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Reviews Written by
Jay M "jay_mc" (Dublin, Ireland)

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Price: £11.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambient Excursion from Mr. Ripatti, 23 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Visa (Audio CD)
Somewhat of a change of direction from his recent more jazzy electronic releases, this album sees Sasu Ripatti explore the ambient electronic scene.

Whilst once ambient was once seen by some as 'new age' or associated with the space-obsessed it has now become very much common-place and as such, it is a crowded market with very little new happening in it. Therefore you are looking now really for something that pleases your ears, rather than anything ground-breaking.

This album is a mix of hazy electronics, sometimes warm, sometimes cold and pulsing sounds. There are also ripples of drone and various found sounds, sounding like old-modems and channels looking for a signal. Is it melodic? On the whole yes but there are choppy elements. Is it meditation-type ambient? I would say not, it actually keeps you interested, therefore you will be listening for what comes next.

If you're a fan of Ripatti's Vladislav Delay moniker, then don't expect his normal beat-filled release, but you should enjoy this, unless you really dislike beat-less electronic music.

The Rough Guide to Berlin
The Rough Guide to Berlin
by Christian Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful and well laid-out, 2 April 2014
9 times out 10, I find the Lonely Planet version of a particular city or country guide to be to my preference. However, in this instance, the Rough Guide version is a much better choice.

I have the latest Lonely Planet Berlin Guide and it's layout is not as straightforward or easy to use as this one. Here, everything flows as it should really, there's a chapter on a particular district and within that there's the sub-sections on 'Sights', 'Accomodation', 'Restaurants', etc. Lonely Planet has the Restaurants all lumped together at the back of the back, and it's certainly not as conducive for ease of reference.

The maps here, the ones that I used, are spot-on. They are useful in determining distances because I was able to walk to places based on seeing the map, whereas elsewhere I was being advised that I had to get a bus, etc! They also covered the district where I was based more in detail than Lonely Planet did. Heading out of the centre, the maps of Grunewald, Wannsee and Potsdam are very helpful too.

If I was heading to Berlin for a trip, then I'd definitely go for this. It's the most up-to-date (at the current time of writing) but it would mainly be for the reason of its simplistic layout yet holding great detail and tips.

Irish Railways: Locomotives, Multiple Units and Trams (European Handbooks)
Irish Railways: Locomotives, Multiple Units and Trams (European Handbooks)
by Robert E. Pritchard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it needs to do, 29 Dec. 2013
Gives a good listing to inform you of the currently in-service, stored (or scrapped) models of locomotives and rolling stock in the Republic and Northern Ireland, along with information on currently open routes.

Pictures, specs and number designations are included, along with short sections on freight and listings of ticket types available. There's also a section on LUAS trams included but to me this was not appealing, but this was out of a lack of personal interest rather than it being poorly written, which it was not.

The loss of many diesel locomotives and Mark 2 and 3 type carriages from the nation's railway lines is documented well by the compiler/writer of the book, and he does a good job of bringing you up-to-date with their relevant postings or use, if scrapped or stored, or in service.

A Rose Made of Galaxies
A Rose Made of Galaxies
Price: £15.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its nothing new but its good, 29 Dec. 2013
This review is from: A Rose Made of Galaxies (Audio CD)
Hardly an inspiring title to get you into this album I know but given its fairly much a jangly-drone-shoegaze-type sound, it does hark back to those days in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Orange Yellow Red are a three-piece from The Isle of Wight, comprising of Emma Hayward: Voice, Bass Guitar / Philip John Mayor: Voice, Guitar, Drums, Synthesizers / Ross King: Guitar.

Imagine a slightly more traditional type sounding Cocteau Twins, with a touch of Dubstar and The Cure, and you are somewhat there. The vocals are discernable and therefore differ from the opaque Cocteau sound.

'We Ran' is probably the best song on the album, Emma Hayward's voice soaring above the synths, guitars and drums. The song is quite catchy but its hardly anything that is going to bother the charts, which is more a reflection on the state of today's music scene than on the song itself.

A worthwhile purchase is you like well crafted jangly guitar music.

