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Gideon (Italy)

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Price: £6.07

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Singularity Mutations, 10 April 2016
This review is from: Singularity (Audio CD)
Third single off Music Complete, and here we are with yet another package of New Order gold dust. Like its predecessors this cd contains 40 minutes of mixes, and this time ALL the tracks are full vocals.

Singularity has a double-beating heart: at times it pulses with electro-disco élan, while on other occasions it slows down to a mid-tempo groove, its strength lying exactly in the way it switches from one mode to the other to build a deeply moving ode to lost friends and lovers.

The edited and extended versions shorten and extpand these traits respectively, providing the NO estimator with excellent material for comparison with the album mix of the track (there are different lyrics, too).

Mark Reeder's Duality edit also retains the double nature of the song, but the uptempo sections take on a housey/ Hi-NRG feel that is in nice contrast with its rather melancholic sentiment. The synth stabs are more in evidence on the chorus too, making it the poppiest version on offer. No wonder it is presented as a radio-friendly short fix.

After that, we are off to other lands. Errol Alkan's Stripped mix is beautifully naked: eschewing the mid-tempo parts, it sports elastic 4/4 beats and a bleepy keyboard riff, over which Bernard Sumner's vocals are effectively compressed, thus creating a very tense atmosphere that - with minimal melodic shards- holds tight for seven-plus minutes. It is wonderful.

JS Zeiter, though, goes even further down the techno path. His take lasts nearly ten minutes and has a distinct Dubnobass-era Underworld feel coupled with progressive techno in the instrumental coda. It is gently pounding and cheerfully depressed, a perfect resumé of the euphoric / desperate contradiction that has always been at the core of New Order music. Five stars for it are certainly not enough.

Proceedings on this cd come to a close with Tom Rowlands remix of Tutti Frutti. Those kind souls at Mute must have realized that there were too many semi- instrumental doodles on the previous single, all reworks that - albeit proficient- did not exactly do the song any justice. Mr Rowlands does what should have been done: his mix is immensely soulful, and opens with a new prelude that features strings and sampled vocals from the lyrics, a hook that is repeated towards the end to great effect. In between we get the song proper, now moving at a slightly slower tempo over crisp'n'rubbery disco beats that are simply the esence of Neworderiness. It is magnificent, and it should be huge in Ibiza this coming summer. Or anywhere else, if you like dancing with tears of joy in your eyes.

In a hundred year's time music lovers will still be listening to the takes, we have no doubts about that. We - being stil alive in 2016 - are definitely enjoying them right now.

Price: £9.48

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No f***ing Monday., 14 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Blackstar (Audio CD)
Hot stream.

Sax blaze.

Deep funk.

Soul dream.

Grab life.

Grab breath.

Sharp light.

Pitch black.

Need no f***ing Monday now.

Need this bona adventure now.

Need it more and more.

Shut the f*** up, listen up.

Halt die Klappe, listen on.

Endless faith.

Endless dance.

Endless endless.

Groove is on.

Tutti Frutti
Tutti Frutti
Price: £6.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remixing The Unremixable, 30 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Tutti Frutti (Audio CD)
To start with, a simple truth: the album verson of Tutti Frutti is one of the most splendiferous peaks of New Order's splendiferous career. It will envelop you in desperate euphoria, carrying you away on the wings of tantalizing, heavenly strings.

That said, how do you go about releasing it as a single?

Richard X applies his chart-pop nous to the single and extended versions. He ads touches of babbling keyboards and an extra bounce to the bassline on the edit, thus compacting the main features of the song into a warm'n'shiny disco boogie. It will undoubtedly grace the airwaves everywhere this Yuletide.

The extended version, on the other hand, works the same touches into a stripped / full dynamic, even slightly slowing down and accelerating the tempo in the doubled chorus and in other sections of its seven-plus minutes. It is elegant, exciting and consistently addictive.

