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E. v. Hoof (Netherlands)

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The Endless River
The Endless River
Offered by Acfun Store
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everybody, but essential for fans, 15 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Endless River (Audio CD)
'The take-outs from the Division Bell': that's what this album basically is. The take-outs, the jam session, the improvisational part...if that is so...why was Division Bell so mediocre for Floyd's standards? The Endless River contains so many brilliant segments, motifs, themes, the flow is so extraordinary that I wonder why and how certain choices were made at the time of the production of that album. The Division Bell could have been so much more, especially after hearing ' The Endless River'.

'The Endless River' is, in many ways, an ambient concept album. It is also an album of passing: on one level it is a homage to Richard Wright who died several years ago, but also to Pink Floyd itself since, no doubt, this will be the last album they ever create.

The songs are reminiscent to many Pink Floyd albums. The album is comprised of four sequences, each consisting of a number of songs. The opening sequence reminds one of 'Shine on Your Crazy Diamond.' Other sequences remind one of Division Bell (especially Talkin' Hawkin), Obscured By Clouds, Dark Side of The Moon, AtomHeart Mother (Authumn 68 seems a follow up to Summer 68) and even Saucerful of Secrets (especially sections in the second sequence)

The songs are hauntingly melancholic and, as they promised, very ambient. All the songs are centered around Wright's keyboards and Gilmour's guitar, where Mason's drums fill in the blanks. Only the last song (Louder Than Words) has vocals, the rest is instrumental. Because of its ambient nature, there are no 'rockers', nor breaks in the flow of music where Mason can show his skill. Resultantly, for some, this will make the collection tedious and predictable. But if you like the long segments of music Floyd created in the past, this will be a feast of recognition: in all of the good senses.

What would really have put the cherry on the top of this album, for me at least, would have been if Waters had participated, if only on one track. To me at least, that would have shown that grudges even those as deep and violent as those in Floyd's past can be overcome, and that - after their Live 8 event were they were reunited - they reunited for one last time to pay homage to their colleague and friend. Unfortunately, Waters did not participate.

In short: If you hated Floyd before: this album will not convert you. If you are a fan, you have already bought this. If you like their music then this album deserves a spot in your collection.

The Silver Dream (Interworld, Book 2)
The Silver Dream (Interworld, Book 2)
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT written by Neil Gaiman, 16 July 2014
Despite what Amazon might say, and some of the reviewers below, this book is not written by Neil Gaiman (check the book cover if you do not believe me) . Instead it is written by Michael Reaves and Mallory Reaves.

This book is the second instalment of Giaman's and Reaves' Interworld series. I strongly recommend you read the first book, before reading this. This book is a logical continuation form the premises set in the first book. If you liked the first story, you'll enjoy this. Though I must say that the writing is less fluent than the first book (perhaps this has been Gaiman's magic in the first book), and the story is a bit predictable. The novel is clearly intended for young adults...and I think it is an interesting concept for a tv-series, but that aside. BTW: since I hate plot spoilers, I won't provide any in this short review and stop here before I tell too much of the plot (but if you've read part 1, you might have a guess where this book is going).

Thor: For Asgard (Thor (Marvel Hardcover))
Thor: For Asgard (Thor (Marvel Hardcover))
by Robert Rodi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.83

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Asgard: Not Finished, 6 July 2011
There is one significant problem with Thor: For Asgard; it is not a finished tale. Instead of having read a complete story, at the end I am wondering whether there is going to be a sequal (none is announced by the way) or whether Robert Rodi has skipped a beat or two. I am afraid it is this latter.

Before going into Rodi's story, a brief comment about the artist Bianchi. The art is wonderful, though a in some segments of the book there is a lot going on without a clear emphasis in the art which makes it appear 'chaotic' at times. That said: the art is also vivid and seems to leap from the pages most of the book; so four stars for that.

