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The Wolf (uk)
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Sonnet
Sonnet
Price: £7.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Monochrome Visions, 19 April 2015
This review is from: Sonnet (MP3 Download)
Benoit Pioulard is, in fact, the nom de guerre of US musician Thomas Meluch. His new album
'Sonnet' will be right up your street if you are the kind of listener who doesn't mind watching
paint dry. Unkind? Perhaps...but I have struggled to find an attachment to these fourteen sonic
inventions. It's not that I have a problem with music in which not very much happens (there's
a kind of dry modern romantic minimalism - pretty much anything by the estimable Bob Fripp
for example - which can light my fire in the right circumstances but Mr Pioulard-Meluch's work
(consisting largely of heavily treated electric guitar phrases) really does leave me quite cold.

There's just not enough variation in his ideas to keep me interested. I suppose 'Upon The Break
Arch' and 'Shut-Ins On A Sunday See' both display a certain slow-moving moody charm but as a
whole the project is a painfully constricted, monochromatic and monotonous one-trick-pony.

Hear it if can before you buy.


Insomnia
Insomnia
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £7.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Shivers and Night Sweats, 19 April 2015
This review is from: Insomnia (Audio CD)
It would seem that San Fransisco-based composer Leila Abdul-Rauf wants to involve
us in her dreams. 'Insomnia' is certainly a work born in shadows : eerie, claustrophobic
and unsettling, these eleven pieces hover somewhere at the edge of consciousness,
where reality is a slippery phenomenon and nightmares and cold sweats are inevitable.
Where do the frozen rail tracks on the cover art end up? Would we really want to know?

There are eleven pieces in the set. Ms Abdul-Rauf's sound palette is almost entirely made
up of shades of white, black and grey; monotone but never monotonous. In fact there is
something very involving and emotionally affecting going on in these forbidding inventions.

Jump straight to 'Pull' for a taste of the kind of drama it is possible to create with very few
elements. A plodding piano ostinato and distant echoing trumpet solo framing Kat Young's
haunting vocal performance; a gloomy subterranean prayer which cannot buy redemption.

The slow shivering pulse and cold grasp of 'Absence' leaves little room to move or breathe and
'Dark Hours Of Early Morning' conjures a landscape of bruised clouds and dense forest where,
without a reliable guide, we would almost certainly tumble off the edge of the World into oblivion.

'Insomnia' contains some of the most imaginative electronic music I've heard so-far this year.

Don't listen to it, however, just before you go to bed.

Recommended.


Cluedo Nostalgia Wooden Edition
Cluedo Nostalgia Wooden Edition
Price: £28.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia Rules !, 19 April 2015
Mrs Wolf is a big fan of Cluedo so I purchased her one of these for her birthday.
She's absolutely delighted with it! Based on the 1949 edition of the game, if one
closes one's eyes and sniffs, it is almost possible to detect a whiff of British post-
war austerity about it! The wooden box ensures sound protection for its contents.

If you're renewing or buying for the first time this is definitely worth the extra outlay.

Highly Recommended.


BT Elements 1 km Range IP67 Rated Cordless Phone with Answer Machine and Nuisance Call Blocker
BT Elements 1 km Range IP67 Rated Cordless Phone with Answer Machine and Nuisance Call Blocker
Offered by Big Box Shop
Price: £75.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Robust and Handy, 19 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This cordless BT phone is a robust piece of kit ideal for when I'm pottering about in the garden.
It claims a 1 km reception with the attachment of the additional long-range antenna provided.
The handset has an answer phone incorporated and has contact storage (up to 200 numbers),
caller display, calls list and block call functions. All-in-all I was pretty much impressed with it.

Recommended.


Blutspuker Tavern
Blutspuker Tavern
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Funny In Its Own Way, 19 April 2015
This review is from: Blutspuker Tavern (MP3 Download)
Oh dearie me! Rudie Ratzinger is still at it and if this sort of thing is your bag then
you will doubtless be rubbing your knees with glee and I can only wish you well!

