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Micky67 (Glasgow)

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Performing Parades [2CD+DVD]
Performing Parades [2CD+DVD]
Price: £10.52

5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Live Band, 10 Feb. 2012
Efterklang's grandiose swan song with Leaf and what a way to sign off. Hire the biggest orchestra imaginable and the proceed to recreate your most famous record in pure theatrical style. Efterklang are possibly the best live band I've ever witnessed and this is a fitting document to their joyous, exuberant sound. Watch them explode in 2010, with their forthcoming 4AD-backed new album.

Price: £10.28

4.0 out of 5 stars invigorating soundscapes, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Choral (Audio CD)
You can't really have a best of 2009 without `Choral'. The hype surrounding this record was horribly off-putting, but the seductive shimmering acoustics and invigorating, glacial droning ambience was anything but.

Collected Recordings
Collected Recordings

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An over-looked gem of a record, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Collected Recordings (Audio CD)
An over-looked gem of a record where Labradford meets Nick Drake in one of the most dream-like of recordings in 2009. Glasgow-based Dickson is a master craftsman and his songs are simply sublime.

Echoes from One To Another
Echoes from One To Another

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nocturnal ambiences with noir-classical instrumentation and echo-dappled folk, 10 Feb. 2012
Little is known about the mysterious Rudi Arapahoe except that he resides somewhere in the idyllic English countryside and has authored the riveting "Echoes from One to Another" for Japanese imprint Symbolic Interaction. Based around the Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy", Arapahoe laces a narrative throughout this record, much like Last Days' "Sea" and "These Places Are Now Ruins". "Echoes From..." takes the listener on a journey from the moment of death through a haunting passage into the afterlife, discussing purgatorial thematics of lust and sin.

Arapahoe plays the roles of conductor and composer, utilizing field recordings and antique electronics, while directing a collective of musicians who engage instruments including harp, violin and vintage synthesizers. The effect is somewhat remarkable, as Arapahoe weaves a fabric of forgotten sounds, fusing nocturnal ambiences with noir-classical instrumentation and echo-dappled folk. The fleeting elfin-chanteuse vocals of Kaithlin Howard only add to the mystique surrounding this release. Beginning with the angelic harp-led vignette of "I Close My Eyes and Float to the Ceiling" and ending with the equally celestial "My Shadow (Vanishes)", Arapahoe's journey is like no other. "Echoes From..." effortlessly produces some of the most gorgeous pieces of music put to record this year. From the soft, twilight piano of "Lunar Semaphore" to the stirring "To Gather Flowers", which is both beatific and desolate in equal measures.

The title track shades the region between Helios and Max Richter, offering the folkish acoustic guitar picking of the former, while paying heed to the cinematic nature of the later. When Arapahoe utilizes a range of field recordings (rain, storms, haunting whispers, pulsing heartbeats, shuffling feet, foliage and spiritual ambiences) he steeps much of the record in the traditions of labels such as Type and Miasmah, with artists like Elegi, Svarte Greiner and Deaf Center particularly coming to mind. While the subject matter of "Echoes..." may be rather morose, especially the crude Dictaphone recording found on "Conversation Piece", the warmth and radiant nature of Arapahoe's compositions are somewhat uplifting. A romantic melancholia dissolves much of the elegiac desolation and replaces it with a paradisiacal grandeur. A wonderful, wonderful record.

Price: £11.57

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I challenge anyone to come up with music as terrifying as this., 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Kappe (Audio CD)
The fact that the opening few seconds of this 4-track LP paralells (what I imagine to be) the sounds of a descent past the jaws of hell should warn the nervy, agitated and squeamish to turn away now. "Kappe" is the second full-length for Type Records from Erik Skodvin, one half of Deaf Center, under his Svarte Greiner guise.

Ironic titles aside, "Tunnel of Love" is a deeply unsettling listen comprising ghoulish screams, metallic clangs and an atmosphere of sheer pandemonium, the furious industrialized ambience paints a picture of the Devil's own workshop. It's rather disturbing, but curiously captivating. "Where Am I" has a disconcerting title and follows with a woozy concoction of shrieking cello/feedback that mirror images into the abyss, leaving the listener gasping for breath.

Skodvin's debut LP, "Knive" remains something of a benchmark in nocturnal soundscaping. It itself is a bleak and uncompromising experience, yet occasionally shards of light would break through the darkness, in the form of distant angelic chanting, creeping out from its hiding place to portray some sort of contrast between Heaven and Hell. In turn, allowing at least a window of respite from the crepuscular shade.

