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Follow [DVD AUDIO]
Follow [DVD AUDIO]
Price: £17.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Consummate & atmospheric - superb in surround, 21 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Follow [DVD AUDIO] (Audio CD)
Welcome to The Heavenly Music Corporation. Going up. First - Consummate & atmospheric; Second - Blissful; Third ... It would be a mistake to dismiss this as ambient elevator music on first listen because over time the improvisational quality shines through; the textures and soundscapes are beautifully realised.
The mood here is rather like the Jan Garbarek & The Hilliard Ensemble collaboration; unexpected but stunning. Travis lifts the 'Frippertronics' with wonderful energy and tone and Fripp emerges through the flute and sax sounds increasingly towards the end. It is all very gentle except for the more Crimson-like closer, but always inventive, reflective and intelligent. Some of the bonus material could easily be Heavenly Music Corporation 2; the album itself leans more to the jazz side of the spectrum.
Mixed and mastered by Steven Wilson (the surround sound king) - whose albums also feature Travis - the DVDA features the album and three bonus tracks in splendid DTS 5.1 surround, and this is a real treat, a masterclass in use of sonic space. (There is MLP lossless as well but I can't get that.) The DVD live concert footage provides a (so far) unique visual record of this enterprise, and tunes with some Crimson echoes.


Starless and Bible Black, 40th Anniversary Series
Starless and Bible Black, 40th Anniversary Series
Price: £16.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Peerless... definitive KC, 8 Nov 2014
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This is my last addition to the remarkable series of Crimson 1969-74 40th anniversary CD + DVDA reissues - attracted not only by the music but by the wonderful 5.1 surround mixes - and is an LP I never got round to in the 70s. A 'new' Crimson record is a treat indeed and it doesn't disappoint; this must be the definitive version. Larks' Tongues... still holds the crown for me but have no doubts, this is splendid, as umpteen reviews here testify. Two tracks are 'upmixed' to 5.1 given the loss of multitrack masters and while it shows it does not detract. Again the extras are a worthwhile addition, some live vocals notwithstanding. It's also better value new from a reseller - it's the same thing after all!


Soused
Soused
Price: £9.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally pickled..., 24 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Soused (Audio CD)
This should not surprise anyone familiar with the "late Scott Walker" albums - it is similar to the sound worlds of Tilt and The Drift. I skipped Bish-Bosch but was drawn to Soused by the collaboration with Sunn O))). The addition of the drone and sludge of Sunn O))) is splendid but make no mistake this is a Scott Walker album - he's in charge and is the dominant force. There is even the surprise use of Guy Barker on trumpet - but that doesn't make it jazz. In most ways this album follows it's predecessors in style and tone; it is a similarly serious and exhausting listen.
As ever the songs need to bed in and their meanings and references reveal themselves - as much as they can - but you can revel in the sheer sound alone with no worries. A great production with much effort put into sound quality. It's a shame he doesn't put out a surround sound version of this late material - now that really would be something.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2014 6:24 AM GMT


United States Of America: The Columbia Recordings
United States Of America: The Columbia Recordings
Price: £10.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid time is guaranteed for all... well, some of you, 28 Aug 2014
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I don't recall seeing this album when it came out in 1968 but like many others had the 'Wooden Wife' track on the CBS promotional sampler 'The Rock Machine Turns You On' (with its immovable '15 tracks for 15 shillings' label) - and still do. I never followed it up, there were other priorities. So, a mere 46 years later I find this reissue...
1967, when this was recorded, is a long while ago and, yes, it shows - but even for the times ('man') it was an oddball. It still is. Like its UK close contemporary, the White Noise album 'An electric storm' (Delia Derbyshire's tape splicing effort from 1969) it can come over as 'novelty', produced for the sound of collage rather than music by technicians, all very clever rather than 'psychedelic music' per se.
The USA album comes on a bit like Jefferson Airplane but with no rock sensibility; Dorothy Moskowitz tries hard to be Grace Slick. The tracks with a social satire lyric are rather Zappa-like but without his overwhelming self importance (and musicality) so bite harder as a result. The American Metaphysical Circus kicks off lyrically from 'Being for the benefit of Mr Kite!' (from another well known 1967 album) but then gets darker. Cloud Song is a straight lyrical lift from A A Milne. Where is Yesterday starts like the Electric Prunes 1968 album 'Mass in F minor'. The end collage of bits of previous songs on The American Way of Love is a great album closer. So far so hippy and with a sprinkling of a few 'trippy' lyrics a splendid time should be guaranteed for all...
While not ostensibly 'musical' the sound of the album is experimental, using such devices as were available at the time, and this can give the illusion of 'psychedelia' - which it was sold as. I'd put it more as experimental, conceptual, or 'art rock' - but without the rock.
The remastered sound on this reissue is splendid. The bonus tracks show the evolution of some tracks, add other recordings of the sessions as well as the rather inconsequential efforts after co-founder Joseph Byrd had 'left' the band - tracks 15-17. No wonder it all fell apart.


