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John Tree "Finding the good stuff" (Poulton-le-Fylde, UK)

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I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
Price: £5.99

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless?, 28 Feb. 2010
As mum once told me as she looked disapprovingly at one of my cheap shirts, quality lasts. Pondering this, I decided to randomly raid my music collection to find a long forgotten album I had once loved to see if it still cut it in today's throw-away music climate. Flicking through, I stopped at this copy of a once favoured Richard and Linda Thompson album, dusted it off, and gave it a spin. This record used to get much hammer back in the day, but It's laid dormant for...oooh... thirty years, with maybe one or two exceptions.

OK, what have we got? We have all the elements of an Island Records' Folk-Rock product: Mandolin? check. Virtuoso guitar? Of course. Chunky minimal drumming? Uh huh. Accordian? Mais oui. Krummhorn? ...erm...blimey!
These elements underpin the natural authority of these narrative songs, which hold the attention with a vice-like grip. We are mesmerised from start to finish. Linda Thompson has an empathy to her clear, velvety voice that just melts your heart. By comparison Richard's scratchy voice couldn't hold a candle to her on paper, but he can deliver a song with rare gravitas.

There is an underlying melancholy to the whole album, even with upbeat the title track, which is ostensibly all about going out on the town to let your hair down. However, beneath that melancholy is a stature that is infectious. You feel somehow ennobled just listening to it...especially with the mighty second track Calvary Cross, which is so epic, it's easier imagining it being unearthed by Time Team rather than being written.

So, back to my original question, does it hold up in today's music climate? Well, like an edition of Life On Mars, everything seemed to operate at a different level back in the day...but the songs are robust. They stay with you and live in you, entertain, educate, and enrich. The album does sound of it's time, but its sheer integrity, power and resonance leaves me hankering for less canny, less market-led days...oh, and better shirts.


Maurizio
Maurizio

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely M . i . n . i . m . a . l, 26 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Maurizio (Audio CD)
Maurizio was busy producing minimal electronic pieces
long before the term was invented as a Techno
sub-genre. Such exquisite electronica
deserves an equally perfect
and minimal review.
So here goes...

.

..

Space

Hypnotic

Extended

Develops

Chunky

Techno

Skank

Dubby

Groove

Cavernous

Atmospheric

Unique

Love

it

!!

.


Arriba La Cumbia
Arriba La Cumbia
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New & retro Colombian grooves., 4 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Arriba La Cumbia (Audio CD)
Following hot on the heels of Cumbian Dance smashes from Basment Jaxx et al, it didn't take long for savvy world groove DJ Russ Jones to put this together.

Cumbia is a popular Columbian dance style, it's steamy, loping two-note bass lines are a little like merengue and have an infectious dancefloor pull.
Jones brings together some excellent modern joints and mash ups on this collection, Some great tunes on here from Up Bustle And Out, Mo Horizons, Moonrra y su Batallón and more, and he adds a good sprinkling of classic original recordings from the golden age of Cumbia.

Fans of the earlier 50's/60's period should investigate the excellent Cumbia Cumbia series volumes one and two...although the secondhand price on Amazon looks a little inflated at the time of writing.
One for Latin and World music fans who are not afraid of a bit of DJ culture. Tailor made for the dance tent at WOMAD. Recommended.


Meta Meta
Meta Meta
Offered by 5records
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematic Dub, 19 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Meta Meta (Audio CD)
Came across this French combo when a friend recommended them. Sadly little known in this country, they specialise in the epic and the dubby.
Everything they do seems to be on a grand scale. Don't get me wrong, there is no pomp here, but there is a dark grandeur to many of the pieces.

The opener Minotites uses an operatic singer over a grungy backing...reverb setting for the drums seems set to star cavern...big sound!
Think Massive Attack meets Mungos HiFi or Cinematic Orchestra and you are in the right ball park. Production values are excellent...although my impression of them on the album is quite electronic based, you tube footage shows them as a proper functioning band...and they seem VERY tight live. Musically, the content is excellent with real structural strengths that reward repeated listens.

The use of an extended sample from Blade Runner on Faux Semblant was at first pretty cool, but on fourth or fifth listens it started to irritate. Otherwise it's a real treat of an album.

