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Micky67 (Glasgow)

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Price: £15.73

3.0 out of 5 stars Danish Behemoths Can Alter States With Their Potent Brand of Krautrock and Space-Rock, 30 Jan 2012
This review is from: Svartbag (Audio CD)
Svartbag - "Svartbag" (Rump Recordings)

Copenhagen-based three piece Svartbag operate somewhere near the meeting point of the sonic triptych that is Space-Rock, Shoegaze and Kraut-Rock. While there are palpable echoes of The Warlocks, Hawkwind, Faust and even The Velvet Underground in their sound, it's their choice of weaponry (Guitar, Samplers and Electronics) that sets this debut outing on Rump Recordings apart from other homage-paying releases.

Powering-up like a huge, intergalactic aircraft, Svartbag accumulate a churning, gargantuan wall of coma-inducing noise, adding touches of psychedelia, acid-scuzz and drone as they go along. The pulsating "Black Capricorn" sounds like a mystical, electromagnetic storm, with the repetitive, droning riffs and off-kilter organ textures showering the towering percussion in a narcotic glow. "The Flutist" and " Loop #9" follow suit, as electronics collide with a labyrinth of guitar, keys and sampled effects. There's little time to pause for breath as the band launch into hypnotic jam sessions one after the other.

Only " Cairo " deviates from these blueprints, presenting a rasping, venomous drum-free soundscape instead. When Svartbag sign off with the epical "Billy Name", you can't help but wonder, though, if they actually have the ability to depart from this formula (as impressive as it is) that they appear to have written in stone.

The Quantum Thief
The Quantum Thief
by Hannu Rajaniemi
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Imaginative Read For Highly Imaginative Readers, 29 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Quantum Thief (Hardcover)
Finished this novel recently. It's being getting rave reviews ('best sci-fi debut in ages etc etc). Very difficult read initially and it's hard to work out what's going on for the first 4 or 5 chapters. I'd imagine a lot of people gave up on it, I was very thankful for the unofficial online glossary/wiki. But it's worth persevering with due to the author's highly imaginative mind -- see the bizarre and wonderful moving Martian city of Oubliette and all of the different factions involved (the Zoku are post-human fighters descended from members of MMORPG groups!). It's a short book with a lot of content and a myriad of ideas (time is used as currency for example) and he doesn't explain much, you're expected to understand his terminology, technology (he's a quantum physicist by trade) and volatile plotlines. I won't even bother to explain the main plot, it's pretty complex but I'd definitely recommend this first part of a mooted trilogy.

The Omniverse The Unearthing
The Omniverse The Unearthing
Price: £2.87

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read, 18 Nov 2011
I rather enjoyed reading through this fairly long novel. The author shoots for the stars with some fascinating ideas revolving around the unearthing of a massive, city-sized alien ship. As expected a lot of the book discusses the scientific, theological, militaristic and economical issues that would occur following such an event. Some of these passages are a tad laboured and slow the pacing down, but this is just a personal preference, as I was particularly excited to read more and more about the awesome spaceship --- a literal Disneyland for sci-fi geeks. I marveled at the fact that all of these ideas came out of one man's head and found it particularly interesting that he chose to set his novel in a relatively near, but much changed future.

Perhaps a case could be made against for cramming so much into one book, as I do think there are too many characters involved and it was occasionally difficult to get a handle on proceedings. However, the pay-offs are more than worth it -- they'll make you want to order part 2 on the Omniverse saga immediately - Through Darkness and Stars (The Omniverse)

Pressure and Time
Pressure and Time
Price: £9.44

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars rhythm and blues played with danger, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Pressure and Time (Audio CD)
A huge Zeppelin-sized shape may cast its considerable shadow over Southern Californian outfit Rival Sons, but much like The Virginmarys this quartet's brand of dynamic Hard-Rock is more of a celebration of rock `n' roll's glory days than a mere copy -- it's `rhythm and blues played with danger` as one band member so aptly puts it. 'Pressure and Time' is their new 12-track album which is set to issued by Earache Records on June 20th. It's a bluesy, groove-laden LP full of dynamic riffs, muscular percussion and rock swagger.

Frontman and Jim Morrison lookalike Jay Buchanan possesses a confident grit-infused classic rock pitch and the band play with real desire, as if their lives depends on it. There's nothing better when a band can effortlessly hit their stride like this, distilling all that we love in a rock `n' roll group, Pink Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgersen provides the artwork for the LP, while the band are booked for both the Sonisphere and High Voltage festivals which I'll be attending and very much looking forward to on the basis of this excellent record.