There's no such luck on "Kappe" as we're thrown into the deep-end time after time. The oppressive, smouldering "Candle Light Dinner Actress" only increases the tension with grandiose, temple-like drones, ably abetted by Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Kjetil Møster's sax shrills. The demented sounds swell in density before imploding into nothingness. Its final chapter, "Last Light", is possibly the most melodic moment of the LP, but that doesn't say much at all. Skodvin's cello is seemingly strung with barbed wire and his playing style is intentionally abstracted and haggard. The effect is overwhelming as the whole piece develops from eerie (dis)quiet into a titan-sized drone that has captured the voices of lost souls into one hypnotic, despairing mantra.

What can be said of "Kappe" is the it is completely and utterly unique, I challenge anyone to come up with music as terrifying as this. It should be more than one can stomach, but like a great horror film, you won't be able to turn away. It's four tracks, forty-five minutes and one absorbing listen. Have you got the appetance to step into Svarte Greiner's world?

Man Bird Dress
Man Bird Dress
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Only brave souls need apply here,, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Man Bird Dress (MP3 Download)
Having single-handedly created a movement through the acoustic doom stylings of his seminal `Knive' LP, Deaf Center's Erik K. Skodvin adds this beautifully packaged 12" record to his impressive Svarte Greiner repertoire.

Building and expanding upon the intricacies outlined in `Knive', "Man Bird Dress" represents a fuller sound for Skodvin, touching on the moods and atmospherics developed by Post-rock overlords Labradford, notable mainly on the emphatic and all-consuming opening passage "Man" and similarly on closing number "Dress", a huge cathedral sized, glacial drone.

Skodvin seemingly has a bottomless pit of ideas. The actual recording feels oppressive and live to the point that you feel as if you were present during the process. The creeping "Bird" will have you looking over your shoulder just to check there's no-one behind you. Listen through headphones and you'll be convinced the fretboard scratches and muffled footsteps are coming from somewhere else. The dense rain recordings and distant cello screeches only serve to heighten tensions, feeding on anxieties much like Hitchcock used to terrifying effect in that famous shower scene in "Psycho".

Only brave souls need apply here, but be warned, do not listen to this alone and in the dark. Skodvin's work remarkably manages to sound bleak, frightening, immersive and downright captivating.

Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £9.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Epic and Anthemic,, 1 Feb. 2012
From honing their skills in Glasgow's less than glamourous 13th Note venue to universal blogosphere acclaim via some well-recieved SXSW performances, in just over three years. The Twilight Sad's rise has been remarkable. Such is the buzz about this band that even if you lived in a cave on Mars, you will have heard of this Scottish quartet. With the sad demise of AC Acoustics and Arab Strap and Aerogramme's imminent departure, 'Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Summers' is the shot in the arm Scotland's music scene needs right now.

Employing the wall of sound tactics of Sigur Ros, but combining it with the energy of early Idlewild, The Twilight Sad have come across a winning formula that has seen them explode in the US. Now the rest of the world seems to be catching on too. Of course, everyone loves a Scottish accent and frontman James Graham has one of the thickest dialects yet. His vocals recall both Idlewild's Roddy Woomble and even Morrissey at times, albeit a Scottish version. However, dig a little deeper and this album provides some great moments that tend to veer into monolithic slabs of distortion heavy indie rock.

The Twilight Sad is said to be an intense live experience, but the over-driven guitar work on 'Walking For Two Hours', hints at how powerful this band's sound can be. Although most of the tracks follow the same tactic, combining white noise with soaring choruses has propelled The Twilight Sad intothe limelight. This is not the time to start deconstructing their sound. 'Talking With Fireworks/Here, It Never Soared', starts with monumental waves of discordant guitar and tumbling percussion and weaves between this segment and a more calming verse. It's like Mogwai and Arab Strap sharing a stage and fighting with one another to be heard. But then, the likes of 'Mapped By What Surrounded Them' and 'And She Would Darken The Memory' offer up insanely catchy choruses that will have you singing at the top of your voice.

Using a fairly simple quiet/loud aesthetic, The Twilight Sad have created one hell of a melodic racket in 'Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters". Building on the promise of 2006's Max Richter produced self-titled Ep, I challenge anyone not to enjoy this album. Let yourself be swayed and sing along with your best Scottish accent. Epic and anthemic, sizzling guitars and soaring melodies, this is superb stuff from these young Scots.

