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Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill
Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill
Price: £11.41

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grouper's wounded masterpiece, 17 Mar 2013
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This album is Grouper aka Liz Harris' masterpiece. There are other releases of hers that are experimental voyages into noise and fuzzed ambience, but here she strips back the experimental side of her work to let song and melody to the foreground. Deceptively simple, mostly these tunes are just strummed acoustic guitar and her ethereal, angelic voice multi-tracked over the top, all from deep within a well of reverb. But these heartbreaking melodies have an emotional depth and resonance that packs a heavyweight charge.
The first time I heard this album I thought Eh? What is this? I didn't really get it straight away. It doesn't overwhelm you with clever tricks or sparkling production - it's not kicking down your front door begging to be liked. Its not the prom queen, its the quiet kid at the back of the classroom who writes poetry with an aching heart. You have to make space to let it in, give it a chance to wash over you. After a few listens I started to get into the mood, and after a few more I didn't want to listen to anything else.
Because the songs seem so simple and the production is lo-fi its tempting to dismiss it and say huh anyone could do that...but just try it, and you'll quickly see that you can't. Not even Liz Harris herself has been able to repeat the trick. Her recent album The Man Who Died in his Boat is a similar collection of songs, recorded around the same time, but they just don't have the special magic and melody that this collection has. Sometimes for an artist events and personal history converge in a way that produces something purely of its time. This is really a special album - imho one of the best of the 21st century so far. Simple, sad, sweet - pure emotion. If that's what you are looking for then you have found it. Beautiful.

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.80

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Quality Techno Music, 11 Mar 2013
This review is from: Incubation (Audio CD)
A contender for best techno album of 2013. The quality is up there with Sandwell District's Feed Forward album, and you can clearly hear the influence Function aka Dave Sumner had on that project.
He doesn't put a foot wrong here. 6 years in the making (hence the title?) and it sounds like it. This is pure instrumental techno. As good as it gets. 5 stars.

Bosch TWK86103GB Styline Kettle, Black
Bosch TWK86103GB Styline Kettle, Black
Price: £44.99

60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be Aware - the Inside is made of Plastic, 6 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For anyone concerned about this, I wanted to mention that the inside of this kettle is made of plastic. It's hard to tell due to the stainless steel effect top. Had to return our one when we discovered this - it's not what we were looking for. Didn't use the kettle so cannot comment on any other aspect. If the plastic inside doesn't bother you then fine - but if you don't want to boil your water in plastic then I hope this info will be helpful to you and I recommend you look for a different kettle.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2013 5:28 PM GMT

Amok [Deluxe Package]
Amok [Deluxe Package]
Price: £11.35

22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Super-Group of Talented Musicians in Slightly Duff Album shocker..., 27 Feb 2013
This review is from: Amok [Deluxe Package] (Audio CD)
According to a recent interview this album apparently came out of an extended 3 day jam session between the 4 principal musicians. And the main problem with it is that that's exactly what it sounds like.
The songs here almost all sound exactly the same. In fact it's hard on a first listen to tell them apart. Anxiety-inducing we've-got-2-drummers-and-we're-going-to-use-them skittery rhythms that never seem to change or let-up, assorted warbly synth lines, the odd bass line chucked in and Thom Yorke. Repeat.
What this album is missing principally, imho, is some considered song-writing, something that the phenomenally talented Mr.Yorke is more than capable of. I loved The Eraser, its one of my all-time favourite albums, and I was looking forward to the sequel. But what that album has that this one does not is some emotional light and shade, musical dynamics and some properly written songs with decent arrangements. The songs here sound exactly like what they are, bits chopped out of longer jams and fiddled with in Pro Tools to try and turn them into actual finished songs.
Sure, the production is astonishing - what else would you expect from the great Nigel Godrich? Sure, the vocals are haunting and ethereal, what else would you expect from the brilliant Thom Yorke? Sure, the album cover is great - absolutely. But this album is somehow so much less that the sum of its parts.
It's so disappointing, because it could have been so great. If only the band had decided to invest the time and commitment to put together a proper studio album instead of just a 3 day jam session. In its worst moments it smacks of "that'll do" cynicism. Case in point, the first 2 minutes of the album. Flea's bass line comes in and, unless I am very much mistaken, fails to correctly follow the guitar chord progression. Listen carefully and, if you have a musical ear, you will hear what I mean. I'm sure this is forgiveable during a jam session, but very sloppy to end up on a finished album. Now, I do not doubt for a moment the musical genius of the players involved, so it may be that this was a deliberate musical choice, but I can't quite escape the suspicion that that's how the bass line came out during the jam, and for one reason or another it wasn't possible to re-record it. So it went on the record. Mm.
It's sadly ironic that there is nothing on here that even comes close to the song after which the band is named, Atoms for Peace. The emotion, the laid-back rhythm, the atmospheric electronics - in a word, subtlety. Not to mention the brilliance of the songwriting - there isn't a single lyric on this album with the memorable strength of the first line of that song, "No more going to the dark side with your flying saucer eyes."
It's hard not to feel that what's gone wrong is the addition of the other 3 musicians to Thom Yorke's solo project, which I think benefited from the sparse laptop beats and backing tracks. Here its all constant too-busy rhythm parts (perhaps an unfortunate side effect of having two Star drummers in the band who presumably couldn't be left out out of the final mix - no matter how much the song cries out for it), and in-your-face synths. Fine if that's your cup of tea I suppose but it doesn't do it for me.
There's no doubt Thom Yorke is one of the most creative, talented and intelligent artists out there today. In the final analysis, who cares about the production values, how well engineered a record is, or how well designed the cover is? What's important is the music that all those things serve - whether it speaks to you, what it communicates, what it makes you feel. Unfortunately, for me in this case, the answer is not much - except mild annoyance at a project that could have been so much more. Is it terrible? No, not at all. It's OK - but that's all.

