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The Wolf (uk)
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The Painted Door
The Painted Door
Price: £3.45

3.0 out of 5 stars Life After Cowell, 22 Feb. 2017
This review is from: The Painted Door (MP3 Download)
Her past X Factor experiences notwithstanding, Wigan singer/songwriter Laura White is,
unlike many who've been chewed-up by the odious Cowell Machine, still having a go at it.

Her 5 track EP 'The Painted Door' has strengths and weaknesses but at its best shows her
to be a talented composer and vocalist. Comparisons with Amy Winehouse's take on 60's
soul-infused pop cannot go unnoticed, especially on the first two numbers 'That Girl' and
'Big Little Lies', whereas the poignant 'Martha' and exuberant 'Heaven' seem somewhat more
her own. The final song 'Unbelievable', however, has a decidedly shaky vocal performance.

I'm pleased to see that Ms White is surviving and am hopeful that there may be better yet to come.


The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 4, 1966-1989
The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 4, 1966-1989
by Samuel Beckett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Labour Of Love Concluded, 22 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reading the four volumes of Samuel Beckett’s letters, spanning the years 1929-1989,
is an extraordinary experience. For the editors (George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld,
Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck), the journey has been both a labour of love a feat of
outstanding scholarship. An epic achievement. We owe them our thanks and admiration.

Volume 4, tracking Mr Beckett’s correspondence from 1966-1989, moves slowly and
inevitably into his twilight years; the mind ever-willing but his old bones failing. As his
literary works became more concentrated and compressed (but his sharp eye and ear
for a well-turned phrase remaining as acute as ever) this is reflected, too, in letters to
friends, family and associates. There are many terribly sad moments (the waiting grave
an ever-present fact) but also flashes of self-deprecatory humour and great tenderness.

The editors' introductions and annotations provide invaluable context and clarification.

This final volume is a meticulously researched masterpiece of erudition and illumination.

"not a sound only the old breath and the leaves turning and
then suddenly this dust whole place suddenly full of dust
when you opened your eyes from floor to ceiling nothing
only dust and not a sound only what was it it said come
and gone was that it something like that come and gone
come and gone no one come and gone in no time gone in no
time"

Samuel Beckett ('That Time', 1976)


Fin [Explicit]
Fin [Explicit]
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Confident Debut, 21 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Fin [Explicit] (MP3 Download)
'Fin' is a creditable debut from Los Angeles singer-songwriter/producer/dj Sydney "SYD" Bennet.
It's well-wrought electronic R&B/soul. Her voice, hovering fairly high on the stave, is sweet thing
in a Janet Jackson-in-her-more-mellow-moments kind-of way. There are twelve tracks in the set.

Top tracks : opening number 'Shake Em Off', with its spare percussive arrangement and somewhat
languid mood; 'Smile More', a minor-key jazzy affair with the romance dial turned up high; 'Body',
with its brooding minimalist architecture contrasting nicely with the dulcet vocal performance and
'Over', a collaboration with 6LACK (Ricardo Valentine), who contributes a succinct laid back coda.

An accomplished and enjoyable first showing.


You'll Understand
You'll Understand
Price: £2.97

4.0 out of 5 stars File Early For Summer Soundtrack, 21 Feb. 2017
This review is from: You'll Understand (MP3 Download)
It was an amusing experience trying to find out something about Ross From Friends with
a little bit of help from Google. Identity can be a bit of a slippery thing on the interwebthingy.
Henry Basham, a part-time driving instructor from Catford? Felix Weatherall from Colchester?
I really don’t have a clue. Let’s just stick with producer/dj RFF and leave it at that for now!

“You’ll Understand” is his second 3 track EP (the first, 'Alex Brown', was released in 2015).

Ross makes a sort-of grubby, home-made-sounding kind-of house music; heavy on samples
but eminently dance-worthy. He also seems to have a sense of humour; another good thing.

Best of the trio is ‘Bootman’, which samples Rude Boys song ‘I Need You” from their 1990
album ‘Rude Awakening’ and in a delightfully muffled way sounds like it’s being played at a
party in your next-door neighbour’s front room (think Mike Leigh’s 1977 play ‘Abigail’s Party’!)

Whoever Ross turns out to be this is good stuff. I’m saving it for my 2017 Summer soundtrack.


Northern Light (Deluxe Version)
Northern Light (Deluxe Version)
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Euro Contenders, 20 Feb. 2017
Norwegian duo Ask Embla (Ina Wroldsen and Arnthor Birgisson), when not writing for
some of Planet Pop’s leading lights (The Saturdays, Britney, Leona, to name but three),
have taken time out together to record a debut album of their own, ‘Northern Lights’.

It’s formulaic synth-pop but really rather good, largely due to strong tunes and Ms B’s
voice which is actually a very fine instrument indeed. Don’t expect too many surprises
and you might be quite impressed. I was. I’ve got room in my heart for this kind of stuff!

Top tracks : ‘Fathers Eyes’, a moody little number which chugs along gainfully; ‘Legion’, a
Euro-centric invention, whose somewhat hackneyed chorus is saved by an athletic vocal
performance and ‘Wires’, a piano led composition, wherein Ms B warbles wonderfully well.
The splendid 'Einn', with its martial rhythm, is an especially stirring and memorable anthem .

Norway’s days of Eurovision “nul points” are long gone. Ask Embla could be a contender.


