and Whining. Now is To The Bone, Steven Wilson’s finest? No. But it shows the textures and craft he brings to the forefront with his fifth album.

Some will love this album, some won’t and want Steven to return to his Prog roots, which is understandable. Again, it's a diverse album. But for me, as I’ve mentioned in my introduction of this review, I had a very interesting yet growing experience with To The Bone.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mumpbeak - Tooth


I know right from the moment I put a CD on my old portable CD player from the RareNoise label, I can expect some amazing “holy shit!” moments that will take me to another scenario. And believe me, this is a label that has been on my map since 2016 and thanks to Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room that have opened my eyes more to the label. One of those bands is Mumpbeak.

This is their second album released this year entitled Tooth. It is their follow up to their sole self-titled debut album which was unleashed back in 2013. Roy Powell is the brainchild behind Mumpbeak. He had studied piano and avant-garde composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He released his debut album back 23 years ago with A Big Sky.

He moved to Norway and worked with Terje Gewelt and Jarle Vespestad with the release of Holus which was an album of free improvisational music back in 1999. Now I’m very new to Powell’s music and along with Mumpbeak, but Tooth is one of the most challenging albums I’ve embarked on from start to finish. With Naked Truth bassist Lorenzo Feliciati and taking over Stick Men and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto is Elephant9 and Shining drummer Torstein Lofthus.

There is some sonic and eruptive compositions that will take you on a journey towards the light. I was completely blown away by not just Roy’s keyboards and not just because he’s a killer musician, but he’s very much like a conductor and giving both Lorenzo and Torstein some ideas and where to come in and where to come out. For example like going to Point A to Point B.

The first 4 minutes of Caboose is arrangement between Roy and Lorenzo as it becomes this electronic Vangelis-sque 1980s atmosphere. You can imagine yourself walking across the wastelands and hearing some deafening alarms thanks to the Synths that Powell does. It then, suddenly changes with some intense bass lines and Torstein’s drumming along with Roy’s clavinet chords following each of the ghost-town hallways and no sign of life to be found.

The reverb heavenly clavinet improvisation, brings to mind a cross-over as if George Gershwin had teamed up with Gentle Giant’s Kerry Minnear as if they did an album together during the In a Glass House sessions. Torstein for me, is like rapid machine gun fire that is sweating bullets. It’s shown on Saw as he goes all around the kit including the tom-toms and snare. Roy and Lorenzo follow suit as Powell goes into uncharted waters with a fuzztone wah-wah tightrope.

His textures are in a way by reigning the essence of Mike Ratledge as if he is in awe of his insane but mind-blowing work on the keyboards. At times, when he plays the clavinet, it sounds like powder-keg riffs before he and Torstein go into a climatic end as it abruptly comes to a halt. Opener, Boot brings to mind a film-noir-sque score that Mumpbeak does knowing that the killer is still on the loose.

I love how Roy goes to the Moog Little Phatty improvisation that he does and it shows that the clues the detectives found just got even challenging, bigger, and difficult to know the killer left ginormous tracks for them to follow. They go from one door to another closing it off with a tidal wave ending crescendo.

Stone, which closes the album, sees Roy heading towards the Hammond Organ. It begins with a Koto-sque intro and bass lines before the wah-wah door comes open and the intense groove between Lorenzo, Roy, and Torstein is like jet engines ready for take-off all around the room. There at times stop-and-go moments as the Organ is rising from the grave. I always imagine Lorenzo brings the goods and carry the torch for both Jaco Pastorius and Geddy Lee into one giant blender.

It this little nod to CAN’s Vernal Equinox and then the finale comes right in as Mumpbeak delve into the waters of Van Der Graaf Generator’s The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other-era for an alarming crescendo climatic finale that brings everything into a gigantic circle.

I’ve been waiting for something like this to come out. RareNoise Records have scored another home run for me with Tooth. I hope one day to discover more of Roy Powell’s music, but this here’s a start with their second album. They are on my watch list to see what they’ll come up with next. Little advice, play this mo-fo up to a notch!

Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology


Jane Weaver, married to DJ Andy Votel, founder of Finders Keepers Records, visualizes the future sound of hypnotic cosmic-space-electro rock. Now, mind you, I’m very new to Weaver’s music since hearing her 2014 album, The Silver Globe album. This year she’s released her follow up to The Amber Light with Modern Kosmology. Released on the Fire records label, Jane takes you beyond the stratosphere with pop, surrealism, shoegaze, post-rock, and the Krautrock sound.

It has these late ‘70s/early ‘80s vibration the moment I put the CD on. And I knew right from the get-go, she was taking me to a whole new infinite world. The six centerpieces throughout the journey from the outer limits of space have taken me not just by surprise, but making my eyes open to discover more of Jane’s music. Loops in the Secret Society closes your eyes that takes you back to the golden-era between the experimental scene in Germany and the Motorik rhythm sound which is evidential with the essence of NEU and Michael Karoli-sque guitars.

Then, everything sets into a mysterious driving beat as if you were looking through the various doors to decide which one to open and see where it will lead us to with the futuristic trip on The Architect while Jane dives into the river of the psych-folk ballad on Valley. You can feel her voice behind you as if she’s giving you goosebumps down your spine as if she is hypnotizing you by walking through an abandoned forest.

The music itself brings to mind between Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother-era and the Beatlesque textures from the rhythm guitar that fits well on the composition. Jane herself honors the Krautrock sound. I could tell from listening to this from start to finish, she’s done a lot of research and whether you like her music or not, Weaver herself has been around from day one from her work with both Kill Laura, Misty Dixon, and her solo career.

Is there a stop sign for her? Absolutely not. She is definitely going to keep going and knowing what brainstorm she will come up with next. The homework she did is incredible between the essences of CAN’s Ege Bamyasi and Agitation Free’s 2nd as the synths set the location of the wasteland as if you as a listener walk through the rubble between the Bass, Drums, Guitar and Echoing effects from the percussion on Did You See Butterflies?

CAN’s Malcolm Mooney does this mourning spoken introduction that is almost poetic before the double-track reverb/effect vocalizations that Jane does as it comes across an Avant-Pop electro vibe as if CAN sessions between 1968 and 1970 on Ravenspoint as it segues to the closing track I Wish. The track continues with the Motorik sound from the drum machine as if to say the listener that a new day, a new beginning will happen to move forward.

I always imagine Klaus Schulze helping Jane out on the arrangements on here and giving some advice on where the piece needs to start and where it would end. You can always imagine a scene inside your head where the layers would go to next with the eerie synthesizers and explore what will happen next into the following pages after that.

This has been my second to third time listening to Modern Kosmology and I have to say I was very impressed from what I’ve listened from beginning to end. It’s mixtures again as I’ve mentioned before; New Wave, Krautrock, and Shoegaze music, it’s all there. And I hope to see and imagine what will Jane Weaver think of next. Modern Kosmology may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but this may be in my albums of this year.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Saturn - Beyond Spectra


In the 2005 documentary of Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Tour manager Joey Severance said, “Metal is a brotherhood. That’s what keeps it alive. It’s in your blood. It’s the air you breathe.” And he’s 100% right. For me, Metal has been with me since I was a kid, teens, and through College. One of the labels that have always peaked my interest since 2009 after reading about them in PROG Magazine is Lee Dorrian’s label, Rise Above Records.

One of the new bands alongside discovering Blood Ceremony, ASTRA, Diagonal, Beastmaker, and Galley Beggar is a new band from Sweden called Saturn. They have released their second album this year entitled, Beyond Spectra which is a follow up to their 2014 debut Ascending (Live in Space). I’m new to Saturn’s music, but holy shit! These guys are very good.

