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Reviews Written by
Simon J. Whight "fourfourfun" (Manchester)

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Fabriclive. 07
Fabriclive. 07
Price: £12.03

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it and hug it, 26 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Fabriclive. 07 (Audio CD)
Thank god this CD got made. It makes you worry now that we have lost dear old John, who is going to pick up the baton and keep pushing the different and the unusual to an increasingly spoon fed public? Nothing beat flicking through the radio, quickly switching away from banal trance and bland R&B, to find John Peel on Radio 1 ... kicking out some furious drum and bass. Who do we have now? Peel was an institution, the Radio moguls will never let anyone take risks with music like he did have a free reign now. *sigh*
This CD encapsulates the essence of Peel. Classic moments from The Fall, The Undertones and New Order make appearences on the mix, this sits along side some bizarre country and western covers of classic punk tracks, crazy hardcore, proper ragga drum & bass and thunderous techno. Its a mix that puts all other 'eclectic' DJs to shame. Plus the veteran doesn't do a bad job of mixing it all together, certainly better than what the likes of Howie B mashed together on his Fabric mix!
The mix is full of personal touches, the little snippets of classic Liverpool european excursions, the Kop crowd and just the spirit of a man who loved music oozing throughout the track selections. It would expose any Ministry compilation as the soulless marketed guff that it truely is any day.
The packaging is nifty, the recordings timeless, this is one collection for you to own. Once owned, go pick up all those Peel Session CDs that you can find out there (I can thoroughly recommend the Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Plaid/Black Dog and Orb ones ... tasty, and a testament to a man who would push 'different' acts to a mainstream audience).

Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [DVD] [1977]
Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Mark Hamill
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £48.72

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much loved childhood memories in box set form, 26 Feb. 2005
Enough has been said about this DVD box set already with the latest Lucas additions dissected and discussed in depth. Is there wisdom in what has been done to the original Star Wars Triology? For me, I seem to lack the cynacism that has been accompanying the series in recent years. As a little boy, I dreamed of being able to own my very own green lightsaber. I still remember the disbelief of unwrapping one many years ago on Christmas day and the excitement I got out of what was essentially a big plastic tube with a light in it. Then again I also remember being taken to see Darth Vader at Debenhams (of all places) and 'shatting myself silly' at the huge dark figure of Mr Vader. It was a story that everyone bought into at the time and was a way of life. You just accepted it. So should you accept the tweakings to your childhood memories? After seeing the new additions to the films, watching them through is still like seeing them for the first time. I STILL want to own a lightsaber (I have seen a rather natty one for sale, but I don't have £100 to throw about) and I'm always going to love these movies. I like the new ones too, I still embrace them without the needless cynacism and po-faced seriousness that others tend to nowadays. Perhaps we are taking what in essence is a good fun piece of entertainment far too seriously. In fact put all whining and moaning at 'editing this', 'Ewoks that', 'JarJar Binks whatever' aside. The simple premise of this film is to be a piece of lighthearted, feel good family entertainment. The 20 or so years that this film has been in our consciousness has put the fanboys in an uproar at any little minor tweaking that has happened to the film. I don't think ANY action he took with this series would have satisfied the rather picky public, so rather than fight it, just trust to his vision and enjoy things. I'm sure that the changes to these films are not utterly ruining their viewing experience. Perhaps old George could have stuck an user defined function into the DVD, letting you construct the movie to play in original or modified format. Thats all by the by now though, this is how it is to be for now and I'm more than happy to have it sitting in my house.
This box set includes a bonus disc of documentaries. Trailer freaks can see the original (and AWFUL!) teaser trailer for Star Wars which avid fan James Lavelle used as a sample to open his Psyence Fiction album with. Following in the footsteps of the all encompassing Lord Of The Rings documentaries is a full history of the creation of Star Wars. All the major players chip in and it is an enlightening experience to see casting tapes of the likes of Kurt Russell auditioning for the original film. Its also nice to see that Lucas DID actually end up coming onto Empire Strikes Back to assist with the creation of it. One in the eye for all those slating his changes to the recent edition as 'messing with someone elses work'. Considering these films were made in a time when you wouldn't have even dreamed of the concept of a DVD extras disc, the amount of rare footage and interesting factoids are a joy to watch. Its nice to see how people made the film you love, and its also amazing to see the impact that the series had on the movie making process at that time, the struggles Lucas had to have control of his own vision and his single minded ambition to succeed.
So why the four stars then? Well this is where the cynacism finally gets the better of me. Look at the timing of this release, a lovely box set released just before the advent of Episode 3. We've seen it before with this series, its 'final and ultimate box set' PR blurbs. I'm already anticipating a huge all encompassing 6 film box set to come once Episode 3 finishes its run at the cinema. Perhaps an exercise to squeeze even more money out of one very fat cash cow. One star off purely for that, I'll save the big 5 for when the 'Ultimate Ultimate' edition surfaces.
For now, being able to see those very special films again in digital glory, its more than worth the money. Plus I'm sure I can auction it off for some £-age when the 'big mumma' box set eventually arrives!