Theme From Kindness
Theme From Kindness
Price: £11.43

3.0 out of 5 stars Rough, Raucous and Rocking, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Theme From Kindness (Audio CD)
To be honest, I wasn't really sure what to make of Londoners Shield Your Eyes on first listen. In fact, I almost switched their album, `Theme From Kindness', off after about two minutes such is its rough and ready nature. Thankfully, I stuck with it and their incessant sound started to wear me down, for want of a better term, until I realised I was actually enjoying it, nodding my head along while trying to anticipate the next tangent the band where about to choose. SYE possess an enviable spirit and for a trio they make one hell of an unholy racket. Described as a Post-Hardcore/Progressive Blues outfit operating well out-with standard circles, they utilise unique, alternative guitar tunings (sometimes playing with only 4 or 5 strings) and frenetic, yet intelligent drums that are literally off the chart in terms of power, speed and delivery. The bass is seemingly there to try to make sense of it all

`Too Little...' highlights this perfectly, it's raw and raucous as if on the verge of collapse. There's melody underneath too, buried under the instrumental wreckage and analogue scree, but there all the same. The vocals are delivered in a strained, half-shouted fashion adding to the band's explosive nature. It has also been recorded in a very lo-fi fashion, with the band opting for a `plug in a play' method, giving a crude, demo-like quality while hinting at their enormous live potential and telepathy. A riotous avalanche of spiky guitar, bass and twisted, razor-edged drums. It was interesting to read, in Exploding In Sound's recent interview, that Shield Your Eyes list Rory Gallagher as one of their main influences and heroes; There's certainly shades of his blues-rock power trio Taste in their sound, in that they pack a real punch. And much like Gallagher, they've taken a hammer to standard blues rules and are melding it into new shapes.

The Licence to Interpret Dreams
The Licence to Interpret Dreams

4.0 out of 5 stars an inspiring album centred in and around the cinematic ambient and modern classical fields, 13 July 2011
The work of Ian M Hazeldine a photographer, designer and musician from Wales, `The Licence To Interpret Dreams' is an inspiring album centred in and around the cinematic ambient and modern classical fields that will surely appeal to fans of Max Richter, Johann Johannsson or Rudi Arapahoe's brilliant 'Echoes From One To Another'. Piano plays the lead part with Hazeldine employing an array of string and brass instruments alongside it, with the likes of harpsichord, organ, cello and glockenspiel all making a distinctive mark occasionally with angelic choir singing, field recordings and narcotic spoken word segments added in tandem to great effect.

From the first, tentative piano note which is struck 9 seconds into opener `A Fragile Acceptance' there's an air that something special is afoot in this Antonymes release. Which proves to be the case during this LP's 50 minute+ duration. It's an album that needs to be digested as a whole, not for the Ipod shuffle generation. It needs time to work its mesmeric charms over you, creating varying, shifting moods across the 12 tracks, with Hazeldine inviting us to interpret these dreamscapes.

`The Siren, Hopelessly Lost' is a nostalgic piano and strings passage with beautiful chord shifts, `The Door Towards The Dream' builds from its sparse start into something epic, heroic and heart-warming an album highlight for sure, while the gorgeous `A Light From The Heavens' manages the quite considerable feat of being both playful and melancholic at the same time.

`The Gospel Pass' is a warm and delicate piece, reassuring with its string segments and lulling harpsichord epilogue, while `Oradour-Sur-Glane' offers similar solace amidst the grainy, spoken word parts and fragmented ambience, despite the fact that it is named after a small French town that was completely destroyed by Nazi's. For my money though, Hazeldine excels when he steers us into darker territories. Closing number `On Approaching The Strange Museum' (surely a title for a lost H.P Lovecraft novel) reminds of the skewed, wonky soundscapes of Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker with the misty, near-Gregorian chants mingling in the ether with a distant, pounding drum before evaporating into the lovely cello and piano refrain that cropped up earlier in the hypnotic `Doubt'.

I recently read that Hazeldine would like to get into composing film scores, from this evidence `The Licence To Interpret Dreams' is a soundtrack for a film yet to be made.

Pattern Theory
Pattern Theory
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £12.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty instrumentals inspired by Tortoise, Steve Reich etc, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Pattern Theory (Audio CD)
The Pattern Theory make music like their name suggests. Intricate designs constructed with an entanglement of instrumentation; guitars, drums and synth bass, punctuated by glockenspiel, xylophone and vibraphone. What we cannot deduce from this trio's name is just how inherently pretty their music can be. Formerly of Leeds, but now settled in Berlin, The Pattern Theory's self-titled debut album has just been issued by Austrian imprint Valeot Recordings. Its eight tracks revolve around a skillful instrumental aesthetic recalling the repetitive, minimalistic compositions of Steve Reich or Tortoise while adding a more human touch via some melancholic left turns that remind of Epic45's more Summery moments. Quite an inspiring record, but we should expect nothing less from a band that were once chosen as Damo Suzuki's backing band for his world tour.

The album was recorded during marathon nighttime sessions in a disused post office to achieve the right ambiance, as the band recently explained to Storyboard. "Basically we had no other real option for recording, and we're all really into recording and production, so we thought it will cost us this amount to go in to a studio, or this amount to get a few more mics, which we'll have forever, so it seemed like a better investment/experience of trying to get a studio sounding record, with modest equipment and a sort of treated room. The downside of this was we had to wait `until midnight when it was quiet enough to start recording".

