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Colin Mccartney (United Kingdom)

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Aves Sugar Digital Radio Alarm Clock
Aves Sugar Digital Radio Alarm Clock

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks the wow-factor, 7 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Aves unit is a minimal inconspicuous design with DAB+ and which is easy to set up (it more or less sets itself up) and use. The build quality is reasonable and overall it's value for money. However for me it's let down by one main fault: the clock's too small and difficult to read - so much so I would not even use this as a guest bedroom radio. I also found the sound, although loud enough, to be a little bit on the tinny side compared with my old mono Roberts DAB. Whilst these negatives may not be that important to some, the general design of this clock radio I think is uninspiring and there are better products out there for the same or even less money. My advice? Pass on this and shop around - life's too short for bog-standard products.

Zukunft Ohne Menschen
Zukunft Ohne Menschen
Price: 28.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Life After People"..., 6 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zukunft Ohne Menschen (Audio CD) I believe the title of this translates into English. A similar concept, maybe, to Robert Hood's Omega and Boards of Canada's Tomorrow's Harvest, but a different kind of album again, albeit still within the electronic genre. So does Voigt's version conjure up visions of some sort of post-apocalyptic nightmare? Actually, it does not. Rather this is a musical world where machines have exceeded human intelligence; perhaps a world where humans have evolved into robots but - a world where things, somewhat boringly, somewhat Teutonically, unsentimentally, carry on. All ten tracks on "Zukunft Ohne Menschen" contain the same analogue-sounding synth noises and, bar the first couple of tracks, are mainly beatless. It's an odd yet compelling listen. Usually techno composers will try to impress the listener with the sonics, but here it's the same sounds across a whole LP. Exactly what this is trying to convey I can't say, but as with all Wolfgang Voigt releases I've heard (note: I'm an occasional purchaser only), he refuses to play the game.

In case it's not apparent from the Amazon product information, at time of writing, this CD comes in a hardback book of "digital paintings" (no text) and is a fine looking item. The hard copy is not dead, not yet anyway.

If I win the lottery tonight I'm buying an Audi RS6 Quattro and "Zukunft Ohne Menschen" will be the first record going on the car's audio system, appropriately enough.

Cabaret Voltaire-Live From London (region 0) [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]
Cabaret Voltaire-Live From London (region 0) [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Cabaret Voltaire
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 6.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential viewing for Cabaret Voltaire fans, 5 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This 2013 DVD release has gone under the radar and only came to me via an Amazon recommendation. At first I was sceptical, expecting it to be some sort of poor quality unofficial edition and put off from buying it, but then I checked out the You Tube clips and in fact "Live from London" is of perfectly satisfactory quality. It appears to be from the ITV archives (Central Television) but I certainly don't remember this being broadcast at the time because if I had seen it, back in 1992 (when this performance dates from) I would have LOVED it.

Today it stands up as a document of very late period Cabaret Voltaire. So late, in fact, I was surprised to find out that Stephen Mallinder was still in the band. This must have been recorded around the time of their instrumental Plasticity LP but the material on it (or most of it) is in fact culled not only from "Plasticity" but also the later (and again instrumental) International Language and The Conversation albums. Although Mallinder was credited on those records I think many, myself included, had assumed the lack of vocals was down to the fact he had left the band - evidently not.

The visuals? Well to anyone not familiar with the Cabs' work this video might seem a little odd. A grizzled Pet Shop Boys maybe? The 50 minute 6 song performance is "enhanced" by graphics which detract from the live feel. Not sure if this was the TV company's idea or the band's - either way it probably needed something to liven it up slightly. Richard H. Kirk, who is a genius is, I suspect intentionally, hilariously inanimate. He looks like somebody's dad who's just shambled out of the pub and turned up to play one-finger on the keyboard.

The music? It is the most wonderful Chicago acid influenced house music which stands up against many classics of the day - pity that CV never got the attention they deserved. Other than Mallinder's bass and Kirk's odd press of a key though, I doubt much of it actually IS live but it's still great music - you can treat it like an LP and not bother with the visuals if you like. The performances are interspersed with interviews by Steve Lamacq who, unusually, doesn't manage to spoil things. The duo come across as self-effacing:

Lamacq "How haves your audiences changed over the years?"
Mallinder "They've got a lot smaller...I think most of them are dead."