Halo 2
Halo 2
Offered by sellatronic
Price: £19.97

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best and most importanty most FUN multiplayer ever, 26 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Halo 2 (Video Game)
If there is one thing I can't stand its a hype machine. I tried my best to stay away from the original Halo, for one it was on a MICROSOFT machine and two, the magazine lead hype machine was sickening. So a fair while after its release I found myself in my house, my housemates away for the weekend and an Xbox with Halo sitting there tempting me. So I booted the thing up to give it a blast. Now I'd not found an FPS that was so immediately fun since Goldeneye, it was supreme... plus it was backed up with an intense story driving the action on. Fully immersive gaming. I was grabbed.
Its a good while later and Halo 2 has surfaced AGAIN on a massive wave of hype. By this time I've added an Xbox to my GC and PS2 setup but decided to steer away from the hype machine again, frothing fanboys and whatnot. I waited a couple of months down the line and finally picked it up. So what does Halo 2 offer?
Well for one the storyline aspect of the game has been fully ramped up, all gloriously realised in one of the best graphics engines I've seen in a long time. I like a nice adventuresome one player game and Halo 2 does the business. Twists and turns are thrown in to the story line to great effect. Greater depth in exploring the motives and characteristics behind the Covenant and the Flood give the Halo universe an added dimention. While I played the game through I realised why it was a good decision NOT to investigate every morsel of information that there is out there for the game. The joy is in the experience, hence not dissecting the plot details here in this review. Some of the cut scenes such as the descent to Earth and the battles down on the planet are mindblowing.
The vehicles play a much greater part in proceedings. Scenes with many Warthogs buzzing around fighting with Ghosts and Wraiths are more frequent and a nice diversion to the foot based action.
When it comes to the mechanics of the game, its pretty much the same. The dual wield option for weapons is a nice new touch and something that adds yet another tactical play to the 'you can only hold two weapons at one time' approach. Pick up two handheld guns and you can start loosing off some serious damage, you do this at the expense of being able to chuck grenades around.
The health meter has been abandoned, your Master Chief has only his shield to protect him. If it goes down and you start taking flack, you're going to cack it so you have to take advantage of the terrain and hide. New weapons have been added to the game with grenade launchers, Covenant sniper rifles (which are LETHAL if you're on the recieving end of them) and fuel rod cannons giving a bit more depth to both sides methods of attack. Also you encounter a new breed of Covenant, the Brutes. Big viscious ape like creatures which are NOT fun to encounter when they bezerk.
The difficulty is nicely pitched, the levels again granting you a wider array of bad guys, weapons and scenarios to test you as the game progresses. Normal mode only provided a few stumpers and is pretty much on a par with the originals Normal mode, Heroic took me about 2 weeks to get through. Tactics have to be modified for this difficulty level, you just can't go wading into the action with any weapon and guns blazing. Legendary is a bit TOO nails for me right now! But there is something to challenge all out there.
The best addition to this game may even take this FPS past Golden eye in the legendary stakes. Not only can you gather around a TV with your mates to play, but you can take advantage of the Live online play. Ace. I love this because it gives me a chance to take on my mates who are scattered around various towns in the UK. Plus nothing beats taking on real people rather than a computer AI.
Now try your best and avoid all hype and opinion about this game. I've scanned through the reviews on this site to see some UTTER pish being spouted about the game ... if this can win over someone who HATES the hype engine then there has to be something to it. The game IS just as long, the one player mode IS just as good if not better for the added cinematic style, it IS just as challenging and it IS more rewarding. Some of the arguments against the game are about as superficial as you can get. If you're going to lay anything against this game it is the occasional pop up that happens in the cut scenes and the VERY occasinonal slowdown when everything gets a bit too hectic. This is all far and few between and such a little gripe to take away from what is essentially a simple yet rewarding experience.
Grab it, be astounded and don't let anyone tell you any different... you will be hooked.

