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David Caton (Westcliff on Sea, Essex England)
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Brilliant
Brilliant
Price: 11.49

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's been a long time coming..., 31 May 2012
This review is from: Brilliant (Audio CD)
...but was it worth the wait?

Ultravox's music meant a lot to me when I was a teenager. Vienna was one of the first albums I bought and they were the first band I ever saw live (November '82 at Ipswich Gaumont). I saw them twice back in the 80s and again twice on the Return to Eden tours. They were the band that really got me into music and I've been messing around with synths and music production ever since. To say I've been looking forward to this is an understatement.

It could have been awful, but thankfully it's not. It's actually much better than I expected. The feel of the album is generally more upbeat than their early stuff and there's some compromise here between the classic ultravox sound and something more contemporary in places, but generaly speaking the trademark style and sounds are all present and correct. It's the songs which best capture the mood of their early albums that work for me though. Live and Satellite are excellent. One, Fall and Contact don't really do it for me to be honest but the rest are all pretty good. Lie, however, is the outstanding track here - powerfully atmospheric and intensely emotive. Nobody else does it like this.

On the downside, Midge's vocal style seems a bit odd in places and for me the production and sound qualty are a bit disappointing. But that's just niggles really and on the whole I think it was definitely worth the wait. I can't stop listening to it which I guess says it all.

As usual, the album's had a drubbing from the critics. As I'm writing this, however, it's no. 17 in the Amazon chart so what do they know?


The Happening [DVD] [2008]
The Happening [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Mark Wahlberg
Offered by rockaway-records
Price: 2.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I talk to the trees..., 16 Oct 2009
This review is from: The Happening [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I'm ashamed to say that I didn't make it to the end of this film. I watch a lot of movies and can usually find some redeeming feature, even in the worst cliche-ridden low-budget horror, but not this time. I was aware of the negative reviews but decided to rent it anyway as I was intrigued by the premise and thought the trailers looked interesting. I watched it with an open mind but unfortunately I have to agree with the overwhelming number of negative reviews. This is a real turkey. This is only the second movie-rental which I've switched off half-way through in 30 years (the first was Hot Fuzz).

The idea that "plants are producing a neurotoxin which alters our brain chemistry removing our capacity to prevent self-harm and therefore making us commit suicide in revenge for global warming" etc is a ludicrous and contrived plot-device (even by Hollywod's normal standards) to justify gratuitous shots of unexplained and shocking mass suicides in an eco-friendly context. If nature wants to kill us all, why not just have plants produce a poison gas which kills us without relying on us killing ourselves (if I had a gun and wanted to kill someone, I'd shoot them in the head, not give them the gun and then alter their brain chemistry to make them commit suicide!!)? How about a virus? Or a plague of black widows, or snakes? You know, something vaguely credible that people would actually be scared of? The problem is that having come up with this ridiculous idea, Shyamalan then has to figure out how to scare us with it without just relying on endless shots of unexplained suicides, so he has to tell us what's going on more or less straight away and we are then treated to people waiting for gusts of wind to run away from. "Here it comes, run!" in response to a gust of wind blowing through some long grass. Scary shots of picturesque trees blowing in a slight breeze in the sunshine...

The behaviour of the lead characters is nonsensical - the plants could be responsible, so let's run into this field full of trees and long grass where we'll be safe. They're focussing their "attacks" on centres of population and groups of people so let's stay away from them - oh look there's a house, let's run towards it, then run away again when more people turn up. Add to that dire dialogue and some of the most unconvincing acting performances I've ever seen and the end result is embaressing to watch.

This should have been given to Sam Raimi and played for laughs. Imagine it - "Toxic Tree Massacre" - the trees in Central Park sprout legs and start chasing down New Yorkers, belching out clouds of toxic green gas and wielding chainsaws as revenge for mankind's rape of the environment. I'd pay to see that!


Spirals in Hyperspace
Spirals in Hyperspace
Price: 12.81

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiralling on..., 24 Mar 2004
This review is from: Spirals in Hyperspace (Audio CD)
This is the long awaited new studio album, the first since The Hidden Step in 2000, and the first since the band switched to new label, Magna Carta. I can honestly say that I haven't enjoyed listening to a new Ozric Tentacles album this much for a long time and it's amazing that after all this time they can still sound this fresh and original.
The album is largely an Ed Wynne solo effort although other band members, past and present, guest here and there along with Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudi on Akasha. All the usual elements are here; swirling, spiralling, spacey synths, weird sound effects, strange time signatures, frenetic guitar soloing etc. The feel of the album reminds me at times of earlier Ozric outings such as Sliding Gliding Worlds and there's more than just a hint of Nodens Ictus (the ambient outfit comprising of Ed along with Joie and Merv from Eat Static) in there too. The album clocks in at 70 minutes which I think must make it the band's longest studio album for many years. The sound and production are excellent and the artwork and photography appears more professional than previous efforts.
The standout tracks for me are the final three, Akasha, Psychic Chasm and Zoemetra. Psychic Chasm features former Ozric drummer and half of Eat Static, Merv Pepler, and is simply awesome, mixing traditional Ozric elements with thumping techno and drum 'n' bass. I was lucky enough to catch Nodens Ictus at Glastobnury last year and this track is pretty similar to some of the material they performed there. A whole album of this stuff would be absolutely amazing!!
Any Ozric fans out there who havent't got this yet, what are you waiting for?!