The band considers Robin Tidebrink and Linkan Lindgren on Electric Guitars, Ted Carlsen on Drums, and Oscar Pehrson on Lead Vocals and Bass Guitar. The album cover which is done by Maldo Illustration to pay nod to Marvel’s own Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby as if it’s done right to give Sci-Fi a real kick in the gut. But let’s get to the music. Saturn honors the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as if the album was recorded between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

You can tell Saturn shows the inspirations between Judas Priest, UFO, Iron Maiden, and Angel Witch. You can imagine both Sounds and KERRANG in the early ‘80s had reviewed an album like this during the heyday of the NWOBHM movement and the album got reviewed, they would have gotten some word-of-mouth. Now in the year of our lord 2017, Saturn honors the legacy of the movement with Space and Hard Rock at it’s finest.

The guitars from Tidebrink and Lindgren are lightning rods to raise the thunder between the minds of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton; Dave Murray and Adrian Smith; and UFO’s Michael Schenker and Paul Raymond. Oscar’s voice has eye-lifting momentum and at times jaw-dropping for me. You can hear the essence of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and King Diamond combined into a gigantic solar system in a parallel universe.

Listening to Beyond Spectra, you can close your eyes and imagine the ship is ready for ignition to be lifted off in space as if the band is receiving to prepare to hurtle through the cosmos with four centerpieces (reference to Ren & Stimpy’s Space Madness). The rumbling guitar riffs is riding down the highway with some revving rhythm sections on Still Young. The shuffling moments and duo guitar structures both rhythm and lead that makes it fucking good, is a nod to both Maiden and Angel Witch.

Opener, Orbital Command starts off with a classical spacey introduction for the first 39 seconds before setting the controls for the spaceship ready to make the jump to light speed and fly off into the outer limits. The double guitars are again eye-opening and in the 3 minute and 25 second mark, there is a melodic midsection, shows that they have landed into another planet and discovering that the aftermath of the battle is a gruesome mess and knowing they won’t come back from this.

Helmet Man features almost as if Saturn were doing a score for a Video Game as they continue to rev down the highway. It could almost be a theme to Marvel’s own Ghost Rider’s Johnny Blaze. He knows that the danger is near. And he has a plan ahead of everyone and doing whatever he can to stop the badness that is happening around and do justice his way and not the law.

It has this epic and militant sound thanks to Carlsen’s drumming as the guitars become a feeling essence between Ritchie Blackmore and Glenn Tipton while it becomes a warning with a terrorizing effect that are lurking behind their prey on Nighttime Badger. You can imagine the victim is tied up and knowing that their time is up and the lyric; “If you have seen the things that I’ve seen/You wouldn’t sleep at nighttime/If you had heard a word that I’ve said/You would not laugh at all.” 

It’s a chilling and disturbing lyric. This character in the story, I can imagine is an outsider and never fitting in with the cool crowd in School as he plans his revenge to those who’ve hurt, bullied, and tortured him through the rough years in High School. Not only that situation, but there’s also another moment of selling you soul for fame and glory and the heavy price you pay for to the bitter end. I’ve adored this album from day one. It is worth listening to if you admire Saturn’s influences. 

They’re not ripping off the NWOBHM movement, but they're honoring it and keeping the flames alive of the genre by making sure it is alive and well. For me in my opinion, Beyond Spectra is right in your alley. And to close out with the back cover disclaimer of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, “To Be Played at Maximum Volume.”

Corciolli - Ilusia


With his 25-year career and 2 million albums sold, Corciolli is a unique artist in the instrumental music scene in Brazil. He’s opened doors to see which landscape he would embark on between Tibetan, Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Classical Music. He would take these genres with his arranging and composition to find infinite universes for the listener to see what is behind these various doors that are about to be open. His new album released this year is called, Ilusia and it shows his origins of the rock influences he grew up listening to.

