With Synthetic Environments' interesting and uniquely ambient sounds, Stephen Philips has created a sort of musical and sonic triptych that explores all kinds of natural and unnatural sonic phenomena exclusively by synthetic means. With Synthetic Environments there are all kinds of different ambiences, including harbor sounds, brook sounds, industrial sounds, and a variety of other ambiences that Philips tries successfully to create. This is a work of sound in places more than it is a work of music, because there seems to be an emphasis, for obvious reasons, on a sonic environment; but Philips' lush synthesizer chordings are never far from the foreground of the work, as they are always coursing through the fabric of the work one track after another. With Synthetic Environments, Philips has created an excellent collection of tracks that venture beyond the normal boundaries of ambient music and into a new and almost uncharted realm. This is an excellent work, but it's recommended that listeners become familiar with Philips' Cycles series or Desert Landscapes before they dive into this and the rest of Philips' large body of recorded work.
AllMusic Review by Matt Borghi