I Am Legend (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
I Am Legend (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Richard Matheson
Edition: Paperback

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original "Blade"?, 5 Oct 2002
I know it sounds like a bunch of cliches but this book gripped me so much I couldn't put it down and read it in just a few hours. A sometimes bleak study of the human condition it is also engrossing, thought-provoking and moving. It is also one of the few "horror" novels out of hundreds I have read that have genuinely scared me.
Basically it is the story of Robert Neville, the lone survivor of a plague that sends its victims into a coma, followed eventually by death and vampirism. By day Neville hunts sleeping plague victims and vampires and disposes of them in the traditional manner. By night he locks himself away while hordes of vampires attack his well-defended house. Eventually he seeks scientific explanations for the causes of vampirism and tries to find a cure. In that respect I think the story must have been an influence on the Blade comics and movies (just don't expect hi-tech weapons, martial arts and cool shades!!).
As Neville becomes more resigned to his situation, and gradually gets used to the nightly attacks of vampires on his well-defended house, so does the reader. The vampires become almost incidental and the writing focusses more on Neville's thoughts and preoccupations. Until, that is, Neville loses track of time and gets caught outside, miles from home at nightfall. It is a testament to Matheson's writing that at this point the thought of being in Neville's position and having to run the gauntlet of vampires waiting for him outside his only safe haven is truly terrifying!
The pseudo-scientific explanations for the characteristics of vampirism seem a little silly, especially the "body glue", but these are really incidental to the story, as is the futuristic 1970's setting, and you shouldn't let these put you off.
I would recommend this book to anyone.


Aqualung
Aqualung
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.84

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much of a good thing?, 30 Sep 2002
This review is from: Aqualung (Audio CD)
I bought this CD today on the strength of the single, which I have loved since I heard it on the VW advert.
Unfortunately, for me the songs on the album all sound exactly like the single and surprisingly I was very bored after the first few tracks. The vocal style, arrangement, tempo, beat, style and sound are more or less the same on each track and this makes for a repetitive and ultimately frustrating listening experience - I kept waiting for something new and interesting to happen but sadly it didn't. He's obviously a talented songwriter and the arrangements are OK, hence the three stars, but there needs to be much more variety than on show here to keep me interested.
Disappointing. I recommend you try before you buy.


Become the Other
Become the Other
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 25.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive post-Eat Static Ozric album?, 27 Jan 2001
This review is from: Become the Other (Audio CD)
The title presumably reflects the fact that this was the first Ozric release following the departure of Joie and Merv (to concentrate on Eat Static) and featuring the new permanent line-up of Ed, Jon, Seaweed, Rad and Zia. The sound is more contemporary than previous releases and far surpasses, in my opinion, the band's previous lack-lustre release Arborescence.
For the uninitiated the Ozric sound is based around Ed's superb guitar and Ed and Seaweed's spaced-out synths, underpinned by the tight bass and drums of Zia and Rad and interspersed with Jon's occasional meandering flute, resulting in an almost indescribable psychidelic fusion of trippy instrumental acid electro prog-rock influenced by a wide variety of other styles including reggae, funk, dance and World music, notably with an oriental tinge.
Apparently influence by Hillage, Hawkwind and Gong they explore strange and original musical territory without too much regard for current musical trends but with skilful musicianship and production, and tongue firmly planted in cheek. Admittedly they do have the tendency to be overly self-indulgent and disappear up their own backsides from time to time in pursuit of new musical territory to explore but what the hell, when the overall result is this good who cares?!
Become the Other is a taste of what's to come in subsequent offerings and features some excellent music. Personal favourites include the truly superb upbeat electronica of Wob Glass and the Spanish guitar and castanet-tinged monster Vibuthi. Along with the subsequent album Curious Corn this is for me the definitive album of the current Ozric line-up and is a must-have album for fans of the band.
The Ozrics come highly recommended to anyone with a taste for music of real quality or those disenchanted by the current state of 'pop' who fancy something a bit different. You won't regret it!!


Pieces in a Modern Style
Pieces in a Modern Style
Price: 13.09

1.0 out of 5 stars Hasn't this all been done before?, 22 Jan 2000
An album of 'contemporary' versions of classical music - what an original idea! But hang on, haven't Walter/Wendy Carlos, Tomita, Rick Wakeman and God knows who else been doing this since the late sixties, with predictably naff results? And isn't it true to say that with the advent of PC's, sound cards and MIDI files it's never been easier for anyone with a PC and half a brain to produce electronic versions of classical music?
Having heard some of Orbit's previous work (Strange Cargo 3 - a great album) I thought perhaps he would make a decent job of this, especially after hearing the excellent dance version of Adagio for Strings. I thought we could expect an album of dance 'remixes' of the classics in a variety of modern styles. Not so. The dance remix that made it into the chart isn't here, in fact there are no real drumbeats and very little bass of any description throughout the entire album. What sort of contemporary album is that?! It doesn't even work as ambient, it's too lifeless and boring. Orbit relies here on predictable synth sounds and produces flat, uninteresting arrangements that are instantly forgettable.
I have to say that this is one of the most boring and disappointing albums I've heard in 20 years of buying all different kinds synth music. I've never taken such an instant dislike to an album before! Just think if it had been done by the Chemical Brothers or Orbital, or anyone else, I think we could have expected far more original and entertaining results!
If you want ambient stick to Global Communication, FSOL et al. If you want classical, stick to classical. If you want Orbit stick to Strange Cargo because this is pants. All that's missing are the leg holes and washing instructions.


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