Listening to llusia, it has this crossover between Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield, Steve Vai, Vangelis, and Tangerine Dream. With eight instrumental compositions, Corciolli brings layers and textures of the arrangements by a little help with drummer Ramon Montagner and bassist Mauricio Oliveira and the guitar sampled keyboards by Corciolli himself setting the atmospheres that what is about to happen in the five centerpieces on the new album.

You can close your eyes and imagine a Movie inside your head. Distant Living Memories has this sci-fi film noir featuring dystopian landscapes as you go towards the ghost-town deserted city that what once was, is in dust all of it. You can imagine the memories of the glorious city that was in which there was a time that was so beautiful, turned horrible.

The Man Who Disappeared in the Painting features an introduction between the synth and classical guitar introduction and it has this nod between the New Wave/Atmospheric mysterious arrangement between Acqua Fragile’s Mass Media-Stars, the Halo franchise, and late ‘70s Genesis coming to mind with the Fugazi-era of Marillion as Secrets of the Invisible is a haunting composition.

It feels like this early ‘80s film score as if both Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream did the score to the 1985 film, The Emerald Forest as the action sequences start on to attack before the piano and heavy guitar lines knows that the danger ahead of the outskirts as if something terrible is about to happen with some dramatic string sections. 

The nod to both the movie, TV series, and the book with Light Spheres in a Stephen King Mist imagines yourself as if you were trapped inside with an un-natural mist of these monsters waiting for the prey to come with some intensive danger outside of the heavy clouds along with alarming jazzy background from the piano and an eerie ending of a nightmarish lullaby. The Hans Zimmer and Vangelis approach has an epic approach for Midnight of the World at the End of Time.

You can imagine the two of them writing the score for the continuation of Blade Runner as if they wanted make a conceptual piece of the mystery surrounding of the disappearance of Rick Deckard as it has this futuristic setting for the end credits. I have to admit, I’m not crazy about this album, but it is a very interesting release that Corciolli has released and it may or may not appear on my top 30 albums of 2017, but he’s got something special with this. 

Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You


Originally released in the spring of 1969, Colosseum’s debut album entitled, Those Who Are About to Die Salute You which was originally released on the Fontana label and reissued this year by Esoteric Recordings, is an eruptive debut that came out of the same year King Crimson released In The Court of the Crimson King, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, The Who’s rock opera Tommy, and Miles Davis’ controversial classic, Bitches Brew.

Colosseum was different. They mixed Jazz, Blues, and Soul into a giant blender and creating these textures that were both Progressive and Hard Rock into one. Formed 49 years ago by drummer Jon Hiseman and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith in which they were a part of the Graham Bond Organization, Hiseman replaced Baker as both of them appeared on John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers album, Bare Wires released in the summer of that same year.

I’ve first heard Colosseum’s music when I bought the 3-CD compilation which was released in 2005 entitled Time Machine: A Vertigo Retrospective after hearing their explosive heavy riff powder-keg rocker, The Kettle. And I was hooked. It was like unleashing the beast right from the get-go. They brought along Dave Greenslade on Organ, Bassist Tony Reeves, and James Litherland on Lead Vocals and Guitar.

Not to mention guest musician trumpeter Henry Lowther who appears on the album. He appears on the opening track with a walking blues/jazz shuffle down the highway entitled, Walking in the Park. It’s one of Graham’s composition as you can imagine it being blared inside the train for the band to have an amazing time. Litherland can really sing his heart out and doing some killer guitar work.

Even though Henry appears on the album as a guest musician, he nails those trumpet parts down for that intro section in the beginning. He and Dick Heckstall-Smith work like a team blaring those moments bringing the roofs down on both Trumpet and Sax. Mandarin which is based on the Japanese soft scale, Tony’s arrangement on the Bass, sends chills down on my spine.

His bass playing shines well as it resembles between Jimmy Garrison and East of Eden’s Steve York with some fuzz and wah-wah moments between going from one to the other while the blues standard Backwater Blues he plays some of the amazing bass lines and comes into the forefront which shows his talent and power. Not to mention Dick’s blaring sax and Greenslade channeling Graham Bond’s organ work.

