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Dr. Robert Fisher (Oxford, United Kingdom)

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Fanfare & Fantasy
Fanfare & Fantasy
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £22.38

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing Musical and Symphonic Excellence, 30 Mar 2013
This review is from: Fanfare & Fantasy (Audio CD)
Following on from 2011's debut masterpiece 'Disobey', Comedy of Errors bring us a second album which is stunning in terms of its vision and the depth of musical creativity. The album is alive, fresh and bristling with energy and ideas. Indeed, the joy of the album is listening to the wonderful combination of intelligent insight as manifest in the lyrics, the undoubted technical talents of an extremely skilled set of musicians, and the driving, engrossing symphonic melodies presented in the songs. Joe Cairney's lead vocals are the perfect summit of a soundscape which is richly layered with Jim Johnston's expressive and mesmerising keyboard work, supplemented and enhanced with Mark Spalding's captivating guitar work and grounded in the wonderful drumming of Bruce Levick. With backing vocals provided by John Fitzgerald and excellent production values, this is an album which opens up again and again with each listening: always something new, your attention never slips. It is a joy to listen to song writing of this quality and depth. A cracking good album and thoroughly worth every penny. Bravo!

Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £46.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live Mellow Symphonic Brilliance, 12 April 2012
This review is from: Halfplugged (Audio CD)
If you love your live music to be mellow, melodic and richly symphonic then this is the album for you! Recorded in 2006, a year after the release of their fourth studio album "SurREvival", "Unplugged" contains 4 of SurREvival's 7 tracks, some older material and also covers of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues. The set list is indicative of the atmosphere and tone of the recording: a tight knit group of top notch musicians playing music which is enchanting, captivating and warmly welcoming. The flute work in particular is spectacular and adds so much to the appeal and insightful musical resonance of the playing. It's a fantastic recording on all levels and for anyone who admires the kind of music this band consistently create then it is a 'must have'. Enjoy.

Temple of Thought [+digital booklet]
Temple of Thought [+digital booklet]
Price: £7.49

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For The Love of Music, 8 April 2012
Finnish band Poets of the Fall are incredibly difficult to try and classify. They describe some of their own music as "a novel blend of pop, rock, metal and industrial sounds"; and that's not even mentioning foot stomping and intricate drum and bass work, soul searching melodic lyric and vocal work, and guitar work that riffs an atmosphere in counterpart with keyboard work that can be both heavy, yet delicate, yet melancholic, yet lively - depending on the needs and context of the song. Does it matter that it can't be classified? No. What matters is that at the heart of this band are a group of musicians who do things for one reason and one reason only - the love of music.

"Temple of Thought" is a vibrant and energetic testament to a band who love what they do, and do it so very well. The first thing to hit you is the sheer diversity on offer across the 11 tracks: an amazing variety of beats, tones, tempos, song styles, yet all with the distinctive POTF 'sound'. Following on from Twilight Theater (2010), this album marks yet another evolution in the depth and maturity which has come into their song-writing and is without a shadow of a doubt their best release to date. Intelligent lyrics, lovingly married to musical vision which is pulsating, imaginative and most of all, alive. And that is the second thing which hits you: this is a hugely enjoyable album to listen to - despite some of the dark lyrics at work here! The more you listen, the more it will seduce you with its charms, its passion and its spirit of musical adventure.

I appreciate I may come across as an unreserved apologist for the band in this review! That is not my intent, but I will stand my ground, however, and say I really do believe they are *that* good. What is a shame is that they seem so very little known outside of Finland and a large following in Russia. My hope is that Temple of Thought will open a few more doors, particularly in Europe, where the sheer talent they have to offer might bring more appreciation for a band who are on a musical journey that will bring so much enjoyment for anyone who hears them.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2013 9:34 PM BST

Arcam Logo Subwoofer
Arcam Logo Subwoofer

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audiophile Quality, 6 April 2012
This review is from: Arcam Logo Subwoofer (Electronics)
I bought this subwoofer purely as part of an audiophile experiment for music related purposes. Knowing in advance that no Dolby, DTS or other film-related feeds will ever be sent through it, the brief was clear: music only. It is now partnered with 2 Monitor Audio Bronze BXII speakers. The design is clean and simple, and resembles a mini-tower in profile: 280mm wide x 280mm deep x 416mm high and weighing in at 15kg. The build quality and finish is superb and other manufacturers could take a leaf out of Arcam's restraint and stylistic directness.

