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Vaughan "Crash" (UK)

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Steady Now
Steady Now
Price: £13.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Too Free, 9 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Steady Now (Audio CD)
Just thought I'd write a couple sentences about this CD, since no-one else has.

Just to cover the bases, Nabatov is a pianist, and he has lots of discs available from the terrific Leo label. Rainey, of course, is a drummer. So what we have here is a set of duo performances. Nabatov is an interesting pianist because he covers a wide range of styles. Predominantly he plays free, this isn't a disc of tunes that swing, it sits in the avant-garde category. At times you'll hear some Cecil Taylor, but to write off Nabatov as just another disciple would not be fair.

These two musicians like to use the whole of their instruments. So Nabatov plays both inside (including using John Cage like prepared piano moments, brushing the strings etc.) and the keyboard. Rainey himself plays the whole of his kit too. On track 6, to be honest, I'm not quite sure what I'm hearing - a microphone and monorial speaker perhaps? But this isn't all crash and bang, Nabatov has an incredible range, so mid-number you'll hear Scott Joplin, Taylor, or Jarrett. Which is to say - he's an accomplished performer, and his imagination isn't easily tamed, he's not afraid of comfortable quarters, nor is he afraid of wading out into the depths.

I haven't written much about Rainey. I'm hoping you know of him already. He's just terrific, and really he seems as though he could play with anyone.

One final note - Leo Records have done a fantastic job acoustically. This CD sounds terrific, natural, and certainly gives you that feeling of being there in the room with the musicians.

So that's it. Those into Be Bop probably won't enjoy this. However, those into freer Jazz will like it a lot. It's not as wild as Taylor at his best, but it's none the worst for that. Instead we get a vast spectrum of emotions, sounds, and inventiveness. Fantastic.

Three Solo Pieces
Three Solo Pieces
Price: £14.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 29 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Three Solo Pieces (Audio CD)
I'm not sure I have the words to review this disc. But I wanted to give it a try since no-one else has commented, and others may be looking for some guidance - however feeble.

Melnyk is a pianist with a singular vision, where his passions, loves, and dreams become intertwined with the music - there is more here than the notes being played, a serenity. However this serenity isn't calm, peaceful, and smooth. There's a lot of activity, like the flowing of a deep river as his ideas become audible. He really is magic, as is this disc.

To describe his music isn't easy, but I can make three comparisons. I'd say there are elements of Steve Reich here in that there are repeated patterns that come and go, flow into each other, morph and change without there really being a while lot of changes. There's melody, but it's in the interaction of both the left and right hand, rather than in composition.

As for the calmness and excellent playing - I'd also compare this to say - Keith Karret's The Koln Concert. It has the same effect for me. Keep in mind though, Melnyk loves notes, so what's missing here are the silences, the spaces. Instead Melnyk fills every hole with a sound. Maybe if you played the Koln Concert at 78RPM you'd get a similar effect to this!

A final comparison - and probably the closest to exactly how this sounds, is Strumming Music from Charlemagne Palestine. I can highly recommend the three disc set from Sub Rosa of this.

The CD has three tracks - Marginal Invitation, Corrosions on the Surface of Life, and Cloud Pallsade No. 3. They're all equally special. The running time of the tracks is 8:12, 8:55, 18:22. This gives the disc a relatively short running time (less than 40 minutes). I have to say, the lack of playing time hinders the disc not at all. When it's this good, it's okay. It can be intense mentally, the three tracks here certainly need no other pieces to make for a perfect release.

The disc ships in a digipac, and includes brief notes on each track from the composer/performer.

That's it - a wonderful solo piano album, and highly recommended.

Studio Retrospect
Studio Retrospect
Price: £23.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderully evocative, 17 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Studio Retrospect (Audio CD)
I started this evening digging back into the excellent David Tudor box set (a 7 disc set from New World). That led, in turn, to my playing this recording. Mumma shares a lot with Tudor - they studied together, they both made music for Merce Cunningham, they both were pioneers in electronic music etc.