FABRICLIVE20: Joe Ransom
FABRICLIVE20: Joe Ransom
Offered by I-Deal Media
Price: £9.51

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full scale urban mix, 22 Feb. 2005
A real mix of two halves this. Yet another surprise for me here on the FabricLIVE series, had no idea who or what Joe Ransom was or what sound I was going to be letting myself in for. A quick scan over the listing had a few names that I know I'd like, Roots Manuva, Dizzee Rascal, Tayo, Rennie Pilgrim, but then again anyone can stick together a tracklisting and then come out with soulless tosh (Ministry Of Sound ... this is for you).
The first half of the mix is very much like what you'd expect from the aforementioned Manuva's own productions, gruff London Urban Hip Hop with plently of tasty bass and breaks seasoned with sprinklings of Jamaican spices. Good stuff all flowingly mixed provoking little tingles in your muscles that make you want to shake it a wee bit. However, I could see myself getting bored of 70 odd minutes of this so this is where the genius of Ransom comes in. Halfway through the mix the tempo shifts up a gear and you get a different flavour to the London Urban scene come in. Grimy bass led breaks action with plenty of attitude.
A good solid mix by the consistant FabricLIVE series, think I've barely been let down by anything thats come out of this lot and am always looking forward to the surprise that is contained in each package. If memory serves me right, think we are in for a treat with an upcoming Meat Katie mix too.
Anyway, a grand mix to showcase to anyone about what true Urban sounds are ... beats the hell out of anything that the wee kiddies get spoon fed from the US.

Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox)
Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox)