A Love of Shared Disasters [VINYL]
A Love of Shared Disasters [VINYL]

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Need This Album Like You Need A Beating Heart, 1 Feb. 2012
Featuring no fewer than thirteen members (including former Electric Wizard sticksman Justin Greaves and Mogwai bassist Dominic Aitchison) "A Love of Shared Disasters" is the first part of a trilogy of albums from this mysterious collective. Featuring twelve tales of "love and redemption", this album is a masterpiece full of slow-burning epic's and dark americana. Greaves is the driving force and chief songwriter and has concocted an absorbing body of work. Released on the Portishead-owned Invada Records, Crippled Black Phoenix blend Victorian instruments such as cellos, 18th Century harmoniums and saws with vintage and contemporary gear.

The contrasts on "A Love of.." are staggering, from the artwork right through to the actual compositions. Tracks on this album veer from doom-laden soundscapes to polished classic rock, a style the band have labelled "Endtime Ballads". Even in the album's title, the words 'love' and 'disasters' sit ominously close to on another.

"Goodnight Europe" is a tranquil and atmospheric slab of classic rock. Think the enigmatic qualities of Tool, but featuring duel vocalists. Andy Semmens of Pantheist provides "backing moans" that perfectly contrast folk singer Joe Volk's hypnotic vocals. As the track builds purposefully, the backing band lead us into an incredible section of shredding guitar solos and apocalyptic instrumentation.

"The Northern Cobbler", menawhile, tells the story of an 18th Century cobbler struggling to cope with the demands of married life and a newborn child. Turning to alcohol, the cobbler soon starts beating his wife to the point where he becomes completely ashamed of himself and leaves home. On his journey, he manages to find redemption (a central theme to this album) and turns his life around. One of the most interesting pieces on this album, the band actually incorporate a narrative written by 18th Century poet Alfred Tennyson, complete with authentic Lincolnshire dialect. It's all soundtracked by wonderful melancholic instrumentation that blossoms into a full Godspeed You Balck Emperor swoon.

"Long Cold Summer", on the other hand, represents the dark side of CBP. Drawing on the captivating Gregorin style chanting of vocalist Semmens for inspiration, his booming vocals sound like a heartfelt tribute to the Nordic God Thor. A grandiose arrangement, like a slow-motion version of a Spagetthi Western soundtrack or a funeral march for lost souls, "Long Cold Summer" is thunderously stunning.

But CBP know when to let loose and can rock out with the best of them, as "Sharks and Storms/Blizzard of Horned Cats" will atest. Following a more convetional formula, CBP lead us through a sombre mix of Joe Volk's gravel-tone vocals, acoustic guitar picking and soft percussion. As with most tracks on this album, however, you know something special is on the horizon. The band don't disappoint and explode into a furious segment where every member seems to have a part to play. Guitars, trumpet, cellos, organ and those booming Nordic chants all combine to jaw-dropping effect

A tremendous end to a tremendous album, and this is only the beginning of the story. With material for the next part well under way, you need this album like you need a beating heart.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2012 7:58 PM GMT

Price: £4.74

3.0 out of 5 stars Remember The Klaxons? Neither Do These Guys..., 30 Jan. 2012
This review is from: EP02 (MP3 Download)
Dance and rock music should make interesting bedfellows. From the outset, it would seem they share many similarities. Both styles have their hardcore and experimental facets, while millions flock to the respective club nights around the globe, partying the weekend away to soundtracks consisting of the latest floor fillers from each genre. Yet despite such associations, both styles don't seem to mix well. Back in '96, fuelled by an injection of Prodigy euphoria, the UK music press told us dance rock would conquer America and, ultimately, the world. But in truth, the circus antics of Keith Flint and co never had much substance. Over a decade later, all we're left with is the insipid genre that is Nu-rave.

What the hell happened?

We backed the wrong horse again, that's what happened. While the rest of Britain went mad for Klaxons and their luminous green glow sticks, bands like the supremely talented 65daysofstatic were almost forgotten about, swept under the carpet in the midst of the relentless pseudo-hype. Haven't we learned anything from the past?

Well, it's never too late to change our ways.

