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oleskipper (Aarhus, Denmark)

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Starless [Limited Edition Boxed Set]
Starless [Limited Edition Boxed Set]
Price: £129.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mellotronically speaking, 5 Nov. 2014
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What is it with this music, that after 4 decades it still exerts a magnetic pull, making you even consider investing in a ridiculously overblown, pompous, selfindulgent, endlessly repetitous, totally wonderful box such as this? Must be them mellotrons...

I had my reservations about the Road to Red box (see review if you wish) - at least half of the ten discs with soundboard recordings were decidedly subpar performancewise and in no urgent need of resurrection from the damp, frippy vaults. No such problem here, though - the playing throughout is first class, often indeed stunning, with sound to match (not counting the 3 bonus discs). Perhaps not fully reaching the hyperintensity of the very last American gigs (on Road to Red), but the music here is allowed room to breathe, the bandmembers truly listen and respond to each other - and violinist David Cross, great musician as long as he stays away from that electric piano, is still very much an integral and important part of the band (later, he would be literally blown off stage by the Wetton/Bruford/Fripp power trio that went on to record Red).

Really, there is little or nothing to not like here. If you think you need this, you probably do. Personally, I can well imagine myself indulging in this stuff even when I'm 60 (presently I'm a mere 59).

(Note: A few words about the 11 discs of soundboard recordings, that for some may be a prime argument for getting this box, as many are here available on CD or indeed any format for the first time. The sound quality ranges from good to great, never less than perfectly enjoyable. The same can be said of the musical quality, ranging from a strangely nervous set in Avignon (with an exceptional Bruford managing to keep things together) to some later, near-perfect German shows that find the band strutting with selfconfidence. And yes, we have some terrific, mellotrondrenched Impro's, too! Enjoy.)


Act I
Act I
Price: £6.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Tarja with fans, 21 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Act I (Audio CD)
The sound quality here is pretty unspectacular for a 2012 live recording - having the appearance of a soundboard recording, with bass and drums very predominant. The music is OK, though, with the band suitably heavy and Tarja in fine voice, never missing a chance to make the audience go HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY.... I must admit I prefer the studio versions, but, being hopelessly in love with Tarja, I can't possibly give this any less than four stars. Only, get the studio albums first.


The Power of Premonitions
The Power of Premonitions
by Larry Dossey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Having hunches, 18 Oct. 2014
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Dossey seems to leave no stone unturned in this penetrating and lively study of an elusive subject. Lucidly written, abundantly annotated, crammed with, well, 'anecdotes' , this is an engaging, informative and inspiring read that should appeal very much to anyone interested in premonitions and related psychic phenomena.


Sibelius: Complete Symphonic Poems
Sibelius: Complete Symphonic Poems
Price: £10.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius with a difference, 14 Oct. 2014
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Those wanting a more or less complete set of Sibelius tone poems do not have too many options. There's a 3 cd-box on DG with Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburgers, decent and polished, but unfortunately consistently inferior to the earlier, splendid BIS recordings by the same combination (scattered across numerous single cd's).There's a 2 cd Alexander Gibson set on Chandos, highly recommendable, but with a rushed Tapiola and no Lemminkainen Suite. There are fine single discs with selected tone poems by Ashkenazy (Decca), Levi on Telarc and first class options on Naxos by Inkinen and Sakari, respectively.

So what about this slightly obscure-looking superbudget set on Brilliant Classics - is it the promising alternative it might appear to be? Well yes and...yes! This is a differently sounding Sibelius than all above listed - I guess the word is 'Russian'. There is little or no orchestral polish here, but plenty of excitement, commitment, colour. Having listened to Sibelius for decades in more versions than I care to remember, I actually heard some works here with a fresh sense of discovery. The orchestral playing may take a little while to adjust to, and the recording benefits from a solid cranking up of both bass and volume. But having gotten so far, it is just to sit back and enjoy. There are no decidedly weak tracks here, and quite a few that rival the finest in terms of sheer power and excitement - I was impressed by Tapiola, The Oceanides, Pohjola's Daughter, and the Lemminkainen Suite too receives an inspired reading. While hardly a first choice in any single work, as a box set this is as recommendable as any competition in this repertoire - and at the price there is little to worry about. Any serious Sibelian should give this a listen.


