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L. C. Warne "cwarne_uk"
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The Ritual
The Ritual
by Adam L. G. Nevill
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Strong Start Peters Out, 22 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Ritual (Paperback)
The Ritual is most definitely a novel of two halves for me. The first part where four friends lost in the Swedish woods face an unseen terror is simply excellent. It has echoes of Algernon Blackwood's classic stories The Willows and The Wendigo (clearly an effect the author was hoping for judging by the preface) as well as such survival horror classics as Deliverance. It is gripping and visceral. If the novel somehow ended there it would be five stars from me. Unfortunately the second part is far less enthralling, in fact I found it a real struggle to get through. The arrival of a stereotypical Scandanavian Black Metal band in the story has all the deleterious effects one could fear and more as the whole thing descends close to torture porn. Nevill has leant heavily on Michael Moynihan's highly partial Lords Of Chaos here and it shows. I suspect most Black Metal bands would prefer a nice cup of tea to raising ancient deities. This second half is very poor, on it's own I would never have finished it and I would only give it 1 star. Overall a very mixed bag, worth reading for the first half but it ends up in that host of horror novels that don't work out their intriguing premises well.


Dark Feasts: The World of Ramsey Campbell
Dark Feasts: The World of Ramsey Campbell
by Ramsey Campbell
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Horror Collections I've Read, 22 Jan 2012
I've often been underwhelmed by Campbell's novels, but have finally got around to reading some of his highly praised short stories. It's been an instructive experience and I am finally starting to understand the roots of his high reputation. Dark Feasts is an anthology of stories from the early 60's through to the mid 80's with the stories arranged chronologically. Thus it starts off with a couple of Lovecraft pastiches, these are competently done but a little to in thrall to Lovecraft to shine. After this though the collection is uniformly excellent with Campbell finding ways to make the influences of MR James and Algernon Blackwood work freshly in a seedy contemporary setting (contemporary for the time they were written of course!). The highlight for me is The Companion, further proof that fairgrounds are inherently sinister, it's easily the equal of anything by his influences. Also worthy of note are The Words That Count, a fiendishly clever tale that needs careful reading for full impact, and The End Of A Summer's Day which is both haunting and surreal. Overall an excellent collection and one that has inspired me to search out more of Campbell's work in shorter forms.


Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella
Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 32.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A Starting Point, 22 Jan 2012
One of the few NWW albums where NWW is not synonomous with Steven Stapleton. At this time NWW was a real band - sort of! Stapleton and the other two members, Heman Pathek and John Fothergill, were friends with a shared love of Krautrock and outer limits music of all kinds. What they weren't were skilled musicians or arguably musicians at all. Let loose in a studio they produced a one off mix of free improvisation and musique concrete bursting with more enthusiasm than technique. The only discordant note being the prog rock style guitar added by one Nicky Rogers. It sounds like the makers had fun and while being in no way essential it is still fun to listen to today. Lazily lumped in with the industrial scene at the time, NWW were in many ways much closer to the freeform freak out ideas of hippiedom with a nice dose of humour. Stapleton would go on to make many records better than this but Chance Meeting has kept it's place in my heart.


Cambridge Topaz Am1 Blk
Cambridge Topaz Am1 Blk

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has It's Limitations But Great At The Price, 6 Dec 2011
This amp is low on features but high on sound quality at a bargain price. I bought one to replace an Arcam A65 which finally expired and was estimated to cost more than twice the price of the Cambridge to repair. Build quality is very good with a nice weighty feel to it, the volume knob turns smoothly and the input phono sockets feel solid, unlike some other budget amps. The sound quality is best described as neutral and hence is dependant on the quality of the original recordings. Volume in a mid size room through floorstanding speakers was more than adequate.
What the amp doesn't have is tone controls, a remote, a headphone socket or a phono stage. Never using the tone controls or vinyl and owning a headphone amp this doesn't bother me too much, although a remote would be nice. For some the lack of features will count out the AM1. If you can live with the spartan features it probably sounds as good as any amp in the sub 150 class.
Overall this is probably a 4 star product but a 5 star bargain.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2014 8:50 AM BST