A single thin strip light top centre of the tower indicates red for standby (which can be set to manual or automatic) and blue when on. And when it's on....oh boy! The bass response is agile, fast and decisive; there's none of the usual sluggishness - nor laziness - that comes with some subwoofers when you put a music feed through them. This is an absolute delight: the bass is clean, crisp and stunningly clear, reaching down to 20Mhz without struggling, distortion or growl. Articulation is precise, on time, to time, every time. Perfect. Nor does it overpower: the sound is warm but balanced. There is attack when required, but never uncontrolled; restrained but never held back. Plenty of power, plenty of depth and superb levels of insight. For quality and sound, this is a music player's delight. And with the price presently less than half rrp - an absolute bargain.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2012 7:57 PM BST

Half Way Home
Half Way Home
Offered by ProgRock Wales
Price: £10.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simply Stunning Debut, 4 April 2012
This review is from: Half Way Home (Audio CD)
"Half-Way Home" is the stunning debut album from Deeexpus. Released in 2008 (and recently followed in 2011 by the equally brilliant "King of Number 33"), the album is the result of Andy Ditchfield's solo multi-instrumentalist project evolving into the work of a full-blown band. Ditchfield is joined by Tony Wright on vocals and song-writing duties. Along the way they are both joined by Phil Sloane and Steve Wright at various points on lead guitar, Mike Henderson on keyboards and Ian Raine on bass. The result is a remarkable achievement which is inspired and inspiring. Gloriously dynamic, energetic and immensely creative, the album screams quality in just about every aspect of its production. The song writing is both perceptive and thoughtful; the musicianship scales consistently delightful heights of imagination and expression, and the overall package is frankly a breath of enchanting fresh air. Highly and heartily recommended.

King Of Number 33
King Of Number 33
Price: £6.02

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressive Melodic Rock At Its Very Best, 4 April 2012
This review is from: King Of Number 33 (Audio CD)
The Deeexpus website describes the band's music as "progressive melodic rock". As a description, I guess this is certainly true. But the fact remains it is also woefully inadequate as a description of the sheer musical passion, energy and vision they have unleashed with "King of Number 33". This is their second studio album after "Half Way Home" in 2008 (another blistering release of musical excellence) and stands as a shining triumph of intelligent and lovingly crafted song-writing combined with talented instrumental brilliance. There is even a guest appearance from Nik Kershaw!

The massive technical ability of the band lays the strong foundations for the creative weaving of an imaginative and touching story, supported by brilliant CD packaging to include a mock psychiatric report to enhance and give depth to the central figure around which the album has been created. Attention to detail is everything, and this extends not just to the packaging but to the wonderful and complex time signatures, the playful and imaginative interactions between the various instruments and the superb vocal range of tones of the lead vocals. It is a quite superb combination that keeps you enthralled from the moment you unwrap it to the moment the last note sounds and you put it back in its case. Brilliant. They have set the bar for others to follows in 2012.

Granica Czerni I Bieli
Granica Czerni I Bieli
Price: £16.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melodic Magnificence!, 2 April 2012
This review is from: Granica Czerni I Bieli (Audio CD)
Polish band Svann were unfortunately short-lived, recording this one and only album in 2003. I say 'unfortunately' because what an incredible gem this is: magnificent melodies, soaring guitar work, pulsating rhythms, and a sheer raw emotional energy that seems unique to Polish prog. My Polish is non-existent, but I believe the title means roughly: Black and White Borders. The musicians are largely a coming together of two bands - Marcin Blaszczyk (keyboards and flute), Szymon Brzezinski (guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, vocals), Mikolaj Matyska (drums) and Rafal Ratajczak (bass guitar) from Abraxas, and Anja Orthodox (vocals) from Closterkeller. Vocals are also shared with Kinga Bogdanska. Together the band are exciting, fresh and hugely enjoyable. What a pity: it is rare to come across such musical vision and vibrancy.