Richard X's, though, is actually only a reconstruction, not a remix. And this is where Hop Chip come in, proving in the most astounding way that they can remix the unremixable. The creature they concot lasts nearly twelve minutes and features the full vocal, even comprising four extra lines to the lyric in the second verse. Certainly inspired by the reference to Sex Object by Kraftwerk embedded at the start of Tutti ( the 'no no no' vocals and the bass stabs) they give their remix an Autobahn feel, setting the beats at a slower 4/4 tempo than the original. They subsequently proceed to weave the body of the track via droning bass and a progressive interaction of synths and pianos that gracefully move in and out of the mix. The piano sounds also form clusters of crystal-clear notes in places, ably providing the climax that blissfully closes the track. Hop Chip display such creativity here that they do not even exploit the mesmerizing strings, letting them briefly and very late into the mix. Needless to say, you will never notice that you are listening to a 12-minute rework, such is the sheer beauty on offer. In our humble and negligible opinion, this is The Remix Of The Year. No contest.

The world we live in, however, is far from perfect. For a Hot Chip who can remix heaven, there are others who do not even try. Tom Trago, Richy Ahmed and Hallo Hallo just provide proficient, mostly instrumental variations only vaguely reminiscent of Tutti. Poor Bernard's and Elly's vocals are filtered, chopped up and drenched in echo, while the music bops along on a diet of dub-disco (Trago), stuttering electro-funk (Ahmed) and non-descript housey wallpapering (Hallo). If you are not a dj you will listen to these tracks only once, while looking for a song that you will never find.

Yet, all in all, we should really not complain. The first three tracks on this disc are essential, and as such they will be praised and cherished by all music lovers.

They will have a special place in our heart forever.

Let It Glow
Let It Glow
Price: £16.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Embers, 25 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Let It Glow (Audio CD)
French multi-instrumentalist Thimothée Régnier - a.k.a. Rover - released his debut album in 2012, a record that turned him into a vedette in his native country while showcasing his undeniable talent as singer / songwriter and - unfortunately - his poor command of English, the lyrics peppered with primary school grammar mistakes.

This long-awaited, self-produced follow-up retains the quirky syntax sans glaring solecisms, but also signals a quantum leap in terms of production and subtlety.

Thimothée Régnier is a singer of remarkable prowess, his voice climbing with ease the ladder that leads from Scott Walker and Van Morrison to Antony Hegarty, via David Bowie and George Michael. Listen randomly to one of these tracks, and you will never forget him.

His talent as songwriter is also stunning, given his ability to synthesize influences; on tis disc, a blueprint of '70s balladry (Ziggy Bowie, Wish-era Pink Floyd) is ably fused with a Portishead-noir ambience, while a motorik vibe informs the not numerous more uptempo tracks (In The End, the excellent closer, is a prime example).

The result belongs to no decade at all, sounding utterly fresh and - believe it or not - truly original and inventive.

In addition, Rover remains a mysterious artist. Let It Glow is a record of obsessions, where lost love conjures a tense mood often coupled with a sense of existential angst that - far from being pastiche - turns out to be as affecting as Serge Gainsbourg's best compositions of the '70s (Melody Nelson, in particular, springs to mind).

Slow-burning and passionate, this is definitely one of the most fascinating albums of the year, a perfect companion for a chilly November night when glowing embers tell a bittersweet long story.

Surrender (Deluxe)
Surrender (Deluxe)
Price: £9.70

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hurts Of Dilemma, 13 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Surrender (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
We have decided to give this album a 3-star rating in the attempt to strike a balance between our Hurts of dilemma; that is, there are days when we think that Surrener deserves less than one star, and others when we feel that five are certainly not enough. So, in medio veritas. Perhaps.

We were initially horrified by the cheeky commercial slant of this new release. Gone are the screechy guitars that teemed all over Exile ( we were shocked by those too); now every track bops and shuffles along the straighterst line, feeding on a Eurodisco-funk R'n'B diet that seems designed to attract a much wider audience of casual listeners, each song a huge stack of cliches.

And yet. If this is cut'n'paste music, why is it so vibrant? Why does soul always ooze from it? Spin the disc three or four times and this poison will start to pollute your veins. You rationally want to reject it, but when Kaleidoscope wraps you up in a Balearic breeze cum three-second Johnny Marr-ish guitar solo, you will simply not be able to resist. You will have to admit that Hurts - like Abba - are sometimes terribly right.

On the other hand, there is Always something you can hate on Surrender. What about the cheesy gospel choirs on Policewoman, the Haddaway-sized slam of Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us or the Bronski-fuelled hystero-rush of Some Kind Of Heaven?

