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Simon J. Whight "fourfourfun" (Manchester)
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Presents Crazy Hits: New Version
Presents Crazy Hits: New Version
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: 3.04

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shamless money making exercise, 13 Aug 2005
I couldn't BELIEVE it when I saw this sitting in the racks of a shop. NO-ONE can think anything else other than this being a huge cash cow exercise. Cheap, low budget music to shift in quick large volumes but has the shelf life of box of dead cats.
This is the music that in 20 years will still be talked about, shocked? You shouldn't be. The throwaway C-list celebs will no doubt recount the 'crazy days' of the 00-ies where the nation went through temporary insanity and bought into the 3D rendered piece of filth.
As far as the emotional quality and life of the music. Come on. Be fair. There is none. Throwaway inoffensive pop rubbish that is good for those young enough not to care or those with too much money and a lack of grey matter. You really want to throw a tenner away? Send it to me! I'll spend it on an artist who is no doubt unsung, been grafting away for years creating something with lasting ability and genuine creativity. Or perhaps you should just burn your money instead? Anything but put it into the hands of some faceless mobile phone corporation who just wants to rape as MUCH money from the public as possible while giving as little actual worth back as possible.
Please no more arguments about it being a bunch of harmless pop ditties, this makes a Steve Brookstein album appeal like a pile of raw diamonds...


Cardiology
Cardiology

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breaks & house, simmered over a gentle electonic heat..., 12 Aug 2005
This review is from: Cardiology (Audio CD)
This has been the choice album of the week for me, mainly due to stepping up the Nathan Barley league of listening to mp3s on my phone rather than lugging a knackered CD player around with me and said phone only holding 1 album at a time.
I'd forgotten about Recloose until I stumbled across an article in DJ doing the old PR thing for his new Hiatus On The Horizon project. I'd loved a track of his from ages ago that popped up on the awfully titled Musik Magazine mix by Layo & Bushwacka!, 'Ibiza Cheese Free Mix'. The article stated that Mr Recloose had moved on from his dark roots in Detroit to something a bit more lighthearted and funkier.
Now, either I'm completely desensitised to music thanks to extended Warp Records sessions or whatever is coming into my ears has been electrically misinterpreted by my brain. What I'm hearing doesn't really come across as dark Detroit! What we do have is an album that is happy to skip about between the boundaries of house and breaks, lively, funky yet raw and energetic. Said track off the Cheese Free Mix turned out to be Get There Tonight, gentle bongos and uplifting key stabs set against nice fresh breakbeats and a large funky electronic bassline. This and the spinetingling keys of Up And Up have easily become my favourites off the album.
I could play this album for so many moods, sunny days chilling or deep grinding house moments, it hits the buttons on all the right levels. I'll have to check the newie out at some point, but this one gets the thumbs up from me.


Pollen
Pollen
by Jeff Noon
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blurred Reality, 12 Aug 2005
This review is from: Pollen (Paperback)
If there is one thing I love about Jeff Noon novels it is his ability to take two things from opposing ends of a spectrum and mix them together. Humanity meets animal, organic alongside machine, traditional detective thriller meets fantasy, everyday mundane normality twisted into the dreamlike future. Pollen highlights this blurred reality to great effect, almost as if viewed through the eyes of a bleary hayfever sufferer.
As with most of Noons Vurtual universe, Pollen is set in the near future of Manchester, initially starting out as a bit of a detective romp, following the bizarre hayfever like deaths that build up through the novel. Once again there is a fantastic sense of pace to the book that sees you tumbling through the pages to devour 'just one more chapter' as the countdown to the big sneeze ticks on down. As you progress further throughout the book, the grim reality of the Manchester that it is set in becomes more and more separated from reality as our group of main characters head towards the big showdown in the fantasy domain of John Barleyman.
I love the fact that the Vurtual books can all be linked together, Noon has created a Manchester with a unique identity. Unified through dreams, Alice In Wonderland and the Looking Glass Wars, the mysterious lubricant company Vaz. Everything has a purpose and a history that one book may hint at and another may unfold. Take Vurts central theme of the mysterious dream feathers and how Automated Alice twisted take on Alice In Wonderland gives the history as to where the dreaming originates from.
This is one for underground culture to lap up. References to the modern day underground, be it music or the slightly dark side of our lifestyles today, will hook you in and the pacy, satisfying excitement of the books will have you lapping up each of the books in turn. Its a shame that I've not seen anything from Noon for a while, am hoping the Vurtual universe will be expanded some time in the future. If you're new to Noon, best place to start is Vurt, but if you've been there and are looking for more, the quality carries on through this and Nymphomation. Completists will have to pick up Pixel Juice and Automated Alice to fill you in on those little questions that have been nagging in the corners of your mind.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2013 7:36 PM BST


