Holland Phillips | Circles of 8

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New Age: Contemporary Instrumental Electronic: Soundscapes Moods: Instrumental
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Circles of 8

by Holland Phillips

Lush and melodic, Holland's fifth release explores the essence and edges of new age music.
Genre: New Age: Contemporary Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Starting Over
4:39 $0.99
2. Night Tracks
4:48 $0.99
3. Stephanie's Song
5:53 $0.99
4. The Journey
4:03 $0.99
5. Strains of an Ancient Past
3:35 $0.99
6. Save the Dance
4:43 $0.99
7. Circles of 8
4:43 $0.99
8. The Moment
4:03 $0.99
9. Marking Time
4:31 $0.99
10. Classic by Design
4:35 $0.99
11. Lullabye for Us
4:30 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Circles of 8" is the fifth album from composer/keyboardist/synthesist Holland Phillips, following his very successful 2015 release, "Daydream Alley." The eleven original pieces are performed mostly on an array of digital keyboards and synths. Phillips also plays piano and guitars and Paul Christensen appears on sax on several tracks. In the liner notes, Phillips explains the title of the album: “Circles of 8 is not a concept album; it’s a set of songs that came together over a relatively short period of time, in concert with an idea and a search for the resonances of life. In more concrete terms, there’s a theory that eight might be one of the base vibrations of life itself - as measured by scientists. Some say that it’s one of the resonances that completes the circles of life, and makes us who we are. I concentrated on that concept and those resonances through the creative period that would eventually fill this album.”

Although Holland Phillips’ music is usually categorized as “new age,” he is classically-trained and has a degree in Music Composition. He has been producing and recording new age music since the mid-1990’s, and his first album, "Flight of the Windmill," was released in 1994. He has also focused on music therapy and how sounds affect the human body. While in school, he learned learned to play most of the orchestral instruments to better understand their characteristics. After college, he spent a number of years touring with rock and show bands throughout the Midwest and Canada and did studio work in a number of genres. It is no wonder that his original music is so varied!

"Circles of 8" opens with “Starting Over,” a haunting minor key piece that is fully-orchestrated and has some strong rock elements - an intriguing start! “Night Tracks” follows with a catchy rhythm and cinematic orchestration that is moody but very beautiful - a favorite. “Stephanie’s Song” introduces Paul Christensen and his soulful sax - the perfect addition to this passionate slow dance (it would also be excellent behind the closing credits of an emotional movie!). “Save the Dance” has a gentle swaying motion that is both soothing and relaxing. The title track begins with slow, mysterious vocals, piano, and strings gradually adding more instrumentation and emotional expression as it evolves. Serene and sensual, “The Moment” is a breath of fresh air. “Lullabye For Us” brings the album to a warm and cozy close, refreshed and ready to move forward.
Recommended - especially for fans of electronic music that is melodic rather than ambient!

Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
Its’ been exactly a year since I wrote about Holland’s wonderful previous album “Daydream Alley,” so I was happy to receive his latest recording with the interesting title “Circles of 8.” So lets enter the circle and explore the many spaces and emotions of this intriguing album. The opening track, entitled “Starting Over,” is bookended by a simple yet elegant solo piano motif. However it is not long before Holland’s trademark rich orchestration imbues the track with a dramatic flair. One of the things I appreciate about Holland’s music is that although it is instrumental, many of his compositions have a story-telling quality about them. One in particular is a sentimental piece called “Stephanie’s Song.” There is a dreamy air about it and in places the chord changes reminded me just a bit of Pink Floyd, although without guitar. There are however some evocative solos played on sax by Paul Christiansen, whose work has been heard with Todd Rundgren, the Michael Stanley Band, and others.