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Huge, massive, IMMENSE... you need to set aside some time!, 22 Feb. 2005
I'm trying to wait until I've completed (or at least got near the end of) games that I purchase, mainly to stop that 'I've just purchased a game and its the best thing ever!' euphoria that comes with getting a new shiny disc through the post. The main problem with this edition of Morrowind is that the additional side quests alone stand at 100+ hours of gameplay according to the box blurb. I've slogged away for some serious hours on this game and I feel like I've barely even got started.
You begin the game as a newly released slave, you choose your entire identity from scratch. Different races have different skills, do you want to be a magic casting High Elf, or perhaps a fierce fighting Redman is more your cup of tea? Everything from facial appearance and gender is assignable, as is what star sign you were born under (which denotes special skills for you character). When you meet the Imperial Official for the first time to be debriefed, you can select your characters class and
statistics. Now depending on how technical you wish to get at this stage, you can tweak each individual aspect of you characters skill sets (i.e. Long Blade, Unarmoured Combat, Mystecism etc), class (i.e. Thief, Spellsword, Alchemist etc), or you can answer a series of hypothetical questions to gauge what kind of character you are and have all this done automatically. The sheer number of classes and set up of major skills, minor skills, let me to go for the easy option, but the scope is there for someone who wants to be in 100% control of what kind of character they are. Initially this number of statistics and various pieces of character detail and progression that you have to learn seems a bit bewildering. You then realise that this is a game you have to put a serious amount of time and effort into to get rewards from. This was then compounded when I got into my first fight (all which take place in a 'First Person Shooter' style) where I spent approximately 15 minutes flapping a rather ineffective knife attack at a small worm on the ground. It was a close run fight but I won.
I quickly realised that my character was pretty much useless at everything. Only by putting in time and effort, working on your major skills to level up, do you start to get places. Now, when I get into a fight with some wee creature, I don't almost always run the risk of dying, I tend to shat on it from a great height. It gives you that great 'chufty' feeling that you've worked to achieve something. Once you're at this stage, then you're free to do what you want, you get vaguely stuck on a path doing missions for an Imperial agency known as the Blades, but other than that ... your destiny is your own. Wander round the land checking out
the various scenery, rendered in lovely 3D and accompanied by an appropirately epic Lord Of The Rings-esque score. The game is a few years old now and the character models do look a little basic, and there are some strange occurances of rain pouring down in front of you as you walk through a tunnel, but put that aside ... the actual countryside is wonderfully varied to walk though, little places to perk your interest and enough varying graphical style without looking like the programmers thinking that 'oh we better stick in a vocanic section here, a barren bit here, a forest and lake here...', it all blends perfectly.
Where the reality doesn't quite match up is when it comes to the NPCs. Japanese RPGs have it down to a fine art, characters you encounter all seem to have worries of their own, a life story that motivates them to be there. With Morrowind you do get the feeling that the entire game is focussed around you with people and guards frequently chipping in with a 'what do you think of our city outlander?'. Makes you think everybody is staring at you! Minor niggle though.
If the promise of absolute freedom and a MASSIVE land to explore and fiddle with appeals to you, as does a game with some serious game life, this is the RPG for you. If it sounds a bit daunting, you'd probably best head to Knights Of The Old Republic. Even though its set in the Star Wars universe, it does feel like Morrowind for wannabe RPGers in training. An RPG with safety wheels. Be prepared to lose hours of your life if you get

Maim That Tune
Maim That Tune
Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the early days Fila, 21 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Maim That Tune (Audio CD)
Fila sure have fired out alot of albums in their time. If I was restricted to only being able to own three I would say that Powerclown, Brazilification 1 and this little gem would be my choices.
Powerclown represents the best of more recent Fila and Brazilificaion 1 is the best of all their remixes, Maim That Tune is possibly the best of all their original works.
There are some simply wonderful spine tingler tracks on here. You can't pigeon the style and they are simple yet oh so effective. After a low key opener you're then treated to one of the best tracks I've ever heard, A Zed And 2 L's. Gentle keys washing over a lazy break with deep sub bass and laid back African chanting switch halfway through as the tempo doubles and the synths and breaks soar around your mind ... all this then gently settles back to its original tempo. Lush!
And its not a one track album either, 6ft Wasp grooves along with a wonderfully dirty funk bassline before a cunning Bill Hicks takes the album into Slacker, a hypnotic house groover. Not like any old house music, driving yet chilled with soft burbling acid synths running through it.
The album rounds off with some lovely laid back ambient moments, ensuring you're taken on the full rollercoaster ride. The boys from Hull on best form.
Ensure that you have this album in your collection SOON.