I urge you to investigate...an instant classic.


Edangered Species
Edangered Species
Offered by Megamoviestore-France
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year?, 6 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Edangered Species (Audio CD)
Blimey, where to start? I first got to hear of Nickodemus through his collaboration with Quantic on the opener Mi Swing es Tropical. This is a likeable tune with it's sunny loping groove, but it is not exactly a showstopper. Have to admit to being a little nonplussed when I heard of the album, but I read some positive reviews and thought it might be worth buying...after all Quantic rarely works with anyone not 'up there'.

There was also a warning sign when I found the aforementioned single was track one. This can mean two things:
Sometimes it indicates that the rest of the album is a turkey and the label hopes people will buy it after hearing track one alone...
... or the album is so good, they can drop the single first and still excite people with the rest of the content.
Thankfully Endangered Species falls into the latter category...Since buying it over a month ago, I have had great difficulty extracting it from my CD player...it is a real grower!

From the Eastern tinged pneumatic funk of Funky in the Middle to the hypnotically compelling Mystery of Life with it's repetitively plucked stringed instrument (no idea what it is, but it's lovely!) and sweet vocal from Andrea Monteiro, here is an artist who isn't afraid to play with 'World' styles without going down the worthy route. There really isn't a bad track on this wonderful disc.

The whole album is a melting pot, he really does delight in bringing in global influences; Middle Eastern vibe in Cleopatra in New York... Kalimba-based rap on The Spirits Within, the Soukous inspired sunshiney Back From Africa...we go all over...but for me the crowning glory is Give The Drummer Some. This bass-powered funky monster is a real mover. Nickodemus collaborates with Stimulus and Dyonysios of Real Live Show and Nappy G who unleashes a cool-as-you-like rap/vocal in praise of the drummer. The tune ends with him, in his super-hip drawl, simply listing the names of all the great drummers in recorded music, and it's a bomb. I have used this tune at several DJ gigs and it has ignited the dancefloor every time. It really is pure dynamite.

Don't miss out...this is the real deal for all you fans of cutting edge Funk/Jazz/Hip Hop/World Fusion styles. It's full to the brim with great grooves and a positive feel. My album of 09?...well it's only September, and the heavyweights are all waiting in the wings to release their offerings...but so far, it's an emphatic YES...I Love it!


Subway II
Subway II
Price: £9.61

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cutting edge retro, 29 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Subway II (Audio CD)
Respect to Soul Jazz Records. Although normally associated with Jamaican music, they have released a selection of other styles and seem to have an unerring ability to find quality in the unlikeliest of places. Just when you think you have pinned their style down, they shift the goalposts often delighting in the process. When I heard about this record, and it's Krautrock influenced Electro I thought...it's gotta be done! Bought it blind, always a risk...but I had faith in the label.

Last time I heard this style done so well was some of the Crystal Castles output and maybe bits of Nathan Fake. Pure electronica...lots of bleepy arpeggiated synths, swirling pads and 80s drum machines, the odd guitar riff......no vocal, but with a strong feeling for groove and melody holding it all altogether...very Germanic...very Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream or Can...but informed by modern Techno and Electro.

More chilled than full on danceable, but the insistent grooves are compelling. A couple of tunes fall foul of noodling which is why it only gets four stars, but Persuasion, Lowlife, Jupiter, Xam are lovely, oddly but wonderfully uplifting things. A great album, heartily recommended.


Olympus LS-10 PCM Recorder
Olympus LS-10 PCM Recorder

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple quality, 13 May 2009
I very nearly didn't buy this device. A friend had bought an Edirol and I was hypnotised by it...but on doing some digging I found a good number of people recommending the Olympus. What swayed it for me was the screw thread on the underside which will take a tripod bush...might seem a small detail, but it makes siting it a breeze...especially when used with a gorillapod.

Recordings are automatically numbered, and can be stored in any one of 5 folders, in a choice of resolutions, and in three widths of stereo settings. Setting levels for manual recordings is easy with with decent sized meters on the largeish mono LCD display. The built-in speakers are only really any use for checking the recording has taken place, but the mini jack headphone socket gives good quality for critical listening. The stereo out mini jack socket allows playback through a larger system.

