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Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg)
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storm the gates of heaven LP
storm the gates of heaven LP

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blistering punk and sublime dirges, 26 Mar 2012
Storm the Gates of Heaven reveals unusual aspects of County's work: serious, reflective and profound. The monologue introducing the title track is the only part that may be considered offensive. The sound is a blend of bass, lead & rhythm guitar, drums & percussion by the versatile Electric Chairs.

Embellished by Hammond organ, the title track rages against and laments the suffering caused by religious wars. Anger may dominate but it does not lack humor. Cry Of Angels is an eloquent, even anthemic defense of Enlightenment values on which the guitar textures and the hook around the chorus superbly complement one another.

The special guitar effects, fierce vocals and the subject matter make Speed Demon unusual - and the words are prophetic. Side One concludes with Mr Normal, another mix of angry rant & plea for tolerance that reveals extraordinary psychological insight. Here also the arrangement impresses through dynamic interactions of vocals and guitars.

Side Two opens with Man Enough To Be A Woman where the tempo slows down from the uniformly fast pace of the first side. This song has a rich instrumental mix that includes Hammond organ & synthesizer, whilst piano & Vox organ adorn the ironic and witty Trying To Get On The Radio. What a pity it didn't stay on the playlists long enough (if it ever got on the radio in the first place) as it's quite catchy and should have been a hit.

The psychedelic classic I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night gets a dreamlike though still uptempo treatment - think of Bowie's cover of Let's Spend The Night Together on Aladdin Sane.

Storm The Gates concludes with the mournful track Tomorrow Is Another Day, a reflection on the life and death of a certain Andrea of Warhol Factory fame; it resembles the wistful Sunday Morning on The Velvet Underground & Nico as well as some of the later work of Nico. Acoustic guitar and harmonium reinforce the association with the German chanteuse. County outvelvets Nico & co on this haunting composition with its aching sense of loss and regret.

The color of the vinyl record resembles a type of marble in a blend of mauve, pink, green and white and Martyn Goddard deserves credit for the striking front & back cover pictures. Most of these tracks are available on the albums Rock 'n Roll Cleopatra and Let Your Backbone Slip but Storm The Gates of Heaven forms a cohesive and very special whole.


PS (PhosphatidylSerine) Nature's Brain Booster A Vital Lipid Nutrient For Memory Mood And Stress
PS (PhosphatidylSerine) Nature's Brain Booster A Vital Lipid Nutrient For Memory Mood And Stress
by PhD Parris M. Kidd
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind, memory and mood enhancing nutrient, 15 Dec 2011
This work is based on the findings of numerous clinical studies spanning more than two decades. The phospholipid phosphatidylserine shows great promise as a brain protector.

Phospholipids consist of fatty acids, glycerol, the mineral phosphorus and an amine (a molecule with nitrogen and carbon atoms). The most abundant phospholipid in the membranes of brain cells is phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin).

According to the clinical trials, phosphatidylserine performs a variety of functions like determining which nutrients may enter the cell, influences the shape of receptors, promotes the growth of dendrites and boosts the mitochondria (cell engines) in generating energy.

Our brain cells use Phosphatidylserine to generate and transmit the electrical signals needed for brain function. Phosphatidylserine assists the nerve cells in generating the energy they need to maintain the brain's electrical circuits. It appears to be a valuable tool in preventing memory loss in the elderly and to combat depression and anxiety in younger, healthy people, especially when taking with Omega 3 fatty acids.

Phosphatidylserine may have two distinct effects: one of boosting the cognitive functions, whilst the other ameliorates behavior such as apathy and withdrawal. It enhances the cognitive effects of vigilance, focus, and short-term memory, counteracts apathy and withdrawal and assists in managing physical stress. The effective dose would appear to be 300mg per day.

The book includes an appendix on double-blind trials for memory, a glossary of technical terms and a list of references cited in the text.

Other informative works on natural supplements that enhance the mind, mood and memory include Mind Boosters and Pregnenolone by Ray Sahelian and Deprenyl by Alastair Dow.


Horses And High Heels
Horses And High Heels
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £12.52

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stirring and soulful, 16 Nov 2011
This review is from: Horses And High Heels (Audio CD)
Hal Wilner has done a spectacular production job on these quality songs, enabling Marianne to make the most of her familiar styles and successfully navigate some new ones.