Spoiler alert from this point onwards.
I credit the story 2 stars because:
The story is a dark one: Asgard is caught in a perpetual winter and the 9 worlds are revolting, leaving Thor to lead war party after war party where none (not even the innocent) are spared. This is a fresh start and sparks interest, and it also sets the tone for a dark, bitter and sometimes cruel epic story. With Odin off the throne and on a side quest, the story of how Thor is not capable to rule properly (due to his nature and his inexperience), and how things spin out of control (from bad to worse); while a great precursor, Rodi cannot deliver. Instead he goes to lengths to cut corners where possible and -while claiming to have a profound understanding of Norse myth- even bending the myths themselves to deliver a 'quick fix' to his plot. Moreover, many things are not explained: why is Hela (who in the myth is actually called Hel (or hell if you prefer it with two l's)) suddenly destroying Valhalla? Why is Odin on a sidequest to his 'wife'? And why does this sidequest remain unresolved? How does the killing of innocents affect Thor? Why is Tyr constantly fighting with Sif and trying to dominate? How come that even the flames of the abyss are frozen? Why do all the worlds suddenly revolt? The only explanation Rodi presents is on the final page: where 'an ancient foe of Asgard' has succeeded in infiltrating the Asgardian city and mumbles to himself that he is responsible. Now I ask you: what sort of plot solution is that?
Unfortunately, Rodi offers more easy solutions. For instance: Thor cannot lift his hammer so, thankfully, dead balder comes to him in a dream and tells him to die too. So Thor, wounded at the time, lies down, dies travels to 'Niflheimr' (which in myth is the plane of ice, while instead what Rodi really means is that Thor travels to the realm of Hell), convinces all of Asgard's heroes (who tumbled into it after the collapse of valhalla) climb the worldtree Yggdrassil (an impossible task it is said, but he succeeds without any difficulty, as do the heroes). Naturally, the other dead start climbing the tree too, so one of the heroes sacrifices himself and the other dead are cast down again: apparently where they can try to climb the tree once again because this plot, too, remains unresolved. And the perpetual winter? You've guessed it...
I feel that Rodi has made choices to avoid a too lengthy story, but some of the choices he made, make the story not only improbable but unfortunately also ridicules the plot and leaves many questions unanswered.

In short: while a very interesting precursor to a great epic tale, it does unfortunately not deliver. Therefore in total 3 stars.

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, whatever did happen?, 15 Oct. 2009
'Batman - whatever happened to the caped crusader' is a complex, not linear, tale of Batman by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) and beautifully drawn by Andy Kubert. This comic is a must have if you're a fan of the Batman series. If, however, you're a casual reader this work may be a bit confusing because quite a lot of Batman's adversaries, as well as regular Batman characters, appear without further introduction - and most even without dialogue or without being addressed. So it is helpful if you know a bit about the 'history' of Gotham and the characters, this will also make it easier to see how brilliantly Gaiman combines and expands the Batman myth.
The comic - graphic novel is an appropriate term as well - consists of the main tale, which I will come to in a second, and three additional tales: one very funny black and white tale where Batman and Joker are actually 'actors' who get paid to play their part in comic books. The Parvane story deals with Poison Ivy, and it does much credit to this character. The last one is a story about the Riddler, which could be read as a 'Riddler - the beginning' type of story...in Riddler style of course.

Spoiler alert, please do not read onward if you truly want to be surprised.

The main story concerns itself with Batman's possible demise: since he is mortal, he will one day inevitably die...how would that come to pass? Who would come to his funeral? From that moment onward nothing is as it seems to be. Several characters (adversaries) claim having killed him, or know how he was killed, but each story contradicts the tale of some other character, so there is no certainty. The combination of various plotlines, such as the Joker and Alfred are just truely brilliant twists on the original Batman concept. I do not wish to give more away that I already did, thus I will conclude by stating that this comic is highly original and wildly imaginative. A true must have for fans, and worthwhile for casual reader (albeit, sometimes you will miss certain hints, jokes and background information)

