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Simon J. Whight "fourfourfun" (Manchester)

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Special Extended DVD Edition) [DVD] [2002]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Special Extended DVD Edition) [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood
Price: 13.97

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic package!, 17 Dec 2003
Fantastic addition to the series! So far I find myself awaiting the release of the definative four disc versions of The Lord Of The Rings epic. The extra little touches here there and everywhere will make the avid Tolkien fan moist with excitement. Extra scenes and extended sections such as a scene with Merry and Pippin drinking entish draft with a cameo from Old Man Willow (who was excluded from the Fellowship movie), Boromir makes a comeback in this movie showing the interaction between him, his brother Faramir and the rather cruel (where regarding the worth of Faramir) Dethanor, Steward of Gondor and their father. Those of you who have experienced the Fellowship 4 disc edition will know what to expect.
The real joy with this set, however, lies with the two DVDs CRAMMED full of extras. The documentaries that accompany the series give such a wonderful insight into the entire world of the film and everything it is based on. They are never boring either, as well put together as the film itself. From a biography on Tolkien himself and his friendship with fellow writers such as CS Lewis, to the detailed artistic vision behind the movie, creating the miniture models, the CGI, the people recording the sound of a cheese grater being swung around to simulate the sound of arrows flying through the air, the artificial intelligence programme Massive which can succesfully replicate a huge scale battle between two warring factions. You won't believe the effort that goes into the movie. Just about every element is covered, every crew member and department has something to chip into the documentary. Its endearing to see the human element behind the movie, the interaction between all the units that come together to make the epic. You'll find yourself smiling along as you find out about the wonderful character that is Viggo (who plays Aragorn). The little rituals of headbutting cast members. The scene where he kicks an orc's helmet away in anger at the apparent death of Merry and Pippin, letting out a heart feltagonising scream ... which you later find out is due to him breaking two toes as he kicks the helmet, using the pain to fuel his acting. The in depth breakdown of the creation of Gollum is fascinating, finding out that there is much more than just animating a CGI character. Also, on a personal note, its satisfying to see the writers of the screenplay justify their decisions in changes to the actual story. Why The Two Towers ends where it does (which is a few chapters earlier than where the book ends), why Faramir is more of a sinister character at first, why there is the decision not to split the story into two halves as it does in the book. Its compelling watching. Its also alarming to find out that Liv Tyler was almost scheduled to be a part of the Helms Deep battle, to help extend the Aragorn love story element (which I still say is a touch Hollywood for my liking), but was rapidly scrapped when details of it were leaked to the internet and there was utter uproar over the decision.
If you have ever sat there and wondered 'How the hell do they make something like this?', you HAVE to purchase this version and watch it, you'll be surprised at the sheer amount of detail and work that has gone into this movie. Don't just buy this movie for the extended scenes and dismiss the extra two DVDs as potentially monotonous, you'll be missing out of the charm of Middle Earth, and an experience that will make you love this film even more.

Sony MDR-EX71SLB Fontopia Headphones - Black
Sony MDR-EX71SLB Fontopia Headphones - Black

