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ClassicsOnline Home » RILEY, Philip: Visions and Voices
Philip Riley will often laugh if you ask him to recall his early experiences as a musician in the working mens' clubs of Northern England, where he drummed for bands that played in between the bingo sessions, and provided background music for comedians and performing dog acts. He says,
"In that irreverent atmosphere it was hard to get any music taken seriously. We were expected to provide a musical relief between sometimes bizarre entertainments, against a backdrop of loud conversation and smoke as thick as fog."
Philip felt he had lots of melodies inside him waiting to be expressed, and drumming provided him with limited expression. His interest in working with keyboards developed at about the same time as synthesisers became easily accessible in the 1980's, and he bought a Wurlitzer electronic piano, inspired by Super Tramp, his favourite band at that time. He says that the electronic music medium has given him a freedom of expression that he did not previously imagine would be possible.
It was a significant meeting when Jayne Elleson came to record some vocals for Philip's music. Jayne's voice lent a new richness of emotion to his melodic writing, and they both felt an increased freedom of musical expression.
When Philip Riley began working on Visions and Voices, he found himself throwing away much of what he had learned about song craft, "It seemed that rule one for writing an album like Visions and Voices was that there are no rules." he says. When he began layering the voices for the album, it released an emotional and spiritual warmth that he had not previously experienced. This contrasted with the more contrived and mathematical approach required for contemporary songwriting. Philip maintains a great interest in all rhythmic instruments, and loves Celtic music, and the Spanish guitar. It is this combination of elements that has resulted in his remarkable albums Visions and Voices, and A Pattern of Lands.
From his production studios, Philip writes and produces music for a wide variety of projects, from short films and documentaries, to first productions for young contemporary groups. He likes to encourage young musicians, as he appreciates how much they need to learn at the beginning of their careers.
Philip Riley was born in Gateshead, County Durham, Great Britain in 1954, and he moved to New Zealand in 1977, where he now lives with his wife Jane, and daughter Lindsey.
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RILEY, Philip: Visions and Voices