The Man Who Died in His Boat
The Man Who Died in His Boat
Price: £11.40

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best..., 10 Feb 2013
I am a long-time fan of the music of Grouper aka Liz Harris. I think I have pretty much everything she's ever released. I even liked her cassette tape-based ambient project from last year, Violet Replacement, which divided even her staunch supporters. So I was understandably excited about a new album from her. Even better, it's unreleased songs from around the same time that she recorded her breakthrough album of mournful fractured dreamsongs Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill, by far her most popular and accessible work.
Perhaps that's partly why I was disappointed to finally hear this album, the weight of too much expectation. Of course it was never going to be another DaDDuaH, how could it be? But when placed in the context of her work as a whole, this collection of songs and sound experiments is very much average.
At her best LH evokes a unique atmosphere with the combination of her ethereal and childlike voice and the mournful drone of her guitar, tumbling down deep tunnels of reverb, a sound like a fallen angel singing her memory of paradise up from the deep pits of some personal hell. It's a music in which many emotions collide and dissolve at once, often contradictory, sometimes transcendent.
There are fleeting moments that evoke those feelings here, but they are few and far between. Sadly, this album more often sounds like what I suspect it is, a bunch of old B-side grade songs dug out from a drawer to release in lieu of new and better material.
Liz Harris is a unique and highly talented artist and musician capable of making beautiful music so original and idiosyncratic that she really stands alone. Her music is as personal as her fingerprint, or the pattern of her iris. I have no idea what she might be going through personally and creatively to lead her to release these old songs rather than new material, but I'm sad to say I don't think this album represents her at her best.
If you're new to her music, I strongly recommend you buy Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill first. If you're already a fan then by all means buy it, support the artist, check it out, but don't expect too much.

Big Inner
Big Inner
Price: £9.99

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning - Just Buy It, 9 Feb 2013
This review is from: Big Inner (Audio CD)
This is a proper album, like albums used to be back when they were good!
What do I mean by that?
Well, this album represents a level of accomplishment and craftsmanship that is sorely lacking from much of contemporary music. This is not some hipster warbling in their bedroom to a guitar they can't play properly, all bunged through some plug-ins they downloaded for free. The skill and musicianship is evident from the first bars... and the fact it was all recorded in a single 2 week session belies the real achievement here.
The songs are sweet and soulful, tinged with a touch of old-timey Gospel faith. The arrangements and production are impeccable. It's not the style of music I generally seek out or listen to, but the overall effect is jaw-dropping.
This is music that achieves that most difficult and ephemeral of goals - it genuinely makes you feel something.
What you feel is, of course, up to you, but I defy you to be left cold by it.
It's very contemporary to chatter about whether the album format is dead in this modern world of cherry picking individual tracks, but a work like this one just confirms why the album is still the best way for an artist to present their music. The sustained effect and atmosphere over 40-odd minutes is cumulative.
Just buy it and enjoy it before it gets inevitably ruined by overexposure on some stupid ad or something.