Autechre
Autechre

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This groove ... I do deeply dig, 1 Aug 2005
This review is from: Autechre (Audio CD)
To date I've been operating under the theory that Autechre X Time = 'Help! My Brain!'. Its fair to say that I find the more recent ae works to be just a little too wrapped up in the mechanics of creating excessively intricate electronics. Too much machine leads to a lack of soul and soul is the essential mystery ingredient that gives a track a bit of groove. So I was quite surprised on picking up LP5, of all the ae works up to this point, I find it being one of the most 'groove' based works from them so far.
Ok, the tracks have alot more subtle bleep and click wizardry going on than on previous albums, but they keep working good electronic grooves. Tracks that have me thinking 'Hey, stick this Ableton Live and I could create a bit of fun!'. You could seriously think about dropping a track or two into todays climate of slightly more experimental house music. The flurries clicks and breaks kept on track by a consistent and solid groove.
Certainly one of my higher rated ae works. Where I could piece together a top 'Best Of' selection using my already much loved albums like Tri Repetae, Chiastic Slide and Amber, I'm finding LP5 constantly hits a decent amount of appreciation in my mind. Perhaps some of the tracks do lock into TOO much of a groove on occasion when compared to some of the more melodic flowing earlier works, but I guess thats the legacy of Granddaddy Electro shining through.
All in all, I stick it on and my brain sends the necessary 'ooh! thats good' electronic signals to my nervous system, so I'm going with the grey matter and classing this as a darn fine piece of work.


George Is On
George Is On
Price: 8.21

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ali & Sharam lay out their manifesto to conquer the masses, 1 Aug 2005
This review is from: George Is On (Audio CD)
What is it now? 6 ... 7 years since Junk Science? An album slammed into an eagerly awaiting public with the Dish riding high on some really choice remixes, exposing a bland house scene to a form of electronica that hadn't been heard before. I dare any of you to offhandly dismiss the first time you heard the organ of Hideaway float in. It was awe inspiring. Junk Science was exactly what everyone was clammering for, a full set of official Dish tracks. Future Of The Future became a classic, and I found myself loving Sushi and Stranded plus the multitude of ace Dish remixes that followed later. Dish quickly stuck gold again with Yoshiesque and began kicking out some utterly classic remixes, pushing forward the Progressive sound. It was at this time that I was just wishing for a new Dish album to surface, taking advantage of their new found dark and rough style. Yet no album surfaced.
Time passed, the remix quality began to get a wee bit diluted and eventually the anti-climatic Lets Get Ill appeared. Hints of producution work in the pipeline but still no action. This brings us up to now, Flashdance has had its recent chart assualt and the Dish name is now in full public view. Finally the follow up to Junk Science has arrived. So whats it like? Well its alright I suppose. I found Flashdance didn't live up to the expectation of what you'd want from a Dish track. From reading an interview when De'lacy hit years back, they said that their beat programming was always so important to them, just check the grinding beats of said Hideaway or the pots and pans banging of Stay Gold for confirmation of this. You can see where I'm coming from when I say that Flashdance sounded a bit flat for them. It comes across more like the Yoshitohsi's own 6400 Crew's Dub Me Some Tin Fresh, except less interesting. I found the same feeling with the rest of the album, good quality deep house, lots of laid back listening moments yet nothing that had the same sparkle as their Dusted remix, the Morel dubs, the Prog Trance abandon of the Sven Vath and Amber.
On the plus side, absolutely EVERYTHING on here is infinitely superior than the deep house twaddle that punctuates a Hed Kandi collection or the sheer bland bandwagon jumping of the usual chart bound funky house act X. George Is On may not have been what I was wishing for but make no mistake, Ali & Sharam certainly poop over the general masses when it comes to production skills. The tracks ARE slick, some moments of Richard Morel's vocals or the instrumental tracks take my back to the first listen of Junk Science all those years ago and you can tell that their years of experience shine through for crafting an album of consistent good quality music.
As far as an album to convert the unknowing goes, Dish are onto a winner here. A bit of quality in a usually blandoid market. Let me just impart this advice, newbies to Deep Dish via Flashdance should really go and stick Yoshiesque 1 and Renaissance Ibiza on their shopping list as soon as possible.