Philip Glass: Piano Works
Philip Glass: Piano Works
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crystal Clear Glass, 19 Feb. 2017
Some of Philip Glass’s most approachable and poetic music is revealed in his piano works
and Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson clearly understands how to get to the heart of it all.

There are fifteen tracks in the collection, four of which are repetitions/reworkings. All the
performances are uniformly impressive. His grasp of both the dynamics and tonal colours
of this deceptively simple music reveals subtle nuances beyond their basic architecture.

Mr Olafson’s rendition of the ‘Etudes : No.2’ is particularly beautiful; as if lit by moonlight.
The agitated rhythmic qualities of ‘Etudes : No. 6’ and ‘Etudes : No. 13’ are deftly articulated.
His compelling collaboration with CFCF (electronic composer Mike Silver) on the revision of
‘Etudes : No. 9’ makes an interesting contrast to the solo piano rendition, also included here.

The Siggi String Quartet feature on three transcriptions by Christian Badzura (‘Glassworks :
Opening’, ‘Etudes : No. 2’ and ‘Etudes : No. 5’) contributing lustrous warmth to the pieces.

I’ve always blown a bit hot and cold when it comes to Philip Glass but this is truly delightful.


The Demonstration
The Demonstration
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Reverential Excavations, 19 Feb. 2017
This review is from: The Demonstration (MP3 Download)
Los Angeles-based performer Drab Majesty (aka Deb DeMure; aka Andrew Clinko)
is enamoured with the spirit of the 80’s and it suits his flamboyant persona perfectly.

‘The Demonstration’ is saturated with mechanical beats, scintillating synths and deliciously
deadpan vocals; a crackerjack mixture of reverential masquerade and adroit synthesis.

There are eleven numbers in the set, plus four remixes should you choose to own them.
Top tracks : '39 By Design’ and ‘Too Soon To Tell’ which both have more than a whiff of
The Psychedelic Furs about them and the melancholy ‘Not Just A Name’, a jolly good tune.

In excavating the past Mr Clinko has delivered a lively new take on jaded musical ideas.

I enjoyed it very much.


Memories Are Now
Memories Are Now
Price: £9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Beautiful Thing, 18 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Memories Are Now (Audio CD)
On her fourth solo album ‘Memories Are Now’ Jesca Hoop (with sensitive assistance from
producer Blake Mills) has been stripping away the layers of her past work (both musically and
personally) and in doing so has delivered the finest recording of her career so-far. In some ways it
reminds me of a not dissimilar journey made by PJ Harvey on her haunting 2007 release ‘White
Chalk’. There’s something elemental about it; a sense of taking stock; concentrating on what
matters right here, right now; something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

There are nine songs in the set; the simple arrangements framing some of her most seductive
melodies and powerfully affecting vocal performances. It’s sly and slick and fiercely focussed.

From the slippery opening title track, built around the simplest of percussive bass guitar lines
but allowing room for some of her most seductive vocal harmonies; through the delightfully dark
folksy charms of ‘The Lost Sky’, which shares some kinship with the maverick spirit of Tori Amos;
via the magical and deeply affecting nostalgia of ‘Songs Of Old’, her own spiritual roots rubbing
shoulders with the haunting shadows of Native American history; to the raw and heart-stoppingly
beautiful final composition ‘The Coming’, Ms Hoop’s artistic integrity doesn’t waver for a moment.

This is an album to savour and to treasure. A truly beautiful thing.

Essential.


Anthem
Anthem
Price: £5.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Darkness and Light, 17 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Anthem (MP3 Download)
Ukranian composer Oleg Shpudeiko’s new album is a beautiful thing; one of the most
atmospheric and affecting releases I have heard so-far this year. Although he is clearly
a gifted pianist (the little piece ‘Holding A Cloud’ is simply sublime), it is his proclivity for
creating immensely varied emotionally-charged electronic soundscapes which defines
his characteristic style. There are eight inventions in this truly stunning new collection.

The opening piece ‘Anthracite’ is constructed of brooding Stygian chords which advance
and recede in steady rhythmic formation like ominous clouds just before a storm breaks.
‘You Gave Me Butterflies’ stutters and staggers into life before unfolding in a haze of
shimmering synth harmonies and keening melodic fragments; an iridescent sky-scape.
‘Embrace Embrace Embrace’ has an undulating ambience like water flowing over stones.
The title track ‘Anthem’ seems like some kind of personal prayer struggling for realisation.

Mr Shpudeiko’s music moved me. I love it when that happens. Please do give it a listen.

Highly Recommended.


II
II
Price: £7.67

2.0 out of 5 stars Banality Prevails, 16 Feb. 2017
This review is from: II (MP3 Download)
There's nothing at all wrong with a bit of ambient noodling but there are too many times on
Marcus Worgull and Danilo Plessow's second collaborative album as Vermont when their
ideas run out of steam and veer into very tedious territory indeed. It really is very dull stuff.
Their affection for old-school analogue synths notwithstanding the duo waste what might
have been a cogent creative opportunity on a bucket full of decidedly trite melodic fragments.

Take the bathetic guitar ostinato of 'Ufer' and its bland accompanying chromatic decorations;
the woozy drones and quasi-jazzy, semi-abstract modulations of 'Wenik'; or (perhaps worst
of all) the mindless and irritating ebb and flow of 'Chemtrails' and it quickly becomes apparent
that there will be very little here to nourish us, either spiritually or intellectually. Banality prevails.

All-in-all it's rather like the musical equivalent of watching paint dry.

At Your Own Risk.


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