So it should be of no surprise that at times you'd be hard pressed to distinguish between the two (which I mean in a totally complementary way). This isn't only early electronic music, it's like hearing the first thoughts that occurred to amphibians when they crawled out of the primordial stew.

Melody? No. Beat/Pulse? No. Just fascinating experiments in sound (through noise, silence, and spatially).

The disc contains six pieces, although in truth the first track "Retrospective" is made up of four distinct works (Densities, Phenomenon Unarticulated, Wooden Pyjamas, and Spectral Portrait.). I won't go into detail on the works here since they are covered in brief, but nonetheless interesting, liner notes (if you want to know more, buy it!) The performances span 1959 through 1982.

I will however mention one track - The Dreden Interleaf 13 February 1945. This work was written and performed to commemorate the firebombing of Dresden during the Second World War, and as such has a (painful, harrowing) narrative. From otherworldly hisses and swirls, to harsh white noise. Fascinating.

Total time of the CD is 69:48. This disc is put out by Lovely Music, who are just brilliant - be sure to check out their catalog. If you enjoy David Tudor, the electronic works of Stockhausen, or indeed any of the myriad noise artists out there today (Karkowski etc.) then you really need to hear this. Indispensable.

Inside the Dream Syndicate, Vol. 1: Day of Niagara, 1965
Inside the Dream Syndicate, Vol. 1: Day of Niagara, 1965

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, 7 Mar. 2014
I've owned this CD for two years now, I'm only now getting around to writing anything about it. In part this is because the handful of other reviews on these Amazon pages pretty much cover all the bases - this is the root of minimalism, it's a drone, it has Cale, Conrad, La Monte Young, Maclise, and Zazella, it's of poor audio quality etc. It's all true and accurate.

Yet some give it five stars, and others one. I suspect those giving ine do so because there's no way to give it NO stars. And you know what? That's exactly the right way to read about this disc. Everything written is true. The music itself, in audio terms, has been robbed of its majesty, its layers. It's not hi-fi. but honestly it's not even lo-fi. It's lower then that.

But that's all besides the point. Have you any idea of what we have here? This is a special moment, and combination any alchemist would have been proud of. Even rendered in this wishy=wishy stew, it's amazing. To have 1/100th of this music is enough to make you feel the shivers in your spine. It's magic.

So read the other reviews, they're ALL correct. Then adjust your expectations, and buy this if you think you can handle the shortcomings. Because no matter what they are, nothing can take away just how gorgeous and vital this is. Nor how significant.

Metal Machine Music
Metal Machine Music
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Package, 1 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
There really isn't anything new to be said about this album. Most people are going to find it difficult, in fact so much so that it'll be written off as rubbish. I get that, I understand why people would hate it. And it doesn't even take more than 30 seconds for most to figure it out - what you get in those opening 30 seconds is what you get across the entire CD. This is nuanced white noise with sharp edges. You just have to accept it.

For me though, it's a masterpiece. I'd go as far as saying it's essential. And here's why - Metal Machine Music is the complete experience. It's not just the sound coming out of the speakers, it's a aural sculpture, a painting for the wall, a mood, punks violent scream and the scary end of minimalism. You won't have heard anything like it. It was dangerous to make back then, and would be dangerous now (although a whole noise genre now embraces these sounds - for example check out Merzbow). For a popular musician to put this out, well, wow.

This is a great test to how open minded the listener is. It asks a lot of its audience. Watch the conservative music lovers reach for the eject button in less than 60 seconds. But the real people to hang with are those who sit back, obviously a little confused, brows furrowed, but engaged in trying to figure it out. You can guarantee they'll have places worthwhile visiting.

And no, of course this doesn't compare to Berlin, New York, or other Reed rock efforts. It's not the same genre, it's not even from the same planet. This is guitar music. Pure guitar music, with minimal human intervention. This is the electric guitar composing it's own tune. You cant expect harmony and melody, the guitar is pretty stupid. To get melody the guitar needs to be tamed. This is guitar in its natural habitat, wild, random, buzzing, sawing, screaming.

