Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 4)

A closer look to the Private Parts & Pieces series


Anthony Phillips Discography GuideSee all articles here.


After discussing the overall Anthony Phillips’ discography in the previous articles, I’ll finally spend some more words on the Private Parts and Pieces series, that holds a special place in its overall production and, after The Geese and The Ghost, is his most distinctive and trademark work.
Continue reading “Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 4)”

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Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 3)

Exploring collections and series


Anthony Phillips Discography GuideSee all articles here.


One anomaly of Anthony Phillips’ discography is the overabundance of anthological albums over the major releases, as a consequence of his “day job” as Library music composer.
Their content is either a selection of (sometimes unused) library work or of pieces recorded or improvised in the spare time. The two main, long lasting series of this collections are called Private Parts & Pieces and Missing Links.

Continue reading “Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 3)”

Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 2)

Exploring albums exclusively dedicated to acoustic music


Anthony Phillips Discography GuideSee all articles here


Sometimes in interviews you see Anthony Phillips describing himself as a guy who inputs notes into a computer via a keyboard and mouse. Despite his “day job” as soundtrack composer, though, it’s his acoustic “private” music the one to shine distinctively. This is particularly true for guitar music and especially 12-string. Continue reading “Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 2)”

Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 1)

Exploring rock albums and large scale works


Anthony Phillips Discography GuideSee all articles here

A little bio

Anthony Phillips With GenesisAnthony Phillips is mostly known for being “the guy who co-founded Genesis in 1969 and left them for good in 1971” even though he released quite a huge corpus of works afterwards.
When he left the band, Phillips was reportedly the main creative force and contributed to its trademark sound by introducing the layered tapestries of 12 string guitars created with Mike Rutherford.
After some years spent studying and teaching music while writing and recording demos in his home studio in the countryside (Sand Barns), he came back on the saddle releasing The Geese And The Ghost in 1977 (ultimately moving to his new Englewood Studios).
After some failed attempt with “rock” albums, he committed to instrumental music and never looked back.
Continue reading “Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (Pt. 1)”

Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (intro)

An exploration of the overwhelming catalogue of an overlooked artist, Genesis founder and composer


Anthony Phillips Discography GuideLast year UK Esoteric label put out an anthology box-set called Harvest Of The Heart dedicated to Anthony Phillips’ solo music. One year later, a plan for more extensive reissues of the back catalog was set in action.
I’ve been exploring Phillips’ music extensively in the past five years and more, never finding out a full article or reference that put his overwhelming discography under a lens properly unwinding his many musical threads. So here it is. A four-parter, no less.

Because of the extremely diverse quality and typology of releases, and the high number of volumes, Phillips’ overall body of work can appear confusing and inconsistent, making it harder for the non-initiated to sort it out. A typical album-by-album, song-by-song review (apart from being impractical) would not be as helpful.
What I will attempt here is to focus on separate aspects of his music, providing a little background and exploring albums by critically sorting them in consistent groups.
This is intended to be as objective as possible, but obviously a personal (re)view can’t be avoided here and there.
Moreover, this is my personal homage to an artist pretty difficult to classify (too classical to be rock/folk, too easy to be classical; too pop to be progressive, too prog to be pop, etc…); not everybody’s cup of tea (and everybody would possibly have different picks), sure, but unswervingly overlooked nevertheless.
If you haven’t yet, you should give him try.
Continue reading “Anthony Phillips – A personal introduction (intro)”

That elf you like is gonna come back in style. Standard Action, Season Three, starts in November

My favorite fantasy comedy is back with a “surprise”.
A longer Third Season to properly make use of an explosive crowd-funding campaign. Save the date: November 18h.


sa2Maybe some of you will remember my old article about cross-genre comedy web series. It was one of the most appreciated of this blog.
Anyway, I’m not bringing it up to lazily get some extra views but for a more substantial reason.
One of the article’s highlights, and my favorite web fantasy comedy “for geeks of all kinds”, is coming back with its Third Season. Continue reading “That elf you like is gonna come back in style. Standard Action, Season Three, starts in November”

Music for a walk in the snow: a synesthetic mixtape

Winter came back, and with it that old idea of mine to put together a personal anthology (or, as they call it, a “conceptual mixtape”) working as a soundtrack for a walk in the snow. My kind of walk; meaning lonely, meditative, possibly relaxing if the mind allows it. And in natural spaces, parks, gardens, even streets if they’re empty and deserted enough.
Having this blog and the opportunity of sharing the tape with you, my four readers, finally pushed me into completing the endeavour.
This is not a winter themed collection but a selection of tracks evoking the feel of a snowy scene, or some way matching it. In a sort of a synesthetic way. We may expand the concept a little, and considering the snowy fields (or feels?) belonging both to the outer and to the inner ones.
Nerdy, completely subjective, and possibly totally useless. Exactly the kind of stuff I like to spend some time on. Continue reading “Music for a walk in the snow: a synesthetic mixtape”