The packaging and sleevenotes? In a word, bog-standard - although I like the digipak format. Whilst the sleevenote writer just about sums up the Cabs, s/he goes on to say "By the late '80s and early '90s the band had begun to wain [sic]." Really whetting the viewers' appetite for this 1992 performance then. Another clue as to how clueless the DVD label, SFM (who they?), are is the front caption "Includes The Message and Plasticity 6 [not exactly their best known hits] and many [i.e. 4!] more [no, Nag Nag Nag then? ;-)]"...

No matter, as SFM have unearthed a rough diamond.

Archive #828285 Live
Archive #828285 Live
Price: 26.78

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 5 0 1 2 5 - go!, 2 Oct 2013
This review is from: Archive #828285 Live (Audio CD)
I must admit I was unsure about buying this box set initially. Firstly because some previous Cabs live LPs have proved to be a disappointment - witness Live At The Hacienda.'83/'86: 11.08.83/19.02.86. and secondly because two of the three discs are from the group's Rough Trade period which, whilst critically acclaimed, is my least favourite era of Cabaret Voltaire's work. Nevertheless, whilst browsing the net one night I succumbed - perhaps swayed by the quality of previous archival releases on Richard H. Kirk's label, Intone - and, I'm glad I did.

The first two discs are, in fact, particularly good despite the fact I don't favour their earlier work so much myself. The recording quality is excellent and the live performance seems to bring out something different by comparison with the band's recorded sound. Surprisingly the third disc is, perhaps, a minor disappointment. The quality of the recording, though by no means bad, is not in my opinion of the same standard as CDs one and two. Also, whilst the tracklist on the "85" disc contains some of my personal favourites, many of them sound like inferior live versions of the studio recordings (as is often the case with live albums). Stick with it though, because it gets into its stride nearer the end with the likes of "Sleepwalking", "Ghost Talk" and "Kino" - all totally original and never-bettered.

The package is a box containing the discs in three slip-cases plus a 26 page booklet of mostly photos though, some text at the end.

Cabaret Voltaire are a massive influence on electronic music and this 3 CD set is a quality release, however if you're new to the group I would advise holding on for the studio recordings, to be released in November 2013: Collected Works 1983-1985 (considerably more expensive, mind you).

Factory Floor
Factory Floor
Price: 13.66

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fearsome unrelenting post-techno music, 25 Sep 2013
This review is from: Factory Floor (Audio CD)
This LP has received some tentative/lukewarm reviews in some quarters. Perhaps that's not surprising as it's not a particularly easy listen and not something you can just stick on in the background. Yuppies expecting some sort of tell-your-friends-about-Mercury-prize-nomination-type record are coming at this from completely the wrong angle. Nothing against yuppies but "Factory Floor" is something of a musicologist's record. Leave your pretensions at the door because this is the sort of music that needs a little figuring out: along the lines of - what on earth possessed somebody to make this; where the hell did it come from? The same sort of figuring out that I recall having to do on hearing post-Hannett New Order (the NO song "Hurt" in particular) or THE KEY OF DREAMS + SINGLES-era Section 25.

As a full album experience Factory Floor is quite a difficult proposition - it just doesn't let up. After all, what sort of mood does one have to be in to listen to this sort of music? It doesn't really seem to fit any particular mood other than one which says "let's play a good old racket". It is a dance record of sorts, but this has more in common with PIL and Cabaret Voltaire than it has with, say, Derrick May or Carl Craig. That's not to say it's retro, because it isn't. As I said in the review title I would call this post-techno - imagine Robert Hood's equally unrelenting Internal Empire played with real instruments and you're maybe about 3/4 of the way there. This is music to shake those (i.e. me) who have been listening to too much chill-wave out of their state of torpor.

Whilst the record has its critics who are both right and wrong, I just love the way it has absorbed its influences and at the same time looks to the future. I strongly suspect that there is much more good stuff to come from its makers and that this may be just be the beginning.

A post-Techno classic.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2013 11:19 PM BST

Casio G-Shock Men's Quartz Watch with Black Dial Analogue - Digital Display and Black Resin Strap AWG-M100A-1AER
Casio G-Shock Men's Quartz Watch with Black Dial Analogue - Digital Display and Black Resin Strap AWG-M100A-1AER
Price: 82.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't find a better watch for the money, 21 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Casio AWG M100A-AER is in many ways the ultimate watch: solar powered, radio controlled, water resistant to 200 metres (static pressure) and shock resistant. Theoretically therefore this is a watch whose battery will never need to be replaced, that you will never need to set or even take off.