It's art. That is offends some is to its credit. And decades after it was made too! Well done LOU, RIP.

The Art of David Tudor
The Art of David Tudor
Price: £89.18

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic, 25 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Art of David Tudor (Audio CD)
I've held off making a comment about this release for several reasons. First of all an Amazon "review" isn't really the place for a lengthy article about why this music is important. Secondly, there is simply too much to talk about - 7 discs of amazing performances - yet it's impossible to describe the music in any meaningful way. In fact, there will no doubt be those that don't consider this music at all - perhaps it's only sound? Oh, but what sounds!

This music falls in the electronic music category, but it should be made clear that it's electronic music unlike the vast majority of electronic music out there. You see, the term "electronic music" usually denotes music written, performed, and recorded on some form of synthesizer. In Electronic Music realms, it's usually an keyboard based music. Now, David Tudor was an excellent pianist, so keyboard playing was his forte - but it's not something that's on show here.

For this box set you need to redefine what electronic is. You see, this is pioneering work, both in technological terms, and in creative terms also. Tudor was not content to take someone else's instrument and make music with it - he built his own instruments, his own circuits and effects. As a friend and follower of John Cage, Tudor enjoys the element of chance, of not knowing quite how something would turn out. As such, even for Tudor, no two performances were ever the same.

If you're into experimental music, then you really owe it to yourself to get this box. I'd even say it's essential listening. The box is amply supported by a 60 page booklet with excellent liner notes on almost every page. We also get remembrances from Wolfe and Mumma.

Probably the best known works here are the Rainforest pieces (pictured on the cover art), which follow Tudor's aesthetic, but this time in collaboration. We also get music from the Pepsi Pavilion from 1970, and a duo performance with the aforementioned Cage. The earliest piece is from 1963, that latest from 1992.

Listening to soundbites of this is virtually useless, you just have to give it time. None of the pieces coalesce into harmony and melody - this is music that even questions the very nature of music, which given his time with Cage shouldn't come as a surprise. And while some of the recordings are not the best quality, none of that matters when the pieces are this special.

Thank goodness for New World Records putting this out. I'll be enjoying it for years. So could you!

Peteris Vasks - String Quartets Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Peteris Vasks - String Quartets Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Offered by cuddiwax
Price: £10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 16 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've not a lolt to say on this one. The recording quality is excellent (the liner notes claim magic takes place and what you're getting is effectively a 19-bit recording rather than the standard 16-bit). The Miami String Quartet are good sensitive players, and they are easily able to roll in the emotional roller coaster than is Vasks at his best. The Third String Quartet is amazing.

Copious liner notes are contained (In English, French and German). It's Vasks done well. Enough said.

I Robot (Legacy Edition)
I Robot (Legacy Edition)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.68

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 Disc - Legacy Edition (2013), 16 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As usual for these classic rock reviews, I don't want to comment on the album proper. If you're new to Alan Parsons Project (APP) hop on over to Youtube and have a listen. These comments are solely about the double-disc Legacy Edition released in 2013.

Firstly I have been a fan of APP since the initial releases of this music. I've owned "I Robot" on vinyl, and prior to this two times on CD. The last version I bought was the single disc "Remastered 30th Anniversary Edition" from 2007 (which was part of a complete reissue of the Parsons/Woolfson catalog.)

So what of this new release, now with two discs? What of the sound? What of the package itself?

Firstly you should know that this is not another remaster. The album proper (as released on vinyl) has not been reworked again - this is the exact same release as the 2007 disc. Those thinking they may have been getting something new will, therefore, be disappointed. On the other hand, the 2007 remaster is excellent, showing none of the tell-tale signs of the "loudness wars". It really does sound terrific.

So for anything new we must look at the second disc, and the package itself.

