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Micky67 (Glasgow)

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The Churn (Expanse)
The Churn (Expanse)
Price: £1.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not 592 pages long as stated, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Decent story addition the Expanse universe, adding a little colour and history to the previous trilogy of books. However, this is not 592 pages long as stated above by Amazon, so not particularly worth the £2.99 in my opinion

Endymion (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Endymion (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
by Dan Simmons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You are reading this for the wrong reasons, 24 Feb. 2012
'You are reading this for the wrong reasons'.

The very first line in 'Endymion' the third part of Simmons spectacular Hyperion series. Reading the several negative reviews posted on Amazon and around the web by irate customers claiming this was not a satisfactory continuation of this story, you have to ask yourself how they missed the glaring warning from Simmons.

'If you are reading this because you are a fan of the old poet's Cantos and are obsessed with curiosity about what happened to the lives of the Hyperion pilgrims, you will be disappointed' he continues. Both of these quotes occur in the first two paragraphs. He's practically urging readers not to compare this part, to what went on before.

I found this approach rather refreshing. I found the characters likable and interesting (even the villains) and the planets brilliantly described. From the powerful Chitaktuk tribe surviving against Arctic Wraiths on a planet that's atmosphere is practically all ice, through to the nuclear wasteland that is now God's Grove. Each planet is detailed beautifully and enhances the overall story, immersing the reader in this remarkable universe. We visit many, many worlds throughout this books 400+ pages and given small glimpses into what became of each after the events of the Hyperion Cantos, as the story progresses.

That the story runs more like a movie, where our protagonists ( a convicted murderer and a blue android from Hyperion who are tasked with protecting a child who is destined to be the Messiah in the future) are chased by the formidable Pax, a religion that spans and exerts control over much of the universe with the use of resurrection through the Cruciform found in the tombs of Hyperion, but just who is controlling the Pax?. We're teased with revelations about the Technocore, Ousters and The Shrike which makes a strange Terminator-like appearence here(though there's still a great deal of ambiguity about this entity/thing and what its motives are) and indeed The Cruciform is discussed in great detail. The technological and scientific sides of things are suitably mind-boggling, yet quite believable, a must for any sci-fi tome.

While I agree both 'Hyperion' and 'Fall of Hyperion' are more enjoyable reads, 'Endymion' is a more than capable continuation of the series.

Price: £7.56

4.0 out of 5 stars An Acquired Taste, But Brilliant I f You Like That Sort of Thing, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Paperwork (Audio CD)
I still do not know what to make of this band. Live they're incredible, on record they're.... an acquired taste. Like the key experimental elements of Radiohead caught in an electromagnetic storm with the nuances of Deerhoof and Dirty Projectors, one thing true of Volcano! is that they are a unique outfit. A thoroughly engaging record, just don't expect to be won over instantly.


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars should be required listening if the world does eventually implode., 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Dolores (Audio CD)
My first foray into the Club of Gore and what and adventure it was. Impossibly dense and ridiculously slow, this funereal sound of apocalyptic jazz and rock dynamics should be required listening if the world does eventually implode.

The Hawk Is Howling
The Hawk Is Howling
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars the mighty `Gwai seem on top of their game, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Hawk Is Howling (Audio CD)
I have to admit I was left feeling a tad uninspired after hearing leaked versions of `Batcat' and the horrible `Sun Smells To Loud' and I feared Mogwai were going to be another Sigur Ros for 2008. But both tracks turned out to be filler, while the rest of the record is undeniably killer. All the hallmarks of previous records are still present, but the mighty `Gwai seem on top of their game right now.

Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how people can give this already classic record a 1 star from 5?, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
What a return! 10 years out yet Portishead hit 2008 as if they've never been away. Some subtle differences in their sound, with much of the `trip-hop' gone in favour of Silver Apples homaging grooves. Beth Gibbons has never sounded better. I have no idea, how people can give this already classic record a 1 star from 5.


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wintry soundscapes and heart-breaking melancholia, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Float (MP3 Download)
One of 3 releases that young Master Broderick has put his name to in the last year and a half. It's a wonder how he finds the time, with a fair chunk of 2008 spent on tour performing with Efterklang. "Float" is the pick of his discography, choc full of wintry soundscapes and heart-breaking melancholia.

White Fields & Open Devices
White Fields & Open Devices
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Statement of Intent, 10 Feb. 2012
As Sigur Rós continue their fascination with trying to out-Coldplay Chris Martin and co on their recent, uninspired `Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust' album, they've left a vacancy at the pinnacle of the big, bold and brash epic rock genre that needs to be filled fast.. And Vessels may just be the very band to oblige. This Leeds-based quintet have spent the best part of three years touring the length and breadth of the UK honing their sound, while purposefully adding subtle components to their arsenal. Now they've hit pay dirt on full-length debut `White Fields and Open Devices'.

Roping in John Congleton, of Explosions in the Sky fame, for production duties is clearly a shrewd move. An experienced technician in the dynamics of the core of Vessels sound, Congleton adds his absorbing touch and expertise to re-workings of fan favourites `Happy Accident' and `Look at that Cloud!'. The former, a euphoric slab of electro infused post-rock, utilises crackling beats, distorted guitar and spaghetti western harmonica to devastating effect, like 65Daysofstatic in a head on collision with Souvenir's Young America. While those who don't go weak at the knees during the avalanching crescendo of the latter may want to check they still have a pulse.

Eclecticism is the key to this record. Vessels, like a world class football team, can operate in any number of formations without hindering the result. `Altered Beast' is a blistering opener, a dizzying amalgam of math rhythms, taut guitar interplay and sci-fi synths. `A Hundred Times in Every Direction' is equally as venomous, especially for a lead single, yet there's appeal to the bittersweet harmonies that soar above the thundering percussion and rasping guitar.

