Profile for James Kirk > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by James Kirk
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,613,222
Helpful Votes: 31

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
James Kirk (Bath UK)

Page: 1
Glass: Solo Piano
Glass: Solo Piano
Price: £6.99

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philip Glass - Solo Piano, 15 Jun 2007
This review is from: Glass: Solo Piano (Audio CD)
Solo Piano represents some of the more minimal work of Philip Glass. Very different in feel to say Powaqattsi or some of his other film scores this bears more resemblance to the soundtrack to The Hours. In fact part Two of Metamorphosis formed basis of the main theme from this soundtrack.

Whilst themeatically repetative throughout the CD, the various compositions were produced for different occasions, and collated on this album; Metamorphosis takes it's name from a play based on Kafka's short story. Parts Three and Four were written as accompaniment to the play, and parts One and Two use themes from Glass' soundtrack to The Thin Blue Line by Errol Morris. The piece Mad Rush was written for the Dalai Lama's public appearance in 1981 in New York for his entrance into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine played by Glass on the organ reinterpreted on this album for piano.

Metamorphosis sets the compositional style of the album with a recurring theme that is continued throughout all of the pieces. As the piece develops the complexity of the music increases. Rolling arpeggios are added to the main theme in Metamorphosis Two, and in Metamorphosis Three heavy yet refined chords are projected over the lulling main theme. Metamorphosis Four adds further complexity to the main theme reprising the rolling arpeggios as well as the chords from Two, which come across as stronger elements within the piece. Metamorphosis Five reprises Metamorphosis One yet the sound of the piano is dampened conveying a greater sense of simplicity and calm to the piece. The two pieces enclose the composition thematically and typify the change of mood throughout, finishing with little sense of relief.

Mad Rush continues the theme from Metamorphosis One yet as it develops it has a greater sense of power and the piece cascades feeling at some points like it is trying to overtake itself in some way. The main recurring theme however steps back in at these points providing a point of safety within the composition for the listener; the piece does not feel like it is going to quite fulfill itself. Themes from Metamorphosis are brought back including the rolling arpeggios, but with an added sense of urgency in this piece. Mad Rush does however not simply reuse old themes from Metamorphosis but creates themes of its own at certain points which are developed. The piece finishes with a similar feeling to the start having left behind the urgency of the middle part of the composition. To me this is the most successful composition on the album yet without the support of the other pieces may not recreate the same emotional response from the listener if heard in isolation.

Wichita Sutra Vortex begins with a new series of chord changes yet falls back in to the alternating notes of the main theme throughout the piece. The composition once again reinterprets some of the earlier themes from the previous parts of the album, but with a similar urgency to Mad Rush as well as a slight feeling of anger in the tempo of the chords. I feel that for the closing piece of the album, Wichita Sutra Vortex could provide an emotional response as strong as Mad Rush, and this feels to me like the weakest part of the album.

From what I have heard of Philip Glass' work this for me includes some of his best work. It is incredibly powerful yet with a subtelty which I have yet to hear elsewhere. Listened to in the right atmosphere this album will really take you on a journey for 50 minutes which will somehow seem different every time. The fact that the composer is the performer on the album allows the listener to experience exactly what Glass wanted, and the simplicity of the music allows the performer to play the composition exactly how he feels it should be without too much technical difficulty. The music also allows itself to be heard incidental to something else as originally written and provides beautiful background music to the right type of literature.

The album at times feels dark yet allows this to be released at times with the themes which run through all of the compositions, and it is this emotion with allows the repetitive nature of the music to not become stale. A brilliant composition and a perfect introduction to the work of Philip Glass.

Unweaving the Rainbow
Unweaving the Rainbow
Offered by Empor UK
Price: £6.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James LaBrie at his best, as you've never heard him, 14 Nov 2004
This review is from: Unweaving the Rainbow (Audio CD)
This is James LaBrie's vocal talents at their very best, and he has a lot of them. His voice is slightly more raw and more "real" than it is with Dream Theater. More as he sounds with the no longer existing Mullmuzzler. The album is focussing mainly of course on his voice. Slightly cheesy theme, but what prog isn't
a great album

HP PhotoSmart 735 Digital Camera [3MP 3xOptical]
HP PhotoSmart 735 Digital Camera [3MP 3xOptical]

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a dreadful piece of equipment, 20 Oct 2004
HP should stick to what they know, making printers. They should stay away from making software and cameras. The batteries last for about 20 - 30 pictures. I have had 2 replacements now because they broke. They are badly made, they waste space and are generallly very shoddy pieces of equipment.

Train Of Thought
Train Of Thought
Price: £5.52

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible development in Dream Theater's discography, 7 Aug 2004
This review is from: Train Of Thought (Audio CD)
I am a great fan of Dream Theater, so i may have a slightly biased judgement...
As I Am starts the album, and as i see it is a response to the modern music industry, focussing as i see it on recording labels, who look for simply how well their new five piece all singing band will be accepted by the braindead modern music industry. "To those who understand, I extend my hand, To the doubtful i demand, take me as i am.."
it also has a great instrumental section. This song is not the most musically challenging, (read: it's mainly in a 4/4 beat) This of course however is not necessarily a bad thing, and the band deals with it extremely well
This Dying Soul extends the themes of The Glass Prison from the previous album, and explores the theme of the program set by Alcoholics Anonymous to rid oneself of alcohoism by a 12 step program. It also develop themes from The Mirror, a track from the album Awake. It again is a heavy song with a metal feel to it. It is varied throughout of course, and sometimes you can get confused as to what song you're listening to because of the sheer scale of the number of different themes throughout the album.
Endless Sacrifice starts off with a good riff (ominously similar to a Michael Jackson riff) and then descends into full a blown progressive metal track, with extremely proficient guitar / keyboard duets. This is a common occurence in the album, when John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess play the same notes extremely fast for a few bars, and then go into harmony. Its very impressive seen live, i was amazed that it was possible to do it so proficiently without some time keeping method such as a conductor. The theme i guess is confusion and frustration and is in the form over all as a metal ballad (if that is not an oxymoron.)
Honor Thy Father is "a hate song" written about the Step Father of a friend of a band member, and is a powerful explosion of emotions with speech samples. This (if again possible) is the essence of modern dream Theater, this is a great song
Vacant is a welcome break from the metal thus far, and is an emotive song with keyboard 'cello and guitar, and voice. It puts the 'cello (in my opinion one of the best and most variable orchestral instruments) to very good use. most importantly it does not sound cheesy or pretentious.
Stream of Conciousness is a very proficient and impressive instrumental, up there with the Ytse Jam and The Dance of Eternity. Quite simply its a showcase of the incredible talent of each member of the band (with exception of course of James LaBrie.)
Finally "In The Name of God", my favorite song on the album is an exploration of religious fanaticism, and is a powerful track with varied themes. It discusses ideas of Cult and of course violence in the name of God. I do not see it as an exploration of faith of the band. Eight minutes in is one of the best keyboard/guitar duets i have heard. Again live it is mind blowing. I also love the way that the musical themes are so varied in their dynamics and timing. Again i see this track as the essence of modern Dream Theater.
Overall i think this is a fantastic album. It is not my favorite Dream Theater album (at the moment) yet it harks back to Awake etc whilst looking forward to what the metal and progressive genre can produce in the future. I think it is a quite groundbreaking album, and it of course will never get the recognition it deserves.
To those who like metallica, if you hear this, i'm afraid your opinion of the more popular band may decrease. For those with a musically trained mind this is a must. I cannot recommend this album and band enough.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2011 9:58 PM BST

Page: 1