Mumblings on The Dark Side Of The Moon anniversary

pfIt’s a lifetime I don’t listen to The Dark Side of The Moon.
This stream (http://darkside40.pinkfloyd.com/#/moon, going on march 24 to celebrate the album’s 40 years) doesn’t count (and actually it’s strange to hear some little differences in editing, but whatever), both because streaming is not proper listening to and because I’m doing something else in the process. Continue reading “Mumblings on The Dark Side Of The Moon anniversary”

Blending genres in web series (4): horror, fantasy and drama hybrids

Wrapping up my little exploration into genre-blending web series, and following previous articles about cross-genre comedies, mockumentary/found footage and dance, noir, western and adventure hybrids, I’ll now focus on horror, fantasy and drama based shows.
Not all of these shows can be considered strictly cross-genre stuff, maybe, but some of them are included because they share, if not else, the same “blending” feel.
Continue reading “Blending genres in web series (4): horror, fantasy and drama hybrids”

Blending genres in web series (3): Dance, noir, western and adventure hybrids

In the two previous articles (here and here) I’ve focused upon gross-genres comedies. As said, comedy has a natural tendency to marry other genres, topics or tropes, thus we don’t even perceive them as blending genres works, at times.
But the moment we take things seriously, or we deliberately throw more ingredients in the mix, is when cross-genre really becomes evident. And when, in my book, the most compelling, interesting and artistically meaningful (or, at least, weird enough) works come to life.
So, here you have my personal favorites among cross-genre web series.
Continue reading “Blending genres in web series (3): Dance, noir, western and adventure hybrids”

Web series and the birth of a sub-standard. AKA: the nerd’s dilemma

On a previous article, I talked about the feelings I got from comparing the parallel sections/selections of short movies and web series screened/streamed at the Unofficial Google+ Film Festival.
I noted that web series looked worse, and hinted to some kind of standards issue. Not the only reason behind the difference, of course, but still one (I feel) worth pointing out.
So, I’m gonna dig a little deeper in those thoughts. Continue reading “Web series and the birth of a sub-standard. AKA: the nerd’s dilemma”

Web series vs. short movies. Clash of generations (of formats). AKA: rumblings after the official Google+ Film Festival

I was pleasantly surprised to see a section dedicated to web series in the general program of the Unofficial Google+ Film Festival (30/11 – 2/12 2012).
Set aside differences in personal taste (so important in the niche oriented web series market), that was undoubtedly an important and clever move by an indie (and on line) festival, acknowledging the relationship between web series and filmmaking (and helping fighting a certain broader view that sometimes blends them with youtubing and general “bad stuff online”). Like in filmmaking, in web series there is the mediocre and the excellence, and as trivial and understood this concept can be for “initiated” audiences, my feel is that it constantly needs to be stressed. UGFF did it.
But at the same time (though some series ended up into the shorts program for no apparent reason), putting them into separate sections worked in underlining the differences between web and “traditional” filmmaking that still exist. Continue reading “Web series vs. short movies. Clash of generations (of formats). AKA: rumblings after the official Google+ Film Festival”

Blending genres in web series (2): mockumentaries and found footage

We are all famous to a few people”
(Vampire Mob)

 – I can’t just going around ripping out people’s throats
and killing people with staple guns!
– That would be awesome!
– Yes, it would be awesome, but I can’t do it here!
(I Am Tim)

[Part 1: comedies here. Part 3: dance, noir, western here]

Mockumentary and found footage should be considered styles (or techniques) more than genres, but their consistent use has ended up generating independent sub-genres with more or less strict distinctive features.
Mokumentary can also be seen as a blended genre itself, being sort of a scripted fictional documentary. While found footage has come to be defined (by its use, again) as a kind of dramatic and usually horror genre, so mixing it with less usual ones, like comedy, can give the feeling of a cross-genre work.
All these elements makes them eligible for the inclusion in our little exploration of the genre blending practice in web series.
By the way, as I said mockumentary and found footage are styles; as such, they can be employed for stylistic needs, as an aesthetic resource, avoiding any concern to mimic a real cameraman’s behavior as realistically as possible but, instead, recurring to the hand held cam just to gave “that feeling” and cheating in editing and direction whenever their sense of (or laziness in) style suggest them it’s a good idea, for the sake of spectacularity. Personally, I don’t like this approach; but the world’s audiences don’t seem to care that much. Continue reading “Blending genres in web series (2): mockumentaries and found footage”