The Resistance
The Resistance
Price: £5.99

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Muse do 1984, New Wave, Classical and they do it very well, 11 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Resistance (Audio CD)
The Resistance is -again- a different cup of tea than the previous Muse works. This could very well be their most challenging release to date. If you like Black Holes and Revelations (or any of the other works), prepare yourself for quite a shock, Muse takes 'progressive' further than before. On the other hand: a comparison can be made between 'Map of the Problematique', a song form Black Holes and Revelations with a strong New Wave connotation, and some of the tracks on this album. Furthermore, the conspiracy theories and social criticism, none of which have lost their relevance, are still galore, of course. But this album also seems to tap into the vein of the eighties, Orwell's 1984, general electronic music and, yes, orchestral music: the end result is a dark and brooding album both lyrically and musically. The beauty of this album is that they take quite a lot of different sounds, and make them all work together in a symphony as only Muse can compose.

1. Uprising - seems to have taken the current economical crisis as a starting point. The chorus 'so come on' oddly reminded me of the chorus in Blondie's 'Call me'. This song is a good introduction to what the rest of the album will bring: strong electronic driven music with a solid fundament in New Wave.

2. Resistance - a strong 1984 feel with a reference to Thought Police. This is a great song that will grow the more you listen to it.

3. Undisclosed Desires - Did I detect a hint of electronic drum computer and Depeche Mode there? Great song with brilliant lyrics that seem to reflect, again, 1984 and especially the love interest of the main persona.

4. United States of Eurasia - a very Queenesque song, even Brian May's guitar is mimicked. Again Eurasia is a term that refers to 1984. A haunting song, that requires a few listens to get into. The piano piece near the end is majestic classical.

5. Guiding Light - this is a great song, but somehow, between the other songs this just doesn't remain 'stuck'. This is a good song, don't get me wrong, it is just a bit more 'ordinary' ballad-esque Muse song.

6. Unnatural Selection - in the light of this album, this track is almost as if Muse take a step back and produce a genuine rock song, as only they can do it. The foundation for this song lies in its powerfull riff.

7. MK Ultra - another Muse rock song. Strong beats and riffs, a very driven, powerful song that will do wonders on stage.

8. I Belong to You - a song build around a piano line that slowly evolves into an opera piece. A surprising and extraordinary well crafted song

9 - 10 - 11. Exogenesis: Symphony. This is a trilogy of songs, hugely symphonic, and orchestral pieces of bombastic Muse. Dramatic and one of the best vocal efforts of Muse to date. A brilliant interweaving of the 'Muse-sound' and classical music. It is just that what it claims to be: a symphony and perhaps this song is the culmination of songs like Ruled By Secrecy and Butterflies and Hurricanes. A truly marvelous achievement.

This is a truly progressive album that doesn't shun to use references to the 80's new wave, Queen and incorporates orchestras and remarkable lyrics.

Sandman: Endless Nights
Sandman: Endless Nights
by Glenn Fabry
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Endless Nights: No mere stand alone, 2 Sept. 2009
Endless Nights was written/drawn some years after the completion of the series. It features stories of the Endless, all seven of them, where each one has/her own chapter.
First: while this work can be read as a stand alone, I would recommend against it because Delerium's tale would be very hard to understand, and you would miss some background information.
Gaiman is known for his deep, thorougly researched and non-linear plot lines: and he delivers again.

Endless Nights features some fine artwork, by great artists (among whom P. Craig Russel, Milo Manara, Glen Fabry) that only would merit the buy of this (dare I say it) comic...if I can name it a comic. True, Vertigo is the publisher and thus it must be...or must it? If you regard the tales of Delerium and Despair, for instance, these are so wonderfully created, with complex and haunting images and a so non-linear (nor straight-forward) plot but they are more post-modern stories than chapters in a comic book.