While instrumental bands can get a little tedious, The Pattern Theory ensure this is not an issue meaning that even those who find Post-Rock sounds dull, will find much to love on their debut . Their labyrinth compositions may be precise and complex, but there's plenty of room for melody and the effect is particularly refreshing. The patterns are plentiful, but thankfully this trio don't take their name to literally.

White Night Stand
White Night Stand
Price: £15.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Intoxicating LP from London-based Parisians, 13 July 2011
This review is from: White Night Stand (Audio CD)
I'm trying to work out if 'Ginkgo Biloba', the lead single fromLondon via Paris troupe Underground Railroad, is a blatant rip-off of Radiohead's '15 Step' or just a homaging nod to their heroes. Listening through their new LP `White Night Stand' I'm inclined to go for the latter, as there's a bit of eclecticism about the record. Besides it's pleasing to see bands take influence from Radiohead's edgier material, than pilfering their most obvious moments, such as the way with (shudder) Keane and to a lesser extent Muse.

`White Night Stand' is one of those records that opens up the more you listen and I've found that my own appreciation of it has risen from mild indifference to itching to listen to tracks such as the deadly infectious ` Black Widow'. Like I said, UR are an eclectic bunch and this LP also incorporates elements of Krautrock (`The Russian Doll') ,No Wave guitar pyrotechnics, steamy and languid Shoegaze textures (`We Were Slumbering') and razor-sharp electronics (`Lucky Duck'),while the press release mentions a Liars influence, hinting of their experimental tendencies. 'White Night Stand' is out now on One Little Indian and certainly worth further investigation

Music Of Bleak Origin
Music Of Bleak Origin
Price: £9.65

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice mix of Electronics and Huge Doom-laden guitar, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Music Of Bleak Origin (Audio CD)
Necro Deathmort, the duo of AJ Cookson and Matthew Rozeik, are set to release their second album `Music of Bleak Origin' through Newcastle-based Distraction Records. Their sound contains a highly original combination of titanic drums, dirty/calibrated beats, inescapably heavy guitars and exploratory electronics -- Cinematic-Electronic-Doom-Prog perhaps? It's the sort of sinister and dangerous sound that makes the likes of The Prodigy sound particularly primary school.

Their label puts it better in fact :

Necro Deathmort follow their critically acclaimed debut album This Beat Is Necrotronic with this monolith: Music of Bleak Origin. Expect a soundtrack of crunchy fuzz, chambertronic buzz, dubstep squelch, walls of guitar wail, crashing chords, acidic bleeps and blips, creamy drone and subwoofer-baiting nihilistic doom. In an edition of 1000, it comes in a heavy-duty plastic sleeve with a seen-to-be-believed, double-sided 18-panel poster on wood free stock.

This record segues from the ethereal club ecstasy of `For Your Own Good' to the disheveled, `Classics'-period Aphex Twin electronica of `Devastating Vector', via the skull-crushing guitar-led sonic assaults of `In Binary' and doomy devastation of `The Heat Death of Everything'. It's limited to just 1000 copies and is packaged with a heavy-duty plastic sleeve and contains a double-sided 18-panel H.P Lovecraft- style poster designed by Dominic Hailstone, who was responsible for the creepy creature effects on Aphex Twin's `Come To Daddy' video as well as working with Mogwai on `Batcat'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2012 10:19 AM BST

Fault Lines
Fault Lines
Offered by langton_info_england
Price: £32.44

3.0 out of 5 stars They've got the tunes, now they need the recording budget, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Fault Lines (Audio CD)
99% of other reviews make a beeline for comparisons with At The Drive-In and ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead with this Glaswegian quartet, and this is certainly true of tracks such as `Go Away, Don't Leave Me Alone' and `Dust To Light'. I'm surprised that there's very little mention of early Idlewild. Not since their 1998 `Captain EP' has a Scottish band combined infectious energy and youthful exuberance in such a manner. United Fruit have a knack of melding their discordant music into something quite anthemic. Tracks such as `Wrecking Ball' and `The Alarm' portray this perfectly, shifting gears and winding the abrasive instrumentation into radio-friendly choruses, it's an impressive trick, one that also reminds of the satisfying, ear-drum bursting dynamics of former Glaswegian Indie-Rock heroes AC Acoustics. As too is the whirlwind, overwhelming start to `Confuse Her Now' which recalls Sonic Youth at their most raucous. Again there's room for melody amidst the fiery, post-hardcore shouts, corkscrewing guitar interplay and breakneck speed instrumentation.

A muddy production mix means a lot of this LP loses its impact, however. You really want tracks such as `Kamikaze' and `Red Letter' to overcome this, but they don't quite make it. The vocals can be difficult to decipher especially when the band are at full stride, while the drums could do with a good bit of oomph, instead of the damp, watery sound prevalent throughout- though they're actually kind of reminiscent to that of Sonic Youth's `Sister', so perhaps the drum sound on `Faultlines' was intentional.. Production issues aside, this record is definitely worth investigating especially by those with even a passing interest in any of the bands mentioned above. As a start this record is noteworthy, but with a prestigious slot secured for the T Break Stage at this year's T in the Park Festival, United Fruit seem destined to go onto bigger things.

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