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Reviews Written by
Elliot Davies "ahttt" (Liverpool, England)

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Chiastic Slide
Chiastic Slide
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.98

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Electronic meat grinder soundscaping, 14 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Chiastic Slide (Audio CD)
First of all, whilst I've heard a lot of Autechre's material, this was the first album I heard. I was expecting it to be uncomfortable listening, edgy, unlistenable abstract techno. Well, it is, but only for a few seconds. A few seconds, that's how long it takes for the songs to establish themselves. It is here where the head is filled with cold, clinical industrial imagery. Pretty soon, though, the rhythms become drones and you're sucked in, hypnotised, comfortably at one with the machines. It's a pleasent sensation, and because most of the tracks are lengthy affairs, you spend a lot of the album floating happily in a vat of oil, or something. It's only when the next track grinds into life where the flow stops. You're shaken awake rather rudely and all is not well, before you settle back down again into the groove.
Each track has a different feel. It's a cliche to say so, but the album really is like a journey, an exhibition of different mental states. This is real Metal Machine Music. Far from unlistenable, I have trouble stopping myself from picking it up every time I tease a CD from the rack.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2012 6:52 PM GMT

Lost Souls
Lost Souls
Price: £2.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good start, 6 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Lost Souls (Audio CD)
Whilst Last Broadcast and Some Cities are masterpieces, modern classics, Lost Souls is simply very, very good. Just not as good, you know? Getting there.
Compared to the other two albums, which provide veritable feasts of enotions, Lost Souls has more of a "chill out" sound to it. Firesuite wouldn't sound out of place on a Zero 7 album. The likes of Rise and The Sea Song are almost ambient soundscapes, with vocal refrains and riffs repeated to create a sort of acoustic trance. This is not a bad thing, please do not see this as a bad thing. They are very effective at what they do, they're just not as memorable as certain other songs that Doves have in their catalogue. That said, they sound absolutely incredible live.
The title track is highly experimental, borderline uneasy listening, making use of organs and distorted vocals to create an unsettling and disorientating effect. Melody Calls swoops in to save the day with an impossibly catchy chorus and a carnival feel which would be used on a MUCH grander scale in There Goes the Fear on Last Broadcast. Melody Calls is a very memorable song, I found myself skipping straight to it whilst preparing for a night out. It puts you in a brilliant mood.
The same can be said for Catch the Sun...and then some! This song is so optimistic it's almost untrue. The guitaring is brilliantly stunning, bringing to mind those intensely sunny summer days. Listening to it in the winter makes you long for the summer. Listening in the Summer makes you look out the window and appreciate life.
The Cedar Room, their first epic (bless) is another standout. It's huge, it rocks AND rolls, it could almost be by U2 were it not for the distinctly Manchester sound. I love songs that make even the wettest of places sound romantic. Manchester is a city of hidden beauty, and Doves seem to be on a quest to find it. With tracks such as The Cedar Room, they almost succeed.
So this is one of those albums to be tagged with a "good, but not AS" tag, the type of album people say things like "were it by anyone else it would be brilliant, but for Doves" about. It's truly a great album, a great starting point, it allows you to see where such indispensable gems as Lost Souls and Some Cities evolved from.

The Raven
The Raven

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not avoid this., 3 Jan. 2006
This review is from: The Raven (Audio CD)
Rock songs that invoke deep contemplation with splices of Egdar Allen Poetry. How could anyone possibly not admire this opus? People may not enjoy it, but I think it should be admired by everyone. It's ambitious, it's deep, in places it's brutal, in others beautiful. It's long, daring, it works as background music and it survives intense scrutiny. In short, as a piece of work, it's remarkably daring.
It has to be admired.
Enjoyment of this masterpiece, however, like everything, depends upon the individual. I was lucky enough to catch the live incarnations of some of these songs. I heartily believe Vanishing Act to be one of Lou's best songs, and he has a lot of songs. It's so delicate, so fragile, so unlike anything being produced by anyone. Lou's voice has certainly improved with age: Gone is the cool cynicism and wit, to be replaced by a hauntingly beautiful lament of a delivery that I find simply irresistable. Mix this with the absolutely stunning croon of Antony (sometimes as a backing singer, but he makes "Perfect Day" his own) and you have a humbling listen in your hands. It enriches.
"Who Am I?" is the song that got me into Lou Reed. I saw him perform it on Jools Holland in about 2003 and I was so blown away that I bought the NYC Man compilation. I was quite dissappointed with the version found on that, turns out the one I was looking for was here all along. I love it so much. I don't want to repeat myself, so just take any previously used adjectives and apply them here.
So Vanishing Act and Who Am I? are in my opinion two of the most affecting songs ever produced. Whilst the remainder of the album never catches up with these two joys, like I said, it's mightily impressive. Willem Dafoes reading of The Raven is gloriously dramatic, and Steve Buscemi's Broadway Song is very entertaining. Overall, it's a package that's well worth a purchase. Having purchased, you'll not only own two of the greatest songs ever, you'll own a vastly underrated masterpiece that will only truly be appreciated posthumously. And you'll be able to say that you were there from the start!