Blending genres in web series (1): comedies

Even though genres hybridization is not exclusive domain of web series, it’s there where it can more often and freely happen.
Partly because, on the medium Internet, we still carry on a more active and exploratory fruition (even when we stream scripted video) and a too conventional or derivative content can result in a quick escaping mouse click; hybridization, in this context, can work as a trick to capture watchers’ attentions in that initial, crucial moment.
Most importantly, because of the creative freedom (so far) associated with this form, that allows creators to explore and exploit more ways to differentiate their works above the always increasing background noise).
And, if you like, because of the quite usual belonging to the indie territory, where creators are much at ease in finding their own personal blend; helped, on the web, by the possibility of a more broad niche targeting.
So, genre hybrids are what I’ll be focusing on in the next bunch of articles. Continue reading “Blending genres in web series (1): comedies”

We don’t belong here: a bunch of misfits in web series

Misfit
1. a person not suited in behavior or attitude to a particular social environment
2. something that does not fit or fits badly

To a larger extent, everyone is a misfit: at least, it’s what I like to think. Perfect social integration is a myth, and there’s usually an existing contrast between self perception and the image/behavior you’re supposed to keep in social environments. That’s understood. So, when I say “misfit”, here, I mean a case in which such unbalance and contrast are pretty explicit, if not declared.
Whatever their reason, misfits are pariahs, fishes out of water, incompliant for choice or inability. In their own way, they make a difference (even if only for their own benefit or self-destruction); they stand out (even if in a way that “regular” society finds annoying, offensive, unacceptable… you choose). And whatever the case, they’re perfect material for independent stories (or for mainstream maybe, but only at the condition to make them innocuously funny). Continue reading “We don’t belong here: a bunch of misfits in web series”

Rock bands (and the like) in web series (2)

In the first part of this article I talked about music bands in web series, giving a couple of examples of fake “vintage” series. I will carry on here with more contemporary set works. Continue reading “Rock bands (and the like) in web series (2)”

Rock bands (and the like) in web series (1)

“At least we’re famous.
On the Internets”

(The-All-For-Nots)

There’s little sub-genre, in web series, dealing with music bands, in an almost bio-pic fashion.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even not considering the niche-oriented nature of the format, and its plastic, potential ability to cover any subject or matter, music biopics are special bread, per se.

Music biopics and the strength of archetypes

Till yesterday, there’s always been something intrinsically catchy, and often moving, in a band’s or singer’s biography; something archetypical going on, I guess. Continue reading “Rock bands (and the like) in web series (1)”

From porn movies to podcasts: web series about entertainment

“You know? In retrospect, this whole thing was probably a bad idea”
(From Break A Leg)

As I mentioned elsewhere, one peculiar sub-genre of workplace stories involves the entertainment business, describing industry’s behind the scenes or using it as a general setting. There are excellent dramas (Sidney Lumet’s Network popping out my mind right now) but I believe comedies are more popular, especially if LA based, being Holly show-biz’s “frenzy, madness & idiosyncrasy”™ part of its self-promoted image and the comedy, parody and spoof genres quite suited to translate them in lighter, easier and harmless entertainment.
This is especially true if we narrow the scope to web series (where, they say, “comedy is king”). And I have to remark that, frankly, I found a great deal of them shallow and insipid. Maybe it’s me, not mad about light and easy humor, relying on easy clichés and not bothering to build an original storyline or characters with more than one dimension. They’re still fun, at times. But highly forgettable.
Fortunately, there are exceptions. Sometimes playing more cleverly (and not exclusively) with stereotypes, sometimes just fresh and genuine enough. Continue reading “From porn movies to podcasts: web series about entertainment”

From cafes to schools: workplace comedy in web series

““It doesn’t matter if you fail or succeed.
What matters most is that you surround yourself with people who don’t suck”.

(From Perks)

So called “workplace” stories constitute a kind of popular, transversal subgenre, especially on television. The most are comedies, quite likely because they fit with ease the sitcom structure.
We can broaden the scope a little, and include stories that are mainly job related but not necessarily confined to a single space (travelling or outdoor jobs, or even “wannabe” job-related stories), or consider the outdoors as “workplaces” too; but the substance doesn’t change: a job\workplace story still has the typical “behind-the-scenes” approach.
On the web, the workplace genre is kinda thriving. The possibility of a more niche-oriented storytelling (free from demographic calculations) allow creators to set their stories in almost any possible working environment, and let the audience choose. Continue reading “From cafes to schools: workplace comedy in web series”