The Road She Walked Before features some of this Ray Charles-sque arrangement by Heckstall-Smith. The vocalization between Litherland’s vocals, Smith’s sax, and Greenslade’s organ and piano, delves into this Brazilian samba jazz groove into the sunset as the title-track is a nod to The Nice, James Brown, and George Gershwin. Greenslade plays a mean organ in the 12-bar blues and featuring the militant section for the Climatic battlefield in the Rome Amphitheatre.

Beware the Ides of March is essence to Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale which is also inspired by Bach, Heckstall-Smith’s sax blares into night sky channeling both Classical Music and Jazz along with Dave’s Wah-Wah Organ which almost has this Canterbury psychedelic feel and a soulful crunch to it. It then suddenly delves deep into the darker tunnels of the ominous piano, galloping drums, intense bass work, organ and sax improve before coming back to the warmth sun rising end.

The three bonus tracks which the band recorded at PYE studios in November of 1968 containing a demo version of the title track, a rockin’ composition of I Can’t Live Without You with some killer wah-wah guitar work and bass sharing a duel between each other and it feels like it was something straight out of the sessions between The Beatles White Album and Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

Their take of Quincy Jones’ In The Heat of the Night which was sung by Ray Charles, is a strong take from the classic opening of the 1967 film. You can close your eyes being on the train close to dawn heading to the station with Mister Tibbs to start the next case following after the events of the first film and knowing that the next case, will be intense situation that the danger comes around.

The name of the title comes from a Latin phrase which is well known as Ave Caesar, Morituri te Salutant. Which means Hail Emperor, Those About to Die Salute You. Which the gladiators greeted Vitellius and it’s a well-known quote. Esoteric Recordings have never disappointed me and when they announced some of the reissues of the Colosseum catalog on their website from Cherry Red Records, I knew it was going to be on my wish list.

It contains the original and new sleeve notes and interviews with Jon Hiseman about the origins of the band’s formation. The album reached number 15 in the UK charts and gave Colosseum word-of-mouth including a performance promo which is in the booklet, they did on March 20th at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Worth checking out? Absolutely!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Anthony Phillips - Slow Dance


This 2-CD/DVD set consists of Anthony Phillips release of Slow Dance. Originally released on the Virgin label, this showed his orchestral side to him. And it is a very interesting release that embarked on. Reissued this year by Esoteric Recordings, it is time to give Slow Dance another chance and give Anthony the recognition he deserves. He’s been overlooked from the history of his time with Genesis as an original founder.

Anthony Phillips appeared in the first two Genesis albums which were the 1969 debut of From Genesis to Revelation which showed their psychedelic-pop, Bee Gees, and pastoral baroque music. But it wasn’t until they released their second album and signed to a new label with Charisma Records in 1970 with Trespass that showed their beginnings of their progressive rock roots digging deep into of complex music with a story that had a beginning, middle, and end.

Anthony left the band to pursue studying Classical Music. While he lacked Theory-based music, he practiced eight hours. But let’s get straight to Slow Dance. It started back in June of 1988 when he worked on the album. He wrote the pieces for the material very quickly. Just as Slow Dance was almost done, Ant went to the States for a few days to be with his family. And then the news came to him that Passport Records in which they released his solo albums, ceased.

This wasn’t good news. Not only Anthony was without a record company, but he had to pay a debt to management of repaying the money. Now he had no idea whether or not he wanted to delay the album and look for other work, but he decided to plow on. After Tarka was completed with guitarist Harry Williamson, Engineer Simon Heyworth who worked with him since The Geese and the Ghost, helped him out on the Slow Dance project.

He also used a real string section on his album during the recording at CBS studios in February of 1989. And then, he signed to Richard Branson’s Virgin label at the spring of 1990 as the album was released in September of that year. It was a long process in the making to bring it to life. As I’ve mentioned, Anthony Phillips’ music is different from his time with Genesis.

