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Reviews Written by
Graham Howell "Graham" (UK)

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And Then We Saw Land
And Then We Saw Land
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars ok to disappointing, 26 Dec 2011
This review is from: And Then We Saw Land (Audio CD)
Well first, I've read the other reviews and don't particularly disagree with any - both those that like it and the one that doesn't. That could sound silly in a review of most bands, but maybe fitting for a Tunng album. All those new ingredients are there and most are as good as claimed. I like the opening acoustic guitar opening, and the heavy guitar solo and general power of "don't look down or back", the extra colours of the tonal palette and increased dynamic range compared to earlier albums. With a few exceptions ("santiago" is just a bit irritating), it all works well, there's lots of good bits. So what's missing? Why doesn't it hold my attention over time? Where's the bigger resonance of the ideas of the earlier albums? Oh yes, the songs aren't as good. It's all a bit more ordinary. Or accessible, if you like. The claim is that it's more like the live band, and this may be true - I've seen them a few times, and they've not come across that well. OK, sometimes that was problems with the sound, and they really need the right venue, festival stages just fail them. And like the live shows, I really want to like this, and kind of do. It's ok. But come on, this is Tunng, they have been AWESOME. This is, well, a little bit awesome and a little bit bland. Guess I better check out what Sam Genders is up to...

Price: £13.81

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful songs, pity not to know what they all mean, 16 Jun 2011
This review is from: Countryman (Audio CD)
I bought this on the strength of one track on a Songlines sampler CD, "she cried". In my book this is a 5-star song, powerful vocal with simple but effective lyrics and a minimalistic but nicely judged acoustic backing. That's track 1. Now, I knew nothing of Frank Yamma but was hoping for more to match it. Well, few of the songs match up to the first, but there are some gems here; "down the river" is a similarly powerful delivery. The rest of the album follows a similar pattern, though with some not in english it's hard to know in all cases. I'm usually quite happy with languages I don't know, I can enjoy the tonal qualities of a voice, the rhythm and sounds. I think a lot of the power of this music though is in the words - in english it's characteristed by simple, direct lyrics. It seems like it wouldn't have been too difficult to provide a translation. Frank's gravelly voice is not one I'd listen to for the sound alone, any more than I'd listen to a spanish-speaking Bob Dylan. That's 3 tracks, though even then he conveys a lot of emotion and the last "Pitjantjara" is so moody and atmospheric I may have to reconsider the complaint. The tracks in english too sound like they have more behind them, some explanation might have been good here too. At first listen I was going to go for 3 stars but it grows on me with repeated listening and I love the acoustic guitar work, so it's crept back up for a solid 4.

As F‚r
As F‚r
Price: £14.38

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intense and moody, 16 Jun 2011
This review is from: As F‚r (Audio CD)
If you are reading this you probably have some idea what to expect of an oud - plucked strings unlimited by the presence of frets. Are 3 ouds 3 times better than one? Not usually, the ornamentation and middle eastern scales don't really lend themselves to lush harmonies. Instead this is spare, minimalistic in arrangement with often one oud at a time. There is a bigger gain from the addition of percussion giving a sense of space and openness and sometimes a welcome hint of a groove. Occasional vocals suitably drawn out and floaty to contrast the plucked oud strings with their relatively short sustain. Within this sparse, moody landscape the oud playing of the 3 Joubran brothers is faultless. To my ear, it mostly sits somewhere between sad and meloncholy with hints of anger lying beneath. Not exactly party music but in you tend to prefer your music in minor keys, it's well worth a listen.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, 16 Jun 2011
This review is from: Drum-Believable (Audio CD)
Previous reviews have pretty much said it. I'm looking for things I don't like about it and I've come up with these: the old-fashioned jewel case it came in broke before I got it, and I'm not too sure about the colour of the CD back panel. I suppose some of the track names might grate a bit if you don't like puns. Against this, 13 tracks of completely awesome music without a dud among them. Music to dance to and music that repays close listening, often both at once. Incidentally, they are also a great live act, don't miss them if you get the chance.

Zebu Nation
Zebu Nation
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars gorgeous, 17 April 2010
This review is from: Zebu Nation (Audio CD)
Not easy to say why I like this so much, I think it's just perfectly balanced, a great voice with just the right depth of instrumentation to support it. Rich texture and layers of rhythm without being overly complex or swamping the melody. There's just enough explanation on the sleeve about the songs in Malagasy for those like me who don't understand the words. I love the sound and rhythm of the language, in fact the only weaker track is the one in english, which sounds slightly clunky by comparison. All with a worthy environmental message, whether that reaches anyone or not, this music certainly enriches the world.

Price: £14.06

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suberb, 4 Jan 2009
This review is from: Farrar (Audio CD)
This album is just gorgeous. Oddly for me, since I have never liked the fiddle and would run a mile to avoid being subjected to a collection of folky fiddle tunes. I have had this on the stereo on and off for a month and never get tired of it. The tone on the fiddle is beautiful throughout, no scratchy sawing here. This probably accounts for a lot of its power, along with nicely judged phrasing. There are a few self-penned tunes, and quite a few from the usual scottish suspects, I particulary like the version of 250 to vigo (a shooglenifty tune). And the visuals match, some wonderfully atmospheric photos.

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