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Kraftwerker "gata23" (Herts, UK)

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Die, Monster, Die! [DVD]
Die, Monster, Die! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Boris Karloff
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars HP Lovecraft adaptation delivers a few genuine scares, 7 Jun 2014
This review is from: Die, Monster, Die! [DVD] (DVD)
Titled "Monster of Terror" in the UK, this used to be a staple of Friday night TV horror and it has moments that are still genuinely unsettling after all this time. The plot is a loose adaptation of HP Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space", one of the master's finer short stories, so its a pity that once again a subtle Lovecraft story gets bowdlerized for the sake of some cheap B-movie thrills. Not that the cast do a bad job with inferior material, quite the contrary. A magnificent Boris Karloff plays Nahun Witley, wheel-bound owner of a lonely big old house with something odd going on in the greenhouse. His wife, Freda Jackson (the nanny of the young count in Hammer's "Brides of Dracula"), declaims grandly behind the net curtains of her four-poster bed, her once-famed beauty now suddenly gone. Her maid has disappeared. Boris' father had dabbled in some sort of witchcraft before meeting an untimely end, you see, and the villagers shun both house and its inhabitants, so when a brash young American student (Nick Adams) arrives at the invitation of their daughter Susan, he soons finds out its to be a weekend from Hell. Almost too literally. For starters there's a big crater surrounded by blackened, brittle trees on the heath not far from the house, then there's the copious amounts of English fog that appears at the drop of a (black) hat, not to mention a mysterious shrouded woman in black floating around the grounds. Unfortunately, the really interesting aspect of Lovecraft's story, that a mysterious, shrinking meteorite which fell to Earth and contaminated all around it was in fact some type of alien intelligence, is completely overlooked here in favour of some standard "mad scientist" hokum with a bit of poorly thought-out witchcraft thrown in. The script delivers some good and unexpected scares, but overall its an unexpectedly dull affair, making little use of its secondary characters (notably Patrick Magee is wasted as an alcoholic family doctor). The shocks are embedded within an awful lot of Adams either walking around the house, or in and out of the village (no-one will rent him a bike, let alone drive him) or Karloff wheeling himself frantically around the place. The woman in the woods (maidservant Helga, gone mad) is another wasted opportunity. Suzan Farmer as the daughter is pretty and effortlessly wooden, though a scene where she creeps through the house at night with her boyfriend, him in patent leather sneakers, her in blue fluffy slippers, adds a well-done note of humour to proceedings. And if I had a fiver for every time Karloff or Jackson implores Adams to "take Susan away from here" I'd have recouped the cost of this DVD ten times over. Against all this though are two things that make it worth purchasing. One is the magnificent colour print in widescreen and the attention to detail in the art direction. This is a well-realised, big old house, reminiscent of that black and white Robert Wise masterpiece "The Haunting". What a shame it has none of the subtlety of THAT classic, which was far more confident to let a house be simply "born bad", rather than tack on some explanation such as the grandfather was a Satanist and conducted some rites in the cellar. The second is the famous "zoo from hell" section in the greenhouse. Things get off to a slightly dodgy start as we see enormous mutant tomato plants, which are clearly a big bunch of toms strapped close to the camera as it takes in a long shot down the central path, but then we enter another room from which low animal moans are emanating and immediately see some real monstrosities, squid-like things of nightmares. For a 50 year old film, these special effects are amazingly good to this day. I remember this being the scariest thing ever when I saw it on TV, on my own, late on a Friday night as a kid, and its worth the entry price alone. The noises they make too are also very realistically scary. And, as I said earlier, Karloff is an imposing figure, clearly still on top form. The denouement is pretty standard monster-movie fare though, and the special effects a little carelessly applied (Adams runs across a bit of green, vaselined lens at one point) but at least, finally, someone takes Susan away from the place!

