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Sentinel (Essex)
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Prologue
Prologue
Offered by produXa UK
Price: £6.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Promise..., 15 Nov 2014
This review is from: Prologue (Audio CD)
In some ways, this may well be my favourite Renaissance album, principally because the music is consistently good throughout, and there are none of the weaker tracks which began to crop up as 'filler' in later albums. The tracks vary in style from progressive rock to almost a 'pop' sound, with exciting classical influences amongst the longer, more serious numbers.
The title track is a weighty and atmospheric opener, piano-driven, with influences from Bach amongst others, and Haslam's wordless vocal arcing over it all. The two longest tracks, 'Kiev' and 'Rajah Khan',are among the most powerful and memorable: the Russian influence is haunting, with echoes of Rachmaninov and Camp's thoughtful lyric, while the Eastern atmosphere of the latter has tablas, synthesiser, and Haslam's oriental vocalise. 'Sounds of the Sea' makes superb use of taped sounds (waves & gulls) married to Haslam's beautifully pure tones, to create a memorably arresting piece. Finally, 'Spare some love' and 'Bound for Infinity' are in a lighter vein, with simpler melody lines, given a touch of class by Haslam's effortless purity of voice. A lovely album throughout.


Little Things Left Behind 1988 - 1998
Little Things Left Behind 1988 - 1998
Price: £7.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich & Mellow, 14 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a sumptuous bargain. This beautifully packaged gatefold-sleeved double cd, (warmly atmospheric photos by Cecily Eno), contains 40 of Roger Eno's pieces, culled from 5 albums. Running time is a little over 2 hours, and features a gorgeous selection of music from Between Tides, The Familiar, Lost in Translation, Swimming & The Flatlands.

Most tracks are instrumental, and feature a wide range of instruments, including flute, oboe, cor anglais, cello, double bass, clarinet, accordion, organ, percussion, drums, banjo & ukelele. However, the core instruments are piano/keyboards & guitar, with added textures from synthesiser, over-dubs & multi-tracking. A few vocal tracks from 'Swimming' are also included, with some haunting songs, such as the darkly memorable 'The Parting Glass', from a series of songs about hanging in the 18th.C

The accompanying booklet, which has the same mellow, autumnal feel as the rest of the package, has some detailed background from Mark Prendergast, author of 'The Ambient Century', which includes both Roger & Brian Eno, and is well worth exploring in its own right. However, I feel it misses an opportunity to give the lyrics for the few vocal tracks, and also fails to give any details of track length.

The overall feel of this collection, is a little like a limpid, slowly-moving river, which encourages you to sink into it, and let it wash your stress away,, as you bathe in its sumptuous melodies. There's nothing strained or harsh here (except perhaps for the 'momento mori' of the 'hanging songs), which is a testament to Roger's consistency of vision over this ten year period (88-98), and the set acts as a very attractive showcase for his music throughout. Maybe too rich to be digested all in one go, but lovely balm for the soul when you need it most.


Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby - The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age
Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby - The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age
by Mark Prendergast
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stimulating & Inspiring Journey..., 14 Nov 2014
Despite the fact that this monumental effort has attracted much criticism for a variety of factual errors (locations, types of synthesiser, who was where/when etc), I found it fascinating & good enough to add to my music library.
Why? Probably my musical ignorance, in that I don't much care about the 'small stuff', as long as the overall 'story' is sufficiently gripping/fascinating. And it is.

For me, the acid test of any music guide is whether it motivates you enough to start checking out sources, and the 'Ambient Century' inspired me to dig out/revisit various tracks in my collection long neglected, and even ordering up other albums which sounded like they'd work for me.

So far, it's been a rich journey of discovery, and I've only just started, so I feel very grateful to have discovered so much which has 'slipped under the radar' of my large, eclectic music collection.

If you have a similarly broad musical taste, especially for the music of Reich, Glass, Part, Gorecki, Adams, Budd, Eno (Brian AND Roger!), Nyman et al, this is well worth exploring. Despite some glitches, the 'bigger picture' here is well worth the read!


The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance - The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age
The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance - The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age
by Mark Prendergast
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rich Journey..., 13 Nov 2014
Despite the fact that this monumental effort has attracted much criticism for a variety of factual errors (locations, types of synthesiser, who was where/when etc), I found it fascinating & good enough to add to my music library.
Why? Probably my musical ignorance, in that I don't much care about the 'small stuff', as long as the overall 'story' is sufficiently gripping/fascinating. And it is.