BEST BITS
* Good sound quality with a useably low noise floor
* Intuitive in use, long battery life
* Drag and drop computer transfer with Mac (sorry, don't know about PCs)
* Reasonably good stereo imaging,
* Perfect for field recordings, music, interviews.

Need to record? Hit the record button once, the red light round the button flashes and you can set the levels with a dial on the side. Hit the record button again and the light stays constant ...you're away!

No real gripes...

Windshield covers for mics come as standard, hi/lo mic sensitivity, soft case, useful Cubase LE software ...although I have to admit to never having used it because I use Logic, all in all I am very pleased with this well thought out and well made product.


Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone
Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone
Offered by Jb's Music Store
Price: £92.95

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Industry standard for vocals, 8 May 2009
After many many years, the SM58 has established itself as the industry standard for live and studio vocal use for a number of good reasons:

* It sounds great with most voices
* It's durable
* It's decent value for money
* It's good at rejecting feedback
* It has become so established and widespread that people know what to expect from it, and how it behaves in a wide variety of settings, taking the guesswork out of things.

The SM58 has become a no-brainer for live stage vocal work and has many other uses as a general purpose workhorse. Buy with confidence.


Buzzin' Fly - 5 Golden Years In The Wilderness
Buzzin' Fly - 5 Golden Years In The Wilderness

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buzzin', 26 Mar. 2009
Well, sometimes you arrive very late at a party to find that it's only just getting going. That's how I felt on first listen to this retrospective triple compilation from Buzzin' Fly. The label, brainchild of Ben Watt, is home to a mighty roster of funky Techy/Deep Housey people. It is right that we have a triple because each CD has it's own distinct character...but make no mistake, 90% of the tunes on here have been crafted...beaten to within an inch of their lives by the quality stick. Yes we are in a similar neighbourhood as Mr. Digweed, but lighter, funkier.
Split into three distinct parts: Up, Down, and Forward...it's a game of three halves.

1.UP.
And we are pulled straight onto the dancefloor...and resistance is futile. Quite a varied CD, there are some vocal House tunes with female vocals, some more techy stuff...but these lovely, funky, uplifting pieces of electronica worm their way into your affections...can you resist the positive pull of the grooves? Not if you have any sense. *****

2.DOWN
...and we are here in the chilled room. Very different from the first, we are in an ambient setting and a very different space. The odd sombre vocal track. Think Leaf Label meets Circulation...Beats, but with a soft edge, synth pads, oblique chords, wide open vistas, lots of space...lose yourself in the ether...mmmmmmmmmm nice. ****

3. FORWARD
I guess this is Mr. Watt's stable of newer players. A little more proggy, a fair bit techy, a funky edge...light of touch, it's as easy to slide between these grooves as it is is for a kid to paint in the air with a sparkler. I'm finding it hard to resist this thing.*****

OK people have complained they have heard a lot of these tunes before, but as it says on the tin, it's a best of the last five years... I'm so glad I missed 'em first time round, cos I'm loving 'em now.

The name says it all, light, free and a little bit ferral...you got another fan on board chaps...can't wait to see where you go next.


When A Banana Was Just A Banana
When A Banana Was Just A Banana
Offered by Direct Entertainment Supplies
Price: £5.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have a banana, 24 Mar. 2009
There are times in music when being groundbreaking isn't as important as just being good. Josh Wink's latest offering is a case in point. To be truthful, there are some amazing moments of inspiration ...BUT...
From the man who brought you the wonderfully over-the-top Higher State of Consciousness, here is a consistently uplifting Techy/Deep House album that is dependable from the opening hip-wiggler Airplane Electronique through to the end...you just know you are in the company of someone who will deliver...lots of floor-fillers that manage to sidestep the crassly anthemic and overblown in favour of the killer groove with a ferrel, quirky edge. This big sounding electronic production is just plain satisfying to move to...picks of the bunch? The perky Airplane Electronique, the surreally bonkers Counter Clock 319, and the slow-burning Hypnoslave...top quality production right through too...turn it right up!

AFTERTHOUGHT
I've had a lot more time to digest this album, and it has grown and grown in my estimation. If I could change my rating it would now undoubtedly be five stars. Get it! *****


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