Missing Links Volume One - Finger Painting. Anthony Phillips latest release reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

Perhaps I am not the best person to review this particular offering, being closely involved with it, as I was but I will try and be as objective as possible but I make NO apology for any bias that may creep in!

This recording is what will hopefully be the first in a series offering a wider overview of Ant’s music. In other words; an insight into the music that puts the bread and butter on the table and enables Ant to fund his more altruistic projects. It is, as the title suggests; a collection of music written specifically for television and drama productions both on screen and in the theatre. It is NOT another in the Private Parts & Pieces series but maybe considered as another outlets for parts of that “affectionate scrapbook” of Ant’s less well known music. As such, it deserves a serious listening and will reward the same with many hours of enjoyment.

The cassette opens with Force Majeure, a suitably grandiose piece of mainly synthesiser music eloquently exploring the use of rippling synth lines with other rhythms building up to a subtle climactic ending. Next up is Mountain Voices, a very eerie piece using strange echoey Vocoder parts coupled with bell sounds which, to this listener, conjure up images of a Tibetan Monastery perched on the side of a precipitous mountain top - very effective!

After this comes the strangely titled Lord Of The Smoking Mirror which once again is a very evocative piece incorporating strings to create a fuller effect and the image of the wizened old arch-sorcerer is very clearly delivered. Seahorses follows and is a very vivid image of these creatures. The wavy backcloth of synths evokes the motion of the seahorse as it moves through its underwater home very well. Dungeons is a far darker piece enveloping the listener in the melancholy atmosphere of such places and creating a mood of tension and suspense. Another piece from the opening side is Evening Ascent and this is a further worthy example of how synthesisers, if employed properly, can create a complete aural image, this time of climbers on a mountain side, complete with cries of birds disturbed by them on their trip to the mountain top.

Side two opens with A Song, a very short piece of guitar music evoking memories of long lost summers and better days; a typical piece by Ant. God’s Chosen Car Park Suite is next with a rather surreal series of synth washes all in line with the equally surreal subject matter of the play for which the music was written; which is about someone waiting for God to appear in a car park and when he arrives he is driving a Sinclair C5!

Other pieces on this side include a couple of examples of Ant’s humour including Tropical Moon Over Dorking and the aptly titled Three Piece Suite before we get to what is for me the highlight of the cassette: Land Of Dragons Suite. This is the music that Ant was commissioned to write for the Survival wildlife series programme on Hong Kong and, as you would expect, it is very oriental in flavour, portraying the varied wildlife of the island colony in a vivid and captivating manner.

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