Ambassadors - Series 1 [DVD]
Ambassadors - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Mitchell
Price: £14.00

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and enjoyable, 29 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Ambassadors - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Living in a time when intelligent comedy-drama is at a true premium, this show is absolutely essential. It helps that it is also witty, well-written, cast excellently and very funny!

David Mitchell and Robert Webb excel in their roles as the Ambassador (Keith Davis) and his deputy-head (Neil Tilly), to the fictional Asian nation of Tazbekistan.

For those expecting, or fearing!, anything similar to their own comedy show on BBC, or 'Peep Show' on Channel 4, then this is entirely different, and all the better for it.

As the dvd box set is not released yet, I won't go too much into detail for those that may not have seen the show yet. Albeit to say that there are many funny and smart situations, including a blind political prisoner wandering into a busy dinner-hall in his underpants and the visit of Prince Mark, a minor Royal excellently played by Tom Hollander. Prince Mark displays all the usual charm expected of a royal, including asking Davis (Mitchell) in a car trip from the airport, what the 'local skirt' are like and would he ever be tempted. Given Davis is married to a character played by Keeley Hawes, then I think that quite sums up the stupidity of the man!

I also second the previously raised point regarding the length of time it is taking to release the box-set. In an ideal world, I would have no issue in waiting until October 2014 (currently), as generally I do think things are released too soon now. But given the times we are in and that brand new box office movies are released within a few months, or sooner, on dvd/blu-ray, then it seems a bit of marketing blooper to wait that long, allowing interest in the show to cool and anyone who wants to see it will probably catch the likely reruns within the next few months anyway.Maybe it will be brought forward!

Great show though and worth buying for those who are really taken with it.

The Sound of Belgium
The Sound of Belgium
Price: £10.13

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belgian Pioneers, 29 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Sound of Belgium (Audio CD)
There was a small period of time, in the early 1990's, when electronic dance music seemed bring a feeling of euphoria and happiness. Leaving aside the chemical aspects which are too often, and unnecessarily, thrown in, much of these good feelings are down to some of the seminal tracks on this collection.

Belgium has been at the forefront of the most cutting-edge electronic music for many years (despite some less charitable people ignorantly presuming it is all 70's and 80's style Europop disco!), be it through their own artists, or releases on Belgian record labels, including the legendary R&S. Many of the tracks are quite rightly regarded as some of the most influential ever released. Yet most people are probably unaware of this. But for the uninitated, some of the names on here you may not instantly recognise but there is a good chance you have heard, and possibly enjoyed, their music already.

This collection features minimal, cold-wave, rave (including the unique 'hoover' bassline-sound), techno, trance and one hardcore track, and no, you don't need chemicals or need to be on the dancefloor to appreciate them!

It also features two home-grown forms of dance music, EBM and New Beat. The latter has largely disappeared now but features on some tracks on discs 2 and 3 in this collection. EBM is the more long lasting and is most associated with the group, Front 242. Both are forms of a more aggressive type of dance music.

This collection starts pre-early 1990's, back to the early 80's, with such bands as Front 242 (Headhunter sounding very clear and pristine on this collection) and The Neon Judgement, featuring. These would have had some success outside of Europe, particularly Front 242 in the US. There are more experimental electronic excursions on the first two discs, some sounding poppy, others more lounge, along with the more mainstream. My main worry was there would be a fair amount of dross, with less quality tracks. However, I only skipped one or two.

From disc 3, we enter the 90's and hear tracks by the likes of T-99 (when seen on Top of the Pops dismissed them as laughably cheesy but looking back now and hearing the breaks, the complex drum patterns and programming that went into their songs and compare it to the boring, apple Mac style or pre-programmed crap we hear today, then you realise it was quite good!). Praga Khan, Phantasia, etc, bring us into rave territory, all featuring those feel-good tinkly piano chords, which will transport you back to the early 90's instantly! 'Le Mystere' by Opus 303 was previously unheard by myself and is an excellent song. Many club-goers would recognise The Age of Love's song by the same name.

Disc 4 brings us somewhat up-to-date (late 90's, early 2000's), Frank De Wulf's great remix of The Golden Girl's 'Kinetic' and CJ Bolland's wonderful 'Camargue', amongst the stand-outs. Emmanuel Top and Push also contribute.