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the advice..., 17 Dec 2003
At first I thought any old headphone would do the job nicely, so when I got my Sony Minidisc with headphones the size of 10p pieces, I just put up with it. After several weeks of chunking alongside a main road, desperately trying to hold the headphones in my ears so I could get some form of volume and bass I decided enough was enough. Being a DJ, I knew that price of headphone usually translated to quality ... so I plumped for these, one of the higher end spec headphones in the Fontopia series. You can get a set which also have Noise Cancelling technology built in, but then you're stepping up to the 120 mark.
First thing I noticed was the sheer quality in sound, no distortion, bass resonates nicely at high volumes and the high end is nice and crispy. Full marks there. Second thing I liked was the design, rather than being the 'hard' style in-ear headphones or the round balls of foam that I've been used to, this was quite a novelty. The design is soft, designed to plug your ear up and have a little hole in the end which leads to the speaker. For those of you worried about Sony taking a 'one size for all' approach, will be glad to hear about the inclusion of small, medium and large sizes of interchangeable heads. These rubber things can also be washed too which is nice. As far as what they do, try putting your fingers in your ears, this is what things sound like when you've got them on. The busy road that I walk along everyday just doesn't register anymore, all I have in my ears is pure music. Nice. One thing you WILL notice though is that if the wires rub against your clothing or if you bump into anything etc you will hear a muffled noise travel up the wire to your ears. This is mainly due to the design, the snug fit. A very MINOR minus point, and something you'll only really notice if you go out of your way to experiment with this. Third thing I was impressed with is the 'remote adaptor' you get with the package. You can attach an extra length of wire to the headphones which have an L shaped adaptor to plug into whatever you're using, but for those of us using them to replace headphones with, say, a Minidiscman, you can take this attachment off and you're left with a shorter wire with a straight adaptor, which will replace your old headphones nicely. Good thinking.
All in all, I'm pretty damn happy with these, the little touches that Sony put in really make the package and keep them one step ahead of the competition. Anyone who has tried out a Sony Playstation joypad and then tried an Xbox joypad know that they put alot of thought into making something that is a good product to use. On a side note, I gave them to my girlie to try, she couldn't deny the sound quality but didn't like the in-ear design. If you're not a fan of in-ear headphones, avoid these ... they'll be a nightmare for you!

xen cuts / various
xen cuts / various
Offered by roundMediaUK
Price: 7.71

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quantyquality, 17 Dec 2003
This review is from: xen cuts / various (Audio CD)
This is a three disc effort showing the talent hidden within the Ninja Tune stable ... the blurb above says this is a 3 CD set, we get given 2 CDs worth of tracklisting here, handy. Look at the other Xen Cuts on offer here on Amazon though to see the FULL tracklising. This looks like the option to go for though since its about 6 cheaper! And what quality you get with the quantity too! The sheer volume of fantastic tracks on this collection makes it a must buy for fans of downtempo and hip hop. Its by far the best Ninja Tune compilation to date.
Far too many tracks to go into in detail in a review here but those who know their Ninja Tune will be right at home with offerings from Funki Porchini, Kid Koala, Coldcut (label bosses of Ninja Tune), DJ Food (who's Ageing Young Rebel appears on this CD in a version thats completely different ... and better to their album version), Roots Manuva, Luke Vibert ... the list just goes on. Each Ninja artist seems to have reached their peak with every track thats been selected from them, as if they have pulled out all the stops for this 10 year celebration of Ninja.
Each CD has a theme, disc 1 tends to take hip hop and rough gritty instrumental breaks, shining examples are from The Herbaliser, The Big Dada Soundsystem, Neotropic, DJ Vadim and Cabbageboy. Disc 2 heads for the more experimental and jazzy side of Ninja Tune, funk comes to the fore with cinematic soundscapes being the order of the day, DJ Food, Animals On Wheels, Funki Porchini and Amon Tobin all have quality offerings here. The final disc is a summary of older Ninja Tune, rare Ninja Tune, Chris Morris and Amon Tobin pop up with a track from his Jam series, Roots Manuva does Movements live, Squarepusher rips up in mad machine funk and once again Coldcut and Funki Porchini get a look in with slices of quality.
Inside the CD you get a booklet detailing the entire 10 years of Ninja Tune and its a thoroughly entertaining read. This is an essential purchase for Ninja heads who don't have this already. Those who like hip hop and chill should also take a look in. For the Ninja person who has it all, check out the Coldcut/DJ Krush mix Cold Krush Cuts/Back In The Base for the finest Ninja Tune back catalogue mixed up by the masters. And DEFINATELY check Coldcut's 70 Minutes Of Madness Journeys by DJs mix, the best DJ mix ever.