The second disc is an assortment of things, some new, some not. The 2007 release included five bonus tracks which were tucked on the end of the original running order. Personally speaking I much prefer this new edition, which has the album proper on one disc, and the extra's on a separate one. All five extra tracks from the earlier release are duplicated here, along with 9 new additions.

The bonus tracks on all of the APP reissues have been very hit and miss, imo. Some are embarrassingly bad and smack of barrel scraping, while others have been fascinating. Of the 9 new additions, 4 are spoken word (US Radio Commercial, Extract 1, Extract 2, and Extract 3). The Extracts are essentially press release type snippets of conversation. Along with these, 2 are incomplete items. For example, track 3 is a snippet of vocal from Hilary Western (operatic voice) with dialog between her and Parsons. Track 10 is the choral track (alone) from Breakdown. Track 11 is a rough take of "Don't Let it Show" with Wollfson singing some vocal, and filling in with "la la la" for missing lines.

What does this amount to? Well, if you have the 2007 disc already, you'll know what to expect. Do you want more of the same kind of thing or not? Nothing here is "essential". In fact, this isn't the kind of disc you're going to play very often - it's too fragmented, and bitty. At the same time though, if you're interested in the foundations upon which this excellent album was made, if you want know all the nuts and bolts, then it's quite interesting. One thing for sure - it's much more acceptable here than the 2007 release, since it's a separate disc. Don't want to hear all this - you don't have to. A perfect solution.

Total time of disc 2 is around 39 minutes (10 minutes of which is "Naked Robot", which was included in the earlier release.) You're getting approximately 15 minutes of "new" extras here.
That really leaves only the packaging. The 2007 release came in a standard jewel case. The booklet was relatively thin, at only 8 pages. The main draw was a three page article from Jerry Ewing of Classic Rock magazine. The new edition has improved things immeasurably. We now have a 20 page booklet. The liner notes were written by Alan Parsons, and run for five pages of text. He gives a bit of insight into the individual tracks of the album proper - it's a good read. Along with that we get the full lyrics this time, which is nice to have. And of course - there are lots of pictures which expand on the 2007 booklet. The only loss is a) The text from the gatefold of the original album is now missing (it was in the centre of the 2007 booklet); b) The Woolfson notes. Of the latter - the 2007 booklet article had several quotes from Woolfson which are now missing. The new booklet is very much Parson's view on the album.

Last, but not least, this is a three panel digipack with new artwork. The original front cover artwork is included beneath the disc trays. The booklet is tucked inside a pocket in the centre panel, and was very difficult to get out (do they test any of this stuff?!?

Only you can say if this new set is worth the price or not. Sonically, if you have the 2007 version, you gain nothing. The package here is nice though, and having the album proper on its own disc is far better than the earlier release (but those into MP3's won't benefit from that). Personally I'm happy - but then any excuse to listen to this album is always welcome.

The album proper is a classic, imo. Worthy of a five. So these comments reflect that. Just know what you're getting. Enjoy!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2014 11:19 AM GMT


8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New 5-Disc Box Set, 2 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Crises (Audio CD)
I'll add to this review as I work my way through the box.


As far as the package goes - it comes in an actual box, with a removable lid. There's a little satin "bookmark" in it, which is well over the top given the spartan contents. You get five discs (3 CD, 2 DVD). There's also a hardback "book". I put that in quotes because the "book" is only 32 pages long. Of those 32 pages, 22 are various pictures of memorabilia and of Mike, leaving only 10 pages for text. A little underwhelming. The box feels empty, if I'm honest.

Each CD/DVD comes in a card sleeve, and all covers are identical (close up of the moon from the cover art). The back of the sleeves list the tracks etc.

CD 1

I'm not going to go into whether it's "better" than the previous release I have (the original CD release). I think we're at a point where we tend to have our own personal preferences, and too many offer up opinions as though they're definitive dictates. I will say that to me the music is more detailed, and yes louder. Not blown out, though. I heard little bits of guitar I'd never heard before, and some hi-hat's I'd missed previously. For me, it's very good (it's a new 2013 master, by the way).