The watch always tells the correct time (provided you are in signal range, which so far as I can tell covers most of the northern hemisphere) and auto-adjusts for daylight saving time. It does NOT auto-adjust for time zone changes (you need a GPS watch for that, e.g. the significantly more expensive SEIKO ASTRON Water resistant for daily use dial sapphire glass super clear coating titanium white black bright radio-corrected GPS satellite solar Men's watch SAST007 [Japan import]) but you can very easily swap any time zone for the current time with the simultaneous press of the top two buttons.

The solar power unit charges easily - I don't wear mine every day but it continues to show "H" (high) power reserve. The watch arrived on "M" (medium - presumably because it had been kept in the dark, in its box for some time) and took several weeks to get up to "H" where it now remains.

The operation of the watch is reasonably easy. It's true to say that the instruction booklet is rather thick and you DO need to read it, though it's certainly clear enough. Casio have always produced excellent instruction manuals, ever since I received one of their original stainless steel digitals as a Christmas gift from my parents back in the early 1980s. Once you get used to the watch, it's actually very simple to use (and will be even simpler to anyone who has previously owned a Casio watch).

Crucially, this watch is not over-designed or garish - as many watches in the G-Shock range can be. Check the other models in the AWG M100 range: there are further colour/display variations which may suit different purchasers, including the easier to read conventional black on grey LCD dials if required. These inverted grey on black LCDs are, admittedly, not that easy to read and if you plan on using the watch for at-a-glance timer readings you would be well advised to investigate a slightly different model. The hands are luminous although the luminosity fades quite quickly in the dark (this would probably not happen on a more expensive watch) but there is also a light, which makes the analogue time easy enough to read. As other reviewers have noted the light is not electro-luminescent ("illuminator") and does not light the LCDs, which is a shame - I wonder whether this is maybe a constraint imposed by the solar power supply? Anyway, it's not a problem unless you plan on using the watch for its other functions in the dark, which I don't. If you do then look for another G-Shock as the AWG-M100 is probably not for you - although in my opinion these are amongst the best looking G-Shocks ("you pays your money...").

The other main functions on the watch are:

- Dual time (appears on digital display only) - includes all world time zones;
- Stopwatch - sadly this does not go above 59m 59s 99 1/100ths - so consider that if you need a timer that lasts longer;
- Countdown alarm - from 1-99 minutes only (again some may find this limited);
- 5 daily alarms - good as reminders though tinny-sounding and won't wake you up. A date alarm would have been useful but sadly is not included. There is also an hourly time signal.

The strap is the standard G-Shock "resin" - fairly hard-wearing, susceptible to the odd very minor scuff mark and goes very slightly shiny over time but otherwise resists wear and tear well: it is, after all designed to be knocked about a bit. In hot weather I find the strap can sometimes become a little uncomfortable and needs to be loosened, although this is the same for most watches I've owned. The casing is used on a number of G-Shock models and is something of a classic design. The watch face is not overly large and the strap is not tapered (a feature which badly dates some other Casio models, in my opinion). The thickness of the watch may be a problem for some. It can just about go under a shirt cuff and is not ridiculously thick, but may still be too thick depending on your preference. Whilst it's fairly versatile and can be worn with more or less anything I personally would not choose to wear this watch with a business suit. Whilst this Casio is not what I would call a cheap watch, I do think that wearing it with smarter clothes does maybe tend to show it up a little - a problem presumably not experienced by (rich) owners of the aforementioned Seiko Astron.

for though, this is probably the best Gents watch money can but for the price and undeniably a 5/5 purchase based on the price/quality equation. The Amazon price at time of writing is good too, as typically this model sells for 130 in high street jewellers. Anyone want to swap me for an Astron? ;-)

Blackberry Q10 Sim Free Smartphone - Black
Blackberry Q10 Sim Free Smartphone - Black
Offered by Online queen
Price: 191.50

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid all-round smartphone, 18 Sep 2013
The BlackBerry Q10 is not for everyone. It's well known that BlackBerry has nowhere near the same range of apps available as its competitors. However if that is not important to you, then the Q10 really is an excellent phone.