For me, the acid test of any music guide is whether it motivates you enough to start checking out sources, and the 'Ambient Century' inspired me to dig out/revisit various tracks in my collection long neglected, and even ordering up other albums which sounded like they'd work for me.

So far, it's been a rich journey of discovery, and I've only just started, so I feel very grateful to have discovered so much which has 'slipped under the radar' of my large, eclectic music collection.

If you have a similarly broad musical taste, especially for the music of Reich, Glass, Part, Gorecki, Adams, Budd, Eno (Brian AND Roger!), Nyman et al, this is well worth exploring, especially at its 'cheap as chips' price from some sellers. Despite some glitches, the 'bigger picture' here is well worth the read!


Lang: Death Speaks [Shara Worden; Bryce Dessner] [Cantaloupe : CA21092]
Lang: Death Speaks [Shara Worden; Bryce Dessner] [Cantaloupe : CA21092]
Price: £16.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death's Siren Song?, 13 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Originally came to this via David Lang's music for the film 'Great Beauty', and decided to buy it on the strength of the Amazon samples, and the outstanding reviews. Very glad I did so, as this is an impeccably performed & immaculately produced piece. Shara Worden's vocals drop like clear crystal, against a sparse instrumental accompaniment (guitar, piano, violin & drum), building a mesmerising emotional momentum.

The deliberate austerity of the approach (Worden avoids any overtly emotive tone), and the sparse use of instruments, serves to intensify the emotional weight of this unique album. The music moves slowly but inexorably, emphasising the insistent pulse of the melody, and the 'space between' the notes enhances the depth of the listener's experience. The final piece, 'Depart', features a quartet of voices, across a cello soundscape, and is impressively sustained for over 18 minutes. This is not music to be listened to as 'background', or with any competing distractions, in order to capture the grave power of this hypnotic performance. Given proper attention, Death's 'siren song', is utterly compelling.

The quality of the performance & recording also extends to the packaging. 'Death Speaks' comes in a classy black & white cardboard slipcase, illustrated with death's hand reaching out on the cover, and opens out into a gatefold sleeve, which has a b&w photo of an isolated house surrounded by skeletal trees, flanked by gold sleeves, containing the cd (suitably black), and an accompanying (charcoal) booklet giving the full text (largely culled from Schubert lieder).

Throughout, this is gravely beautiful, powerful & deeply moving music, which lingers long in the listener's heart & soul.


Satie: Piano Works
Satie: Piano Works
Price: £5.28

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Walking Meditation?, 12 Oct 2014
This review is from: Satie: Piano Works (Audio CD)
I was initially attracted to this by a review (possibly in the Penguin or Gramophone Guide), which said that de Leeuw's tempi allowed the listener "time to walk around the individual notes". Normally, these pieces have a regular pulse, but like many of my fellow reviewers above, I feel that this very slow & stately approach gives each piece an entirely different and equally attractive mood, which lends itself to an even more contemplative effect on the listener.

Indeed, there's evidence that this is the correct tempo, 'exquisitely slow', as requested by Satie himself The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance - The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age.

Consequently, the pieces have a more stripped down, more minimalist feel, and a far greater weight and space to them, which is both beguiling and meditative. Well worth exploring.


Waldron - Haslam
Waldron - Haslam
Price: £4.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Duo, 24 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Waldron - Haslam (Audio CD)
This is a delightful album. Both partners in the duo give the other plenty of room to breathe, so that the crystalline glitter of Waldron's keyboard is contrasted with, and complemented by, the deeper husky voice of Haslam's baritone sax.

Although the overall tone is a mellow one (thankfully, relatively little spiky, discordant register), there is still plenty of life here, with the lengthy tracks allowing Haslam especially the chance to explore a more free-flowing exploration, such as 'Motion in Order', which is a gorgeous blend of driven, questing voice, and an irresistible, tender ballad.

Three of the tracks are standards: a perky version of Ellington's 'I got it bad'; a meltingly sensitive & beautiful 'If I were a Bell' by Loesser, and a suitably restrained 'Somewhere' (Bernstein). The other pieces are collaborations between the duo, except for Haslam's wonderfully affecting 'Vortex' (much more controlled than it sounds), Waldron's memorable 'A Time for Duke', and his take on Brahms 'Variations'.

The quality of recording is excellent, and the sensitive interplay between piano & sax is a thing of wonder at times. This delightful album is likely to demand much repeated listening in future. Strongly recommended in Penguin Jazz Guide...and by me!


