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Reviews Written by
John Powell "o/i mndspc" (England)

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Lady From Shanghai
Lady From Shanghai
Price: £9.34

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas is lost in the Melancholia of The Truth, 26 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Lady From Shanghai (Audio CD)
I watched someone listen to the first track of this album on Spotify on my recommendation, and they flinched, and took off their earphones. It is not so cacophonous as it could be but this first track expresses a mood of hopelessness. The music is rescued by Thomas's humour; the cornflake and sugar bag rhythms of Mandy. He has this way with pronouncing words. The soft catch at the back of his throat when he says "woncha come out to play" is hypnotic and weird. Pere Ubu are unique. I have been listening to them for decades and will continue to listen to them for their poetry, and for their sheer power as cartographers of the strange in the familiar constantly pushing at the boundaries of what rock music can do.


Lost Sirens
Lost Sirens
Price: £10.61

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cliches of glass continue, 18 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Lost Sirens (Audio CD)
The monument is encircled by oblique figures in pipe cleaner brogues marching to the music of time. This is a relief to the byzantine stairs in stasis in the terminated transmitted transformed to cool the heels terms in the softly cushioned spores of the contaminated by the flora squares of our strangely evaporated eurocentric dialogue. They continue into new territory. Cherish them.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2013 12:40 AM GMT


Love This Giant
Love This Giant
Price: £11.94

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A high energy shot of Byrne et al, 12 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Love This Giant (Audio CD)
It took me a little time to like this slightly unusually composed piece. First off was the poor quality cd casing, a cellulose sleeve such as you get with giveaways on the fronts of magazines. I had to repair the split side of mine immediately with two metal staples. Next was the idea of the alternating songs or duets. Why not just undiluted Byrne? He is hard to compete with lyrically. He has this habit of rendering the banal mysterious in such a strangely compelling style, that it keeps forcing you to think how he does it. However, St Vincent puts in some excellent, unusual but poppy songs that seem to work equally well. After a little patient listening the combination has come to seem a good idea. I like the whole album alot (the artwork itself is interesting too). St Vincent is obviously a talent. Of the many good songs 'I Should Watch TV' is probably the best. It leaves you wanting more. Brass, deep simple bass and raw guitar. If they did another album I would buy that too.


Kindle Paperwhite (5th generation), 6" High Resolution Display (212 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite (5th generation), 6" High Resolution Display (212 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi

31 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A product that disappoints because of its misleading marketing, 29 Oct. 2012
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One thing immediately clear when you first turn on this device is that the electronic print visible on it does not resemble print on paper. The affinity is highly exaggerated. The device has an annoying greasy-looking reading surface that reflects any overhead or other lighting in the vicinity. In essence reading from it confronts you with the same texture screen you get on all the other kindle devices. Which I suppose is fair enough, except that the 'paper white' element is not present in the device's ordinary non-backlit mode; it emerges only when you turn on the back light making the screen glow - turning the screen into something more like an ordinary backlit computer monitor; only (in my view) worse, because it lacks the computer screen's glassy clarity. So when the device is turned into backlit screen mode therefore you get something that induces eye strain - or at least this is my experience. It makes it unpleasant to look at; variable and shadowy, with green and grey tinging, and marked shadows that look like thumb prints at the bottom of the screen. Looking at the screen when it is backlit in this way as I say I think makes for a displeasing reading experience. Never having used a device like this before I also found it bad for reading poetry. It turns poetry into lego. Or if you have the screen sideways in landscape view, there are too few lines visible to be able to read the poem with any fluency. I am going to take a careful look at Kobo as an alternative, or even at the new Nexus 7; since, as backlit, that no doubt looks much better.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2013 2:07 PM BST


Zug - Reshaped & Remodeled By Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer
Zug - Reshaped & Remodeled By Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer
Price: £12.86

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an electronic new, 9 Aug. 2012
On first listen I thought I'd made a mistake. A single beat goes on and on with only the slightest changes, against a background of Schnitzler's slightest of electronic warbles. I now think the reverse. I am starting to like this album's minimalist noised rhythms, the more they become familiar. The first track manages to make a simple electo beat ambient rather than predominantly rhythmic.


The Man who Disappeared: (America) (Oxford World's Classics)
The Man who Disappeared: (America) (Oxford World's Classics)
by Franz Kafka
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically good new version of 'America' / TMWD, 1 May 2012
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I have read two other excellent translations of this, Kafka's first novel, The Man Who Disappeared, but the present one, this new Oxford version, is the version to get if you want have the very best access to the original. This has a clarity beyond the other two, the Muir and Hofmann translations, because it seems to reveal Kafka's comic genius most accurately: the odd subtle details and sardonic word use. I read the Hofmann translation travelling to work on the underground, immersed in the novel's science fiction-like cataloguing of the new technological America, but this Oxford translation, in comparison, on the same journey, seems to bring out Kafka's gift for description and eye for detail. Maybe this is in part a matter of familiarisation but it feels a more subtle read. Richie Robinson has taken pains to communicate the transitions and and word choices of Kafka's sentences, giving them a sense for this reader at least that is closer to Kafka's agile tragic mind. An incomparable novel.


Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Classics of World Literature)
Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Classics of World Literature)
by Franz Kafka
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Kafka translation again for Wordsworth, 5 Oct. 2011
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I find these Wordsworth Kafka editions highly readable. This translation by Williams reads more fluently and (in my view) therefore more comically than the Michael Hoffman translation. Metamorphosis is a horrible story very comically told, even if the comedy doesn't hit you immediately. Laugh out loud funny as they say while simultaneously deeply sinister.


Pattern Recognition (Blue Ant)
Pattern Recognition (Blue Ant)
by William Gibson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A puck of wheetabix, 28 Sept. 2011
Among the excruciatingly bad first pages you come across the description of a "puck of wheetabix" in a Camden Town shop window. I find it hard to believe any publisher saw fit to publish this. The book is a puck of weetabix.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2013 9:42 AM BST


Ox
Ox
by Piers Anthony
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Ox not the author orthodox, 8 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Ox (Mass Market Paperback)
A fine early and representative book by Anthony that follows from the Omnivore and Orn novels, completing the series. The gamesman begins.


The Trial (Classics of World Literature)
The Trial (Classics of World Literature)
by Franz Kafka
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is the Wordsworth the best British translation ?, 28 April 2011
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Going by the translations of the novel I have read so far (I have three translations of this great novel: the Wordsworth, the Oxford World's Classics and the original Muir translation) the Wordsworth is the most readable and up to date. I'd avoid the Oxford translation; I couldn't get through it. The fluency of the translation is of some importance. Compare the following same sentence as translated by each:

1) K. was informed by telephone that next Sunday a short enquiry into his case would take place. (The Muirs)

2) K. had been informed by telephone that a brief investigation into his case would be held the following Sunday. (John Williams, Wordsworth)

3) K. had been informed by telephone that a short hearing IN HIS AFFAIR would take place the next Sunday. (Mike Mitchel, Oxford)

The first two sentences work, the third is blunted by its clumsiness. Sentence version 3 is not idiomatic English, it sounds 'foreign', which can't be the intention.

The Oxford version lacks an idiom .... Another example: "Some had brought cusions, which they placed on their heads so as not to hurt them as they pressed them against the ceiling." The reader needs to work out what these people are trying not to hurt - their heads or the cushions, so the joke is lost ... Kafka wanted a comic effect but this translation's vagueness dissipates it.

I do not speak German nor have I the new penguin edition but the Oxford version stuggles to capture Kafka's grace and energy as a writer. The Williams version is the better of these two.


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