Yet all of this will never prepare you for Lights, the best song those two helmeted fellows from France will never write, or the slo-mo beats of Slow (natch) and Perfect Timung, two tracks that conjure up an Avalon-esque, decadent vibe that is actually rather difficult to ignore.

It is a dilemma, like we said. Cherish Hurts, or chuck them in the bin of pop history?

Three stars then. We will keep listening and wincing though, bearing in mind how greatly time can alter one's perception. People used to snigger at New Order and Depeche Mode at the start of their career, yet those bands have turned out to be pivotal in definig pop music's highest standards for the last three decades.

We will probably know if this is Hurts' case too around 2025. We will then know if Surrender is the new Lexicon Of Love.

Price: £6.74

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Much Do You Need?, 21 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Restless (Audio CD)
Coming from a New Orderless decade we felt inclined to need a lot and this is exactly what we got with the intense, 67-minute-long Music Complete.

As an icing on the cake now comes this very nice package, a further 40 minutes of mixes built around Restless, the first single off the album.

Let us examine the goods in detail:

1 - The single version is obviously a quick fix culled from the album mix of the track. The lyrics are shorter - the third verse is omitted - but that leaves the meaning of the song intact anyway. This is mostly for radio djs, while it will probably crop up again on some future Best Of compilation.

2 - The extended 12" is a full-vocal, perfect companion to the album version. It starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar motif, while the musical textures are generally expanded upon to create yet another pristine example of New Orderiness. Listen and compare.

3 - The Agoria mix is simply excellent and actually the track that prompted us to purchase the whole package. The full-vocal song is underpinned by desolate piano chords, languid house beats and sweetly gliding hi-hats, over which Bernard Sumner's voice floats with mature world-weariness. The verses are all grouped together, with the chorus and a guitar line only coming in towards the end. This Agoria fellow really has a way with production tools.

4 - The xxxy mix is the only slightly disappointing track here, but this is because we are a little old-fashioned when it comes to remixes; that is, we only consider them accomplished when they use the full vocal and this one - unfortunately - uses just the first verse and the chorus. A pity really, the music not being bad at all, all clippety-cloppety house beats and keyboard crescendos (of course) with a distinct Kraftwerk feel.

5 - Which leads us to the RAC mix, where normal service is resumed. It is a full-vocal and mid-tempo version with more of an electro feel, the sounds focussing on the synths and strings that proceed to build walls around the track. Very intimate and enjoyable, it prepares us for...

6 - ...Mr Andy Weatherall's rework. We feared a ten-minute dub instrumental, but we were thankfully wrong. The vocals are intact but the tempo switches to 4/4 with a squelchy, wet-rubbery snare that - with the help of a Moroder-y keyboard riff - gives the song an interesting ostinato slant. In a word, a great remix. And it also ends on an ironic note, with Bernard asking 'How much do you need' several times as the track flows towards fade-out.

Well, you know the answer to that!

Some Kind of Heaven
Some Kind of Heaven

2.0 out of 5 stars Is There A Heaven?, 10 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Some Kind of Heaven (MP3 Download)
Hurts are not exactly in the most comfortable position at the moment.

Their second album, Exile, effectively dispelled the aura of 'Saviours Of Pop' that they had earned with their fine debut in 2010, putting them swiftly back among the bands who excel at producing flawlessly bad follow-up records.

This new single carries the heavy burden of announcing the arrival of a new chapter and - alas, alas - it is a rather disappointing herald.

The song is basically a re-write of What Is Love by Haddaway shot through with a choir of ten-a-penny katebushes, who kindly sustain Theo Hutchcraft's foghorn throughout the whole sarabande. The mood is gospelly hysterical and the lyrics are not very adroit, dealing as they do with the old baloney of finding love in somebody elses's arms.

It is a catchy ditty, indeed, but this can be tragically said of many an illness in our modern, digitally-enhanced world.

Is there a heaven? We'd like to think so.

At Least For Now
At Least For Now
Price: £7.99

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transience., 29 May 2015
This review is from: At Least For Now (Audio CD)
A voice. A man clinging to his art. For dear life.

This is the first impression you get from Benjamin Clementine, an Anglo-Ghanian, self-taught balladeer discovered in Paris while busking in the streets.