There are mournful songs of resignation, some with eerie undertone.
The solemn, brooding track The Stations with its chiming guitars opens the album on a note of unease as a narrative of addiction, anguish and dread unfolds.

Those magnificent chimes return to blast jangling showers of doom over the arresting imagery of That's How Every Empire Falls. What a magnificent arrangement for this great song.

This introspection and melancholia of Goin' Back dips into the spooky sometimes on this downtempo slice of nostalgia with its affirmation, "I'll live my days instead of counting my years", and is embellished by tuba touches and what sounds like faraway trumpets.

A tone of redemption lifts the subdued, torchy Love Song out of the prevailing bleak mood of its spare backing and wails of weeping guitar.

Hard to place stylistically, the half-spoken delivery of Past, Present and Future is reminiscent of After The Ceasefire on Vagabond Ways. Cello, violin and harp stand out on a grand orchestral arrangement.

And there are uptempo tracks in the soul/rock/boogie tradition.
The funky feel of the gently swaying Gee Baby makes for a charming interpretation, whilst electric guitars roar and pianos roll on the lively and rhythmic No Reason, a fine piece of southern rock boogie. The lead vocal remains far back in the mix of its powerful wall of sound.

The soulful Back In Baby's Arms is a tour de force with stirring organ and backing vocals, Lou Reed on guitar and shimmering strings, harp, woodwind and piano creating almost a vintage Stax or Atlantic sound.

Then the grand ballads, tinged with country and often graced with snippets of autobiography.
Lap steel, banjo and mandolin lend a marked country flavor to the lament Why Did We Have To Part, whilst the title track - flashbacks of Dublin and Paris - boasts a bluesy guitar which brings to mind Gary Moore on Parisienne Walkways.

In the same groove, a tolling bell opens The Old House that builds up from a stately beginning to blistering guitars in which Lou Reed plays a part.

There's an African timbre to the captivating, buoyant Eternity, thanks to joujouka samples and a mantric vocal effect: "jump for joy, shake with fear, this is an everlasting year, count the changes coming near, eternity is here'.

Finally, poetry in motion.
The sublime Prussian Blue - another one co-written by Marianne - is a masterpiece where jangling guitars, soulful organ and striking vocals come together in perfect flow. Like those melodious uptempo ballads on her early 1980s work, this inspiring song stays with you long after the last note has faded.


Principia Discordia
Principia Discordia
by Malaclypse the Younger
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enhanced edition, 17 May 2011
This review is from: Principia Discordia (Paperback)
These numinous scriptures come close to rivaling James Robinson's edition of the Nag Hammadi Library as the most important contribution to 20th century metaphysics.

Certain passages inspire more than others, like The Enlightenment Of Zarathud and Lord Omar's Epistle To The Paranoids of which only the orthodox version appears here. According to the Samaritan Codex (jealously guarded by an extreme Discordianist cult) and the Octuagint, an additional verse completes the Epistle: "Ye erect tall buildings, only to cast yerselves from the rooves."

The same Codex - but not the Octuagint - also contains The Epistle To The Neurotics by St. Euthanasius which regrettably didn't make it into this edition. For nearly 3000 years scholars have been debating its authenticity. It ought to have been added as an appendix.

A welcome improvement over earlier editions is the inclusion of the variant of verse 4 of the Epistle To The Paranoids from the Codex Sinaiticus: "O how the darknesses do crowd up, one against the other, in ye hearts! What fear ye more than [not "that"] what ye have wroughten?"

Despite the omissions, the familiar exegeses of the thoughts of Eris, Greek goddess of Chaos, by Malaclypse & Omar continue to illuminate, enlighten and comfort millions. If you appreciate these insights, you will love the work of Robert Anton Wilson.


Principia Discordia: How I Found Goddess And What I Did To Her When I Found Her (Forgotten Books)
Principia Discordia: How I Found Goddess And What I Did To Her When I Found Her (Forgotten Books)
by Hill, Kerry Thornley, Gregory
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.57

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor flaws of omission, 17 May 2011
These numinous scriptures come close to rivaling James Robinson's edition of the The Nag Hammadi Library as the most important contribution to 20th century metaphysics. And not only for those who consider Discordianism as a form - albeit a weird one - of Gnosticism.