Sibelius - Luonnotar; Orchestral Songs
Sibelius - Luonnotar; Orchestral Songs
Price: £14.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Sibelius, 11 Oct. 2014
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A generous collection of Sibelius orchestral songs, some orchestrated by the composer himself, others not. With expert conducting by Leif Segerstam (less sluggish than usual) there is certainly no sense of unhomogeneity in the material, spanning most of the composer's career. The famous Luonnotar comes off very well, but to be honest, I have yet to hear a bad version of this fantastic and challenging piece that seems to bring out the best in singers and conductors alike. Other highlights include Höstkväll, På verandan vid havet and the chilling Sen har jag ej frågat mera. Soile Isokoski sings with such emotion and commitment that one almost feels Sibelius must have have written these songs with just her in mind. The Ondine sound is rich and full. It is hard to imagine how any of this could be bettered. Sheer perfection.


The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things: Fourteen Natural Steps to Health and Happiness
The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things: Fourteen Natural Steps to Health and Happiness
by Larry Dossey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, healthy read, 11 Oct. 2014
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Optimism is a very good and healthy thing, BUT too much of it can also be dangerous! Well, yes... In this fashion Dossey politely examines a broad range of subjects (such as bugs, tears, dirt, miracles, music, plants) from opposing sides, before settling on a safe middle ground. Sounds boring? The author's humour, warmth, wit, openmindedness and intelligence make sure that it's not, I assure you. There is much wisdom between the lines and pages of this unassuming book. Read it, it's good for you. (But remember to get your good night's sleep, too - and not too much coffee!).


What Lies Beneath
What Lies Beneath
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark chest of wonders, 10 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: What Lies Beneath (Audio CD)
Darker and heavier than its predecessor "My Winter Storm", this is in every way a worthy follow-up from Tarja. Her emotionally supercharged vocals soar to heaven and the fine band is behind her all the way. What is it with female operatic vocals and heavy metal rock that makes it such a spinechilling combination? I have noticed that some find her material 'weak', 'not suited for her voice', and certainly not as good as when she was with that band whatever its name was (by the way, I loved them too). I can't believe we're listening to the same music! Tarja draws from many genres, combining them in her own unique way. You usually have to look well outside the field of rock (not to mention heavy metal) to find music of a quality comparable to this. A true dark chest of wonders.


Play Bach Vol.4
Play Bach Vol.4
Price: £8.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The voice of God, 9 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Play Bach Vol.4 (Audio CD)
Of the original Play Bach series vol. 1-5, recorded 1959-65, this is the odd one out. With overdubbed organ parts throughout (played by Loussier), this is unlike anything else he made before or since. The recording technique of the day (1963) was perhaps not quite up to the task, the piano sounds somewhat muffled when playing alongside the organ, but this is no major problem. Loussier of course shines, but there is much imaginative playing from his brillant sidemen too. This music really hits you beneath the skin - at times you feel the piano represents a small, human voice conversing with the mighty, godlike voice of the organ. A strange, rewarding, oddly moving listen, but definitely a nonstarter (and well, if you don't like it, the whole thing is over in about 29 minutes...).


Play Bach No.5    /Dec
Play Bach No.5 /Dec
Price: £7.36

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest, 6 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Play Bach No.5 /Dec (Audio CD)
The last of the original Play Bach series vol. 1-5 dating from 1965, in vintage DECCA stereo sound, finds the Loussier Trio in a highly adventurous mode - the first three minutes must have left even seasoned Loussier fans a bit perplexed... Throughout the fine and varied programme the playing is of the highest order - those who might have the impression that the playing of the first Loussier Trio was 'simpler', less subtle, than that of his later groups from the mid-eighties onwards, should give this a good listen. This is pure genius - and very, very beautiful. One of his all time finest.


The Seer EP
The Seer EP
Price: £9.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A winter breeze, 28 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Seer EP (Audio CD)
The title track may for some be the prime attraction of this EP, for me it is actually the least interesting, surely not bad, just slightly dull by Tarja's usual standards. What's next is a series of remixes/alternative versions of songs from the excellent My Winter Storm. These are not your regular braindead hip hop remixes, this is exciting and illuminating stuff. The live tracks are all first class, too. So, all in all, a fine and varied collection, with a number of unusually quiet songs, showcasing Tarja's wonderful voice and making you feel almost intimate with her (oh how I wish...). Committed Tarja fans should enjoy this very much, all others should start with the regular cd's.


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