It was very different from his previous albums on Sides, The Geese and the Ghost, Wise After the Event, and 1984. It showed Anthony’s orchestral side that showed elements between Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, and Jean-Michel Jarre. It took me a few listens to delve deep into Slow Dance, but it grabbed me more and more to understand why he was ahead of his time. It may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but it grows on you.

The first movement begins with ambient strings coming in with a heavenly introduction. Ant’s classical guitar sets gentle tones along with wind instruments. It feels that you have walked through the forest of lost hope as the images come through your head of what’s happening. There are some moments of early Genesis and bits of The Enid’s In The Region of Summer Stars.

Phillips takes you for a ride towards scenes for a fantasy film that’s been done right. The synths delve deep, deep into the watery tunnels with no chance of escaping. There is some alarming organ notes, percussion, and clapping rhythm sections. Along with the vocalizations from the keyboards and fanfare sections, Phillips brings the sombering electric-classical guitar for this melancholic sound.

It’s almost at times from the first movement. set to a scene of the continuation of Disney’s Fantasia. The last three minutes of the pieces shows Anthony giving the listener a chance of hope of knowing that a new day will happen and it will start over again to be back of where you were.

The second movement starts to open doors to another parallel infinite universe as if you can imagine something terrible has happened with ascending and descending guitars and militant drums. But all of a sudden, it rises up from the ashes of the electronic drum pads. There is this very interesting Jazz section for a little bit as Anthony shows a teensy-weensy bit of a Allan Holdsworth-sque vibe into the mix.

It changes at the 14 minute and 17 second mark as it becomes a battlefield featuring the string section. It’s a bloody uphill battle. Epic fanfare horns and knowing its going to be hard, difficult, and brutal and thanks to the drum program it is again an epic moment in the second act. You can imagine Ant is a conductor at heart to create this scenario of what’s happening.

Now let’s be honest Anthony is not Leopold Stokowski, but he is bringing the magic and ideas in his head come to life. You can imagine the men who are making the sacrifices in the battle sequence, knowing whether or not it is going to be their last goodbyes they say to their families. It then changes into an aftermath of what has happened. The strings come forth near the end of watery effects to give the second movement, a mourning farewell.

The second disc which is Slow Dance Vignettes. It contains nine pieces during the making of the album. And three of them stood out for me. The Guitar Adagio from Slow Dance is a penultimate section from the first movement that has the gentle tone. You can close your eyes and imagine a sun rising through the west as Anthony channels Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi’s acoustic side with both Laguna Sunrise and Fluff.

With Clarinet Sleigh Ride, Ant delves into the waters between both Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk in the background. It’s an unearthed track from the sessions that I’ve never heard before and it’s very interesting to have some of these melodic rising pieces as if Anthony Phillips was doing a score in the late ‘80s for a special on PBS.

Then, there’s this newly mixed version of the string parts with an emotional heart-tugging stir between the crossover of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and Bach’s Air on the G String with Lenta Chorum. There’s also a DVD containing a 5.1 mix of the album by also. When Slow Dance was released in that year in the UK on September 24th, it was the last album to be released on Vinyl, Cassette, and CD. It’s been considered a fan favorite along with Ant himself.

I hope one day Anthony Phillips goes back and revisits this album and moving from the electronic parts he used on the album and bring a real orchestra to give Slow Dance a chance to be reborn. The package is amazing. It contains the 2-CDs and the DVD, followed by a replica poster, a 16-page booklet containing promos of the album in Japan, original master tape, liner notes by Jonathan Dann interviewing Phillips about the origins, making, and release of the album, and a note written on manuscript paper that says “NO WAY OUT. PIECE V”.

If you love the music of Anthony Phillips, then Slow Dance is really worth exploring and highly recommended to show again Anthony’s orchestral, new age, and symphonic side to him.