Certain passages inspire more than others, like The Enlightenment Of Zarathud and Lord Omar's Epistle To The Paranoids of which only the orthodox version appears here. According to the Samaritan Codex (jealously guarded by a heterodox Discordianist cult) and the Octuagint there is an additional verse which reads: "Ye erect tall buildings, only to cast yerselves from the rooves."

The same Codex - but not the Octuagint - also contains The Epistle To The Neurotics by St. Euthanasius which regrettably didn't make it into this edition. For nearly 3000 years scholars have been debating its authenticity. The editors could at least have added it as an appendix.

A welcome improvement over earlier editions is the inclusion of the variant reading of verse 4 of the Epistle To The Paranoids from the Codex Sinaiticus: "O how the darknesses do crowd up, one against the other, in ye hearts! What fear ye more than [not "that"] what ye have wroughten?"

Despite the aforementioned omissions, the familiar exegeses of the thoughts of Eris, Greek goddess of Chaos, by Malaclypse & Omar continue to illuminate, enlighten and comfort millions. If you appreciate these insights, you will love the work of Robert Anton Wilson.


Sacred Geography: Deciphering Hidden Codes in the Landscape
Sacred Geography: Deciphering Hidden Codes in the Landscape
by Paul Devereux
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The living earth, 13 May 2011
Paul Devereux integrates evidence from archaeology, archaeo-astronomy, archaeo-acoustics and sacred geometry to discover the hidden meanings of ancient sites and the mystical connections that our prehistoric ancestors attributed to the landscape. Since time immemorial they invested places with metaphysical and healing powers where the physical and the spiritual came together.

Illustrated with photographs, satellite imagery, diagrams and maps, the work reveals global patterns of pilgrimage and places of power whilst illuminating the concepts of acoustic and cognitive archaeology. Ancient humans seem to have viewed the world as consisting of three parts: the underworld of ancestors, the middle world of the living and the heavenly world of spirit. Our ancestors must have considered nature to be alive in some way and this was quite universal as the author demonstrates by taking the reader on a tour through Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

Sacred sites where the three worlds met include familiar places like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Mount Fuji, the source of the Ganga and caves like those of Altamira. Numinous features encompassed dolmens, trees, hilltops, crevices and waterfalls. An important aspect of many of these was the sounds emanating from them or their acoustic properties of amplification.

Temples, dolmens, menhirs and caves were built or adapted to enhance or amplify ritual sounds. The author has interesting thoughts on the origins of music when echoes were regarded as spirit voices. This knowledge assists our understanding of the biochemical and physiological reasons why dance, rhythm and percussion are such powerful emotional experiences. Richard Rudgley explores objects possibly used for creating sound that date back to 50 000 BP in chapter 15 of his book The Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age.

Entheogenic substances played a part in the rituals performed at sacred sites; there is evidence that hallucinogens and music were used together. In his book The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art, David Lewis-Williams theorizes that the people of the Upper Paleolithic harnessed altered states of consciousness to fashion their society and used imagery as a means of establishing and defining social relationships. Graham Hancock supports Lewis-Williams' theory; his experiments with mind-altering substances are lucidly described in the absorbing book Supernatural.

Devereux believes that urbanization has removed the link between humans, earth and mythology to detrimental effect. An earlier work by him, titled Stone Age Soundtracks, is less detailed, more concise but equally fascinating. Its text is enhanced by black & white illustrations, musical notations, striking color plates; it is another valuable resource highly recommend to those who are interested in mankind's unknown past.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2013 1:10 PM GMT


Boatman's call (1997)
Boatman's call (1997)

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grave, weary, solemn and resigned, 9 May 2011
This review is from: Boatman's call (1997) (Audio CD)
This album with its metaphysical imagery contains the odd anthemic ballad like the rousing There Is A Kingdom, and intimate, subdued songs such as Into My Arms, Lime Tree Arbour and the resigned People Ain't No Good. Cave interweaves spiritual and sensual metaphor much like Leonard Cohen. On Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere? one half expects those Cohenesque female vocals to frame his deep voice but they never appear.