Truth-be-told 'Blutspuker Tavern' has a certain charm in an OTT, burn-your-eyeballs
kind-of way. Subtlety has never been Herr R's forte and these ten quaintly dated
synth-centric-hammer-on-anvil-beat inventions are no exception to his rule.
Think Rammstein meets Skinny Puppy and you'll not be very far off the mark :
'Oh Mein Kuemmerling' sits very close to the former and 'Rattengift' to the latter,
both managing to chug and splutter along with a fair degree of good humoured
Sturm und Drang but 'Basilius Fleichlein' takes the biscuit for maximum Teutonic
silliness (drop it unannounced into a party mixtape just to see what might happen!)

The final track 'The Grim Reaper' delivers an unintentionally hilarious conclusion.

At Your Own Risk.


The Past We Leave Behind
The Past We Leave Behind
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Grooves and Fluffy Clouds, 19 April 2015
This collaboration between New Jersey sonic artists, Mike Simonetti and Elizabeth Wight
made me sit up and listen. As synth-centric music goes it has character and imagination.
Mr Simonetti's dense, dreamy chromatic washes of sound form the perfect environment
in which Ms Wight's somewhat unsettling voice can thrive. Things drift in and out of focus
in a nicely discombobulating way, as though ten different coloured sugars got mixed up
together in the candy floss-making machine; a kaleidoscopic, quasi-psychedelic confection.

Sometimes they are content to have us lay on our backs watching the billowing clouds
turn into white horses and dragons against the celestial blue backdrop of the heavens
(the opening title track 'The Past We Leave Behind', with its lovely woozy harmonies set
against a gently pulsing rhythm, is just perfect for this pastime); at others things get a tad
more frisky : 'The Math', for example, has a crisp beat, big fat bass line and all manner
of delectable string and brass morsels dropping in and out of the arrangement like
unexpected but nonetheless welcome guests at a late night party. Here and there
things get positively arty : 'Tougher', a dark spoken-word monologue (in which Ms Wight
seems to be channeling her inner Sandra Bernhard!), turns out to be one of the project's
highlights, closely followed by 'Dusk In Paris', an especially moody Autumn-hued invention.

Some may find Pale Blue's work a tad overindulgent at times but there's no doubting their
sincerity. The more I've listened to the album the more I have become certain of its worth.

Give it a go.


Kathryn Calder
Kathryn Calder
Price: £6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Warm Rosy Glow, 16 April 2015
This review is from: Kathryn Calder (MP3 Download)
Canadian band The New Pornographers' chanteuse Kathryn Calder has taken time
out from her day job to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable set with this eponymously
titled solo album. Good for her! It's certainly good for us too! What a delight it is!

Ms Calder has a lovely voice, possessed of accurate pitch, warmth of tone and a
crystal-like clarity which positively shimmers when heard in multi-tracked harmonies.

There are ten songs in the collection. The tempi are varied, as is the sonic density
of the instrumental arrangements. Witness the magical simplicity of the aptly named
opening track 'Slow Burning' and 'Beach', a sublime melody in which we hear more than
a small echo of The Carpenters 'Rainy Days and Mondays; through the jittery uptempo
'Take A Little Time' and darker-textured folksy ambience of 'My Armour', to the almost
ghostly ambience of 'Arm In Arm', Ms Calder's creativity rarely misses a beat. I'll admit
to being somewhat disappointed with the final number 'Remembering' which is a tad
turgid (the electric guitar part seems to jar with the vocal performance). A tiny quibble.

All-in-all there's a lot to love here.

Recommended.


The Air Conditioned Nightmare
The Air Conditioned Nightmare
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Giddy In A Good Way, 14 April 2015
The tenor of Canadian artist Airick Woodhead's alt-moniker 'Doldrums' and the
title of his new album 'The Air Conditioned Nightmare' do not bode terribly well in
the we're-all-going-to-have-a-good-time-together-tonight stakes. I feared the worst!
The reality, however, after three encounters, has challenged my expectations.
It's actually a rather jolly affair and Mr Woodhead clearly has a sense of humour.