Price: £9.83

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happily floating in space., 15 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Apollo (Audio CD)
I remember when I first got this album. I knew it was ambience, so I decided to listen to it in bed, bathed in total darkness. Well, I wouldn't recommend it. I was absolutely terrified. Sheer terror, as alien noises filled the room playing on the imagination and providing me with some horrific imagery. Really unnerving, this is definately an album that should only be enjoyed in a state of conciousness.
When actually awake, it's beautiful. You can happily drift away, feeling just like you're floating in space. Of course, the unnerving soundscapes remain (Matta), but they serve to provide balance. The rest is pure beauty. An Ending (Ascent) is one of the greatest pieces of ambient music ever produced, instantly recognisable. Deep Blue Day is equally renowned, it soundtracked Renton diving into a toilet in Trainspotting. However, my personal favourite moment is the beautiful steel guitar solo from Daniel Lanois in A Silver Morning.
Well recommended, this music will last forever.

Deserter's Songs
Deserter's Songs
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £3.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a dream!, 15 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Deserter's Songs (Audio CD)
Yep, Mercury Rev are one of those bands for the small hours, perfectly capturing that hazy state inbetween conciousness and sleep. This is one of the dreamiest albums I've ever heard, and it manages to achieve the wonderful state without drenching itself in reverb!
Holes is a sleepy wonderland, lullaby vocals over a backing of Brian Eno ambience and lush orchestration. Tonite It Shows is incredibly romantic in that it makes one feel that there's more to life than what we make of it. It instills hope and almost unbearable happiness, like a soundtrack to the forest scenes of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Then comes Opus 40, an absolute masterpiece of evangelical organs and metaphysical lyrics and a chorus that might make you cry.
The second half of the album is a lot more lucid. The Hudson Line features percussion that sounds like a speeding train. You could imagine it playing on The Polar Experss. Goddess On A Highway...well, it rocks. It's music for driving down a deserted motorway in a daze to. The Funny Bird is a psychadelic wonder that contains truly otherworldly guitar sounds and vocals.
At some points the album sounds like 1920s ballroom music. At others it sounds like music for a haunted house full of friendly ghosts. The point is, this is NOT music that soundtracks your life. It's music that soundtracks your dreams, your fantasies, your short, it's absolutely indispensable listening for anyone interested in escapism.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2009 2:35 PM BST

Leaders Of The Free World
Leaders Of The Free World
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.98

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Repeat, 5 Dec. 2005
Truly an album that requires repeat listenings. Many, many times will you have to listen to this before you truly appreciate it. On first listen it's pretty enough, nothing new...but the album's genius lies under it's skin.
I reccommend dimming the lights, lying down, playing this at a reasonable volume and listening very carefully to the sounds you're hearing. It's only then when it becomes apparent how unique Elbow are.
Their trick involves compiling sounds together to form a cohesive whole, held together by enthusiastic drumming and bassing. Nowhere better is this exemplified than on the stunning "My Very Best"...I don't know where most of those noises come from, but added to the mix are lush violins, delicate electronics and spidery guitar lines. The cumulative impact is a gorgeous song. It's like building a palace out of gold bricks. The end effect is beautiful, but every single brick is equally beautiful.
See, this album needs time to be picked apart. Listen to the intricate arrangements and appreciate how innovative this band truly are. Their sound is a warm, human sound, perfect for these winter months. Let it seep in and you'll find it soundtracking your life. Personally, I always hear "Station Approach" in my head when I walk through big cities these days.

Felt Mountain
Felt Mountain
Price: £4.58

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tut, 5 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Felt Mountain (Audio CD)
If it didn't go completely against absolutely everything I stand for, I'd brand Goldfrapp as "sell-outs". They record THIS as a's gorgeous, lush, cinematic, experimental, groundbreaking...and then completely ruin it with not one, but two albums of glamorous disco stomp. Fun as it may be, it's the polar opposite of Felt Mountain, and one does sort of get the impression that they altered their sound to try and find success. Black Cherry and Supernation will be forgotten about in about ten years. Felt Mountain, however, it completely timeless.
The sound is unique. It manages to conjure up images of expansive Alpine scenery, dusty old haunted houses, twisted pandemonium carnivals and rain soaked cityscapes bathed in a haze of cigarette smoke. The arrangements somehow manage to be spartan yet complete simultaneously. You get the impression that every single sound you're hearing has been meticulously arranged and deployed with the upmost of care in order to elicit an emotional response from the listener. This emotional response can be melancholic concentration (Lovely Head) otherworldliness (Paper Bag) and even sheer bliss, feeling completely at one with your surroundings (Utopia). In the title track, they seem to have recorded fresh air, such is the expansive, open sound to it. It's difficult to describe, but these are not songs, they're more like soundscapes.
Alyson Goldfrapp's vocals eventually become an instrument in themself. They're stretched, distorted and tampered with to the point that at some moments they no longer sound human. "What exotic instrumentation" you find yourself musing, only to discover that you're listening to a human voice.
So, it's a masterpiece. I listen to their latest outputs and give sighs of despair at what could have been if only they'd continued experimenting with music. We'll just have to hope that they return to their roots on their next offering.