I'm In Love With A German Film Star
I'm In Love With A German Film Star

5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime stuff from STW/PSB, 1 May 2014
The original by The Passions was a gorgeous icily evocative treat that made the charts in 1981. Dubby and trippy, drenched in echoplex guitar that would give The Edge a run for his money and fronted by the ethereal vocals of Barbara Gogan, this was the band's One Big Hit. This new version came about because artist STW has her studio in the same building as PSB have their own rehearsal/studio space. PSB produce a equally hypnotic, warmer-sounding version of the song that is quite unique across its different versions (close to 40 mins of music), full of chugging bass, what sounds like Neil performing some manly electric guitar powerchords in the background and a persistent wristwatch-like metronomic beat. Apart from the single mix, the standout version here is the extended PSB Symphonic mix which clocks in at over 8 mins. As the title suggests, there's a fair bit of orchestration drenching this version but halfway through it mutates into something very different. There's a long squealy acid bass workout, followed by some varispeed German spoken word and the strings change pitch - its like the Boys have dug out the tapes to The Sound of the Atom Splitting and re-imagined things along the lines of Trevor Horn's original long mix of Propaganda's Dr Mabuse all over again. The instrumental version of this track is probably unnecessary, to be honest (you miss that eerie slowed-down German speaking), but worth a listen. Mark Reeder has done some good remixes of 80s artists in the past (check out his fine remixes of John Foxx's "Underpass") though, ironically, the "Stuck in the 80s" remix here sounds rather more like a standard PSB remix: think Blur's Boys and Girls, all clubby additions and whooshing rocket noises. The Gui Boratto mix is the only one here to really disembowel the song and be aimed squarely at a dancefloor, basing it around a prominent skipping beat and using fragments of the vocals.

Incidently, the version I like best is actually a much shorter Reeder remix which can be found, as can the long Reeder mix here, on a compilation album he put out in 2012 called Five Point One (the Mark Reeder 2.0 Versions). It's short, snappy, very electronic, the guitar is more prominent and also puts centre-stage a great sitar-sounding refrain that quotes the guitar melodies on the Passions' original. Would have made a better radio edit than the PSB, in my opinion. These two Reeders are the only versions of this STW/PSB collaboration that can be found as Amazon downloads, by the way. (The Amazon links to mp3 versions of Film Star from this CD bring up a completely different artist, by the way - search either directly with the full song title or Taulor-Wood's name to find the Reeder versions).

BTW For those who dont know, The Passions were a post-punk group formed in the late 70s who signed to Fiction. I saw them on a triple bill in about 1979 supporting labelmates The Cure - for some inexplicable reason I decided to pass on watching bottom-of-the bill band, The Associates, and went in search of a drink instead! Their Thirty Thousand Feet Over China album is now available on CD and contains Film Star as well as two other great singles, The Swimmer and Skin Deep.

I'm in Love With a German Film Star (Mark Reeder's Rias Remix)
I'm in Love With a German Film Star (Mark Reeder's Rias Remix)
Price: 0.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Best version out there, 1 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This download is ridiculously cheap and is, for my mind, the best of the various versions of Sam Taylor-Wood's collaboration with Pet Shop Boys. This is worth bearing in mind, as the CD release, which contains a different and longer Mark Reeder remix, often goes for silly amounts on eBay or Amazon. This mp3 version (the only mp3 version available at Amazon, it seems) is short, snappy and closest in tone to the sublime Passions' original. This is probably more to do with Mark Reeder than PSB, as the original PSB "symphonic" versions are drenched in mournful strings and a "clock-ticking" sort of beatbox rhythm whereas this Rias Remix's backing track is more punchy, sounds a bit more contemporary and features more prominent guitar.