Deep Dish Presents Yoshiesque
Deep Dish Presents Yoshiesque

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate Dish, 21 Feb. 2005
If you got all the Deep Dish mix CDs that are available out there and stuck them in a pile with the best at the top, this is the CD that would be sat at the top of the pile. Just edges ahead of their Renaissance mix for the 'best thing the Dishly one have ever offered' award 2005, a highly coveted award that was invented by me about 5 minutes ago.
So whats so good about it? It could be breadth of sounds and tempos that the Dish straddle over this 2 CD epic, deep house from Departure Lounge, techy progressive from Underworld and Oliver Lieb, phat funky breaks from LoFi Allstars? Could it be the fact that this was when the Yoshitoshi/Deep Dish output was at its finest; Dish remixes of Brother Brown, Morel, their own Mohammed Is Jesus tracks and highlights from their own label such as Lexicon Avenues deep and gorgeous Here I Am? Perhaps it was because this had the duos mixing skills at their finest; the atmospheric intro with the Dancing In Outer Space acapellas, the way the tempo starts to shift upwards with the arrival of Here I Am, or even the mashing up live remixes with two copies of Underworld, Morel and (shockingly) Culture Club on the go?
Its not any one of those reasons, its all of them. A landmark mix that has yet to be bettered by Ali & Sharam. GU:Toronto and Renaissance mixes came close to former glories and Yoshiesque 2 was good but lost its way in places. This, however, is the one mix to rule them all. You know this mix has the touch of gold if they can take the rather gufftastic Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? and turn it into a dark little progressive monster. Those who own the vinyl will known that the original breakdown on the track is a bit nausiating. This is a mix at a moment in time when everything came together in absolute perfection, I just wished a follow up to Junk Science had been knocked up in this period in time rather than the HUGE remix output they embarked on.
This is the ultimate Dish, you will get no better.

Orbus Terrarum
Orbus Terrarum
Offered by music_by_mail_uk
Price: £14.71

5.0 out of 5 stars The Orb blast off for somewhere new!, 21 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Orbus Terrarum (Audio CD)
God I remember having some fun to this album. If you wanted to summarise it in a nutshell, I think swirling psychedelic ambience would just about cover it. Lets just say that this album helped The Orb draw a line under their ambient house past and embark on a new era of electronic experimentation.
Listening to the album is like going on a proper journey, as the title suggests, this is the many continents and cultures of the land of Orb. After a night of 'alternative' fun at university I found myself semi-conscious listening to this. I really felt like I was being taken on a journey by The Orb. Sometimes the music is comforting, like being submerged in a comforting sphere of warm water, like when the echoing pianos of Oxbow Lakes wash around you, soaring in an orchestral crescendo. Alex Patterson has some surprises in store for you though, hacked off with a lifeless ambient scene, tracks such as Montagne D'Or start off twinkling and pleasant before finishing in a frenzy that sounds like you're falling through a mineshaft before crashing down in the midst of a swamp for White River Junction. It really does all sound like that. The familiar atmospheric blends between tracks are present, as are the natty samples that are scattered through each track, but everything seems like it was recording in widescreen this time round.
For an album that is certainly meant to be heard in the context of a beginning to end listening experience, I find myself surprised to see that I can actually pick out individual tracks that I love to listen to and stand out just as well on their own. The aforementioned Oxbow Lakes, the chugging, warped and relentless Occidental with its burbling deep bass rumbles, and of course it wouldn't be an Orb album without a bit of dub. Slug Dub has a nicely humorous sample nicked from what sounds like an childrens story and it is echoed by Patterson and Co around your mind before heading into the Jamaican flavours.
I also seem to remember a special extra track on the album, but I actually think that was my comatose mind playing tricks on me with the sounds of cars passing through puddles outside my flat. Has to be a special album when the music carries on past when the CD ends!
You get where I'm going with this anyway, definitely an acidic journey through Orbworld with many moods and events to surprise you. Those of you seeking 'more of the same' after Ultraworld and UFOrb will not get what you're looking for. What you will get is something that sounds like nothing you have ever heard before. A quality album, definitely one to check out once you've begun your Orb journey with albums such as Ultraworld and Orb Live, and once you visited this stop on the journey, it is time to head to Orblivion!