Halo 2 Multiplayer Maps (Expansion Pack) (Xbox)
Halo 2 Multiplayer Maps (Expansion Pack) (Xbox)
Offered by rightpricediscs
Price: 8.50

25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars RAKING in the old cash cow, 25 July 2005
Now this is a peculiar thing. You cannot doubt Halo's status as the premier Live game on the Xbox, but is this add on pack really necessary as a stand alone hard purchase? Live owners can currently download a few of these maps online for free, with the remaining maps becoming free on 28th August, so is it really worth the avid Halo fan shelling out for this online or offline? Not really. Add into this the fact that the new maps aren't available for ranked Matchmaking yet and all you're doing is essentially sticking out a wadge of cash for a bit of a sneaky preview.
So what about the offline players? Well is this really worth it for you? Do you REALLY get together a decent group of people often enough to take advantage of this? Especially considering the maps on this little compilation that are more suited to medium team and big team battles? Imagine 2 people slugging it out on the already existing huge maps, when matchmaking throws up the occasion 4 vs 4 on some of the larger maps feels, it feels a touch sparse with 8 players on the go. Perhaps the lucky bods who can LAN up a few Xboxes to get 4+ players on the go at one time will find this useful ... but I'm assuming here that anybody who is prepared to go to those lengths will more than likely be on Live already.
Resist the temptation, wait til the 28th and save your cash ... this so called 'premium content' is going to be the new way for developers to drain cash from the Live community, a captive audience who don't know any better. You've already forked out enough money for your subscription and game, why bother spending money on add-ons that the PC community would usually get for free?
On a side note, the extra maps are excellent to play on. The initial bonus pack I got as a freebie, and now Turf and Sanctuary have been added into Matchmaking to co-incide with the recent 2nd freebie date. After a couple of shakey 'getting to know you' runs, they are wonderful additions to the Halo world. Sanctuary is vicious when played in Neutral Flag mode and Turf is excellent for Slayer matches with all its little alleys and hidey-holes. Very much looking forward to shelling out 0 for the remaining bunch of maps next month, especially with 25 a month net fees and the almighty 40 of Live fees making a bit of a dent in the old cash already.


Renaissance presents James Zabiela - Utilities
Renaissance presents James Zabiela - Utilities
Offered by RevivalMedia
Price: 14.52

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Again nice from JZ, not as good as the previous aLive, 30 Jun 2005
I've been WAY looking forward to this mix. Anyone checking my past reviews can see I've been championing the Zabiela sound since Sound In Motion. As far as live technical skills go, you can't touch this boy.

