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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparks light up the sky
As a huge fan of Imogen's work as part of Frou Frou, I enjoyed her solo material but struggled with some of its more esoteric moments. Yet this album is an unexpected triumph, full of ideas being explored but also warmth, melody and incredibly intricate production.

Favourite track by far is the beautiful `Entanglement' with its fractured beat, sensuous vocals...
Published 4 months ago by Truecolours09

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the music
So, it’s finally here. The much heralded years-in-the-making new album from Imogen Heap. Imogen’s music came to my attention around 2006, when I heard some tracks from her ‘Speak for Yourself’ album and was instantly hooked. I saw her live a couple of times in those "early days", her endearing warmth clearly in evidence in the intimate...
Published 3 months ago by Deckard


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparks light up the sky, 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
As a huge fan of Imogen's work as part of Frou Frou, I enjoyed her solo material but struggled with some of its more esoteric moments. Yet this album is an unexpected triumph, full of ideas being explored but also warmth, melody and incredibly intricate production.

Favourite track by far is the beautiful `Entanglement' with its fractured beat, sensuous vocals and delicate lyrics describing how it feels to share yourself with someone (physically and emotionally). It's jaw-droppingly moving and just one of many moments on `Sparks' that take the listener to another place.

Also excellent is `Run-Time'. Originally developed as part of a running app (please don't let that put you off) it's a song about breaking up. It has the best, most surprising tempo-changing outro I've heard for a long while ("Can we just not drag this out please?").

`The Listening Chair' is a good example of how Imogen's unique approach to songwriting can lead to genuinely fresh sounding music. Describing all of her life so far, it's a stream of consciousness that takes in family, school life, young adulthood and low self esteem, building a life for herself and hopes for the future. What could be self-indulgent and irritating in the wrong hands is charming and life-affirmingly inclusive.

`Telemiscommunications' (with deadmau5) is a deceptively simple, scratchy, downbeat track about how technology has become so dominant in our lives and can make it harder to understand one another. Meanwhile, 'Me The Machine' is a charming counterpoint in which technology and humanity work together to create something new.

`You Know Where To Find Me' starts as a lovely piano ballad but expands to include harmonies and electronic beats.

Even the more challenging tracks (`Climb To Sakteng', `Neglected Space', `Xizi She Knows') sound much stronger when placed alongside the whole album and provide welcome changes in pace.

`Sparks' is a terrific album; here is an artist fully prepared to commit all her energy to a project and risk ridicule with lyrics packed full of ideas and imagery. Imogen never takes the easy option (with lyrics or melody) but that just makes exploring these tracks all the more worthwhile and special.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a TON of time and energy went into this work of art. It shows., 19 Aug 2014
This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
Immi strikes again. Plainly said, "Sparks" continues Heap's longstanding tradition of blending passion, adventure, and technology in a luscious feast for the mind and companion for the soul. This album in particular seems to me a turning point in her life as a musician. Although I love all of her work, the pieces of this set seem to work with each other as a team more than jump out from one another; she has matured as an artist and she thinks in albums as well as in songs. All in all, "Sparks" is a reflection on everything we have grown to love about this unique and truly gifted woman as well as a portent of things to come. "Who am I now?" Heap ponders at the conclusion of "The Listening Chair;" indeed, Imogen has showcased her creativity in a new way and has certainly convinced this fan of her mesmerizing ability to continually redefine herself and her medium. Here's to many more destinations in this engaging journey!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A multi-layered, versatile challenge, 24 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
I am a fan of all of Heap's previous work and was very excited to finally receive this album. I recognise most artists develop a sound but as a listener it's always enjoyable when they challenge themselves and your expectations of their work; Heap has done this on Sparks. Not as immediately accessible as her previous work, the album - a collection of soundscapes multi-layered and detailed - grows and breathes further life into each successive listen. The collaborations (collected as she travelled) are imaginative, varied and demonstrate her versatility as an artist, producer and engineer. The album is a Spark that will catch and burn for some time to come...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Album, 23 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
I am so glad that someone has finally put together the perfect album. I agree all the enthusiastic reviews, but I don't wish to extract tracks for critique. It seems to me a continuum; it needs to be played through from beginning to end. I like the other albums but this one is very special. We have waited a long time for it. Very much worth the wait.

One small carp, - not about the music but the package . As one of Imogen's older fans I would have preferred the accompanying leaflet to be in rather bigger print. Oh well, . . this means I will have to listen to the album over and over to get the lyrics. Some burden!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the music, 21 Aug 2014
This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
So, it’s finally here. The much heralded years-in-the-making new album from Imogen Heap. Imogen’s music came to my attention around 2006, when I heard some tracks from her ‘Speak for Yourself’ album and was instantly hooked. I saw her live a couple of times in those "early days", her endearing warmth clearly in evidence in the intimate venues. Her subsequent success leveraging social media, amongst other things, is well deserved. I did feel it was somehow at the expense of her music though. The follow-up ‘Ellipse’ did not press as many buttons, though there are still fine tracks to be found. Other pieces though felt distracted, forced even. For me her forte of sitting at the piano and presenting a great song felt diluted.

In that context, Sparks starts promisingly. ‘You Know Where to Find Me’ is exactly the sort of piece I’d hoped for. Beautiful piano playing. Her striking vocals. Relatively minimalistic. The only slight issue for me is that the track, though melodically good, is not great. I’ve played the whole album back to back 5 or 6 times now. It can take such time for musical infection to show through. The opener has grown in stature during repeated auditions, but it still doesn’t detract from the fact that melodically this track does not hit the heights of previous works. It’s competent, but no more.

