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Vaughan (UK)

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A Crimson Grail (for 400 electric guitars)
A Crimson Grail (for 400 electric guitars)

5.0 out of 5 stars A Mass for 400 Guitars, 23 May 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Once again, Amazon's review system let's us down. At the time I am writing this there is one other review, but it's for a different version (for 200 guitars). Even the links to buy MP3's is incorrect, since it lists only three sections, whereas the 400 guitar version actually has four.

As for the music, and this CD (released by Table of Elements), well what can I say? If you're not familiar with the piece, then you would be forgiven to think that a mass of 400 guitars playing must either said like one big cacophonous mess, or else like some Grateful Dead workout. Neither is accurate - even remotely so. The magic of this piece of that, if anything, it channels the likes of Arvo Part, rather than Jimi Hendrix. This is meditative music, with sweeps of tones cascading in slow movements that reach right into your soul.

The recording is from a live performance (not sure this work would have as much value if it were recorded in a studio) at Sacre-Couer, the largest church in France. The players were a mix of musicians known to Chatham, and locals - professional and amateur - who turned up on the day. Each section was conducted by a different person, connected to Chatham through headphones (at the time of recording, Chatham was living as an ex-pat).

WHat we get is something that not only blows away our expectations, but also pretty much redefines what can achieved with electric guitar. This is classical music, but not some pastiche, instead it's deep, meditative, spiritual. That may be difficult to imagine if you're not actually hearing it, or even imagining it, but that's the wonder of the piece.

I have owned the 200 guitar version for some time, and it's quite good. THIS version (400 guitars) is really the one to have though. It's astonishing. Sadly, it's also out-of-print (I think Table of Elements is no more). This means you're going to have to pay over-the-top for a copy now. I held off for years, but having finally given up (the price of this only goes up, I can assure you), I'm so glad I did. Whether an hour;s music is worth the price being asked is for the individual to answer - but for passion, an experience, it's very hard to beat.

I'm not aware of anything else that really compares to this. A member of Chatham's band - Glenn Branca - recorded and released several piece that take the idea of massed guitars to other places, but while I own his works and enjoy them, nothing I've heard really matches A Crimson Grail as it's recorded here.

The booklet is good (16 pages), which includes an article, some pictures, and the lucky few of the players who could be named.

One word on the quality of the recording - if there if any fault it's that on a bad day I'd say this has a very good bootleg quality to it. It's certainly not audiophile. Yet the performance is so good, and what has been captured is so marvelous, you won't be worrying about such things five minutes in.

Finally, this is one of those essential CD's ever fan of the electric guitar ought to hear at least once. It's truly exceptional. Setting aide the location, the oddity of a mass of 400 electric guitars, this is anything but a novelty piece. It's stirring, huge, and spiritual. Just fantastic.

Pitch Black: Music for Saxophones by Jacob TV
Pitch Black: Music for Saxophones by Jacob TV
Price: £24.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Come Out, 12 April 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Prism Quartet have released many interesting recordings, I really need to buy more. This one caught my attention after I heard a track online. I'm happy to give the album five stars because the performances and pieces are really interesting. All but one track "Post Nuclear Winterscenario", uses a technique where the flow and tones in spoken language drive the musicians, turning speech into musical cypher's.

My only gripe is in the (otherwise excellent) booklet. The booklet includes a track-by-track set of notes, and the text that is spoken (taken from interviews with Chet Baker, Billie Holliday, the famed documentary Scared Straight - which contains profanities - and street recordings). The gripe is - the obvious precedent for this approach is Steve Reich who recorded Come Out in 1966. Yet there's no name check, or acknowledgment that the work builds upon the past work of others. it's not like Reich isn't well known, or if you're into the avant garde, the piece isn't known (it's readily available on this very site).

Perhaps I'm nit-picking. The recording here is nice, though not especially audiophile. The works themselves are a good listen, and worthy of repeat listens (especially the Baker and Holliday tracks). I just thought the lineage shouldn't have been ignored.

Admira 1971
Admira 1971
Price: £21.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Deluxe!, 8 April 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Admira 1971 (Audio CD)
Given this is largely sounds, rather than most would consider "music", reviewing the quality has little to do with what is played, and more about what you allow yourself to HEAR. I like it, and that's all it needs to do. There are drones, with bits of Cello played in the background, some wild guitar freakouts that were relatively common at the time, and some odd organ sounds. It's all quite satisfying.

A sticker on the front of the CD tells us that this release was made possible because the original masters had been found, and it shows. The sound quality is really good, albeit rather lo-fi stuff. However there is one caveat - the sticker also states "in deluxe packaging". No. It's a standard jewelcase, with a single fold out (total four pages including the cover and back). The fold out lists the musicians (well, the main ones), and that's it. No article, no background text, hell not even information about when and where this was recorded. This must be a new kind of "Deluxe" that I was previously unaware of. LOL

Having said that, minimal lo-fi packaging for minimal lo-fi krautrock - what's not to like. Shame they didn't put as much effort into the booklet as they did with the sticker, but hey-ho. I like it.

Black Swan
Black Swan
Price: £14.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Pierre Would Approve, 28 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Black Swan (Audio CD)
I'm not going to go into lots of detail about this release, delving into it is a large part of the fun. It's made up of music for Dance Theater, but for me stands well as an avant garde mix. This release is limited to 700 Copies, so get them while they're affordable.

Sound wise it has a lot in common with Musique Concrete, the second track (of 3) has Pierre Shaeffer written all over it (I just wrote the same at Hoffman's site). As such it's a series of moments, rather than something that hangs together as a single piece.