So how does Utilities follow up the fabby aLive? Well the opening section of CD1 is awesome. Some totally rocking bass driven tech house, with some absolutely choice samples in the tracks on show (check Your Soul For Access and Android!). Without fail it just has my eardrums buzzing. But then we hit a hitch. I was looking forward to hearing how Windowlicker got dropped in this mix and its where the mix hits a stumbling block. The track never seems to take off and just seems to gel badly. Also the Mr Z own tracks offered up tend to sound like 'almost good' Bushwacka fare, just lacking that essential spark. From there the mix falters for a bit while trying to recover before hitting the usual form we'd expect from Mr Z. Bit of a shame that. With all these toys offered to DJs to play on, we have to remember not to lose sight of the actual tracks themselves. I've often fallen down the trap of purely selecting tracks because they sound good mixed together but not in the flow of an entire CD of mix.

The second CD is a consistant showing of form at least. Proper dancefloor working electroid beats. Ace stuff! The kind of sounds that you wouldn't be surprised to hear Digweed chucking out of the speakers at Fabric. Of course all mixed together with the touch of silk by Zabiela. A bit more grit and a bit more soul and flavour in this CD.

Now don't let my pessimism about the middle part of CD1 put you off, this is indeed a top mix. I wouldn't rate it as highly as his previous mixes. Of course with JZ now established as a premier league DJ, we're allowed to be a bit critical! At least the boy is breathing new life into the Renaissance series.


Balance 007 (Mixed By Chris Fortier)
Balance 007 (Mixed By Chris Fortier)
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 14.31

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well tasty! Fortier heads for tech land..., 26 Jun 2005
Now this I really like. If I was to sit down and create a mix CD or if I was to choose what was pumping out of the speakers when I was out clubbing ... THIS would be the sound of it all. The mix perfectly straddles the progressive, the tech and the deep house genres, not particularly favouring any one direction too heavily but presenting tunes that have the perfect blend of all. Tyrant heads are going to love this baby.
I'm quite suprised by it to be honest, the only other thing I heard from Chris Fortier was his Bedrock mix and I don't think I've EVER listened to more that about 30 mins of the 1st CD before getting a bit ... bored. This baby here has a nice bit of sparkle & slinky mixing. Absolutely top tune selection from the likes of Global Communication, current deep house fave Matthew Jonson, the always impressive PJ Davy with his exellent Sella Dor ... in fact there are THREE tasty CDs of this stuff. Its not a mix that is going to win the 'Northern Exposure' award for creating a jaw dropping display of sonic mixing landscapes, but it certainly gets you moving. The beats are tasty, the bass resonates and it really makes you want to get your groove on. In fact, I'm considering rating this mix with a solitary 1 star due to 'DJ jealousy'.
A cracking mix which ensures that I'm going to keep my eye out for Balance 008, so far James Holden and Mr Fortier have proved to be quality ambassadors for the series. Also bang on to Fortier for putting out such a stonking mix, I may have to go revisit that Bedrock mix even if it is to crystalise what my initial impressions. 3CDs ensure you get plenty of bang for your buck, could be a little too much bang for some who could wish that Fortier took a leaf out of Tom Middleton's book when it comes to making a 3CD mix. Make no mistake about this mix though, it is the daddy.


Fundacion NYC
Fundacion NYC
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 8.57