One of the most different tracks on the album is “Strains of an Ancient Path.” While Holland’s music in general has a very contemporary feel, this song goes in an opposite direction. Although synthesizers are used to create many of the sounds, the song does indeed evoke the music of a bygone era. Holland’s background in classical music blends with contemporary instrumental elements in the beautifully orchestrated title track which projects a ambiance that is both stately and uplifting. This feeling extends into the next song as well, entitled “The Moment.” Holland puts the album to bed with an appropriately peaceful piano-based track entitled “Lullabye For Us.” While much of Holland’s music is lavishly orchestrated, this piece shows his talent for spinning a lovely melody on piano with relatively minimal accompaniment. However, in addition to the piano, a lovely flute-like sound glides gracefully over the musical landscape adding a gentle touch and providing the perfect ending to this inspired album.

In addition to being a fine multi-instrumentalist and composer, Holland’s skill as an arranger is exceptional. He has a knack for knowing exactly what kind of sounds to bring in and out at exactly the right points. Holland’s orchestration is often opulent, but never overdone, adding dimension and sense of drama to his imaginative music. “Circles of 8“ provides an immersive listening experience as stimulating to the mind’s eye as to the ear in its blend of expressive melodies and visionary soundscapes.

To read a full-length feature article about this album, as well as others, please visit: www.MichaelDiamondMusic.com

Candice Michelle

Review from Journeyscapesradio.com
Holland Phillips is a keyboardist and composer whose fifth album, “Circles of 8” is inspired by the resonances from the circles of life and vibrational building blocks of creation. Comprised of eleven compositions spanning fifty-one minutes, Holland demonstrates mostly dynamic and melodically straightforward motifs on this recording, which have been rendered on both new and vintage keyboards and synthesizers. He likewise plays acoustic and electric guitar on a couple of tracks while incorporating additional sounds of strings, woodwinds, harpsichord, percussion and bass, which are provided on various compositions throughout.

“Starting Over” is a spirited composition that opens with melodic piano and keyboards. Characteristic of both new age synthesizer and contemporary instrumental music, it sets the mood for the rest of the album, which mostly exudes a dynamic serenity. “Night Tracks” follows next and is easily my favorite piece on the album. Beginning with tapping percussion, it soon leads into a fantasy-like arrangement of synthesized chords, strings and reed instruments that underscore a lead piano melody. A subtle drumbeat guides “The Journey”, a similarly whimsical piece that is likewise accompanied by a melodic arrangement of sparkling synthetic textures. “Marking Time” is another engaging example that follows in a similar vein, where a synthetic fog permeates a repeating harpsichord melody along with dynamic vintage keyboard motifs. Additionally, Holland’s longtime friend Paul Christensen lends saxophone on two of the album’s jazzier numbers, including “Stephanie’s Song” and “Classic by Design”, both of which are sentimentally buoyant and bright.

Notably characteristic of both new age synthesizer and electronic-based contemporary instrumental music, the album’s specific kinds of melodic arrangements, as well as its utilization of both older and vintage-style electronic instruments, imbue the music with a distinctive 80’s-era panache. The compositions are in constant motion with hardly a moment free of overt melodic movement, while additionally touching upon elements of neoclassical and symphonic-style orchestration in a decidedly simplistic and uncomplicated fashion. Those who are particularly fond of such motifs will likely find “Circles of 8” to be an overall gently uplifting and peacefully pleasant listening experience.

Steve Sheppard (www.oneworldmusic.co.uk)