Price: 11.31

5.0 out of 5 stars My first experience of a Squarepusher album, 27 Feb 2014
This review is from: Ufabulum (Audio CD)
I've been aware of Squarepusher/Tom Jenkinson for a long time, yet only have bought a couple of EPs, having tended to park myself down the trance and ambient end of the spectrum these past few years. So this CD was a random purchase made last week, chiefly on the basis that the cover intrigued - part homage to Daft Punk, perhaps, and also very like the get-up that Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe has been sporting on their recent "Electric" tour. Anyway, enough to make me buy this CD and I do not regret it. This is, for me, as mind-blowing as listening to the first "proper" Ministry LP, (1986s Twitch), say, and experiencing that colossal 10 mins rhythm assault that consituted the final track. I love classic synths and this is very much a synth-led album. And classic Industrial too in parts. This is also a very well sequenced album that transits from what I am led to believe from reading other reviews is a more easy-going SP experience to more standard fare as the CD unrolls. So here's my track by track review.
(1) 4001 is monumental, skittering rhythms clearly hand-tooled and crafted to minimise rhythmic repetitions, a gentle Mayday-ish soft synth drone in the background and a rather club-friendly pare it down and build it up again segue into the main theme- imagine if Goldie (see below) had remixed the Pet Shop Boys' Always On My Mind, disembowling it and only keeping the orchestral stabs that run through that particular tune. And then moved the notes around to boot. The beats stop-start-accelerate like a juggernaut negotiating a racetrack without crashing (just). Awesome.
(2) Unreal Square. Starts with a cheesy vintage arcade game melody that sounds like its played on a Stylophone, then brings in what sounds like the Duracell bunny on percussion, before Jenkinson hits his stride with his rhythms, before going all Prog-synth and accelerating into a dubset conclusion, savaging and distorting the melody in the process.
(3) Stadium Ice (or should that be stadium dry ice?) starts off like 70s soft jazz-rock and is basically a bunch of interlocking woozy synth lines that evoke Yes, Genesis or ELP, punctuated by Pastorius-like bass runs that appear to be made by a Daft Punk-esque vocoded synth. Bet you'll be humming it note-perfect the day after. This sets the prog mood nicely for......
(4) Energy Wizard, an energetic little synth and beatbox number that goes all Wendy Carlos-classical halfway through. Part Clockwork Orange, part Momus in his Analogue Baroque period.
(5) Talking of Wendy Carlos, Red in Blue acts as a quiet bridge between what are essentially sides 1 and 2 of this album. Its a thoughtful sort of ambient piece, again with something of a prog vibe, with what sounds like synthi horns used extensively. Reminiscent of Bill Nelson's "Simplex" album or some of the relaxed work of Eno and Cluster. Or think Treefingers by Radiohead, strategically placed at the halfway point in their "Kid A" album (one of the best short pieces of ambient I know).
(6) The Metallurgist. And here begins the second half of the record, a more continuous cycle of skittering, mutated drum n bass rhythms and other hard sounds. Metallurgist begins with a frightening-sounding, icy cold stacatto synth before the beats break in. Rather reminiscent of Goldie's dismantling of Milk by Garbage, if you know that great remix.
(7) Drax 2. A villain in a Bond film or a non-nuclear power station - take your pick. Certainly the most filmic piece on this collection, maintaining a nice balance between the subtle beauty of the melody and the beats. Builds slowly to a nicely frenetic pitch that leads into .......
(8) Dark Steering. The Top Gear track. Starts with a few beeps that sound straight out of Alien, then finds its rhythmic feet, echoes tracks 7 and 3 in the melodies, then develops into a fast-paced cacophany of skewed F1 noises with what sounds like "The Exorcist" Theme in the background. It also recalls (for me) Rosi Mosimann's/Clint Ruin's Wiseblood incarnation and the mighty "Motorslug/Death Rape 2000" 12".
(9) 303 Scopem Hard. Basically a dub continuation of 8.
(10) Ecstatic Shock. A more mellow return to the first half of the CD. When its over, you're ready to start again. Put on repeat and enjoy.

Braun Quartz Classic BNC005BKBK Travel Alarm Black
Braun Quartz Classic BNC005BKBK Travel Alarm Black
Price: 30.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still classy but cant match the original, 23 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The original Braun travel clock was made in Germany and a style icon. This is made elsewhere and it shows. it feels a little more flimsy and the alarm is not so loud anymore, which fails to wake deep sleepers up. it stands up when open quite well though.