The story of Death gives a nice view on Death, but to those who read the two Death spin-offs of the Sandman it will bring nothing new.
Desire's tale, is a haunting and for the main characters devastating story of lust and desire and it shows the works of Desire of the Endless in a pre-Roman society.
Dream's tale is an important tale for the Sandman fans for it answers a few of the remaining questions: such as who was the first mortal love of Morpheus? Why does he dislikes Desire so much?
Despair's story, are in fact 15 views on Despair, while it is brilliantly crafted: I was hoping to learn more of the Old Despair, and how she dies (this is referred to in the Sandman series)
Desire's tale is a twisted and wildly confusing tale that takes one into her realm of madness.
Destruction's story is sort of a conclusion to Delerium's tale, but again I was hoping to learn about Destruction and why he abandoned his post (and what happened to his domain)?
Destiny's sequence, since it is not really a story, is just that it explains little and just 'shows the reader', just as Destiny's book shows how destiny unfolds for him. It still has great pictures and for one way or another it will make you feel that you actually have learned quite a lot.

Concludingly: great artists have drawn Gaiman's challenging stories that are strongly recommended to those who have read the rest of the series, but might also be interesting for those who want to read a more off-the-beaten-track challenging graphic novel.

Anno Domini: High Definition
Anno Domini: High Definition
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £17.62

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Technical progressive: Anno Domini, 27 Aug. 2009
Many reviewers tend to compare Riverside to bands such as Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, this, to my humble opinion, is not a very accurate comparison. Riverside, on this album at least, has more similarities to Symphony X and especially Dream Theater, a band whom they thank in their 'Thank you-note'. In other words, if you like bands such as Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, you might not automatically like this album. On the other hand, if you bands like Symphony X and Dream Theater you really should give this a try.

Anno Domini is a heavy, metal influenced listen. The rhythms are challenging, the melody lines complexly crafted: different musical sections interweave, spin out and return later in the song with the vocal section as its guiding line. This is not music to be easily put up as back ground music, 44 minutes, 44 seconds and 'only' 5 tracks should give a clue to the average length and complexity of the songs.

1) Hyperactive: is the shortest track on the album with 'just' 5 minutes and 40 odd seconds. It is a great song, with a raw aggressive tone and it is a good introduction to the rest of the album.
2) Driven to Destruction: is a long song with and interesting brass section in it. I wasn't expecting this so I was surprised but it must be said that Riverside make it work, it adds a nice touch to a great song and it adds to the progressive genre.
3) Egoist Hedonist: a song that apparently consists of three parts. Somehow I found the lyrics a bit lacking and the three parts do not come across as 'seperate' sections, they seem to form one consistend whole with not variation on its musical theme - at least not unlike the other songs on this album -, but at this point I'm nitpicking. Riverside are a talented band and this song is still a haunting tale, with a strong keyboard driven line.
4) Left Out: starts out as a relatively 'mellow' song, but with enough tension and surprises - such as a Hammond Organ - to make it work brilliantly.
5)Hybrid Times: the last song on the album, and like Hyperactive was a great opener, Hybrid Times is a great closer. The shouting segments I found oddly distracting in this song. On a whole it is very comparable to Hyperactive.

All in all a great album from a talented band, recommended if you like metal influenced and/or just a tad more complex progressive music.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2009 4:04 PM BST

The Spook House: Terrifying Tales of the Macabre (Pocket Penguin Classics)
The Spook House: Terrifying Tales of the Macabre (Pocket Penguin Classics)
by Ambrose Bierce
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enigmatic imaginitive ghost stories, 20 Aug. 2009
Ambrose bierce is the somewhat enigmatic cult figure whose 'Devil's Dictionary' and mysterious disappearance brought him fame. Judging the tales contained within this book by themselves, I must conclude that they are well written, journalistic (not surpringly so, if you consider that Bierce was actually a journalist) discriptions of 'occurences', and 'strange phenomena'. His writing style, in addition to being precise, has a bleak sense of humour to it, sometimes even cynical. Furthermore, Bierce knows how to bring across dread, and fear of the unknown. While he never writes in gruesome details of some contemporary horror (cinema) he uses suspense to a, perhaps, even greater effect.

There are quite a lot of tales in this book, and not all are about ghosts, fear of ghosts, and mysterious appearances. That said, each story has something unique. What is striking is that some tales are only a few pages long (I counted at least one of only two pages) while others take up 10, 20 or, in one case, even 30 pages. Interesting is that Bierce chose his topics from everyday life, knowing that he was born in the 1840's this means that the American civil war is the background for a few stories, as are there goldminers/ cowboys; not topics frequently chosen in the horror genre, but that can be considered a refreshingly new take on the gothic horror genre.