His astounding vocal prowess will slap you in the face within seconds, and at the same time another thought will strike you: Nina Simone's spirit lives on in him. And this is not to diminish Mr Clementine's talents in any way, but the mood of this record definitely points in that direction, and particularly in the direction of one of Nina's most breathtaking masterpieces, "Nina Simone and Piano!".

This too is a sombre album and, like that one, not exactly a crowd-pleaser. Here the artist exorcises a deep sense of rootlessness taking stock of his life so far, a life that has taught him some hard, essential lessons: nothing is ever secure, and not everyone is always there for you when you really need them.

These lessons flow from singer to listener over a carpet of piano and lithe rhythms, ably complemented by understated, effective string arrangements. The sonic palette is very European, with French chanson touches dappling the soulful, often skyscraping melodies.

It is a great record, every track a distinctive life experience, and among the jewels on offer we cannot help mentioning the devastating Nemesis and Cornerstone, songs that - by the way - would not sound out of place on a Morrissey album.

That is simply to say that this new voice in popular music is already in great artistic company.

From now on, he will have ours too. Even if things keep changing all the time.

No Now
No Now
Price: £6.48

2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars At Your Own Risk, 2 April 2015
This review is from: No Now (Audio CD)
Beware. No Now is the debut album by an artist working under the pseudonym of Clarence Clarity. Nothing is known about it, but it is whispered that this is actually an "overground"version of the equally mysterious Burial, who has now chosen to show his face while still not revealing his name.

Well, this is pure hype. No Now is a flawless disaster, one of the worst debut albums to have disgraced popular music since the invention of the phonograph.

Its recipe is simple: write twenty tracks in a mock Michael Jackson style and marinate them in vitriol for a week. Then rinse in caustic soda, adding an avalanche of noisy samples and distorted electronics, mix the whole thing and master it in the loudest possible way.

The result is R'n'B as shellshock, a deafening aural torture that you could never possibly wish on your worst enemy. This album has no artistic merits whatsoever, but we also believe that it can be dangerous for your hearing too, even at a very low volume.

Which begs some questions: is this a joke at the expense of music lovers? Is our Clarence compos mentis? Why in hell did Bella Union release this "record"?

We will never know. of course, but rest assured: if you purchase this disc, you will do it at your own economic and aural risk.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2015 10:08 PM BST

Price: £7.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lies And Lullabies, 5 May 2013
This review is from: Woman (Audio CD)
It arrives cloaked in enigma and ambiguity, yet you only need a couple of listens to be sure: come December, this will be among the best debut albums of the year.

A Canadian / Danish duo (Mike Milosh / Robert Braun), Rhye offer a gliding take on blue-eyed pop-soul with bossa nove, Bacharach and disco leanings. It will leave you deeply entranced and rather surprised.

"Woman" is impeccably produced and arranged, strings and brass stylishly embroidering glinting, mostly mid-tempo opal-smooth beats. Think the Chic-Steely Dan-Avalon Roxy Bermuda Triangle: are you ready to disappear in there?

Yet all of this would be (nearly) nothing if two further elements would not add an extra twist to the tale of this minimally sleeved record.

Firstly, the lyrics are not typical. Given the musical ingredients, you would expect some schmaltzy gibberish about how your baby is the sunshine of your life and so on and so forth. Not here: the lyrics are indeed about love and sez, but they deploy laconic, effective imagery to convey their transience, implicit disappointment and not so metaphorical cannibalistic nature. The wordanto "3 Days" andf unger" are apt examples of this; when coupled with their elegant backings, they produce an off-beat mix of chic-driven cruelty.

And soon it becomes clear: the whole album is about love's corruption and man's fall from it, a pessimistic parable that very much resemnles life itself. If it sounds too depressing, never mind; the music will soothe all of your hurt.

The music, of course, AND the voice. Mike Milosh is apparently the singer on this project, yet what you hear is so utterly Other that it seems impossible that the owner of this instrument should be burdened by a detail as trivial as gender. Anyway, the quavering iridescence of this voice becomes the perfect glue that holds the hazy obsession of the music together. It is compelling, addictive and really pure in its sense of decay. It is also the best new voice so far this year.

"Woman" is a round white pebble on the river bank of tour memory. Pick it up, caress it slowly; it will tell you lies and lullabies that you thought you had forgotten. From that moment on, they will stay with you forever.

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