‘Entanglement’ follows. And it has a great opening, reversed vocal punctuation adding detail to great percussion. Vocally this is reminding me a lot of the Frou Frou album. However, again it doesn’t totally grab me. The infectious "spark" is amiss. It does its best, the attention to sonic detail, the twists and turns; it certainly can’t be accused of not trying. Maybe it’s trying too hard? It just ends up a bit of a maudlin so-so piece.

I confess I haven’t followed the doubtless copious blogs which chart the album’s development. I’m sure ‘The Listening Chair’ has a story to tell. Very personal no doubt, a primarily vocal rendition of life so far? Either way, it doesn't make particularly enjoyable listening. Playground banter early on, discordant wailing later on. This track tops the five minute mark. It’s a slog.

‘Cycle Song’ next. An instrumental cacophony of sounds with vocals as tapestry rather than lyrics. It’s OK, but again lacks any melodic guile. ‘Telemiscommunications’ features Deadmau5, an artist I know little of except his penchant for modular gear. This is a decent track actually, the minimal reversed piano infuses some melodic mood into the equation. Busy vocals offer clever contrast to the glitchy percussion. Things are looking up, and ‘Lifeline’ continues the form. The semblance of normal “pop song” construction is refreshing. Melodically (again) it’s not the greatest piece she’s ever written but it at least invites a level of enjoyment without too many conditions.

But then we get ‘Neglected Space’. Largely a poem. I’m sure some will delight at the lyrical prowess. At over 5 minutes I found it neither moving nor thought provoking. Like ‘The Listening Chair’ it’s just a huge slog. ‘Minds Without Fear’ features Vishal-Shekhar. Is it a result of a visit to Nepal? India? Himalayas? To be fair this is a decent track, the ethnic vocals largely blending well. But (yes, again) melodically it is simply nothing to write home about. No real infection. ‘Me the Machine’ like so many previous tracks simply does not draw this listener in. Variation on a theme, well intentioned no doubt. But no hook.

Then suddenly here she is. The Imogen Heap that beguiled so much on ‘Speak for Yourself’. ‘Run-Time’ is head and shoulders the best track on this album. A wonderful slice of pop with melodic infection and clever detail, especially the wonderful time sig changes during the end section. ‘Climb to Sakteng’ is an instrumental, and a rather good one. Piano and mood with more ethnicity. ‘The Beast’ is reasonable enough too, threatening to help the album turn a corner. However, any such thoughts are scuppered by ‘Xizi She Knows’. At a guess, it's China influenced. It’s all a bit predictable to be honest, and the deadpan (kid?) counting verges on the annoying. A shame because there are elements of this track which are great.

Finally, ‘Propeller seeds’. A track which perfectly encapsulates many of the forgetful traits of this album. No matter how clever you try to be production-wise, the foundation – the track – has to be good to start with. And the musical basis of ‘Propeller Seeds’ simply doesn’t pass muster.

This album feels more like a collection of college art projects than a cohesive musical journey. It’s all beautifully presented, with copious swatches charting the ideas which make up the whole. But the musical ideas feel thin, more like the result of graveyard-shift post-lunch lectures vs the true “spark” that infused ‘Speak for Yourself’. No matter how deluxe you make the box set, at the end of the day the musical foundations must take precedent. 'Run-Time' aside, that’s where this album falls down for me.
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2.0 out of 5 stars So Disappointing, 5 Dec 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (Nottinghamshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
I really liked Imogen's last 3 albums. I decided not to follow her long journey in the production of this album, preferring to wait for the final product. Oh dear. I find it to be overly-intricate, over-produced with, at times random lyrics and random sounds. I just can't connect with this album which I think is more likely to lose her fans than gain them. Maybe it is too self-indulgent for me or maybe my musical tastes have changed.Whilst waiting for this album I explored other artists and different genres. I discovered the wonderful Patty Griffin. Numerous great yet simple songs, sung with more emotion and simpler production for her distinctive voice.

I hope Imogen can return to form with her next album, give more importance to the songs and less to the production.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Played so many times it's better with every listen, 27 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
just had to buy this new release as I heard her just once and couldn't get her out of my mind. Played so many times it's better with every listen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant songwriting, technical excellence and heart, 24 Sep 2014
This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
A masterpiece! Brilliant songwriting, technical excellence and heart! Her best, most experimental and rewarding album yet.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly writing this., 22 Sep 2014
By 
Mr C D West (Hackney, London, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
Love imogen but after four years. NO.
I am disappointed. This is an ablum that never arrives. It's over wordy, never gels and releasing loads of the tracks of the four years just makes you feel you got nothing to look forward to as you've bought these twice. Really wanted to love this but can't. Speak for yourself still remains her best and most complete album.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Fortunately the last 3 are very good, 22 Oct 2014
This review is from: Sparks (Audio CD)
Not in the same league as her previous albums. I couldn't finish a single track until 'The Beast'. Fortunately the last 3 are very good, which is the only reason I didn't give this album 1 star.

I don't normally like every single track on Heap's albums, but the gems make them worth it. With only 3 good tunes on a double album, its very disappointing.
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Sparks by Imogen Heap (Audio CD - 2014)
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