Recuerdos De Mi Tierra
Recuerdos De Mi Tierra
Offered by Alemannenprog
Price: £12.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Lively Diversity, 27 Mar 2012
This review is from: Recuerdos De Mi Tierra (Audio CD)
Recorded in 1979, this was the first of only two studio albums ever released by Spanish symphonic prog band Mezquita ("Califas del Rock" was released two years later in 1981). It's a lively whirlwind of ever changing tempos and complex time signatures blended with traditional Spanish and Arabic influences including flamenco and palmas for good measure. The band are made up of José Rafael Garcia on guitars, vocals, Randy Lopez on bass, percussion and vocals, Rosca Lopez on keyboards and vocals, and Rafael Zorrilla on drums, percussion and vocals. They are joined by guest musicians José Azpiri, Santiago Crespo and Juan Ferrera on violin and Manuel Lopez on cello. Together they form a passionate, energetic and technically brilliant ensemble who pour their heart and soul into the six tracks on this album. The music is evocative, intense and at times utterly enchanting. It certainly will not be to everyone's liking - but if you are in the mood for something different and fancy something which is alluring, melodic and positively charming, then this is for you.

Map Of The Past
Map Of The Past
Price: £5.99

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired Explorations, 26 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Map Of The Past (MP3 Download)
It has been 4 years since "The Tall Ships" (2008) and now It Bites are back with their fifth studio album "Map of the Past". Written by John Mitchell and John Beck, this album springs from the discovery of a family photograph from the past and is described by the writers as "a highly personal journey that explores love, passion, jealousy, anger, remorse and loss through the eyes of a previous generation against the backdrop of Britain as it enters a new century and one of the most defining periods of its history."

And my goodness: that is exactly what you get. I don't think it matters what you expect coming in to that all important first listen: I can guarantee this will knock you off your feet. The lyrical intensity is stunning: the story matters - deeply, passionately. It is woven into the very fabric of the music itself; you cannot have the one without the other. John Mitchell's guitars & vocals are emotional, moody, unpredictable. Lee Pomeroy on bass is a revelation: bass lines that catch you by surprise, a delightful mix of sensitivity and lightness of touch, but also dark, driving and undulating, an ever present force in the telling of the story. John Beck's keyboard is outstanding: always present, always broodingly atmospheric but never imposing; his solo riffs are a joy to listen to. And Bob Dalton on drums is powerful, complex but never dominating - the perfect compliment and support whilst being the central foundation from which all the others take their lead.

Some things here don't quite work: hence the 4 stars. But don't let that detract from what is a brave, courageous and ultimately hugely satisfying listen which gets better and better with repeated playing. I can't wait to see this live in May when they take it out on the road.

Escape to Horizon
Escape to Horizon
Price: £7.49

4.0 out of 5 stars The Dreaming Zone, 9 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Escape to Horizon (MP3 Download)
French band Chance only released 2 studio albums: 'Dunes' (1993) and this wonderfully moody slow-burning instrumental gem 'Escape to Horizon' (2000). Strictly speaking Chance seem to be more of a project than a band: led by Laurent Simonnet on keyboards (who also plays drums and bass), he is joined by Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Patrice Barret on electric guitars, and by George Pinilla and Jean-Luc Payssan on acoustic guitars. Intersperse the musical instruments with backing tracks containing the sound of footsteps on a beach, whales 'singing', crying babies, and an Apollo countdown and the end result is an incredibly atmospheric album which literally cushions you on layer upon layer of mellow keyboard horizons, carries you along on undulating bass and drum work, then raises you gently on riffing guitar melodies which rise and fall in waves of inspiration and varying intensity. From start to finish, this album is an uplifting experience: dim the lights and give it a spin. It's well worth the time spent with it.

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