50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: 8.55

20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At It's Best Simply Staggering, 22 Nov 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
When 'Director's Cut' came out a mere 6 months ago, Kate Bush presented us with the first real misstep of her career. A pleasant but utterly pointless rehashing of songs from her two weakest albums, it was a project that suggested that Bush had little new to say. The appearance of 50 Words For Snow (henceforth 50WFS) so quickly after it, is then a real surprise. Even more surprisingly, at it's best 50WFS is utterly unlike and more adventurous than anything Bush has produced before. The first hint is that 50WFS contains only 7 songs but lasts 65 minutes, a strong clue that this will not be anything like a standard pop/rock record. Where 50WFS does clearly fit into Bush's ouevre is that it is quite clearly an album of two halves like Hounds Of Love and Aerial.
The first half is by far the most intriguing and rewarding. The three songs, Snowflake, Lake Tahoe and Misty, stretch out to a full 35 minutes and play like a continuous suite. All three are based on Bush's piano, initially minimal and repetitive in the first two tracks, but gradually easing into a jazzy swing on Misty. In addition there are subtle electronics and orchestration, and the almost preternaturally subtle drumming of Steve Gadd adding colouration. This is not pop music, it seems to exist in an area between jazz, classical music and the artier end of Broadway (think Sondheim soundtracking Tim Burton). Adding to the sense of dislocation from what is expected of mainstream artists, the first two tracks feature a boy soprano (Bush's son Albert, who is no Aled Jones technically, but has a human vulnerability that he seems to have inherited from his mother) and on Lake Tahoe a tenor and counter-tenor commenting on the story. Bush's own voice quite clearly will never again have the sheer power and range of her mid 80's work, huskier and deeper it has in compensation lost the annoying mannerisms that marred The Red Shoes. Lyrically the tracks are typical of Bush in that they are totally unlike those of anybody else. The fate of a snowflake falling to earth or a one-night stand with a snowman will make many uncomfortable, but as throughout her career Bush finds the luminous in the ridiculous. Like the music the lyrics very avoidance of cliche adds to the otherworldly power of the songs.
It is an extraordinary and stunning start to the album. Largely quiet and slow moving (glacial is the reviewers favourite word), this is music without precedent in Bush's career and without easy parallels anywhere. It is as great as anything Bush has ever produced.
It is almost to be expected that the second half, which is more varied, cannot maintain the mood or standard throughout. The single Wild Man is a good song and the only conceivable single here, it leans rather too heavily on her previous work to be truly essential though. Bush, contrary to some reviewers, does not believe that the Eskimos have 50 words for snow and so provides her own in the title track. These read rather better than they sound when having them rather flatly narrated by Stephen Fry over a vaguely trip-hoppy backing. In compensation Bush who has never really been noted for verbal ingenuity, provides some neologisms worthy of James Joyce. The duet with Elton John on Snowed In On Wheeler street is far better, a tale of time travelling lovers, set to a Nymanesque soundtrack. It teeters on the edge of melodrama with both singers giving it their all, but Bush has never been afraid of being melodramatic and the sheer commitment shown pulls the track off. Best of all in the second half is the final track Among Angels. A simple piano ballad, it is Bush at her simplest and most directly moving.
When an artist has reached the veteran stage of their career most are content to present copies of their previous work (Tom Waits being a notable recent case)- which is what many fans want after all. With 50WFS, to this reviewer's delight, Bush boldly shows that for her this does not apply. Although, as I hope I have made clear, this is not all of a an equally high standard, the sheer quality of the best music here is streets ahead of anything else out there.
If PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, another breathtaking and flawed masterwork from a unique talent, did not exist, this would be my album of the year.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2012 8:02 AM BST


Sailing to Byzantium / Seven American Nights (Tor Double)
Sailing to Byzantium / Seven American Nights (Tor Double)
by Robert Silverberg
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Two exceptional novellas, 6 July 2011
An exceptional pair of novellas in the Ace Doubles series.
Robert Silverberg's Sailing To Byzantium is set in a far future where most humans are immortal and there are only ever 4 cities at any one time. These cities are recreations of great cities from the distant past and are regularly changed. Charles Phillips is a New Yorker who has somehow been transported from the 1980's to this strange time. The story follows Phillip's quest to understand the world he finds himself in and also to understand himself. It is, as with all prime Silverberg, very well written and of exactly the right length for it's material.
Gene Wolfe's Seven American Nights is the journal of Nadan, a young Persian visiting a now third-world America, plagued with poverty and mutations to it's people. Why Nadan is there is not clear but it is possibly to loot archaeological treasures. Seven American Nights is Wolfe at his peak, teasing and ambiguous.
In summary both of these are exceptional works and this is highly recommended to anyone wishing to sample two of SF and Fantasy's greats.


