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P. Hall "squonk_uk" (Northampton, England)

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) [CD+DVD]
The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) [CD+DVD]

23 of 105 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Raven Didn't Make Me As Much Money as I Would Have Liked and Other Whines, 2 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm sorry is that title a wee bit cynical of me? I mean apparently a couple of days after the official release and hordes of fantastic reviews, Wilson was bemoaning the fact that someone - presumably someone he trusted - had leaked a copy of the new album onto that blasted Internet thing and subsequently the Hardest Working Man in Rock is probably going to starve to death... Well, do you know something, I wish I had found one of these elusive illegal copies (I looked in all the usual places and never saw hide nor hair of it), it might have saved me wasting £13 on something that in a few weeks might have bought me some food.

Several years ago, myself and two prog colleagues ventured to Wolverhampton to see Porcupine Tree. We got there in plenty of time and found the bar at the Civic Centre sold proper real ale, so we were made up. When we finally entered the arena, up where the band were due to appear was this 30 feet high sign saying something along the lines of "Do not use phones or mobile devices, do not record this show or take pictures of it, if you do we will kill you!" and it was being serious - Wilson is almost anally retentive about this kind of thing and yet despite coming across as an intelligent young(ish) man, he failed to notice that everyone in that arena was there to see him, had paid money to see him and to be fair if they record, badly, their favourite song and post it on You Tube, what real harm is it going to do? Or, I remember an interview with SW once where he said how angry he gets when fans bring up tapes of shows they've recorded on their phones or whatever and ask him to autograph it. Why? The same nerd is going to buy every album you release, because true, honest to God fans, BUY, so if they get something they can't buy, it isn't going to break your bank or take revenue away from you. Maybe to such a small and insignificant amount you could class those people as not true fans, but Steve, you're not Radiohead or Beyonce, mate, the amount of money you're going to lose from this kind of thing is negligible. Man up and stop being such a curmudgeonly geek.

But what about the album. Well, it wears its influences on its sleeves for all to see. Luminol is Yes, The Holy Drinker has elements of ELP in it and so far I've also heard some Crimson, some early Genesis and while he's channelling all of his heroes he's clearly forgotten how to write a tune. Insurgents was choc-a-bloc full of good rock songs; Grace For Drowning kind of suggested we were entering into the realm of the Law of Diminishing Returns and this album seems to prove that by offering up 6 songs which I would have struggled to include in either of the first two solo efforts. This album is up its own arse; seriously far; so far it could have a conversation with Wilson's epiglottis without a hint of irony.

I have listened to this album 6 times now; under the belief that its a grower, but while I have grown to appreciate a couple of tracks, the only real thing growing on me is the feeling that I've been conned and that Wilson's overall output in the 21st century has been generally disappointing. I'm looking back at Deadwing and thinking that when that came out I didn't like it because it wasn't a Porcupine Tree album as I knew it. That's a bloody classic compared to Wilson's solo efforts. The Raven That Refused to Sing and Other Stories is pretentious, it's an homage to many of the people that Wilson holds in high regard, it suffers from half of it not being at all good and if this is the future of SW then he can travel it without my scheckles. I'm really struggling to find positives about this album; I can't see it being on heavy rotation like many other SW projects, but if I want to be honest, I've felt that way about most of his stuff for a few years - The Incident had some great songs on it, but could have been a very tight single CD; Blank Planet might have been the breakthru album, but it's a mess, the first two solo albums had one really good album in there and that god-awful Storm Corrosion bollocks, which someone had the audacity to compare to Talk Talk, should have been the straw that broke the Raven's back. As Wilson becomes more commercially viable his music is becoming less interesting.

Perhaps I came into this wanting to dislike it; I mean, all of this disillusionment towards SW which has poured out in this review probably suggests that I was going to be in a bad place when I listened to it; but the thing is I wanted this to be the dog's bollocks and it end up being just bollocks. It also could do with some tunes. Wilson has written some great tunes in the past... Oh, yeah, the past. Wilson is 45 now and we all know what happens to ageing rockers...
Comment Comments (56) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2015 2:52 PM GMT

Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of great non-dance songs, 14 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Collections (MP3 Download)
I was privy to Collections as early as November 2009 and have had the 'album' for a full 16 months. Steve Messina sent it to me for an article I wrote for a comics website I used to write for, in a series of musical interludes and because he wanted a transatlantic perspective.

When Messina sent me the disc, which until last week was filed under BUH 2009, he offered me a vague reason for why this album would be called Collections, but for me the reason it is called that is because it collects the wide array of styles you find in Blow Up Hollywood's music. There's everything from prog to rock to soul to jazz to ambient noodling stuff. The band, of which Messina is the principal songwriter, don't do labels; of their 6 'albums' no two are alike, although the eponymous titled Blow Up Hollywood and its follow up Fake are probably the most similar, but even then it is just Messina's vocals that connect the two.