THE OPERATING SYSTEM: This is no-nonsense and reasonably intuitive to use. As is the way of things these days you don't get an instruction manual and thus there's a lot you have to suss out for yourself. I've had my Q10 for three months now, never having had a BlackBerry before, and I'm still finding out new things about it - and I suspect there's more to come. I have experienced the odd glitch but nothing too disturbing. The unit runs warm if you keep apps running in the background so my advice would be turn these off, particularly if you want to save battery power, or unless you want to use it as a hand-warmer.

DESIGN/BUILD QUALITY: The Q10 is a subtly restyled version of its BB predecessors. The weight and size are just about right, neither too heavy nor too light and not too big either. The small screen-size will of course be off-putting to people looking to do anything requiring a visual aspect - but this IS a keyboard BlackBerry after all, so presumably those considering purchase are not prioritising screen size. The super AMOLED display itself is of a very high quality and actually, is absolutely fine for watching short clips and music videos and the like. What the prospective purchaser should consider, nevertheless, is whether or not the keyboard is required at all: I was surprised to find that the keyboard is just that - mainly used for keying text only. It does not assist with navigating around screens, nor can it be used to override touchscreen functions to any great extent - although it does offer a few handy shortcuts. Therefore, unless the lack of physical keys is of primary concern, you might want to look at the larger-screened Blackberry Z10 UK Sim Free Smartphone which as far as I can gather is more or less the same phone, sans keyboard. Whilst the Q10 is far from flimsy in build quality it does not give the impression of being overly durable either. Yet during the 3 months I have had it the screen has yet to collect its first scratch - despite being accidentally put in my front jeans pocket with my house keys on numerous occasions. So no need to bother with screen protectors.

FUNCTIONALITY: There are some niggles. Cutting, pasting and inserting takes some getting used to - fortunately I don't do a lot of that but it's a bit awkward. It would have been better if they could have added some sort of back-up cut and paste function using the keyboard rather than the touch-screen. Also, I find the screen panel for inputting text messages a bit small. This has two drawbacks: the obvious one - that it's difficult to read the whole message you've just typed at a glance (and fiddly to scroll through). Secondly, less obviously, re the aforementioned text editing issues, and in conjunction with the proximity of the 'send' button, if you're not careful you can accidentally send a text whilst still trying to edit it. Not a major problem for me and perhaps less so once the user becomes more aware of this. Pitfall, but nevertheless a flaw I would be seeking to correct in future if I were the designer.

CAMERA/VIDEO: This feature is the one thing I have received several compliments about - on what is otherwise an understated phone. The camera colour and resolution are excellent for a camera phone - better, in fact, than my own camera which I've more or less stopped using. The camera has (provided you turn the function on) the ability to forward and rewind pictures of faces before saving them i.e. to the moment immediately before somebody's blink spoiled your otherwise perfect picture. There's some fun video editing software on here too. Also extremely useful is the mini HDMI slot - just buy the appropriate lead and you can plug the phone straight into your TV - great for showing off pictures and videos.

PHONE/EMAIL/TEXTING: The USP of the BlackBerry 10 is its communications "hub" - it brings together all the usual suspects - Email, FaceBook, LinkedIn etc in one place. This function is quite scary at first - as people you barely know/used to know/thought you had erased suddenly pop up in your contacts list without warning. Ultimately though, I now find it quite useful as it brings in e.g. contact details for occasional business contacts whose details you might not otherwise have bothered storing until...the day you need them.

ACCOMPANYING SOFTWARE: The associated "BlackBerry Link" software for use with your computer for syncing music, making photo albums etc is decent if not fantastic. Useable without being annoying, and 10 million times better than iTunes (but what isn't?). One gripe though is that it's difficult to scroll though.

THE REST: I'm a big music fan and will ignore any device that is half-a**ed as a music player. The Q10 is NOT one such device and is the first phone I've owned that I actually bother to play music through regularly. The onboard sound is pretty good too. Whilst, as I mentioned, the lack of apps will be off-putting for some, this was not a problem for me APART FROM the lack of Google Maps - which I took for granted on my old Android Sony Ericsson. BlackBerry Maps isn't in the same league and in particular, if you mostly go everywhere on foot (as I do). A remedy is at hand in the form of "BeMaps Pro" which is downloadable from the BlackBerry store for 2.50 and is almost, but not quite, as good as the Google version. Final minor annoyance: I've noticed all BlackBerry charger cables are on the short side but the one supplied with the Q10 is even shorter. Buy an extension cable unless you want to charge your phone on the floor.