Alien Embassy (Panther science fiction)
Alien Embassy (Panther science fiction)
by Ian Watson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good book from an underrated author, 6 July 2011
Like many of Ian Watson's books a summary of the plot of Alien Embassy is pretty bizarre. Lila Makindi, a young African girl in a 22nd century that has turned it's back on much technology since a catastrophic late 20th century war, is chosen by by a mysterious agency called Bardo to join a programme of communication with alien races. This is achieved telepathically with the use of tantric sex! Soon Lila will discover that this is a front for something far more dangerous.
Possibly the first SF book to feature a black female as the main character, Alien Embassy is a well written and thought-provoking read. Like all of the Ian Watson books I have read this is a very good book and recommended to genre fans.


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moments Of Brilliance But An Unsatisfying Whole, 14 Jun 2011
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is both excellent and frustrating in equal measure. When Toru Okada's cat goes missing it sets off a chain of events that sees his wife go missing and starts Toru off on a metaphorical journey in search of her. For much of it's length this is a brilliant book, Toru meets some strange characters and hears some strange stories, the best by far being the wartime recollections of a soldier serving in the Japanese army in Manchuria. Where the book fails is that the many plot points and characters are never really unified in the way that would make this read as a novel rather than a collection of loosely linked tales. A far worse failing is that the last twenty pages are frankly a disgrace, as if Murakami was suddenly told that he had to finish the book in x pages. (This is not a complaint about an "open" ending, the book has a very "closed" ending - far too closed for what has passed before).
All in all I would recommend this book with the warning that however entrancing the parts many readers will find the sum much less rewarding.


I Am The Cosmos
I Am The Cosmos
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 10.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Testament To A Lost Talent, 6 Jun 2011
This review is from: I Am The Cosmos (Audio CD)
Chris Bell is forever fated to be the other one from Big Star, always overshadowed by the legend of Alex Chilton. I Am The Cosmos shows how unfair this is, it may not be as great as Sister Lovers but it towers over Chilton's solo work. Bell's contribution to Big Star's debut #1 Record are an undeniable indication of his songwriting and studio craft. After leaving Big Star it's no exaggeration to say that Bell's career in music was fairly directionless. Drugs, and possibly torments over religion and his sexuality, seem to have contributed to a mood of depression that permeates this disc. The peripatetic nature (Memphis, France and London) of the recording of these songs are heartbreakingly documented by Bell's brother in the sleevenotes to this release. The best songs here are the two that were released as a single in 1978, the title track, a surging, mysterious song that would not have sounded out of place on an REM album, and You And Your Sister (with lovely backing vocals by Chilton). Of the rest Better Save Yourself, I Got Kinda Lost and There Was A Light are of a similarly high standard. The disc is let down by some fairly average tracks, in particular Fight At The Table sounds to me like little more than a competent bar band. As a posthumous collection of pretty much all of Bell's solo recordings this by necessity lacks cohesion, at it's best though it shows that Bell's early death in a car accident was a great loss to the music world.


Climate Of Hunter
Climate Of Hunter
Price: 7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Adventurous 80's Album, 6 Jun 2011
This review is from: Climate Of Hunter (Audio CD)
Scott Walker's sole 80's album is notably short, but makes up for this by being of a consistently high standard. With it's gated drum sound and fretless bass it is very much of it's era, although the orchestral arrangements look back to Walker's 60's work, and the prescence on two tracks of free music legend Evan Parker on saxophone hints at his later thornier work on Tilt and The Drift. At the time this sold very poorly; in retrospect it actually sounds as if this may have been intended as an attempt to create a commercial record that could sell in quantity, a strategy flawed by the lack of an obvious single. No more demanding than the contemporary works of Peter Gabriel, this is a disc that repays re-investigation. The major fault, and the reason I have this marked down to 4 rather than 5 stars is that several tracks sound under-developed and even too short (Walker's later work has exactly the opposite problems!). Not a lost masterpiece by any standards but well worth listening to.


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