Artists of any stripe would do well to gorge on humble pie — but just in case that isn’t one’s natural inclination when first getting started, a simple exposure to the life of Tom Phillips might easily do the trick. The English artist was born in London in 1937, and if you take a look at his biography, it’s hard not to be struck by both QUANTITIES and variation. He’s been producing works more or less since he was a teenager, and in the decades since that time, he’s not only painted voraciously, but he’s also dabbled in books (see his best known work A Humument), sculpture, and collage; and his lesser-known musical scores arguably follow from the very early days when he played in the school orchestra at grammar school. Phillips was an early influence on Brian Eno (musically and cover art-wise), and they’ve been sharing popcorn at the cinema ever since.
Musically, Phillips doesn’t have many formal releases under his belt, though an LP from 1975 called Words and Music certainly deserves a highlight. The first side contains four magical, and experimental, chamber music pieces that have the nostalgic feel of something that was recorded in 1970s Britain, while side B has Phillips reading passages from A Humument. The disjointed narrative kind of makes it seem like a pleasant man is reading Ulysses out loud!
All in all, another intriguing restoration from the Recital label. Pre-order the reissue of Words and Music ahead of its February 15 release here (there’s also a deluxe edition, if you’re into that), and check out the track “Selected Passages from Life of Toge” and an excerpt from “Literature for Four Pianos” below:
Words and Music tracklisting:
01. Excerpt from the Opera IRMA, Op XII
02. Literature for Four Pianos, Op XI, No 3
03. Lesbia Waltz, Op XV
04. Ornamentik, Op IX
05. Selected Passages from Life of Toge
06. Pages at Random