IN SUMMARY: Personally, this is really a five star product for me - it's transformed me from a "non-phone person" into a "phone person" but I appreciate that it will not suit everyone. I've knocked a star off for some of the problems mentioned above plus, the fact that (at time of writing, at least) it's perhaps rather expensive for what it is (don't expect to get that many compliments on it). If you like to send a lot of emails and take a lot of pictures on your phone - this is the phone for you. If you want a decent non-iTunes music player and a phone that is generally pleasant to use (how irritated do I now get when I revert to my wife's Android tablet - quite, so much so I use the Q10 where possible) - this is the phone for you. If you like your gadgets but you are not a crowd-follower - this is the phone for you. If you want to play games and use apps then, you should look elsewhere. Oh, and if it's just a bigger screen you're after (the Q10 can be a little fiddly at times) - consider the (touchscreen only) Z10 instead.

Price: 16.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As close as you'll get to a new Drexciya LP, 11 Sep 2013
This review is from: Commodified (Audio CD)
NRSB-11 comprises Drexciya's Gerald Donald (aka Heinrich Müller of Dopplereffekt) and Sherard Ingram (aka DJ Stingray of Urban Tribe) and is released on the (usually) hard to find Belgian label, WeMe Records.

A collaboration between these two individuals was always going to be a must-have for any Detroit techno fan such as me - and it doesn't disappoint. The musical similarities with Drexciya are fairly clear, although the sound is overall cleaner and higher-tech. As with Boards of Canada on Tomorrow's Harvest, NRSB-11 have concocted a sound that will appeal not only to longstanding fans of techno music, but also to today's post-techno generation (Chromatics, Factory Floor et al).

"Commodified" is something of a concept album: with a barcode on the cover and track titles like "Consumer Programming", "Living Wage", "Market Forces", "Offshore Banking" and "Austerity", I guess it's fair to say this is about the darker side of capitalism.

The CD version of the LP has the added bonus of all three tracks from the group's previous EP for WeMe and is therefore a must for anyone who didn't manage to get hold of a copy of that.


Reach For The Dead
Reach For The Dead
Price: 0.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in a Scotch sitting room..., 25 May 2013
This review is from: Reach For The Dead (MP3 Download)
You half expect to hear Ivor Cutler's voice over the bagpipe-like drone at the beginning of this track; instead, in come the beats, followed by some arpeggiated chillwave synth.

"Reach for the Dead" is a contemporary listen but in a retro way: a yearning for the past has always been at the core of BoCs music, but here their reminiscence appears to ape contemporary bands like Chromatics - who are themselves nostalgic.

So who is copying who? Whose record is the more forward looking by being the more backward looking? I'm even confusing myself here...

Anyway this is very good - the most entertaining thing I've heard from the Boards since Music Has The Right To Children [New Version] - after which they have largely been treading water in my opinion.

Bodes well for the new LP Tomorrow's Harvest.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2013 1:04 PM BST

Solar 90" x 90" Cyan Blackout Thermal Lined Pencil Pleat Designer Curtains Available In A Choice Of 7 Sizes
Solar 90" x 90" Cyan Blackout Thermal Lined Pencil Pleat Designer Curtains Available In A Choice Of 7 Sizes
Offered by The Linen Depot
Price: 47.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blackout, at the flick of God's switch?, 27 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It seems to be a fact that blackout curtains do not come in nice patterns and so a plain design, like these, is the best you are going to get - unless you are prepared to pay bigger bucks for made-to-measure.

These curtains are very stiff and squeaky to the touch, however I saw similar reviews for other brands - so I am guessing this has something to do with the type of materials used to reflect the sunlight, and may be unavoidable.

This 90" x 90" size is basically two pairs of curtains sown together. That in itself doesn't bother me although, the stitching is quite wide. There is nevertheless plenty of gather in them and they drape along the floor which always makes curtains look classier I think. As for keeping the light out, they do work well enough. Our bedroom faces north-east, which is problematic in that the sun shines right into the room first thing in the morning.

The curtains do not blackout the room, but they do reflect the sunlight so that it isn't glaring in. What you are left with isn't total darkness - just calmer and more sedate.

So all in all, these curtains are probably a little slap-dash in terms of quality and they do not blacken the room out completely, but for what they cost overall, they are reasonable value for money. 3.5/5.

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