This CD includes some extra tracks, including two additional versions of Moonlight Shadow and Shadow on the Wall. The first of these are "unplugged", which essentially means it's a play through of the album track with everything other than Oldfield's acoustic guitar taken out. Does it work? Not particularly well, imo. We get the same treatment for Shadow on the Wall - and in reality that fares even less well, really highlighting how idiosyncratic the vocal performance is.

Along with these we get a single - Mistake. Mistake was on the US pressing of the original vinyl, and for me it's a bit too similar to Moonlight Shadow, with none of the charm. We also have the single Crime of Passion, and that's much better. It's B side, Jungle Gardenia, is also included.

Finally we have the 12" versions of Moonlight Shadow and Shadow on the Wall. These are good actually, coming in at around two minutes additional running time. You'd think you'd not want to hear a third version of each of these on this disc, but they're such good songs they never seem to get old.

All in all a nice CD, and the sound quality is good. Only four more discs to go....

CD2 & CD3: Live at Wembley Arena 22nd July 1983

The next two discs are the complete live show from 1983. The first of these (CD2) contains tracks from Five Miles Out, Ommadawn, and Tubular Bells (which also contains the band intro's). CD 3 includes the Crisis material, with the title track in complete form, with Moonlight Shadow and Shadow on the Wall along for the ride too. It also has a complete Taurus and Family Man. CD 3 is included as the second disc of the two-disc version of this release (giving you the original album with the 2013 master, and the live material for Crisis). CD 2 is exclusive to this set (I believe those who buy MP3's can get the extra stuff though).

All that said - what of the concert? Well, sound quality is generally good. Some personal preference comes into play here. Some expect live recordings to be as pristine as studio recordings, even if that means some post dubbing. Others accept the recording is "live", and so may include imperfections and slight differences. Since this was professionally recorded at the time for a proposed release that never happened, overall quality is very good - this is NOT a bootleg quality disc. On the other hand, it sounds very "live". Sometimes instruments drop out, and the vocals aren't stellar (especially Roger Chapman on Shadow on the Wall). Even Moonlight Shadow suffers during the first few moments with a weak vocal mix. The music doesn't expand at all, it's pretty much the album played live, but since a lot of these tracks are 20+ minutes long, they are through composed, so that's not a surprise.

Is the concert good? Yes, it is. I'm happy to have it. Those buying the two disc version are being short-changed, since they only get half the show. Not only that, but it's probably the weaker half truth be told. Just keep in mind, this is live in capital letters - it's LIVE. So it's not perfect, it's very "real". Pristine quality and perfection is not on offer - and for me, neither it should be.

More to come.....
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2013 12:30 AM BST

Real Live Wires
Real Live Wires
Price: £9.90

13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 30 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Real Live Wires (Audio CD)
You likely know who Talking Heads are, so that's not worth discussing. This is a recording of a live show from in 1978 in support of the More Songs about Buildings and Food album. It therefore includes tracks from the first two albums. You get some of this time frame in the The Name of this Band is Talking Heads revord - which is an official release.

What I wanted to specifically deal with is the sound and package. The package itself is a standard jewelcase, with a slipover cover which has the same artwork as shown here. The booklet is four pages, with two pages of text giving some background. The date of the show this is from is given as: WXRT FM from The Park West, Chicago, 28th August, 1978.

Now, since it was broadcast over FM, there is no reason for this to sound anything other than great, or good. If only. This wasn't mastered from any first generation recording done at the station, that's for sure. This was someones cassette tape. It has that wishy-washy haze at the top end, and the dull thump on the low end, that characterizes such home recordings.

So, historically this may be interesting, but go in your eyes (and ears) wide open. This isn't close in fidelity to the other live releases, and if you're a hardcore fan, you likely have bootlegs that sounds just like this.

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