Facing hard times with comedy: web series about recession

I don’t follow enough big networks TV shows to be absolutely sure about it, but it seems to me (and addicted friends confirm it) that the economic crisis has only recently started to be featured into the main plots. Two Broke Girls, for instance, takes the lead from a high society NY family’s economic downfall, while Girls hints to twenty-something gals’ difficulties finding a job. More promptly, years ago CSI N.Y. incorporated budget cuts and wrong investments as important narrative elements (with repercussions on the station and on main characters). There are probably more examples that I don’t know of; but nevertheless, the crisis themes, even if present, are usually just ingredients (when not a pretext); never the main dish.
After all, mainstream entertainment is traditionally more oriented to escapism and consolation. Probably independent films did something better, but you know how it is: outside festivals circuits, even with decent distribution, is not always easy to keep track of them (in case you know some interesting title, please leave a comment below).
And what about the web? There, independent creators can say whatever they want, putting together a show in a fragment of the time needed by network TVs and reach an international audience without distribution limitations. And the web, indeed, accepted the challenge, to the point that crisis related shows are almost a specific, transversal sub genre. Continue reading “Facing hard times with comedy: web series about recession”

Do it nerdy, but give it a soul. AKA: outstanding nerd web series (NOT “for nerds only”).

There’s quite a bunch of web series talking about some kind of nerds and geeks.
For two main reasons: firstly, nerd-geeks are tech savvy and most likely already there (they’re, let’s say, the native web audience – even though not the exclusive one: go and ask soap opera guys); secondly, The Guild’s ridiculous success instilled in too many people’s minds the wrong idea that, to be successful on line, you just need to do a show about gamers, geeks or nerds.
But quite few of them can be actually defined very good shows. The extreme, blindfold targeting is their major weakness. Continue reading “Do it nerdy, but give it a soul. AKA: outstanding nerd web series (NOT “for nerds only”).”

Virtue of necessity: a selection of animated web series

The paradox is that you can find a lot of beautiful animation on the web, but it’s almost never produced as web native or for web distribution; may they be school or professional shorts, these works are conceived and created with other goals in mind: exercise, a final exam, a demo of one’s technical skills (in this category you can include the Japanese ONA – Original Net Animations – at least in the initial phase), etc. When they are not uploaded by fans, without the author’s consent. The medium, in fact, is used as a mere vehicle. As a borderline case, we have some anthological web series putting together existing works (from The Channel Frederator to Sundance Channel’s Animation Bizarre).
But a “made for web” animated series is a totally different story. Continue reading “Virtue of necessity: a selection of animated web series”

Sadists, hitmans, femmes fatales and other nice people: a collection of criminals in web series

When I say that crime fascinates storytellers and audiences since ages, I state the obvious. As a theme, it’s in itself a source of tension (colliding with society’s established rules), while criminal personalities allow themselves quite easily to (dramaturgically exploitable) internal conflicts as well; and our storytelling tradition has stated that you can’t have a story without a drama and a drama without tension.
Aside from an easy, conformed and reassuring use of this tension (putting it in into the “bad guy” actant), many prefer digging directly into the source of tension; in that, crime genres like noir have historically found their natural vocation.
“Crime” seems to be a relatively popular genre (or topic) among scripted web video, too; may it be in pure genres or in one of the thousands comedy hybrids out there. Mobsters, gangs, hitmans, psycho killers, sadists, thieves, or even disillusioned and gangrenous investigators… you choose.
As for me, in this case I prefer character driven crime stores, where everything is built around a strong and catching lead. So, here are my favorite portraits of criminals in web series. Continue reading “Sadists, hitmans, femmes fatales and other nice people: a collection of criminals in web series”

Doomed islands, self-discoveries, supernatural detectives: when web series dig into mystery

Mystery is quite a loose genre, relying on the vague premise of something untold that engages a discovery process; apart from that, it can blend with anything else. But on the other hand, its loose frame allows more liberty and variety compared to what other stricter genres can do, so that the overall output is quite variegated in itself.
Now, web series creators, generally, love freedom. Even if this freedom means referring deliberately to preexistent works and following their path without anyone breathing down their necks. So it’s no surprise that mystery is well represented on the web. Continue reading “Doomed islands, self-discoveries, supernatural detectives: when web series dig into mystery”

Way beyond the “service”: some clever branded web series (2)

“I do not have many regrets, except one. And that’s: selling the company”.
(From Boss Of Me)