He's good at making big beats and is reasonably skilled in stitching a decent
melody together. The main problems occur when he sings. His voice is a fragile
nasal-centric instrument whose grasp of tonality is somewhat tentative at times
( I won't beat about the bush - it's whiney). Having described it thus I have grown
rather fond of it nonetheless (just as I did eventually with the vocal ministrations
of Rufus Wainwright and The Notwist's Markus Acher. Splendid fellows both!)

To the music. The opening track (of ten), 'Hotfoot', is a big, burly, bruiser of
a thing built around a huge rasping bass riff and some deliciously slinky rhythms,
in and out of which our host slips and slides like a slightly tipsy skateboarder.
'Funeral For Lightening', on the other hand, is a more delicate and exotic affair,
(imbued with more than a little spirit of early Rufus), whose tentative but pleasing
vocal harmonies have a certain lubricious charm but for a bit of dark subterranean
scatterbrained mayhem look no further than the rave-friendly 'My Friend Simjen' and
'Industry City' which is as fine a piece of dreamy techno-funk as I've heard this year.

There's variety aplenty on offer here. It made me feel slightly giddy in a good way.

Recommended.


Global
Global
Price: £9.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Big Bundle Of Joy !, 13 April 2015
This review is from: Global (Audio CD)
One of the more appealing consequences of time passing, if you've played your cards
more-or-less right, is that you may have earned the right not to regret anything and to
grow old disgracefully. Todd Rundgren's debut album `Runt' was released in 1970 and
by that token alone he has little to be ashamed of in a long and distinguished career.

'Global' is his 25th solo studio album and he's still going strong. Never a stranger to
the advantages that technology might bring to his music, these twelve new songs strike
a perfect balance between 'old school' rock and 'new world' electronica but moreover,
whatever his chosen stylistic idiom, Mr Rundgren knows the value of a good tune, a
catchy chorus and of not being afraid to throw a bit of humour into the melting pot too.'
Wrap your ears around the ribald opening track 'Evrybody' (sic). Do we mind the cliched
cheerleader refrain (?); the cheesy Farfisa organ accompaniment (?); the louche rock-star
antics (?) Of course we blinkin' don't! Not when it's done with this kind of verve and panache!

How's this for a verse ? :

"Everybody can't have a life o' Riley;
Everybody can't be a movie star;
Everybody can't get a twerk from Miley;
Everybody here'd rather hit the bar".

'Flesh and Blood', too, rattles along on the back of an infuriatingly infectious synth bass line
which suddenly bursts open into the kind of luminous harmonic refrain which only a master
of their craft could muster. See if you can keep still to the calypso-infused beats of 'Holyland'
whose upbeat ambience cunningly belies the pithy nature of the lyrical content; or be more
than just a little bit moved by the sweet Philly-esque soul of 'Blind' (surely one of Mr Rundgren's
finest vocal performances!) and the almost hymn-like strains of 'Soothe'. There's inter-galactic
shenanigans aplenty on 'Global Nation' and super-funky-robot-gospel on 'Earth Mother' if that's
your bag and a dose of Bee-Gee-soaked-disco-bizarre on 'Skyscraper' if you just want to dance!

Parcels of joy come in all shapes and sizes. 'Global' is as big a bundle of joy as I can imagine!

Essential.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2015 9:14 PM BST


The Wolf
The Wolf
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rattling The Rafters, 11 April 2015
This review is from: The Wolf (MP3 Download)
Given that Mr Mumford and his progeny have seen fit to name a song after me
I feel duty to bound to return the favour and put in a good word for them too!

Their new single 'The Wolf' is a rumbustious affair driven along by a powerful
guitar/drum-centric riff which relaxes a little in the verses to give Mr M's voice
room to breath but with a big, fat, clamorous chorus designed to rattle the rafters.

I can imagine it will be hugely popular in their live sets.

Howwwwwwl !


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