The band change styles quicker than you can say Sigur Rós have lost the plot since they signed to Geffen. `Walking Through the Walls' builds its melody through forlorn acoustic guitar and soulful vocals, upon clipped electronic beats that will appease fans of Type Records (with Mokira and RJ Valeo particularly springing to mind). `Treus Heurs' finds the band changing tact again, operating in a dark and desolate industrial landscape of gliding guitar arpeggios, metallic scree and digital detritus.

Far from losing cohesion or interrupting the overall flow of the record, each of the 10 tracks featured here are distinctively Vessels, whether they are in a post-rock, math-rock or electronic mood. It's fitting that the band sign off with a triptych of their most commercially appealing tracks, for this young outfit are clearly intent on going places. The poignant, piano-led `Yuki', the melancholic, yet infectious `Two Words & a Gesture' and the expansive `Wave Those Arms, Airmen' all suitably and uniquely add to the impact of this record. There's a real sense of accomplishment and sense of depth to Vessels debut, with their disregard for genre restrictions and compositional poise shining in tandem with an exuberant and passionate, youthful edge.

Now over to you Jonsi!

Concertina Heart
Concertina Heart

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Emotive, electronic sounds that fall short, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Concertina Heart (MP3 Download)
To think that Tangerine Dream were forced to perform and record using banks of synthesizers and generators, given the technological limitations of their era. Those enigmatic Germans did not even have the luxury of a sequencer until several albums down the line, for 1974's seminal "Phaedra". These days electronic composition is much simpler mainly due to a little small rectangle device known as a laptop, which is bursting with handy software tools that certainly makes life much easier than Froese and co. ever had it.

Thom Yorke openly admitted that much of his solo record, "The Eraser", was composed on his laptop during downtime in airports waiting for flights. The laptop opens up limitless potential for musicians and while this is a good thing, it can also have a detrimental effect, with quantity of musicians far exceeding the quality. A quick browse through Myspace Music will reveal that just about every man and his dog has a musical project these days. Dynamophone though normally have a knack of wading through all the dross and usually resurface with a glowing pearl.

Rigil, twenty-something Bedfordshire-based Robert Slade, does not fall into this category. There's an undeniable skill to the production quality on "Concertina Heart", where Slade portrays a keen handle on the dynamics involved in emotive, electronic sound-sculpting, while adding organic instrumentation to the digital mix in subtle fashion. Disappointingly though, it's his actual songwriting where his problems lie; simply they do not stand up against the production of his debut record, with many of his melodies coming across as monochromatic and largely uninspired.

There is a Grand Canyon sized chasm between bland and interesting and Rigil teeters perilously close to the edge. Highlights are a tad thin, but come in the form of the lullabying "Wheatfields", the vibrant "Marble" and the brooding Depeche Mode stylings of "Free to Roam". However, far too often, "Concertina Heart" is forgettable, nothing more engaging than background music. Slade's electronically enhanced vocals (reminiscent of label-mates Pornopop) are rather off-putting and add little to his sound, with many of the tracks clustering into run-of-the-mill electro-pop. Occasionally, he veers into X-Factor histrionics, notable on "Minefields" and even the aforementioned "Free To Roam".

It's hard to say if this is a new direction for Dynamophone. They've released several excellent records encapsulating this genre; this one though is their most commercial sounding. Not a bad thing in itself, but the songs do not match the quality of their previous output. I suspect this is a minor blip for both artist and label, Slade certainly has talent as shown on "Wheatfields". Having said that, "Concertina Heart" shows though he has a long way to go before realising his potential.

Nangijala Ep
Nangijala Ep
Price: £6.78

3.0 out of 5 stars going through the motions?, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Nangijala Ep (Audio CD)
eniferever, a quintet form Uppsalla , Sweden , are a collective in every sense of the word. For not one instrument takes centre stage in the dynamic of this group, be it the intricate, guitar interplay, the Robert Smith-aping vocals of Kristofer Jönson or indeed the grand brass and string instrumentation the band prefer to pepper their songs with. Each note on this three-tracker appears to be perfectly measured with slide-rule precision, each playing a part that is equally important as the rest. Clearly this lot approve of the `there is no I in team' school of thought.

Which results in the rather pleasant, `Nangijala EP'. Pleasant in the sense that, every song featured here is a perfectly crafted, expertly executed slice of modern indie pop. Not particularly challenging, but just on the right side of safe. `When Our Hands Clasped' features splashing's of twinkling piano over a generic, indie-lite backdrop and nondescript vocal murmurs. Several minutes pass by, very little of note happens and the band seem content going nowhere. Until, as if wakened from a slumber, they launch into a glorious segment of orchestral grandeur and choral chanting, as if they had been intending to lull the listener into a false sense of security all along. In one fell swoop they move from being Semisonic to Sigur Ros, the turnaround is that dramatic.

`Opening to Stories' and the `Nangijala' itself, both repeat this trick, though the former is most successful, flirting with dull instrumentation and low-key vocals before unleashing a highly textured fog of orchestral splendor and aching harmonies, just at the moment your patience is at breaking point. Again, it is entirely engaging, almost as if it is two separate bands playing each part.

In truth, it is such grandiose crescendo's that save the day for Jeniferever, where fizzing keys meets baronial brass, striking strings, gleaming guitar and velvety vocals to create a series of driving, majestic climaxes. This is all well and good over a three-track release, though you would hope they have more, than this trick, up their sleeve for an album's worth material. Hopefully, Jeniferever aren't just going through the motions.

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