The Work Of Director Michel Gondry [DVD] [2003]
The Work Of Director Michel Gondry [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Michel Gondry

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jus' plain class!, 12 Dec 2003
When I heard about this series I was INSTANTLY excited. Finally, the chance to get my hands on some Chris Cunningham on DVD. So that was promptly ordered on Amazon. Hoping to also have the Spike Jonze one delivered to me as a choice Chrimbo present. And then there is this one, at first I thought 'I've not heard of Michel Gondry' and it was promptly shoved to the back of the priority purchases list. HOWEVER, on wandering about town one day I noticed that this DVD has the fantastic White Stripes Fell In Love With A Girl 'lego' video on the front of it. Something I found jaw dropping. Needless to say about an hour later this had found its way into my home.
This series appears to have been created by Jonze, Cunningham and Gondry themselves so they can have an outlet 'to date' of their various works. Its much more than just a collection of music videos too. Michel's DVD spans the late 80's right up to now. You can watch his videos in artist order, chronological order or a nice randomized shuffle order ... a nice touch. The artist are all of high calibre, Bjork, White Stripes, Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Rolling Stones and Kylie (who even waives her fee for her track & video Come Into My World to donate to the NSPCC, another reason to buy!). The videos themselves are pure art, the lego animation of White Stripes is as I said, jaw dropping. Michel knows how to tell a story with his videos, how to have a visual representation of the music for us to see on screen. Probably why our wonderful songstress Bjork has chosen him so many times to provide the visual side to songs like Joga, Bachelorette, Hyperballad and so on. What he does is literally unexplainable and something you have to see in action. Wonderous photography skills and innovative ideas that you'd never be able to see from anyone else.
Theres also more than just the music, several short films, TV adverts and animations from Gondry, including one with Jim Carey of all people, and my personal favourite is Drumb & Drumber, a very clever short made up from video clips of Gondry drumming in various locations ... always raises a smile! You also get a 75 minute 'behind the scenes' documentary and a 52 page booklet with artwork, text and interviews with Gondry. A FULL and varied package. Check this series out, they are just the best thing to happen to music video ever!

Back to Mine - Audio Bullys
Back to Mine - Audio Bullys
Price: 9.17

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely suprised by the punk house rockers!, 10 Dec 2003
Ah the muchly hyped Audio Bullys. I didn't really get into Ego War at all, the beats lacked a certain edge and the punky edged MCing over the top really didn't do it for me at all. People compared it alot to The Streets and its easy to see why, but unfortunately where The Streets had a certain raw charm with a fantastic story teller at the helm, Audio Bullys just really didn't impact at all. HOWEVER, I remember reading about them in the build up of hype when they were just about to hit big. I was impressed by their roots, everything from punk to Chicago house. This is what their Back To Mine mix reflects. An ambitious rude bwoy mix of old house (like the blueprints to what is now our UK Garage scene, New Horizons, Wildchild, X-Presidents), wonderful ska from Madness and The Specials, classic punk from The Stranglers and a few bits of dub and the rave glory of Prodigy's Out Of Space thrown in for good measure. Now in the past, a few of the Back To Mine mixes have fallen through with such an ambitious mix of styles (Underworld, Orbital ... I'm looking at you!), they have lacked a certain direction and coherancy. This, however, gels together perfectly, the jumps from house to punked up ska work perfectly. It never feels jump start. The inclusion of a new Audio Bullys track is also a bonus, and even got my toe tapping ... and has even prompted me to perhaps go back and re-review Ego War to see if my initial feelings about it were justifed.
This is definately more lively a mix than say Nick Warren or Dave Seaman's Back To Mine, but certainly its a goodie. It has its own distinct style and charm. Certainly some nostalgia was brought back to my memory from hearing the original Renegade Master once again. If you weren't impressed by Ego War, this still deserves a listen, its a quality selection, plus its nice to hear all the elements that go together to make the Audio Bullys sound. It might make you think twice about them.