Saman
Saman
Price: £11.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Dense sonic delight, 24 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Saman (Audio CD)
While lightened by her vocal additions - effectively wordless - this is darker than her earlier offerings with densities of vibration from the cello becoming almost a bodily sensation at times. A dense sonic delight, this album is also reflective, hypnotic and absorbing. It has a soul - and rivals Earth, Swans and Ulver in its depth of sound textures and sheer resonant aural joy. Stunning. A true artist.


To Be Kind
To Be Kind
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy, hypnotic, haunting, 5 Aug 2014
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This review is from: To Be Kind (Audio CD)
This is my first time with Swans. The critical reception of the album in the media was very positive, and followed two well-received albums from the band since reforming in 2010, but I just didn't get round to them.
It is not quite what I expected, but the heavy repetition becomes trance-like, which enables focus on musical variations, tiny hooks and lyrics - and this proves worthwhile. It is surprisingly varied - the introduction of strings on one track is a shock. The music seems to slow down time - but it's over before you know it. You could spent ages on what other things it sounds like here and there - Little Axe's slow blues, a loping rhythm which invites Tom Waits, repetitive vocal loops like the Legendary Pink Dots, aspects of contemporary classical music, and a slight reminiscence of the music in Twin Peaks which becomes disorienting - but ultimately you are forced to conclude that it sounds like just one thing: Swans.
It gets better with every listen. Quite addictive. After 2 CDs the title track right at the end is almost overwhelmingly powerful and affecting.


Mount A
Mount A
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Hildurness..., 13 May 2014
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This review is from: Mount A (Audio CD)
This is the first solo album from Hildur Gušnadóttir, the Icelandic cellist, rereleased and remastered, having been originally issued as by 'Lost in Hildurness' in 2006. It foreshadows her second, 'Without sinking' with the same hypnotic layered cello, but perhaps slightly less assured. Still a wonderful album, the tracks seem to end more abruptly than those on her second, which conclude more maturely. It is the same soundworld, maybe a little melancholic but embracing and absorbing. If I had to recommend just one of her 3 solo albums it would be 'Without sinking' although this could be familiarity - it is a steadfast favourite - but the other two (as currently available) run it close. it is music to lose yourself in, to forget time and just be.