Introducing Bones and Death Roll (I'm pretty sure these aren't their real names), the duo behind the powerful electronic/rock sound of worriedaboutsatan. A duo who tantalizingly describe their music as a hybrid of Underworld and Explosions in the Sky. It's a shame that they don't quite match the immediacy of both of those revered acts, but lets not be harsh here, worriedaboutsatan have some serious potential. "EP02" is sure to turn a few heads of fans of 65daysofstatic for starters. There's a polished feel to tracks like "Relative Minors", which picks up where The Prodigy left off, dusting down Liam Howlett's yet to be used chamber beats and samples while placing them under a vocal hook that, given the right promotion, could bother the charts. This may seem too far of a stretch so early in their career, but BBC Radio have already picked up on these guys.

"The Last Song (First Song Remix)" follows and comes across like Aphex Twin let loose on Explosions in the Sky's mixing desk. The beats are super-sized and the guitars reinforced with industrial strength. Like a Carl Cox gig in an airport hangar, the pulsing beats warp and echo around the mix, ricocheting from side to side, creating an effect that would sound fantastic if blasted loudly out of a club sound system. "Noise 01 (Reprise)", meanwhile, moves like a harder-edged Boards of Canada, weaving starlit chimes into a glitchy beat pattern.

Over the course of its half hour duration, there is enough variety on "EP02" to keep the interest levels from waning. It will certainly be interesting to see where this duo goes with a full-length recording. There's a certain edge about worriedaboutsatan, an intensity or, as their name suggests, a smidgen of evilness within their music. It leaves the impression that if they were to meet the Klaxons or any other Nu-Rave band, they would bash them over the head with their own glow sticks; steal their guitars and show `em how it should be done.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2012 4:45 PM BST

People Like People Like You
People Like People Like You
Price: £12.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Mancunians Make Emotive, Epic Sounds, 30 Jan. 2012
I love nothing more when a band proves me wrong and it took Manchester-based quintet Spokes just one and a half tracks to kick me into touch on this, their debut 6-track CD, "People Like People Like You". I really should make a point of reading press releases because after opening number "We like to Dance and Steal Things", a violin-led instrumental where the band race towards the finish line via a crescendo-laden backdrop, I was ready to write this group off. It's not a bad track as such, just a tad on the derivative side of things. So far so post-rock, or so I thought...

"Young People! All Together" followed soon after, kicking off with several minutes' worth of introspective instrumentation that seemed to confirm my earlier suspicions. It was the glorious male vocals that suddenly emerged from out of nowhere that Spokes grabbed my attention with, snatching victory form the jaws of defeat. Knocking the track sideways, memories of your first experience of Broken Social Scene or even Arcade Fire are sure to come flooding back, as the five-piece tap into the celebratory nature of both revered Canadian acts. The sudden melodic burst of energy is a joy to behold and a real eye opener and had me totally hooked. I already had my journalistic knives sharpened, only too ready to label Spokes `yet another instrumental act".

I was wrong of course; the instrumental numbers on this record are just one side to Spokes' multi-dimensional musicianship. Whereas fellow Brit-rockers iLiKETRAiNS seem to have dug themselves into a hole by continually playing the same trick over and over, Spokes have many strings to their bow. Their most apparent facet is the use of violin which adds much colour to a number of compositions. Both "Sometimes Words are Too Slow" and "End Credits/Love Letter" benefit from its distinctive, folky touch. It reminds of Belgian avant-rockers dEUS, who employed the very same instrument to startling effect, particularly during the 90's.

There is crossover appeal too. Given the right push Spokes have the potential to breach the mainstream. A tall order of course, many great bands have fallen there in the past, many of them missing out on the commercial success that should follow the critical acclaim. However, Spokes can learn from the recent examples of Hope of the States and Aereogramme, because the potential is there for all to see on this record. The only evidence I need is the magnificent "Precursor", a five-minute mini-epic that speaks volumes for Spokes' songwriting talent. It's an ambitious piece, slickly produced with a professional sheen. Underpinned by a swaying chorus, where forlorn violin mixes with melancholic guitar and over-powering vocals, that produce a tidal wave of emotion, Spokes begin their ascent towards the grandiose heights of Elbow.

There's a lot going on in this debut outing, almost too much to cram into its relatively short duration. Perhaps a little less of the instrumental stuff would have benefited Spokes, but then that is just personal preference. Spokes are definite `ones to watch', a trait that is becoming more of a common occurrence as far as UK bands are concerned. Long may it continue.

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