Borgen (OST)
Borgen (OST)
Price: 7.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great TV series, great music, 23 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Borgen (OST) (MP3 Download)
Halfdan E sounds like he should be a Euro hip hop DJ operating out of Ibiza, but is in fact an award-winning Danish film and TV composer who also picked up an award for his work on Danish political drama "Borgen". His collection of incidental music from the TV series of course contains the well-known theme tune, and will be the reason for most people purchasing at least that track. The title sequence and stately theme of Borgen were simply one of the best executed front ends to any TV series in recent years. Many of the other very short pieces here will be instantly recognisable to avid viewers (for example, Fieldwork, A Private Moment), for the most part delicately poised snippets of echoey piano, here expanded and embellished slightly with strings or occasional percussion. Imagine fragments of Harold Budd, or, in the case of Floating, something that is initially reminiscent of a Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois collaboration from the "Apollo" album. Battlefields and one or two others has a strange throb in the background that reminds me of Eno's "On Land". If I have one criticism, it is that often the piano motif is dispensed with quite quickly and the rest of the track then drifts away in a rather unfocussed sort of string coda, as if Halfdan E doesn't know how to end a piece satisfactorily. But overall, this is an instrumental album I enjoy listening to when I need something restful that isn't Arvo Part, Eno, Budd or the like.

Price: 6.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PSBs revisit their disco roots with attitude, 19 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Electric (Audio CD)
In which we find the boys making their most musically consistent album for quite a while. Not that Yes and Elysium were bad (brilliant uptempo and downtempo bedmates, in my view), but Electric delivers what it promises in the title - upfront electronic dance music. If this album has antecedents, it is Disco vol. 1 or Relentless, not Very, Please or Actually. It is full-on and bears homage to 1980s hi-NRG in particular. Opener Axis, for example, deliberately quotes a spacey electronic burn at the one minute mark that crops up in the intro to Patrick Cowley's mighty Menergy, a hi-NRG stomper featuring gay disco diva Sylvester. In fact, the whole song is an update of Menergy. Closing track Vocal recalls the fantastic Trouser Enthusiasts remixes done for the boys in the Bilingual era. In between all this we get some great electronic textures on Fluorescent (a little echo of Fade To Grey in there, methinks) and Inside a Dream, witty Tennant lyrics on Bolshy and Love Is A Bourgeois Concept (who else would try and work "schadenfreud" into a single's lyrics?), the potentially throwaway b-side-sounding Shouting In The Evening, which in producer Stuart Price's hands becomes a modern bleep-infested stormer, and which perfectly sets up the following track, the Example collaboration Thursday. Hell, we even get what sounds like the gay mens chorus from Go West popping up on Bourgeois Construct (although they sound a bit worse for wear, admittedly). Having admired PSBs as a singles band for many years, bemoaning the fact that their best tracks often seemed to be released as single b-sides (In The Night, Do I Have To?, Sexy Northerner, Always, Your Funny Uncle, It Must Be Obvious ... the list goes on), and that their albums often had big hits mixed in with at times thin filler, this album IS a triumph of programming and worthy of the critics' plaudits. A bit short at 49 mins but thats my only criticism. oh, and the Springsteen cover should have been reworked as a single - splendid stuff.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2014 2:09 PM BST