How to Live 100 Years
How to Live 100 Years
Offered by J4G
Price: 42.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure electronic bliss, 21 Nov 2003
This review is from: How to Live 100 Years (Audio CD)
16b delivers us his 2nd album, this time on Hooj Records. His first, Sounds From Another Room, is now a deleted deep house classic and this looks like it may even go the same way with Hooj having all sorts of difficulties at the moment.
Ever since teaming up with Deep Dish for a remix on his Falling single from his first album, Omid 16b has had a certain Deep Dish pump creep into his electronic jazz house sound. Punchier percussion, echoing claps, dark progressive moods ... in fact alot of his tracks and remixes have become classics for the likes of Digweed, Sasha, Deep Dish, Danny Howell (who always seems to have a place for him on his mix CDs), all the big guns essentially. So what does How To Live In 100 Years give us. The opener Inbetween Your Choice paints a wonderfully chilled electronic breakbeat picture more like 16b of old, and then moving into the club biggie Escape (Driving To Heaven) featuring Deep Dish's mix engineer Morel on vocals, you definately get the feeling that Omid has created an album for listening and chilling rather than going hands in the air crazy for. Escape has its echoing 16b housebeats replaced with a nice chilled yet pacy electro break, a nice touch PLUS breathing life into a track of old, kind of a 'for the album exclusive'. Keep On Changing Shape is more like the clubbier 16b that we're used to at the moment, this little deep electronic house groover is no doubt inspired by the Changing Shape EP on Hooj's Airtight label, nice and deep. De-Org Song keeps the same deep electronic house vibe going while Doubt adds some vocals into the mix which ends up sounding like US House gone electronic, nice if you've got fond memories of US house music of old. Colours then breaks up the clubby portion of the album so far with some chilled downtempo beats, gentle vocodered vocals, very Global Underground friendly deep synths. The Room is the only track I couldn't really get into here, a hypnotic repetative acid house groove, looping over and over again ... still, willing to give this one time. We Will Again! is more chilled ambience, think of the likes of Global Communication's 76:14 and you'll be in the right direction. Virus, although not released as a single, appears to be the big fave of all that I know from the album. Deep electronica, gorgeous synths and an almost Beloved-esque vocal ... its a great track pure and simple. Behind The Face is a 16b track from the Airtight label, one that I picked up originally mainly because it was refreshing in a market that was saturated in epic trance, quality electronica without being utter guff trance. A reprise of Colours finishes off the album nicely.
All in all its an album that I found best for listening even though there are some lovely deep uptempo house moments on it. Its a quality album and no-one sounds like 16b so its quite unique. 16b is also enjoying being right at the centre of danceland at the moment with his Sexonwax label and The Idiots guise finding its way into alot of DJs boxes (just check Danny Howells recent 24:7) ... check this album out and find out why.

Global Underground 21: Deep Dish In Moscow
Global Underground 21: Deep Dish In Moscow
Offered by Big World UK
Price: 16.94