This book is a nice anthology of Bierce's horror prose and well recommended to Lovecraft / Machen fans as well as the Poe reader, as for all the fans of imaginative horror.

Koyaanisqatsi/ Powaqqatsi [DVD]
Koyaanisqatsi/ Powaqqatsi [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christie Brinkley
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A master piece of musical cinema, 13 Aug. 2009
Koyaanisqatsi caused quite a stir when it first came out in the early 80s. Heralded as the first environmental film, this movie without words -and as plot only old Hopi sayings-, and new camera techniques had a major influence on both documentaries and directors to come. But this is not really a slow paced environmental picture, it is a history of Western (North American in particular) civilization as well. Where lush images are combined with the postmodern classical music of Philip Glass. Arguably, Philip Glass', and only as a minor point of criticism, the music does not really change during the movie, where the movie itself does. However, this does not make the music, or the movie, less powerful. I'd rate Koyaanisqatsi 5 stars.

Powaqqatsi is different. The music changes constantly throughout the movie, to match the various cultures the movie portrays. Powaqqatsi is not a documentary about exploits, it merely portrays the ordinary lives of people in the southern hemisphere. While it focuses less on technology and land/cityscapes it focuses more on people and their habits. Expect more close ups of human habits, faces and customs than in the first movie. Somehow, this movie does have less impact than the first one, perhaps because filming people is just a completly different cup of tea than beautif and haunting images of industry and natural landscapes. I'd rate Powaqqatsi 3 stars.

Both movies are highly recommended for all those who like: thought provoking films, arthouse films, documentaries, experimental filmmaking, and stunning images combined with music.

Romanitas: Volume 1 (Romanitas Trilogy 1)
Romanitas: Volume 1 (Romanitas Trilogy 1)
by Sophia McDougall
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Romanitas has a great idea and a bad execution, 13 Aug. 2009
McDougall is apparently a poet, if one is to believe the foreword. Perhaps that is why the story and her literary prose is not yet truly balanced. This I find strange since her editor should have noticed this.

What readers need to know is that Romanitas is the first part of trilogy, and while it can be read as a stand alone, it will leave open many questions.

The story is based upon the idea of an alternate reality were the Roman Empire never collapsed. This idea is novel, but not an totally new.
The first thing is: is it really alternate history, if so, why are there characters with psi-powers? Why doesn't the world know? Why aren't the character who encounter them more surprised?
Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if all the details, history and names were well thought through, but they aren't. For instance: some city/country names she translates into to 'Latinized' version, some she translates into Latin and then back into English and some, like London, she deliberately leaves intact (such as London), and the `slave-world'(I'll come to that), and why isn't there more technology specifically for slaves? GPS has been around in our world for decades by now...

While the story starts off at a good, albeit some readers might find it a bit slow, pace. McDougall quickly looses herself on side trails, a character's chain of thoughts that especially in the beginning of the story might be distracting. The three main characters, the young escaped slaves Una (run away) and her brother Sulien (on his way to be crucified) and the orphan, would-be Emperor, boy Marcus miss a certain 'something' that really causes them to come to life. It could be that all the characters in the book, no matter their age all 'sound' alike: rather naive, dull and unimaginative, their conversations just rattle on-and-on. This goes for slave, citizen, elder and youth: on more than one occasion I found myself rereading passages I read before, simply because I thought a certain character had done something while in reality it was actually a mix-up of characters in my head. The whole slavery culture, while prominent in the book, does not stand out, it lacks intensity and detail. The 'free' village of the slaves actually read as a friendly get together of boy scouts in the mountains. The characters strike one as distinctly naive and the fact that Una and Marcus will get a love interest going is something that is obvious from the first page.

All in all, this book has a great idea, but a flawed, pardon the pun, execution: a good editor would have done marvels for this book.

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