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Alex Belsey

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Inside of Emptiness
Inside of Emptiness
Offered by zoreno-uk
Price: £12.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best of Frusciante's solo records, 26 April 2014
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This review is from: Inside of Emptiness (Audio CD)
This possibly edges 'Shadows Collide...' in terms of an album that's sheer quality from front to back with a consistent tone thematically and musically. The production suits these songs down to a T: raw, growling guitars, rumbling bass and a garage-band sound to the drums. Vocally Frusciante is at his most free and expressive, complementing the greater focus on relationships and loneliness here in his lyrics.


Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
Price: £9.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Severely underrated songwriting, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Dear Miss Lonelyhearts (Audio CD)
DML is a massive improvement on the last record and creates a coherent direction and aesthetic for the band to build on. Reviews for this have been fairly lukewarm simply because CWK seem to have had their moment in the sun and are now dismissed fairly quickly; don't make that mistake! I listen to a lot of music and five of the ten tracks here measure up with the best of last year


Wakin' On A Pretty Daze
Wakin' On A Pretty Daze
Price: £13.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, immersive album, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Wakin' On A Pretty Daze (Audio CD)
I genuinely look forward to those times when I can play this album in its entirety through a decent set of speakers. Most recently it provided the perfect woozy, uplifting soundtrack to a post-party clean-up. Having only heard a couple of tracks from earlier Kurt Vile records I had listened to 'Snowflakes are Dancing' and 'Girl Called Alex' on Spotify but been wary of the length of WOAPD and the number of longer tracks (which on appearance seemed extravagant). Man was I proved wrong. After the second occasion on which I played this album from front to back I decided, 'Right, I gotta buy this on CD.' This is just such a well-sequenced record and the arrangements are so compelling in terms of their shifting layers that the number of longer tracks doesn't make for a slog but instead an opportunity for joyous immersion. As with any great album, it helps that it's bookended by two tracks that encapsulate everything that is charming, melancholy, and life-affirming about Vile's wise-ass drawl and sparkling guitar tones. Thoroughly recommended and certainly one of the best records of 2013.


The Damned (Penguin Classics)
The Damned (Penguin Classics)
by J.-K. Huysmans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational - could even be Huysmans' greatest novel, 2 Sep 2013
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'A Rebours' (trans. 'Against Nature'/'Against the Grain') is the more widely known work and certainly the most influential, yet it's this later novel that really delivers all of the crotchety art criticism, withering put-downs, florid description and pervy occult dabbling that you want from this still-underrated novelist. The best part? The strange Satanic investigations part-fictionalised in this novel were informed by Huysmans' own dangerous spiritual curiosity and correspondence with dodgy defrocked clerics. Basically, this is a must-read and, I have to say, still very shocking in certain parts.


Man Ray Portraits
Man Ray Portraits
by Terence Pepper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Great accompaniment to a great exhibition, 2 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Man Ray Portraits (Hardcover)
I was fortunate enough to see the Man Ray Portraits show at the National Portrait Gallery but had gazed covetously at this accompanying volume whilst stood skint in the gallery's gift shop; six months later, I am very happy to have finally purchased it. Every page dazzles, whether it's the experiments in technique and composition or simply the novelty of putting faces to the illustrious names of twentieth century art and music (who knew that bold experimentalist Matisse really really looked like Freud??). I hope I don't damn with faint praise by saying that this is the ultimate coffee-table book.


Selected Poems
Selected Poems
by Frank O'Hara
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.06

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant account of city lives and loves, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Selected Poems (Paperback)
This is a wonderful collection of poems in a high quality edition. O'Hara can be funny, oblique, or casually devastating, yet he's always warm and gloriously human.


Sentimental Education (Penguin Classics)
Sentimental Education (Penguin Classics)
by Gustave Flaubert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.69

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately this is an over-rated novel, 8 July 2013
Expectations were high. Having loved the wit and cynicism of 'Madame Bovary' I finally made time for 'Sentimental Education' but I'm afraid that I found it poorly paced and frequently dull.

I'm very familiar with the French realist tradition and Flaubert's unique position in French literary history, yet I was still surprised by the extent to which the novel seems more like an inventory of opinions than a narrative involving well-realised characters. Every character here is simply a cipher or a world-view without any redeeming vivacity or entertainment value. Frederic, our anti-hero, is avaricious and fickle yet nothing more, making his obsession with Mme Arnoux tiresome and one-dimensional. As a tale of misplaced ambitions, thwarted desires and moral ambiguity, I'm afraid this doesn't come close to Dickens' 'Great Expectations' or the recurring appearances of Rastignac in Balzac's novels.

What's most frustrating is that Flaubert fleetingly gives us the kind of piercing insights or scabrous one-liners (impeccably translated by Robert Baldick, a scholar whose work on Huysmans is unrivalled) that we expect from him, only for the action of the novel to drag us back into another dour exchange or awkward tract of historical context. There are some great passages here on the cruel realities of life in contrast to the world of our dreams, it's just a matter of whether you want to trawl through a sprawling, repetitive novel to find them.


En Route (European Classics)
En Route (European Classics)
by J.-K. Huysmans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.88

4.0 out of 5 stars The second Durtal novel is worth investigating, 11 Mar 2013
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Following on from the sensational La Bas (translated as The Damned), En Route rejoins that previous novel's protagonist for another aesthete's foray into the Middle Ages. Whereas La Bas had all the spice of grisly historical crimes and Satanism in late nineteenth Paris, En Route is a more genteel affair as Durtal begins the conversion to Catholicism that would continue in Huysmans' subsequent novels L'Oblat and Le Cathedrale. As a result, this novel (though exceptionally rich in description and typically scabrous in opinion) is more of a curio for those eager to read how Huysmans dragged his fictional protagonist through a religious conversion that reflected aspects of his own in real life. This is a perfectly adequate edition though don't expect any detailed extratextual material.


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