Taxi Zum Klo [DVD]
Taxi Zum Klo [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bernd Broaderup
Offered by fat_buddha
Price: 5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, honest and funny, 18 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Taxi Zum Klo [DVD] (DVD)
A period piece to be sure, but Taxi Zum Klo should not be forgotten. See some of the other Amazon reviews for a good decription of the plot, but the importance of this film in the (pre-AIDS) time it was released cannot be underestimated. Its a film about relationships, and whether one can settle down to monogamy with that one special person and give up playing the field, but from a gay angle rather than a straight one. As one of the commentators in the excellent brace of extras (nearly an hours worth) says, it was refreshing fo see a film in which the gay character wasnt unhappy or went on to kill themselves. Its authentic, moving and, at times, extremely graphic, which led to it originally being shown only in UK cinema clubs such as the ICA when it opened here in 1981. How nice then, thanks to Film4, to get the original version released on DVD. Sure, the continuity sucks at times (just follow the movements of the guys in the toilet early on in the film) and we are never really sure how long Frank's relationship with Bernt has gone on for as the film appears to have been shot in deepest winter, but its as raw and honest a piece of low-budget, autobiographical filmmaking as you will find.

Memory of the future
Memory of the future
Price: 2.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Top notch 4track single, 13 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Memory of the future (Audio CD)
As ever, the best PSB singles are defined by the extra tracks. Why some of them never make it onto their studio albums, I will never fathom out. Trust me, these three are good. Unusually for Neil Tennant, they sound personal and NOT gloomy, for a change. Listening is a slow-paced ballad for a friend in trouble, distinguished by a lovely arrangement, interesting beats and sounds One Night is one of the boys' quieter clubbing songs ("Tonight could last forever/tonight you're one half of together") and sounds like it features some manly electric guitar from Neil. The piano-led closer Inside recalls Your Funny Uncle for me, and is a tender riposte to the ageing process in a loved one. The re-recording of MOTF is quite snappy compared to the version on Elysium, but I was never that much of a fan of the album version anyway.

Blade Runner Trilogy 25th Anniversary
Blade Runner Trilogy 25th Anniversary
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 16.59

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vangelis at his best, 10 Aug 2013
I've discovered this 3CD set rather late in the day but love it. CD1 is the previously released Vangelis Blade Runner "soundtrack" - not a soundtrack album in the strictest sense, of course, more a collection of themes and riffs used in the film supplemented by some extraneous material sung by the likes of Demis Roussos and Mary Hopkin. It's an album I always liked because it conjures up the feel of Ridley Scott's epic film so well, aided by the inclusion of some choice bits of dialogue at the start and end, even though I would not count myself a fan of much of Vangelis' musical output. I'm surprised how much I like CD2 though. It's a sort of ambient take of the first album, comprised solely of instrumentals with no added dialogue. As other reviewers have pointed out, you can hear some of these throughout the film and it notably contains the music to Dr Tyrells death scene and the following scene where Batty takes the lift back down the Tyrells building, plus music from the ensuing chase and fight between Deckard and Batty, and an instrumental version of Tears In Rain, minus Batty's final lines of dialogue (here it's called Fading Away). What makes it for me is the atmospherics - there's lots of tinkling bells and such, plus street noises, clicks and bleeps from the film which evoke perfectly images from the film for me, such as on Empty Streets and Leon's Room - and the two tracks that are listed as bonus tracks (One alone and Desolation Path) which add some melodic structure to the whole CD. The third CD is a bit of a curate's egg though. It's a Vangelis album of new music inspired by the film and his original (i.e. CD1) release and works well overall, but is a bit bland and featureless at times. the intro (Launch approval) leads us into what is essentially a remix of One More Kiss,Dear, sampling the first line of the song and setting it to beats and the familiar synths from the opening section of the film. Its pompous in all the right places and a good start to CD3. However, several tracks feature voices and dialogue which have no relation to the film (some guy witters on in one of them about the dangers of LA but that's as close as we get to Deckards world) and there's a fair bit of aimless moody sax (e.g. The jazzy noodlings of Sweet Solitude) which fails to replicate Blade Runner Blues or the Love Theme off CD1. But Perfume Exotico/Spotkanie Z Matha bucks the trend with a nice sax solo in the former and its riffs on the Mary Hopkin vocal from Rachel's Song on CD1. But taken as a separate entity, CD3 has a Blade Runner-ish charm all of its own.

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