Lysandre [VINYL]
Lysandre [VINYL]
Price: £17.52

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK but its not Girls..., 16 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Lysandre [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Let me say first of all that I am a big fan of the first two Girls albums and Mr Owens's voice and songwriting talents so I really wanted to like this album but I'm afraid I was disappointed - it just didn't do it for me. If you're thinking of buying this because you liked the Girls sound/vibe then you may be disappointed too. Dare I say that much as C.O may have had his reasons for splitting with Girls bandmate and producer JR White, this record is apparently sorely missing his influence, in my opinion.
This may be in part due to the fact that the songs are liberally slathered in saxophone and flute, two instruments which I personally loathe. A disastrous production decision in my opinion. If this is what Girls would have sounded like from the start without JR then I'd bet none of us would ever have heard of them. Gone are the woozy, bi-polar peaks and troughs and bilious burned-out energy in favour of insipid jazz-lite muso noodling.
If Mr Owens had only ditched the band and played these songs un-accompanied, simply voice and guitar, then this might have been an epic album (hence the 3 stars). There are the seeds of wonderful songs here, broken lovesongs from a wounded heart, but the production and arrangements render them sadly impotent.
Perhaps this album will appeal to those who found Girls too challenging or alienating, and C.O will become a huge star, in which case I wish him good luck. My guess would be that there's a lot of hype around this record right now because it's coming off the back of his hot former band, but once the dust settles no-one will care much about this album.
I will be listening out for the next one, as I'm sure this is an artist with a lot yet to give, but with so much great music to listen to and so little time, I can't see me getting this album down off the shelf again. Disappointed but optimistic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2013 2:52 AM GMT

Audioquest Golden Gate Phono Pair 0.6M
Audioquest Golden Gate Phono Pair 0.6M
Offered by Nintronics
Price: £55.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You pays your money and takes your choice...but I didn't like them, 30 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Expensive cables - you would expect them to sound good. Sound great. Sound, in fact, fantastic.
I bought these to replace £5 cables I also got from Amazon. Don't ask me why... hey, I love to tinker with my audio system.
Didn't like the sound of these at all... they sounded muddy and lacked bottom end. Swopped back to my £5 cables and they sounded great - full and clear with
sparkling treble and full bottom end (Xxion Premium Twin RCAs by the way).
There may be £50 cables out there that sound like they're worth it - but these aren't them. Save your money.

The Roots Of Drone
The Roots Of Drone
Price: £12.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a CD by its cover...a fantastic & fascinating compilation., 30 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Roots Of Drone (Audio CD)
This is really quite a wonderful little oddity... Its packaged to look bizarrely like a supermarket-shelf pop collection, but within its covers lurk music both rare and challenging, zipping about throughout the whole history of recorded music in both time and place. The thread which runs between them all is that they are presented as ancestors of modern drone music, some more obviously than others, but don't be put off if you're not a fan of 'drone' - the music here is varied and eclecetic enough to transcend its theme.
Any comp which can jump between George Formby, La Monte Young, the Wam Tribe of New Guinea (playing live beetles), John Cages's silent 4.33 and One String Sam's I need a Hundred Dollars is all right by me.
Dive in... you are sure to find something you've never heard before, or perhaps never heard in this context before. Even old chestnuts like Formby or Rolf Harris are somehow reinvigorated by the context. The only downside for me is that some of the longer pieces (e.g. the Ragas) are shortened due to considerations of space, and it would have been great to hear their full length, but of course that would be impossible in a 2 CD set.
Anyone who considers themself interested in music that exists beyond the confines of the Top 40 will find much to enjoy here...highly recommended.

Tippitoes Boost Trike (Black)
Tippitoes Boost Trike (Black)

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Looks cool but did not feel safe..., 22 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this trike for my son's 1st birthday. Not happy with it at all- in fact I have returned it to Amazon.
First bit of advice is, if you do buy this as a present, make sure to assemble it the night before, as there is a lot of work required to put it all together.
Once assembled our little boy did love it, and was happy to sit in it while wheeled about indoors. However, as soon as we tried to take him to the nearby park in it, it was a different story. Out on the pavement the trike was very hard to steer and kept running off to the left or right. Almost impossible to get it running in a straight line, not helped by the steering system which is very loose and not at all accurate. Crossing the road felt very unsafe and the trike felt like it was about to tip over going round corners or on slopes.
The hard plastic tyres mean baby feels every bump and pebble along the way. No harness or seatbelt. Also the handlebars are made too low in relation to the plastic guardrail around the seat, so unless your baby has their hands on the handlebars at all times they can easily get them trapped between the handlebars and guardrail when turning corners.
Probably just about OK if you only intend to use it indoors or in your garden. Out on the street we did not feel it was a safe ride for our boy at all. It did not feel solidly constructed or safe to control.
Not recommended.

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