Collections is good. It kicks off with two really powerful prog like instrumentals - NCK and JCK, both of which show some of the influences that have helped define this vastly underrated band. It is followed by the atmospheric DDK - possibly my favourite instrumental track on the album; it reminds me of early William Orbit, but with a depth and gravitas that Orbit's early stuff seemed to lack and it has a layered guitar in it that makes you want to pick up an air guitar and noodle along with - well, it does me...
Sweet Memory is a lovely love song about loss; it combines piano, Steve's voice and a subtle use of strings to convey an almost 1930s feel. I didn't like this much on first few listens and now I find it's been put right at the end of the release I think it's a great way to end the album. This is followed by When It's Over, a song about loss that seems to examine who ends up taking the blame; it's also got a sing along quality, something you could argue BUH are not renowned for.
Then we're treated to the cover version of Kite; Kitty Kite is in many respects the best track on the album; but this might be due to the fact that Kite is one of BUH's best loved songs. The female vocalist, Kim Wayman has a fabulous voice, all croaky and soulful and she really gets to use her ability on Slow Down - a song that Messina tends to sing at live shows, but Wayman really makes this a soulfully beautiful track. Her final input is Crash, another painful sounding song that seems to describe the affects of a full on affair has on people.
In many respects, Collections is split into sections; the modern rock instrumentals; a section of vocalising the impact of relationships, of love and loss, and then there's a final section; the jazzy experimental stuff; where BUH's love of cello, John Cage and the avant garde really shines through.
For Jessica is a deep, rich and almost sad piece of music that has a feel of Take Flight, the last BUH album. It also reminds me of the early instrumentals from the eponymous album and the original reason why I fell in love with Blow Up Hollywood's unique style. This also acts as a sort of bridging point for the full on weirdness of Caged, More Caged and Cello/Piano/Radio/Woodwinds which explore the dark side of the band's love of the unusual and the uncommercial. While Blow Up Hollywood have never been commercial, they do have songs that you could play at parties; these 'weird' pieces of music are the kind of thing you put the headphones on when you're in need of a self-analysis moment or are feeling a wee bit introspective. You can understand why a sideline of the band is to produce soundtrack music and you can see why they also have a love of the freeform - whether it's jazz or modern classical. This is wall of sound as far removed from Phil Spector as is earthly possible.
In many respects, the three avant garde pieces don't sit naturally with the rest of the album, mingled with the rest of the songs they almost throw down a gauntlet, suggesting to the listener that what they're listening to isn't your standard fayre.
The album is only available as an MP3 download at the moment and would cost you a measly £6.99; which by today's standards is a great price for an album that defies description in places. Do yourself a favour and buy the album and remember something, with the release of the band's last album Take Flight, they gave the proceeds to a building program in Nicaragua, to help the homeless there have some place to live. this from a band that are barely known outside of their native New York. You don't find the U2s, Arcade Fires and Radioheads of this world doing such a charitable and altruistic gesture and that alone make this a band worth speculating on.

I score Collections a monumental 9 out of 10

I Choose Noise
I Choose Noise
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £29.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the same brilliance, 7 Oct. 2006
This review is from: I Choose Noise (Audio CD)
The Swansea progressive dance duo are back and how! After the radiance of Wide Angle and the dark and moody Morning Sci-Fi, comes I Choose Noise - which with the added talents of Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell, 70s eclectic folk rocker Judie Tzuke, Tony Scott and composer Harry Gregson-Williams, give the band far more gravitas than before.

I Choose Noise is the duo's 3rd proper studio album and on the strength of this they are maturing into the genre's most adventurous and boundary-pushing artists. Outstanding tracks are Dogstar, Keep it in the Family, Until Tomorrow and Dream Stalker. Not as immediate as Morning Sci Fi, but layered with the skill and seamlessness that Hybrid have become reknowned for. Less breakbeats and more atmospherics make this an ideal album to chill to, or to tap your feet to.

The point of Hybrid is to fuse types of music together under a progressive dance umbrella and make something completely different - they always seem to succeed!

Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This is the real thing!, 18 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Fake (Audio CD)
Never heard of them? You will! This second studio album from a band described by one American reviewer as 'Counting Crows meets Moby' is a class act. This has music ranging from a fantastic melding of classical orchestration, sophisticated rock music to the subtle ambience of The Orb.

'Oceans' is a classy rock ballad with a wicked sliding guitar about the loss of a love, which underlines the entire theme of the album; Blow Up Hollywood's eponymous first album is all about death and FAKE appears to be about loss. The slick alt-country sounds continue with excellent tracks such as 'Born' and the title track 'Fake', yet there's something dark, sinister and almost funky about the production.

'Fake' is a perfect album to introduce yourself to this new American band.

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