A highlight is the weary yet erotic Green Eyes, the first line of which is a translation of a sonnet by the medieval French poet Louise Labe. She was the first to write sonnets in French (the style originated in Italy) and was famous for her passionate style. Cave turns her love poem into a lament of epic proportions filled with equal amounts of romantic yearning and despair. Quite a tour de force and enhanced by a strategic swear word or two. The poetic effect is greatly enhanced by the vocal technique: lines are first spoken then sung, which gives it a very ritualistic flavor.

Fans of The Boatman's Call would love the work of Michael Gira's Angels of Light, especially New Mother, since it contains similar solemn ballads of great impact and gravitas.


Astralogy (French Import)
Astralogy (French Import)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting & Soulful Trance, 18 April 2011
This collection sounds as fresh as when released. Astralasia's music is soulful trance, far removed from mass-produced or cold & clinical dance styles. The underlying theme is one of spiritual growth and mind expansion.

Meaningful and intelligent samples enhance the ambiance and bring the individual tracks to life. For example, on Rhythm of Life a female and male vocal, an occasional choral infusion and an urgent yet relaxing rhythm create an instant classic. Realise Your Purpose seamlessly integrates the voice of an inspirational speaker with an arresting backdrop of rhythmic textures.

Sul-E-Stomp, described on the sleeve notes as "... some sort of fusion between the folk and rave scene ..." is indeed a catchy blend of percolating rhythms and interweaving melodies that include bagpipes/violin sections. This reminded me of a disco classic, "Scots Machine/Bayou Village", from around 1978 by the band Voyage.

From Disco to Techno again: Mad is a tribute to Belgian techno tracks with the subdued sounds of mad laughter expertly blended in the mix. Hashishin is a great anthem of hypnotic rhythms, mysterious voices and rousing choral vocals with an overall oriental flavor.

Mother Durga - a compelling mix of spacey rhythms and chanted female vocals - of course made me think of DJ Cheb I Sabbah's "Shri Durga", (which may appeal to fans of Astralasia). Every single one of these ten tracks creates a world of its own in which the listener may abandon her/himself, as the message of optimism and healthy-mindedness has seldom been conveyed so eloquently, nor is trance music ever as life-affirming as this. Astralogy offers a profound and inspiring listening experience.


A Bend in the River
A Bend in the River
by V. S. Naipaul
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A+ historical novel, 18 April 2011
This review is from: A Bend in the River (Paperback)
What an exceptional novel this is! It is the tale of Salim who left his family home on the East African coast to start a business in central Africa at a town on the bend in the great Congo River. The inhabitants of the town, natives and expatriates, are described with empathy and an eye for detail.

Naipaul also narrates the history of the town as it is affected by events in the 1960s, with admirable clarity. His writing style is compelling and elegant, while the plot and characterization are superb. In many ways, the book illumines the post-independence history of those Africans that are of Indian descent.

Most of them were traders and many of them went into a second diaspora after the tumult and political upheavals in Africa of the 1960s and 70s. I was particularly impressed by Salim's first experience of the voice of Joan Baez, when a record of hers was played at a party in the academic suburb next to the old town.

Naipaul's extraordinary talent comes through in every flowing sentence and in every well-chosen word. I'm not a great lover of fiction but this book is inspiring. I highly recommend it to readers of serious fiction and to historians alike. I also recommend the travel book North of South: An African Journey by Shiva Naipaul, the record of a journey through Africa that ties in very well with A Bend In The River.


Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
by Bart D. Ehrman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.71

63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth will triumph, 9 April 2011
Faith is a profoundly emotional issue with its own dynamics as Eric Hoffer makes clear in The True Believer, a seminal study on the nature of belief and mass movements. Another valid insight is that of the metaphysician Ernest Holmes who warned against destroying or undermining a person's faith if it gives them comfort and helps them seek what is good and right: "Every person's religion is an answer to the cry of the soul for something which is real, something which may be relied upon - a resting place for which everyone instinctively feels a need."