A fitting collection to a much-missed time in musical history. We will never hear dance music like this again as the sounds and basslines were all played directly from different types of sequencers, synths or keyboards, each with their own unique sounds. Nowadays everything sounds similar, as it all comes out of iMacs and is the true definition of the word synthetic. Check this out and let the memories roll back!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 9, 2014 5:32 PM GMT

Lost Lines: Scotland Revisted
Lost Lines: Scotland Revisted
by Nigel Welbourn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.35

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting the past, 25 Oct. 2013
A great follow-on from the previous volume, Nigel Welbourn takes us back North of the border to revisit some of the railway lines long since lost.

The maps are a great help and anyone interested in this type of railway history will find something interesting in this book. It follows that anyone from Scotland, or has experience of the railways past in Scotland, will be served better by this book, but as I mentioned, for those just interested in lost railway lines it is also well worth it.

The pictures are great and provide a real sense of the line at that time and there are also helpful present-day pictures to show you what has become of that particular station or scene.

Its well written and put together and serves as a fantastic reminder piece for Scottish railway lines.

Tintin and the Blue Oranges [DVD]
Tintin and the Blue Oranges [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jean-Pierre Talbot
Offered by Home Entertainment Online
Price: £7.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Losing momentum, 25 Oct. 2013
I would go along with what some other reviewers said on here, that for fans of Tintin then this is perfectly acceptable. Its by far not the best and definitely not a place for first time Tintin fans or those not really into him, to start with.

The film suffered from the loss of a few vital members of cast from the previous film, 'Tintin and the Golden Fleece', and a certain warmth which certainly Captain Haddock (played by Georges Wilson) had in that film, was lost in this one with the casting of the different actor (Jean Bouise) as Captain Haddock, amongst other cast changes.

The beautiful Spanish scenery is evident again though and is always a plus to see.

Go for the Golden Fleece first and then this.

Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece [DVD] [1961]
Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece [DVD] [1961]
Dvd ~ Jean-Pierre Talbot
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £5.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, beautiful scenery, fun film, 25 Oct. 2013
Generally I hate dubbed films or television programmes, they are annoying and I spend too much time being drawn to the actor or actresses lips and watching how well or badly the dubbing has been done, and therefore not concentrating on the film at all!

However I was able to overlook all of that with this film. Its really enjoyable.

The acting is very good and the scenery and how it all interplays with the storyline is quite compelling. There are various criticisms on here, I've talked about the dubbing aspect, other than that don't go in expecting high art and you will be alright. Its by no means lowbrow either, far more thought has gone into this than most modern older children's productions, there is more complicated dialogue, etc.

If you are a fan of Tintin and you can overlook the dubbing then you should easily like this. Its superior to the next film, 'Tintin and the Blue Oranges' due to the fact that that film lost a few of the main players in this one.

Mapping Britain's Lost Branch Lines: A nostalgic look at Britain's branch lines in old maps and photographs
Mapping Britain's Lost Branch Lines: A nostalgic look at Britain's branch lines in old maps and photographs
by Paul Atterbury
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mapping the past, 25 Oct. 2013
Books about old branch lines will always evoke certain memories amongst some. You don't have to have been around at the time they existed even, but have seen or read about them in various television programmes or films and books such as The Railway Children or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Their existence was fundamental to modern Britain and Ireland.

This book centres on Britain and it is well researched and put together by the ever resourceful and helpful Paul Atterbury.

One aspect which has always been lacking in these types of books about old and lost railway lines was Maps. Yes, the maps really make the difference here. Its great to be able to find out exactly where the line in question is, in relation to everything else and will help people to be able to trace it even easier in person, should they wish to. Even if you do not wish to visit the remnants in person, seeing them on maps is such a great help. They are interesting in themselves to look at, with various lines numbered, enabling you to locate them easily and then read more about them in their relevant section in the chapter following, along with pictures of past and sometimes near present. Mr. Atterbury also provides us with what became of the various scenes, be they stations or crossings, etc.

The book is quite large and very good value. The pictures are clear and the text very interesting. It combines all the things I like about tracing lost lines and am appreciative to Mr. Atterbury for putting his time into such a thoughtful publication.

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