Seven Classic Albums
Seven Classic Albums
Offered by produXa UK
Price: £10.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lovely Surprise., 17 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Seven Classic Albums (Audio CD)
This superb collection was my introduction to Max Waldron, after being intrigued by a haunting description of 'Left Alone' in David Mitchell's book 'Ghostwritten', a track included on Waldron's album of the same name on this 7-album, 4 cd set. For me, it's been a lovely discovery.

There's a mixture of hard bop & ballads throughout, delivered from trio to septet assemblies. There's a mouth-watering selection of jazz 'greats', including Gigi Gryce, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Art Farmer, Eric Dolphy, Booker Ervin & Idrees Suliemen, and that only includes those on horns. Drummers vary throughout, but Julian Euell is the most prominent bassist, while even cello makes a welcome appearance, adding warmth & depth to a couple of albums here, thanks to Calo Scott & Ron Carter.

However, the real joy of this set is not the individual parts, illustrious though the names may be, but the way in which Waldron's arrangements allow the process to gell, and really lift off in the more driven numbers, such as 'Potpourri' & 'Status Seeking', while creating a richly memorable warmth to the slower pieces, including the achingly beautiful 'Left Alone' with McLean's sax plunging a deep well, and the rich chocolate of 'Duquilty', with Dolphy's clarinet exquisitely hanging over 'Warm Canto'.

Sound quality is good throughout, with individual instruments well identified, and there is a similar energising drive in the two trio albums here. This lovely collection features some very classy jazz, and some very interesting & unusual keyboard work from Waldron, which put me in mind of Monk at times, especially in 'Mal 3' & 'Impressions'. Most of these albums are highly rated in Penguin, Gramophone & All Music jazz guides, and the savings over buying these individually is substantial. Well worth exploring.


Samsung UE24H4003 24-inch Widescreen HD Ready Slim LED TV
Samsung UE24H4003 24-inch Widescreen HD Ready Slim LED TV
Offered by Hughes Direct
Price: £139.00

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Happy Picture!, 7 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We bought this to replace a 19 inch LG set, which we'd only had for three years before it broke down, whereas our equivalent Samsung model, although older, is still going strong. We only really wanted this as a working TV, to hook up with our VCR, though it also provides options to hook up with laptop, usb stick etc. There's headphone & speaker sockets too, though we found the sound better quality than its 19 inch model anyway (just as well).

Assembly & set-up was dead easy, even to this limited technophobe! Three screws to connect base to TV, and an automatic tuning set-up on a step by step basis. Picture quality is sharp & realistic (unlike some rather garish/overlit displays), and the unit is very light & easy to move around. Predicted annual consumption output is only 29 kWh, which seems reasonable, with an energy efficiency rating of 'A'.

Very happy with performance so far; shall update over next few months.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2014 10:37 PM BST


7 Classic Albums Vol.2
7 Classic Albums Vol.2
Offered by produXa UK
Price: £8.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evans...and a bit more?, 30 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 7 Classic Albums Vol.2 (Audio CD)
This is a lovely collection of true 'classics', in very decent sound, and with the Real Gone Jazz label's very minimalist documentation (names of personnel & track length is all that you get). However, although this collection is bulging with classic jazz albums, bundling them together as all Bill Evans work is rather misleading, as 'Blues & the Abstract Truth' and 'Modern Art' are albums led by, and credited to, Oliver Nelson & Art Farmer respectively. To underline this, you'll find them under their names rather than Evans in any of the major guides to jazz. Very odd, given how many other Evans albums might have made it into this collection (and the fact that cd4 has space for another album on it...)

Having said all that, both the 'intruder' albums are outstanding examples of their leader's work, and highly rated in both 'Penguin' and 'All Your Music' jazz guides. Additionally, the Evans albums here include the iconic and superb 'Village Vanguard' set (6 tracks), plus two albums with guitarist Jim Hall on board, 'Undercurrent' & 'Interplay'. The former, with just the duo playing is exquisite, the guitar & piano meshing sublimely, the latter also features Freddie Hubbard, with the bass/drums combo. That leaves two piano trios, 'Moon Beams' & 'Empathy', which are very different in character. The former is a gorgeous collection of ballads, and one of my all-time favourite Evans albums, while the latter has Shelly Manne's drumming driving Evans into some sparkling, lively explorations.

So: a rather unusual combination to be sure, but you'll find plenty of variety in this collection, and some top-class jazz throughout.


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