3 tracks, 49 minutes, with - to be fair - minimal digipac packaging.

Compositions For Geomungo and Gayageum
Compositions For Geomungo and Gayageum
Price: £15.32

5.0 out of 5 stars I should Koto, 22 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a wonderful 2-CD set. I wasn't familiar with the Geomundo and Gayageum prior to this, but decided to take the plunge after hearing samples at the Sub Rosa web site. I'm very glad I did. Do yourself a favor and search Youtube for Geomundo, and you'll find videos of people playing the instrument. In crude terms it's played like a steel guitar - but instead of finger picking, a piece of bamboo is used. The right hand pulls and pushes on the strings, generating vibrato.

If I had to suggest another instrument this sounds like, I'd say the Koto. But whereas the Koto is used in spacious music, meditative, the Geomundo can be quite frenetic. The bamboo used gives a percussive effect, thus making you think you're hearing a lot more than you actually are.

Fantastic release from Sub Rosa - as usual.

Six Litanies for Heliogabalus
Six Litanies for Heliogabalus
Price: £16.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Five, 18 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
To be honest, the other two reviews on this page say most of what needs saying. Well, except for the remark about Litany IV (the all vocal track), which isn't anywhere near as strange as it seems. Essentially, the voice on this release is simply another instrument. In tone and vigor, Litany IV is no different from any of the other tracks, it just happens to be an all vocal performance. Treat everything as another sound, and it's not so odd or different, and shouldn't present any issues at all for people into the rest.

As for the rest, this is either music you're very much not in the mood for, or it's the only thing that will satiate. Sure it's not something I'd listen to every day, but when the mood hits, what else is there? It's cacophonous, offensive, in-your-face, abusive, terrible, wonderful, and beautiful - all at the same time. Hence, repeat plays are needed to sort it all out. This thing explodes from the speakers (I played it on some decent headphones, and honestly it doesn't benefit much from doing so sonically).

The cover art is wonderful, shipping in a gatefold Mini-LP cover, with both an insert and picture sleeve for the disc, and an OBI the size of the entire back cover. In other words, this is a feast in many different ways. Whether it's for you or not, I have no idea. Listen to the samples, they'll give you a good idea. But understand, as I said, that if you don't like the sound of it at midday during the week, try it again at 2:00am on a Saturday night - you might just suddenly get it.

Human Soul  (Expanded Edition)
Human Soul (Expanded Edition)
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £8.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 2016 - Reissue., 3 Mar. 2017
This is a review of the reissue from 2016.

First the music is, in my opinion, Graham Parker at his best. No filler here, just some great songs. I have the original CD (though it's packed away) and jumped at the chance to own the new one. Was it worth it? Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag.

Firstly cosmetics. This is now a digipac rather than a jewelcase. I like digipacs, but some don't. The CD has a proper tray (as opposed to the digipacs where the CD's are just pushed into a slot. There is a booklet also. The booklet runs 8 pages. It has a nice, but small, article by GP on the making of the album. It's good to read his thoughts. However there's a downside. The lyrics are not included this time - which seems so stupid given they were included before). Also, there are no notes about the five bonus tracks - which again, is pretty silly.

So much for cosmetics. For those that track such things, this CD is a DR10. It doesn't sound fatiguing to my ears. Actually it sounds quite nice. At DR10 though, some dynamic range is simply gone. Not ruined - but for audiophiles you'll want the original release, not this one. As I say, it sounds fine to me.

Finally, the five bonus tracks. First up is Everything Goes (Single Version). This is nice, a lot like the version we had previously, but now with an added verse with new lyrics. Second is That Thing is Rockin, which is like something from Heat Treatment - not my taste in Parker tunes, to be honest - but nice to have. Finally we have three tracks from a BBC Session. All three are acoustic performances, which is nice to have alongside the album versions. The final track is a cover tune, but frankly it sounds like classic Parker. Very nice.

Overall I'm going 4 stars. The booklet really should have had the lyrics, and certainly some background about the bonus material. DR 10 is also not great. So a solid 4 stars from me for this one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2017 2:14 PM GMT

Even In The Quietest Moments
Even In The Quietest Moments
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £5.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DR 8, 1 Mar. 2017
There are those who think reviews should only talk about the music, and not the product. I'm not one of them.

I bought this because I had an itch to play some Supertramp. To be honest this isn't top-level stuff from them, there's quite a bit of filler. But that's an aside in terms of my comments. The big problem here with the "Remastered" editon, is that the Loudness Wars have bitten. Supertramp happen to be a band that played with dynamics a lot, so to have a release that squashes the dynamic range is unforgivable. They've ruined the experience.

So if you're thinking of getting this on CD - buy a copy other than the "Remastered" edition.

Right On!
Right On!
Price: £13.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Needle Drop, 25 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Right On! (Audio CD)
Other reviews say it all really - just a couple things to add.

1) There is NO real booklet with this version. There's another version on Amazon that at least has the back cover of the original Vinyl reproduced, but this version doesn't even have that. The other text in the 4 page booklet is a sales pitch for other titles.

2) This is clearly a needle drop. So if you don't like Vinyl dumped onto CD with no mastering - avoid.

Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya
Price: £15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars 36:34, 25 Dec. 2016
This review is from: Novaya Zemlya (Audio CD)
The other two reviews for this CD are actually spot on. I just wanted to add two things: 1) This comes in a jewelcase. 2) The total playing time is 36 minutes 34 seconds. Making it an EP really......

It's great stuff, but it really needs to be twice as long.

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