Private Parts and Pieces Part VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars

Anthony Phillips

Passport, 1987

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The seventh in Anthony Phillips’ long-running Private Parts & Pieces series, Slow Waves, Soft Stars finds the founding Genesis guitarist abandoning his trademark instrument for much of the album, opting instead for the synthesizer.

I would continue my review here, but Phillips wrote the liner notes, and they tell you all you need to know about the album. To wit: “I have chosen to include in this selection a number of improvised pieces. My belief is that the strong atmosphere of these tracks compensates for any deficiencies in the form or development. Many of the synthesizer pieces are improvised…”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Essentially, this is Phillips saying he noodled around on the keyboards one afternoon and put it on record, without thought to flow, songwriting, or listenability. And if the artist doesn’t care what is released under his name, why should the listener?

Slow Waves, Soft Stars alternates between endless, pointless New Age synth whooshes and shorter acoustic guitar pieces. As expected, the guitar selections are pleasant and pretty, such as “Beachrunner” and “End Of The Affair,” both of which feature playing by classical guitarist Enrique Berro Garcia. Perhaps because of Garcia, much of the acoustic playing on the album is of a Spanish bent (check out “Sospirando”), and is proof that Phillips should stick to his main instrument.

The reason is because the synth pieces take up about three-quarters of the record, rendering the whole experience miserable. All of the synth pieces sound alike, the songs that are supposed to have multiple parts have nothing to separate them as far as tone or form, and the whole exercise reeks of self-indulgence.

One could imagine this disc being used as background music at an acupuncture clinic or health food store, and certainly it is quiet and atmospheric enough to read or sleep to, so perhaps this should be filed in the Easy Listening/Ambient section. Phillips describes some of this as “chequered ramblings,” and there’s nothing that makes the listener disagree. Unless you’re planning to open a New Age healing center and need a soundtrack, don’t waste your time with this one.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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