Live At The Norwegian National Opera
Live At The Norwegian National Opera
Price: £12.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sombre immersive beauty, 3 May 2014
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This is a hypnotic, immersive and impressive concert. A terrific CD + DVD set of Ulver live, apparently at The Norwegian National Opera although the little extra information provided refers to some addition from another gig... No matter, it's a splendid set, running to 79 minutes on CD and 88 minutes on DVD, although with the same set on each disc I've not spotted what the difference is. The CD is a worthwhile addition to the DVD allowing you your own imagery (or lack of it) to Ulver's lush sound world of symphonic depth. While it is perhaps unlikely you would yourself envisage the DVD visuals used, they are, sometimes viscerally, effective and yet somehow not surprising.
While tracks represent a selection from earlier Ulver CDs including Blood inside (2005), Shadows of the sun (2007) and Wars of the roses (2011), this is no 'hits' collection but a re-sequencing and appreciation of previous material, superbly played. It's only the applause on the CD which reminds you that this is a live recording and brings you back to the present. On the DVD there is no 5.1 surround sound option - a great shame as it would have been most effective - but the sound is excellent, seemingly better than the CD. There is comment in the booklet about an intended multi track recording which seems somehow not to have materialised. The DVD visuals are a clever mix of the concert musicians and the background film at the show.
The cover of the double digi-book is somewhat marred by the integral '18' warnings which relate I assume to some of the DVD visuals, rather over emphatically in my view - I'd hoped these were on the wrap. But it's an otherwise pleasing package with an insert of concert photos and rather enigmatic text - some of which appears to start somewhere not included in the booklet.
If you don't know Ulver this is a good place to start. For comparison, think modern classical - Gorecki, or post rock - Godspeed You! Black Emperor. There is beauty in melancholy.


Octane Twisted -Spec-
Octane Twisted -Spec-
Offered by Vinylhead
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars STARS DIE..., 12 April 2014
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This review is from: Octane Twisted -Spec- (Audio CD)
I resisted the first release of this 2CD + DVD set but the Japanese version at £9.99 weakened the resolve. Over the years I have accumulated Porcupine Tree, from the Delerium releases in the 90s to the live Anesthetize DVD and the DVD-A versions of Blank Planet and the Incident. I've had my "enough" phases but kept coming back. This is perhaps a step too far.
It is something in the sound; it's there but under a veil. Maybe it's the mix - a bit flat, and it seems to come and go a little. It's quietly mastered but that's what volume knobs are for - and it helps. And what bass? The DVD improves the value of the package - but, unusually for a concert, there is no 5.1 surround sound option. Why? Given the splendour of Wilson's surround mixes for other Porcupine Tree studio and live outings this seems particularly disappointing. This does not compare well with the live Blank Planet tour Anesthetize DVD.
On balance this release is a disservice to a very good live band. On both concerts used here - and they are months apart, in April and October 2010 - Wilson's voice is often shot (he even "talks" some parts). And where's Wesley? The great vocal contribution he makes to the live band is well down in the mix and does not compensate.
The band is still fine (although the Incident material is not the strongest) and CD2 - selected favourites from previous albums and the Stars Die single - is stronger but vocally still shot, Wilson's trying far too hard. At least the audience is down in the mix - would they whoop at anything?
As this is quite possibly the last PT album all in all it is a poor end to a fine run of recordings. "These are the last rites, the line is dead" - Hatesong. Quick marketing job?


The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (Deluxe Edition)
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (Deluxe Edition)
Price: £13.48

4.0 out of 5 stars He certainly put a spell on me, 11 Mar 2014
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Having the vinyl (a wonderful sounding Backtrack 'Trackton' issue from '71 - new for a quid - one hundred new pence - but with a plain cover to show how poor you were) I never did get round to a CD version. Recent acquaintance with the later 3 Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come albums (which I never got round to at all at the time) got me to dig out the Crazy World vinyl again and side 2 was unfortunately a bit more 'aged' than I recalled, so I looked to a CD. Spurred by 'superb sound quality' comments in reviews here relative to the cheaper version I got the 'deluxe' 2CD set.
So how does this compare? The vinyl is amazing especially played loud - it has real depth. The CD is comparable, perhaps without quite the bass, but no complaints. And it's nice to have the original cover at last albeit CD sized. The package now seems to have lost the card surround sleeve - I just got the jewel case.
Obviously I love the album so no comment needed there - but if you don't know it you must 'come and buy' - it's simply a classic, one of a kind. And turn it up.
As to the second CD - and it's good to have the original album on it's own - these are worthwhile extras, but largely serve to show the merits of the album. The 'mono' fire suite tracks are in various respects quite crudely different, almost a live, emptier band feel, with superimposed effects, while the BBC tracks sound as if they were recorded from someone's transistor radio. Whether these are worth the price of entry (which is 'sin' by the way!) is moot. An instructive curio but not destined to be much played.


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