Offered by Vinyl Tap Limited
Price: £3.13

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clone it., 18 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Clones (Audio CD)
A delicious Alice Cooper sampling anthemnic party tune, guaranteed to get you on your feet, grooving the night away like there’s no tomorrow. But sit down and actually LISTEN to it and you’ll discover that it’s actually burning up with hatred for the state of the nation. The Radioactiveman mix of “Liverpool” that is the B-Side is even better. A Spartan, claustrophobic wasteland of minimalistic electronic beats that perfectly reflect the bleak “on the run” theme.

Best of the Beta Band
Best of the Beta Band

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You like them more than you think you do, 2 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Best of the Beta Band (Audio CD)
The criminally ignored and underrated Beta Band have released a greatest hits compilation. As a "best of", it's quite definitive. The most accessible tracks from their unrivalled seem to have been selected, yet even these are about as far away from the "mainstream" as is possible without sounding like "metal machine music". From the achingly beautiful to the miraculously uplifting, from the lo-fi electro to the soaring stadium anthems, it's hard to find a better selection of songs. "It's Not Too Beautiful" would have to be my pick of the bunch. It's an absolutely insane mix of sampled orchestration, unsettling sound effects and ominous guitar riffs and looped vocals that tend to take the listener's breath away. Then there's the catchy uplifting hip hop of "Smiling", a song that one can chill out to AND dance to simultaneously (if need be).
But it's the quieter moments that have the deepest impacts. "Dry The Rain" might well be known as the song that's namechecked by John Cusack in "High Fidelity", but it's so much more than that. It's a timeless classic of a song, leaves you feeling very warm inside.
The same can be said of "Broke". It uses extremely sparse and minimalistic instrumentation, yet somehow manages to fill the room with a radiant warmth. This seems to be a trick that only the best of bands can accomplish. Dense, lush soundscapes are brilliant, but one has to admire those who can achieve so much with so little. The White Stripes do it, Sigur Ros do it, and so too do The Beta Band.
The people that need to buy this album are the curious many who know very little of this wonderful band. Those that claim to be fans of "alternative" music. Only then can their legacy grow, and God willing, one day they'll reform, Pixies style, and finally be recognised as some of the greatest innovators in musical history.
However, the second disc should ensure that the existing fans have reason to shell out. The Beta Band always sounded better onstage than on CD, and to my knowledge this is the first "official" live recording available. As such, it's a real treat for the fans. "Dr. Baker" sounds especially superior live, with the speeded up tempo and added guitar parts, it was always a crowd pleaser. However, the quadruple drum solo that brings "The House Song" to a close is truly unforgettable.
This could well be the greatest release of 2005.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.98

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Masterpiece, 13 Sept. 2005
This review is from: 13 (Audio CD)
The critics mauled it, Mogwai hated it so much that they printed a line of t-shirts that perfectly expressed their disgust, and the loyal fanbase seems to be completely divided. I have no idea why. This is quite possibly my favourite Blur album. Certainly their most accomplished. It has a fixed concept for one thing (Damon's messy breakup) and it's about as experimental as The White Album or Ok Computer. Whilst it doesn't really break any new ground sonically, it's one giant leap for Blur, and in a musical climate where regression seems to be awarded (Oasis, take a bow), one has to admire their efforts.
Like most great albums, every track stands out. However, there are three that hold that extra special place in my heart. Three that I reccommend to newbies as examples of the majesty of latter day Blur. First, the sinister punk metal thrash of Bugman that really pulls the rug from under your feet after the aptly named Tender. It's ferocious and unforgiving, making perfect use of the most stressful sounds imaginable. Quite possibly the best use of a vacuum cleaner in a song ever.
Then the sheer monolithic brilliance of Battle. Essentially, Blur trying their hand at trip hop, the sound brings to mind Portishead or DJ Shadow at their most insightful. With an ominous synth riff, crashing drums and beauitful melodic vocals, it's a gem from start to finish. Graham Coxon's guitar consumes the entire debacle in a glorious wall of sound before releasing the chaos, but by this time it's transformed into a fuzzy organ solo. Genius.
Finally, the frankly insane Caramel. It's weird, it's wonderful, it starts off sounding a lot like Animals era Pink Floyd. A cosmic prog oddyssey that breaks down under the strain of its own majesty. Then turns into a creepy Eraserhead organ suite. Then a car starts, then we're treated to an electroclash outro. I've said it before and I'll say it again...genius.
Whilst the dense experimental proggressive suites are thrilling and enduring, it's the bare minimum approach of No Distance Left To Run that breaks the most hearts. With nothing but a tragic distorted guitar and Damon crooning on the verge of tears that "It's over", the effect is devestating. Programmed last for a reason, it sticks in the head long after the CD's finished. But then, all of these songs do.
An underrated masterpiece, my favourite Blur album, the best album of 1999...I can't reccommend it enough. It's perfect.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2012 9:15 AM BST

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