Among the overall output of branded web series, a very important place is occupied by CJP Digital, a branded entertainment studio, operating under the wing of marketing/PR firm CJP Communications and founded by creator/actor/producer Wilson Cleveland. Most of the better (and successful for the brand) series out there have their signature, all of them sharing the precious quality of being a promotional vehicle while keeping their narrative independence and dignity. If I’m not mistaken, they even “invented” branded web series back in 2006, with The Temp Life. Continue reading “Way beyond the “service”: some clever branded web series (2)”

Way beyond the “service”: some clever branded web series (1)

“Success is the new failure”
(from Easy to Assemble)

Fine. I admit it. The next two posts will be a pretty lazy output. Branded web series are in fact enough talked about in themselves (together with celebrity driven ones), because branding is marketing, and marketing is hot. And many people like to write about it. So, a new article about them is probably not so needed.
In my defense, I’m not giving any marketing lesson here. I don’t have enough knowledge about it and, frankly, I don’t give a damn. What I do care about, at least here, is the audience’s perspective. And that’s why I want to put together a selection of branded web series that, while carrying on their “service” nature, or even despite of it, manage to keep a great creative autonomy and a validity as stories. Meaning: they’re worth watching, no matter who’s paying them and why.
Continue reading “Way beyond the “service”: some clever branded web series (1)”

Like in future, good old days (2): science fiction web series that “go vintage”

As I wrote in the previous post, some independent authors manage to create a convincing science fiction web series by adopting an “old school” approach either in narrative, style or both, while referring more or less closely to classic eras or iconic movies, making this transplant a sort of distinctive stylistic tract for the series itself.
In the series I’ve talked about, Ark, Continuum and Time Keeper, such a reference was somewhat indirect and pertaining more to narrative settings or dynamics. The following works go a little further. They “go vintage”.
Their process of embedding classical elements is heavier and we see the marriage between higher narrative ambitions (big settings, wider dynamics, more extended and complex arcs) and design choices that are highly stylized but, at the same time, matched to the story in a deep an functional way (instead of being gratuitous). And quite often, the process contributes crucially to give the whole setting a level of believability otherwise impossible, through the engaging of a sort of higher form of suspension of disbelieve.

Continue reading “Like in future, good old days (2): science fiction web series that “go vintage””

Like in future, good old days (1): science fiction web series that “go classic”

Pure science fiction is relatively rare in web series, like pure genres in general (if you take away cross-genre and hybrid comedies). “Good one”, even more (I’m not taking into account companion web series made for TV shows, that travel on another rail).
Quite obviously, because making it with low or zero budget it’s not easy per se. And highest (and merciless) reference standards in movies and TV make things even worse. For independent web productions it’s of course impossible to compete with high budgeted boombastic movies (not that we really need it, btw); but even a more low profile TV standard is quite likely out of reach. But a valid example to look to is independent cinema, that has given us many instances of clever, original and relatively cheap genre movies or shorts, through the years; or, before that, the low budget sci-fi of the classic era (maybe too cheesy for modern audiences) or the one made in that blessed decade in between the Sixties and the Seventies.
Continue reading “Like in future, good old days (1): science fiction web series that “go classic””

Alien abductions, vampire cops, dystopias: a selection of good derivative web series

I know. On a broader view, each form of entertainment is derivative. If I remember correctly, Panofsky remarked that painters looked to other paintings, instead of nature, as a “source” and reference for their works. And despite painting being art and not entertainment (at least, according the proper definition), quite the same can be said for movies, TV and, especially, web series (that at this stage of evolution relate to both – even if not exclusively).
Continue reading “Alien abductions, vampire cops, dystopias: a selection of good derivative web series”

Edgar Wright’s Brandon Generator is a really clever interactive web show, after all

I usually don’t write quick reviews of new stuff.
But this is something really worth a little exception.

The random adventures of Brandon Generator is an interactive animated show by Edgar Wright, sponsored by Microsoft.
The viewers contribute actively and, most important, creatively: we can suggest story plots, send drawings or photos, record audio messages, etc.
If something fits what they have in mind, it’s included in the show. And its’ kind of meta, justifying this interactive layer by putting it into the story.
We can’t say how deep and “real” the interactive element is, but for sure I like the fact that you’re not just required to express a choice (“must she live/die?”) or to randomly blab to some twitter account like in other interactive shows but to actively contribute in a creative way.
I was skeptic, when it started. But now, after having seen the second episode (out of four), I can tell that the story seems quite interesting, stimulating and solid, (maybe going towards a surreal or metaphoric territory?) and the interactivity enough integrated and, in itself, intriguing.
Side detail: I don’t know if Brandon’s Twitter account is managed by Wright or if he just (more likely) wrote down a series of tweets to publish. Anyway, it has a typical “Wrightesque” feel.
Probably the best interactive show I know of. Check it out until you can.
Really.