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wicked Soundscape, 26 Jun 2005
This review is from: Fundacion NYC (Audio CD)
I found myself approaching this mix with an already increasing sense of disappointment even before the headphones hit my ears. A review here crying "What has become of our beautiful Sasha!?" led me to start believing that the great one was indeed falling from grace if the hardcore Sasha-ites were despairing over his latest work. After having a listen, I can only think what on Earth have these people been listening to? Perhaps there was a mispressing and they got a freakish copy of an EP of Crazy Frog remixes. I don't know.
While not the most astonishing mix I've heard in recent times, its still a step in the right direction. Where Airdrawndagger was fair enough, it lacked punch. Sasha took his production know how and applied it to what he does best, creating ace remixes and thus we had Involver. Fundacion keeps following the path that Sasha has set before him but this time its an actual variety of artist tracks laid before our ears. Its refreshing to see the big name DJs steering away from progressive dullness of recent, letting melodies, glitchy beats, dirty electroid funk and scatterings of vocals slip into their sets ... no doubt due to the rise in power of more experimentally minded tech-house DJs. Even though Sasha has picked up on this shift in power on the scene, when you hear these tunes mixed together, it has nothing other than the official stamp of 'SASHA' across each track. Those glacial synths, the seamless flow of tracks.
Thanks to the mixing software used on this album, you don't get to hear some tracks shine as such, but used as elements to enhance other tracks. Of moments to bring a smile to my lips there is ace Depeche Mode cover from Playgroup, the latter section of the mix where Freaky Chakra takes everything a bit offkilter by introducing 6/4 rhythms and Goldfrapp pick up the baton to move into glam electro territories. Certainly an ambitious mix.
I remember reading ages ago that Sasha was planning to do a series of 3 DJ mixes for Global Underground. We've had a mix of remixes from Involver and a mix from the laptop with Fundacion, I'd seriously like to see Mr Coe follow in the steps of Mr Digweed's Fabric mix and go back to grass roots for his final mix in the series, putting Ableton Live or whatever he is getting his hands on to play around with aside. Sasha, some decks and some pure dancefloor material ... a bit of raw energy. It has to be done.


INVOLVER
INVOLVER
Price: 13.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Computer mixed sonic landscapes, 24 Jun 2005
This review is from: INVOLVER (Audio CD)
Ah, the big Sasha epic finally arrives. When Airdrawndagger arrived it did so to universal apathy. While not a bad album at all (Cloud Cuckoo and Wavy Gravy rock nicely thank you very much), it just didn't sparkle. When DJs set to creating their uber artist album, I think they can fall into a killer trap. They try and make their album sound like define as perfection in a DJing set. A seamless building journey from beginning to end. Great as a mix album, not as an artist album.
The Involver tackles the problem right at the heart. Sasha gets stuck right in at what he's doing best, in this case providing entirely exclusive remixes of his favourite tracks, and then seamlessly blending them together in a building 80 minute journey. If you wanted to stick this in a pigeonhole, it would be a remix-artist album-mix collection. There are no such things as pigeonholes though. Pigeons wander around town centres, dumping over shopfronts. This is just pure Sasha.
The lovely deep disco of Grand Nation opens off proceedings. A nice low tempo'd funky track, builds tantalizingly before letting the vocal just float over it. Proves the rule that you don't have to have high tempos to be groovy. From there we smoothly shift to the baleric progressive of Shpongle, which contasts just perfectly to the melancholic synths of Petter's These Days. Naturally Sasha lays an acapella of UNKLE's What Are You To Me? effortlessly to great effect. The mix continues in this fashion, gently building with no massive drops into the next tune. A seamless landscape of sound. Some great highlights in the form of the Spooky remix, thundering along with a driving bassline, and The Youngster's Smile, a wickedly programmed electro groover with spine tingling shifts in moods. The excellent closer On My Own from Ulrich Schnauss was already a fantastic track. It now becomes an ecstatic breaksy wall of gorgeous synths. The Sasha biggie of the moment,! his remix of UNKLE's In A State becomes a nice bridging track ... cutting up the vocals and guitars, and shifting from house beats to progressive breaks.
This is a real journey, and there is the promise of future albums along this line from Sasha. Not the be all and end all of the mix album, in fact, still not as awe inspiring as his earlier sets such as the Northern Exposure series and the Renaissance Mix Collection, but a worthy mix none the less. Perhaps a much needed change in direction from Global Underground (which, thank god, was heading in the right direction with the 24:7 series). Lets see some more of this. Eagerly awaiting Digweeds Fabric effort to see how that balances out his DJing partners recent uberproduction.
Oh, naughty points to Global Underground (and any other label which is jumping on this ever increasing trend) of putting out an ordinany edition ... then a special edition in the most FRUSTRATING packaging (which I plumped for) before sticking out a special 'special' edition (in silver doggy bag) with bonus Sasha Classic Remix CD. We're not here to lap up every little morsel you stick in front of us...


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