Thus, the pursuit of truth may be a perilous enterprise that leads to painful places. Giving up certainties takes courage. In this investigation, Ehrman approaches the subject with empathy. Both non-canonical works and those eventually included in the New Testament are subjected to scrutiny. That is appropriate since when these were written, no canon existed.

It is no secret to most scholars in the field: Many of the books of the New Testament were composed by authors who lied about their identities, deliberately impersonating famous characters such as Peter, Paul and James. That is deception; a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery.

In order to avoid this harsh reality, most Christian theologians employ the word "pseudepigrapha" when referring to these forgeries. Yet the word literally means "writing inscribed with a lie." Scholars may claim that it was an acceptable practice in the ancient world to write a book in someone else's name. Not so: the author cites Polybius, Martial and Diogenes Laertius in this regard.

Only 7 of the 13 letters of Paul of Tarsus were written by him. In the ancient world, books like that were called "pseudoi" (lies). Yes, it matters today, since for example 1 Timothy justifies the subordination of women.

Chapter One investigates forgeries in general, recent and ancient. Interestingly, the condemnation of forgeries in the texts appears to be a prominent feature of forged books. Good examples are Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians. This corresponds with Paul of Tarsus' repeated assertions that he "is telling the truth, not lying," if indeed it was him who wrote those words.

The next chapter is devoted to forgeries in the name of Peter. Ehrman points out that both truth and falsehood assume different forms. Evidence is produced that the Epistles of Peter could not have been written by him, another fact acknowledged by scholars.

The opening passages of the third chapter deals with invented tales about Paul. After that, New Testament forgeries ascribed to the founder of Christianity are identified by means of word frequency and semantics. Amongst the books discussed are Thessalonians, Ephesians and Colossians.

In chapter 4, Ehrman proves that forgery was as unacceptable in the ancient world as it is today. Ancient sources condemn the practice, meaning that the excuses offered by modern scholars are themselves deceitful.

The following two chapters consider extracanonical forgeries that derive from Gnostic and Jewish-Christian controversies. The most thought-provoking analysis of canonical are those of Colossians, Jude, James, the Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles.

Chapter 7 examines various phenomena pertaining to forgery such as false attributions, fabrications, falsifications, plagiarism and interpolations. Mark, Luke and the Acts are used as examples. There is no doubt that some Christians employed all the aforementioned practices in a wildly successful campaign to promote their version of the faith. A particular dogma was promoted through deceptive means - a most disturbing irony.

In chapter 8, Ehrman explains how successful ancient and modern forgeries have been in persuading large numbers of people of their authenticity. This chapter concludes with a discussion of attitudes towards deception and its motives. The justification of forgeries on any grounds goes against a cardinal moral principle. One rule exists for all. Forgeries by Christians are unacceptable.

In certain books, specifically the Gospel of John, scribes added key passages at different times. After Christianity sought the approval of the Roman Empire, writings were forged to absolve the Romans of the murder and to accuse the Jews of deicide. Such accounts are filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes of malevolent Jews as "Christ-killers."

As Judith Taylor Gold demonstrates in Madonnas & Monsters, anti-Semitism appears in both overt and covert form in the Gospel of John, a book that is exceptionally hostile to Judaism. The teachings and personality of Jesus in the Gospel of John differs so radically from those in the three Synoptic Gospels that prominent theologians have been claiming - since the 1800s - that only one of the two traditions can be true; it is impossible that both can be.

Raymond E Brown provides a brief synopsis of a prominent theory on the development of this gospel, identifying three levels in the text: (a) An original narrative of someone personally acquainted with Jesus/Yeshua (b) A Structured literary creation by an editor that draws from other sources (c) An attempt to harmonize the text with the rest of the New Testament canon.

There are further troubling realities not specifically addressed by Ehrman in this book. The NT writers "quote" Hebrew scripture passages that do not exist, quote already fulfilled Hebrew prophecies to claim that NT events are their fulfillment, quote 50 - 60 OT passages as proof of fulfilled messianic prophecies while none of those is a prophecy at all.

The criteria for the validation of scripture include origin, transmission, internal marks of authority and consistency. The text of the Hebrew Bible was rigorously preserved and reproduced under strict supervision, resulting in only minor variations, while there are scores of textual variants for the NT as proved by inter alia Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2014 2:51 PM BST


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