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GU debut for Deep Dish with a murky tribal affair, 20 Nov 2003
Compared to the lighter more melodic moods of Toronto, Deep Dish's first Global Underground mix Moscow was a bit of a murky tribal-a-thon. The main emphasis here is on dark beats and bass ... those used to the fare which the likes of Steve Lawler pump out will find themselves right at home here. The atmospheric opener from 16b and Deep Dish engineer Richard Morel quickly changes into minimal percussive led tracks, subtle synths before Shhh and John Creamer & Stephane K on Monday Waiting take us down that familar US tribal/prog sound that was so popular around the time of this mix. It works really well on the first disc, the blend of subtle synths and percussion led tracks doesn't get boring, and by the time you've hit the Deep Dish mixes of their Grammy winning Dido mix and the chart smash which was Rapture ... things are pumping along nicely. Plus you even get a secret outro of Morel's Cabaret with Dish and Morel having a wee chatter before it.
Its a shame that the 2nd disc kinda lets things down, it hardly features in my CD player at all. Where disc 1 kept a similar theme and mood, disc 2 tries to chop around the genres a bit more (not a bad thing, but it has to be done right). It starts off promising with some nice dubby breaks action before moving into the territory of Envy and Mara ... raved about at the time by the prog tribal fans, but for me, lacked spark in percussion and melodic synths over the top. The more dull prog sound. Autoporno RAMPS things up quite nicely though ( even if it IS a blatant rip of H-Foundations mix of Silicone Soul's Chic-o-laa and KC Flight's Voices ;) ) and the firing bass of I Feel Stereo was a 'must have' track for Yoshitoshi fans everywhere. The rug is pulled from under your feet a bit though when Marcus Shultz's take on Fatboy Slim's Bird Of Prey chills things out completely ... a bit TOO much of a sudden stop for my liking. Plus, although starting nicely, this and the following Shultz remix of Luzon aren't some of his more inspired moments. ALMOST hitting the right buttons. The 16b mix of Creamer & K's I Wish You Were Here is a classic, but for my money, the latter half of the CD seems to be full of tracks that just don't go anywhere. Not really the climax you're looking for. Compare it to the EXCELLENT ending of Toronto with the electro inspired Youngers and prog house spine tingler Nothing from Holden & Thompson.
Don't get me wrong, for me this is 75% bliss, and its probably because I'm a Dish fan that I can be overcritical, but for my money there are FAR better Deep Dish mixes out there to buy. GU Toronto, Yoshiesque 1, Renaissance Ibiza. But if you've found yourself liking the world of Deep Dish house and you've got the rest, you won't be disappointed with this.
If you really do like the Deep Dish sound, do make sure you check the In House We Trust series, its about to enter its 4th volume and represents the best talent from Deep Dish's Yoshitoshi, Shinichi, DDR and YO! record labels.

fabric07: Hipp-E & Halo
fabric07: Hipp-E & Halo
Price: 14.11

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality house, one of the better Fabric mixes!, 20 Nov 2003
This review is from: fabric07: Hipp-E & Halo (Audio CD)
I've got ALL of the Fabric series and this is indeed one of the best ones. The series has been going off into experimental territories recently, exploring strange realms of ambience and tech house with Amalgamation Of Soundz and the mechanoid tech of German house with Michael Mayer. This was probably the last of the decent 'just pure house' mixes that Fabric put out. And it is just that. Pure House. Good quality funky tracks, plenty of bounce, lots of deep and funky grooves and sublime H-Foundation mixing at the controls. In fact, the mixing is pure gorgeousness. One CD to drag out for the summer as you bounce around in your car.
For a bit of background on Halo & Hipp-e, they can go under the name H-Foundation, 6400 Crew, Halo has recorded a smash progressive house hit called Future! under the guise of Halo Varga. Quoted as 'every DJ at the moment has a track by H-Foundation in their box'. So a sign of quality. The house is bumpy and funky on their mix, yet deep. Check the opening Swag tracks for dubby disco house, while Scoper & Bubba harks back to the 'old' house sound from way back when, but does it with style, breathes life into the structures of old. Freakinought reminds me of typical H-Foundation style house ... bouncy beats, lots of sparkly effects bubbly basslines, the works. The CD actually heads deeper from here on in, losing the pump but not the quality. Time, Mumbo Jumbo, Rugburns is just an example of this ... a quality blend of deep, bassy house grooves. Helps make the CD one you can listen to, not just dance to. Solaris' Midnight (quite a big track at the time) pops up with its retro Nuphonic-esque disco sound, and a deep house journey wouldn't be right without a bit of Charles Webster quality on board. The mix rounds off with Ernest Saint Laurence, a deceptively wicked track ... moves along at first in the same mood as the deep house preceeding it, but towards the end growls up the bassline nicely. Great way to round off this mix!
All in all, a solid package, no duffer tracks, no dodgy mixing, quality summer grooves... sparkly bumpy house to deep soul enriching house. Good old H-Foundation have also stuck an album out recently on Slam's Soma label (home to the likes of Silicone Soul, Slam themselves PLUS also in history as the label that discovered Daft Punk), could be one to check for fans of this.