Review from One World Music Radio
The experience that was Daydream Alley filled me with the sense of wondrous anticipation for this new release by Holland Phillips called Circles Of 8. The wait has been well worth it and this new experience very musically fulfilling.
Appropriately we begin with Starting Over; this piece has a real air of mystery about it and flows so very naturally, the keyboards create a smooth and lush background to set us on another journey, filled with tone and charm.
There was almost a little Parisian ethic in this next piece called Night Tracks and the song did indeed contain a really dreamy feel, that allows the listener to immerse themselves in. The Piano here was equally sublime and narrated superbly a time of a youthful fascination, with the darkness of the night.
We come across a dedication called Stephanie’s Song, One can feel the energy of hope and reward through struggle in this piece, the Saxophone here really adds a special feeling and level of emotion to a brilliant composition, on what is the longest track off the album at just short of 6 minutes.
There was something about this piece that fascinated me; it’s called The Journey, it reminded me in parts of Kevin Kendle’s ending track off First Light called Awaken. This would be because of both the melody and instrumentation used, but it does have a real energy of exploration, of new and untouched paths of life, about its essence.
As we move peacefully towards the half way marker of the album we come across a deep offering entitled Strains Of An Ancient Past. Here we seem to be touching the hem of a glorious baroque past perhaps, this is lovingly called by me, a most elegant track indeed.
Save The Dance follows on perfectly from the last composition and contains some stunning chords, both major and minor, to almost give us a 1980’s feel to the song, the more I listened to this piece, the more I fell in love with it, the track has a distinct movement about its construction and hits on various time frames throughout its arrangement. The melody here is one of the finest I have heard for absolutely ages; this is both the cleverest track off the release and my personal favourite of the bunch.
Now it’s time for the title track, Circles Of 8, we have a real traditional, early part of the 21st century styled, classic new age piece to enjoy, synths that create a symphonic backdrop, swirling dreamy keyboards that could literally be the soundtrack of life itself.
I do my best each day, to spend as much time in the moment as I can and the lightness with which this track has been played and the melodic violin that performs within it, seems to create a narrative of enjoyment of that said moment and perhaps it can be said after all, that we live our lives in a sequence of moments. This is a beautiful composition that fills you full of positivity and hope, so stay in The Moment.
On Marking Time, we seem to have a track that expands on the way some of us lead our lives, marking moments, looking forward, looking back, hoping for that better day ahead, regretting those decisions made. This composition is almost the alter ego of the last offering, but relevant and very poignant of today’s life style. The stylish metronomic back drop to this piece was so subtle, but clever in creating its narration of truth.
The penultimate piece off the album is called Classic By Design, this one is a total re-working of a track written much earlier called, Classic by Nature, there is a beautiful softness about this piece that is created by the dream filled keyboards and when we add the Saxophone of Paul Christensen, we have that final ingredient of genius.
Sadly it’s time for us to leave this new realm created by Holland Phillips, but before we journey home, we are gifted a tune by the artist to take on our way and this final parting gift is called Lullabye For Us, this is a real reflective way to leave the album, but also a time for us, those creators of each days magical moments, to rest and dream new dreams of wide eyed childlike freedom.
Holland Phillips has raised the bar here, for lovers of contemporary instrumental music, you are going to need to add this to your collection as soon as possible, but if you’re a seeker of something good, something a little bit more emotive and touching, if your seeking music to reflect in, they I say to you, allow yourself to bathe in the sensitive tones of Circles Of 8 and your world and heart will be richer and musically healthier for it.

Helena Dee

Holland Phillips is back with his fifth album, Circles of 8, featuring a piano and synth-based ensemble sound. His popular previous album went Top 10 on the international Zone Music Reporter Chart. The immensely versatile Phillips not only has training and background in classical (a BA in Music Composition), he also worked as a full-time professional musician in the genres of classic rock, Southern Rock, folk and show tunes before turning to new age music. He has taken workshops taught by Paul Simon, and was inspired along-the-way by the music of Alan Parsons, Rick Wakeman, Vangelis and Wendy Carlos.

Phillips is an exquisite piano and synth performer, but the album is additionally noteworthy for the addition of cello on “Night Tracks,” trumpet on “The Journey” and “Marking Time,” sax on “Stephanie’s Song” and “Classic By Design,” and harpsichord and oboe on “Strains of an Ancient Path.” Phillips stresses melodic content and strong production. The inspirations behind the music were the resonances and frequencies of sounds that are inherent throughout the universe. This recording is recommended for fans of classic-sounding, in-the-pocket, instrumental new age music with orchestral touches.