Melody A.M.
Melody A.M.
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.33

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weathering the ravages of time nicely, 21 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Melody A.M. (Audio CD)
I think just about everyone has heard this and most likely owns this but I like to stick my oar in anyway. I once heard this described as dance musics answer to Pink Floyd. I shudder to think where that review had their head stuck when listening to it but I can imagine it was dark, smelly and none to pleasant.
Its essentially funky chill time music without becoming entirely coffee table, as has happened with certain other crossover artists of this genre. Good catchy tunes but with a bit of grit and rawness to them. Like everyone else I heard this first on THAT mobile phone advert, from the first moment I knew that it wasn't your standard advert music. It had a cetain quality to it that made it stick in your head. Luckily for Royksopp, the rest of the album keeps up with the same quality of So Easy. By a long shot, the best track is the quirky Eple. Big fat breaks, off kilter twinkly keys and a gorgeous synth breakdown that takes you up, down, around and just about everywhere with it. Up there with this, and slightly less recognised, is the epic Royksopps Night Out. It could be an accompaniment to a Bond-esque chase scene, a 60s-ish groove works along hypnotically with lovely soundtracky orchestral stabs adding to the atmosphere.
Everyone should know the singles by now, the funky, chipper house of Poor Leno and the electronic shuffle of Remind Me. The vocals, never overpowering, are subtle, letting the tracks shine and have a certain easy listening quality to them. Don't associate easy listening with bland here.
An album that deserved its hype, its standing up to the tests of time ... the continual mentions in the media and severe overplaying of all its tracks haven't lessened its charms too much. I do tend to find myself flicking it on to check Eple more than anything else but thats a hell of alot better than it being confined to a dusty dark spot on a CD rack.
The single releases were also backed up by some mighty fine remixes, vinyl junkies can do no wrong than to head to the Silicone Soul re-rub of Poor Leno, James Zabiela/Tom Middleton/Ernest St Laurence remixes of Remind Me were all individual and quality, even Murk (who I tend to find chuck out ALOT of tribal dullathons) come in with a quality mix of Sparks. Those wanting more of what Royksopp have to offer themselves can do no wrong than to check their amazing remix of Felix Da Housecat's What Does It Feel Like?
Good stuff, now we just have to see if a follow up can match this.

A Strangely Isolated Place
A Strangely Isolated Place
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £17.44

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still as sublime as Far Away, only slightly less sparkle, 21 Feb. 2005
A Strangely Isolated Place is the follow up to Far Away Trains Passing By. An obvious statement perhaps but when you get this in your mitts it really does scream FOLLOW UP at you. The packaging is familiar, the art style and then once you get it in your CD player you're treated to pretty much more of the same, except with a much grander scale as you would expect from a second album. Is this a bad thing? Well no, not really, just don't go into this expecting to hear something that advances upon Far Away.... by light years. Luckily for our Ulrich, nobody out there crafts such well layered soaring music like him. Perhaps if he was a Warp artist and had churned out an IDM album by number then we would have some cause for concern.
The key to Ulrich is creating songs that don't rely on abstract electronica, too many albums out there get bogged down in technical tweakings that the music loses its purpose. Ulrich layers wonderful synths on top of each other that creates an amazing chorus of sound. Music in widescreen. Take On My Own as an example, emphatic synths are joined by a subtle vocal in a track which is chilled yet has a bit of purpose about it. A track so good that Sasha gave it his own tweakings and made it the closer on his Involver album. It sounds electronic yet organic at the same time. Sasha himself said he was suprised when it came to remixing Ulrich, where he expected to find guitars in the track it was actually well crafted synths. Where this album falls over in comparison to its predecessor is that I can sit there an pick a few as being my outright favourites. Far Away... was only 6 tracks long but 4 of the tracks are firmly burn to the aural parts of my brain. A Strangely Isolated Place holds together well as an album, crafting a constant mood throughout, but it lacks in places those shining stand out moments that Far Away... had.
Put that aside, however, since this is a quality album and well worth a purchase if you have got and love Far Away..., those of you investigating Ulrich for the first time could do well to pick up Far Away first, its got that original sparkle to it. Those of you who have both albums now and crave a bit more Ulrich, check out the remixes he did for Justin Robertson's Revtone project on Bugged Out! or the unreleased track that Tom Middleton managed to acquire for his Sound Of The Cosmos mix (which makes it onto both CD and the vinyl copies for those wanting to have some mixing pleasures of their own).

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