Bleep to Bleep
Bleep to Bleep

3.0 out of 5 stars BEEEEP! Whadong DOING! BEEEEP! BEEEEP! *noise*, 20 Nov 2003
This review is from: Bleep to Bleep (Audio CD)
Not really such an album, more like a variation on a theme ... the theme being large firing drums and an aggressive BEEEP noise! I came across Micronauts after hearing their frankly wicked mix of Underworld's Bruce Lee (think creative slow techno!). I thought I'd give this a check. The first four tracks blend together in a loud soundclash of old skool house drum programming, beeps and whines, and a 'eerie sci-fi' synth noise. Micro1*Bleeper_O+2 is the kinda mess of mechanical noises you'd find Autechre churning out recently. Bleep to Bleep stands out from the rest of the tracks as being just the eerie synth by itself, hovering menacingly around your headphones. Aside from that, the tracks tend to follow the same theme, each one letting a different element of the track take the spotlight, be it more emphasis on the beats, or the beep noise, or the bass squelches.
Its a fun fun album, definately for those who like the bleepy acid house sound thats quite popular now, however, its not something I found that I could listen to in one go all at once. It pretty much is a full assault of the one theme for 40 minutes. Worthy purchase for fans of experimentalism and gritty house, although I do wish this was a 'proper' Micronauts album. If you do get a chance, try and pick up the Underworld Cups/Bruce Lee single on CD. Not only do you get the fantastic originals, the Micronauts version is a STAR, but the gem of the package is the frankly astonishing take on Cups by Salt City Orchestra.

Offered by Japan-Select
Price: 18.39

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientists discover pure ambience in CD form SHOCKER, 20 Nov 2003
This review is from: 76:14 (Audio CD)
This is a fantastic album from the era when ambient was at its peak, rank this alongside works like The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, KLF's Chill Out. Those who know of Tom Middleton will probably know of his work as Cosmos (spacey lovely house), Jedi Knights (nu-school breaks which inspired the likes of Adam Freeland) and his Sound Of The Cosmos mix (which is a blinding exercise in breaks, house and downtempo spread over 3CDs) ... or perhaps the even later Global Communications tracks The Way / The Deep which explored funky cosmic house. This, however, is as far detatched from the housey Middleton as possible. 76:15 follows the 'swirling ambience' template, beatless, seamless and atmospheric ... taking you on a journey from one end of the CD to the other. Take 9:39 for example, full of deep space cosmic bleeps, a hypnotic 'warrooooooom!' bass pulse, and eerie choral synths. Definately swirling ambience. There are some astoundingly beautiful moments on here too. 14:31 is plain gorgeous, a slowly ticking clock keeps the beat of the track while lush orchestral synths create a gorgeous uplifting mood. Its not all totally beatless, 9:25 has a gentle break that helps the track move along. Think Orb's Supanova At The End Of The Universe and you're pretty much there. 7:39 features almost Plaid-y Warp style synths, while 8:07 and 5:23 work hypnotic keys over deep pulsing Sasha style bassline stabs. 12:18 finishes off the album with more dramatic orchestral synth action like in 14:31 ... a top closer.
As you can tell, the entire album is named after the sum of its track times, with each track named after how long it is. Apparently to stop the listener having preconceptions about how the music sounds before they listen to it. A nice idea, this is an album you make your own concept for, your own story ... as opposed to The Orb's journey from Earth to the Ultraworld.
Thanks to the scattering of perkier tracks, the fades between tracks with ocean waves crashing, strange chattering voices, and the sheer lushness and quality of production, the album never gets boring, its a corker. If you're into your electronica, be it a Warp head, Orb fan, Orbial ... whatever, this is one to check! With Middleton being a bit of a funky house and breaks master recently, you could pass this by ... overlook it as 'unworthy'. Don't! Its probably one of the best chill albums you can buy.
If you want things with a bit more bump to them, or in fact something less spacial. Try heading to Middleton's later albums like the Jedi Knights Nu-School Science or the aforemention epic 3CD mix The Sound Of The Cosmos. Both quality.

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