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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [DVD] [2015]
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Martin Freeman
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £4.95

16 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a good film!, 18 Jan. 2015
This is the first of Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth films that I simply did not enjoy. Honestly I could write a whole essay on all the things that bugged me regarding Peter Jackson's interpretation of 'The Hobbit', however it would not be helpful to list these. Rather, there are the problems with the actual content of the film as it stands (Listed in the comments section to avoid spoilers). This ranges from some extremely irritating and unlikeable characters, important plot lines left open, over use of CGI and bad editing (All I need say is 'goats!').

Of course there are some good things to say of this film, but they are unbalanced by the overwhelming number of things that annoyed me about this film. I have to give credit to the acting throughout the film which is mostly (although not entirely) fantastic. I also rather liked the corruption that the Dragon's Hoard brings to it's finders, although that too was not executed as well as it could've.

It's really difficult to review this film without spoilers because there were so many moments that literally made me cringe. This film has none of the sense of wonder that The Lord of The Rings had. If the film's title wasn't enough of a hint, it is mostly one giant action sequence, somehow feeling more grand and 'epic' than the battles in the Lord of the Rings. Previous instalments of the Hobbit had their flaws but remained mostly good, but this film is proof that the film could've been released as a two parter, if not a longer single part release.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2015 10:32 PM GMT

All The Blue Changes: An Anthology 1988-2003
All The Blue Changes: An Anthology 1988-2003

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No the best starting position but great nonetheless, 11 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I feel No-Man are unjustly ignored by music critics and unknown by the vast majority of people. Their last three albums have all been stunning and their earlier output has been remarkable. What strikes me most when listening to this album is just how much their sound has changed over the band's lifetime. As such, this 'best of' sounds very disjointed even though the tracks are (wisely) ordered in chronological order. Although the music as a whole is experimental, the style changes from the trip-hop and dance-pop of their earliest material to the semi-ambient art-rock of their latter day career. This will come as a surprise to fans of Steven Wilson who (like me) bought this album as a gateway into the vast discography of No-Man.

I cannot give this album five stars despite a great selection of songs because I honestly don't think that this album does the band justice. Many of the songs here were taken from highly conceptual albums (at least in sound and style) and they simply sound better on their original studio recordings than on a 'best of'. Furthermore, it's almost as if the band actively chose to omit the poppier songs that would've complimented a compilation such as this far better in my opinion (Animal Ghost, Close Your Eyes). More perplexing is how the band omited the song after which this compilation is named (being one of the band's finest songs!). Since becoming more familiar with the overall works of Tim Bowness and (inparticular) Steven Wilson, I've found it unsurprising that the track list (selected by themselves) reflects a more experimental and downbeat style. This album showcases many of their best songs, but contradictorily makes it a poor gateway album for it's lack of easily accessible songs. I give this album a four stars as a result instead of the five it possibly deserves and recommend any of the last three studio albums as a stronger starting position.

Rock Bottom
Rock Bottom
Price: £7.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it! Unique and highly rewarding, 7 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Rock Bottom (Audio CD)
This is one of those albums I bought for it's reputation alone. I'd previously heard how unique it was meant to sound and have heard nothing but praise for the music so I bought it with high expectations. My only previous venture into the music of Robert Wyatt had been owning the Soft Machine album 'Third'; an album I really like but find exceedingly difficult listening when not in the right mood.

I have to admit of the first few listens I really didn't know what to make of this album. It somehow managed to sound like a complete mess while also sounding interesting and highly musical. Some tracks 'clicked' quicker than others, but none of the six tracks were instantly likeable with the possible exception of the opening track. For some reason revisiting 'Third' may have put things in perspective for me although I'm not sure why. I however found myself loving the music of this album. It is of course, highly experimental with all sorts of instruments playing over each other in a strange style that I can only really liken to 'In the Aeroplane over the Sea' by Neutral Milk Hotel. The album as a whole has a very reflective mood that borders between psychedelia, folk/rock and jazz. The flow of the album is slow and melodies will come and go, often appearing and disappearing within a single track to be lost among strange instrumental sections. The tracks however really compliment each other and because of this it is best to listen to this album in a complete sitting (preferably late evening!).

Overall, this is a highly rewarding experience, but it did take several listens to appreciate. If I could liken it to any modern day music (which I can't to be honest) I'd say it sounds a little like Tim Bowness (at his most experimental) and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins 'Diamond Mine'.

Nil Recurring
Nil Recurring
Price: £13.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compliments Fear of a Blank Planet Perfectly., 26 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Nil Recurring (Audio CD)
Despite being leftovers from the song-writing and recording sessions that spawned the excellent 'Fear of a Blank Planet' album, these songs are just as good as any from that album. Although the track-list consists of only four songs the run-time clocks in at a little under half an hour. The sound of this EP is very similar in style to it's album counterpart and compliments the album superbly. The lyrical themes from 'Fear of a Blank Planet' are prevalent in this album yet each of the four songs here add something new and fresh to the bands vast catalogue of work.

After the impact that 'Fear of a Blank Planet' made, the band were dismayed by the luke-warm commercial success of this release. The band believed that the public felt this EP did not garner the same respect that a full album might've. When their follow-up album 'The Incident' was released, the band decided to release their additional material as a separate disc sold alongside their main album. This EP was also released as part of the vinyl copy of 'Fear of a Blank Planet' , further supporting the bands opinion that this EP is of equal strength to their better known album material.

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Gorgeously melodic progressive rock. The best of 2014., 23 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Demon (Audio CD)
This album was an absolute pleasure to discover earlier this year. I've heard of Gazpacho through the likes of Steven Wilson, Amplifier, The Pineapple Thief etc (i.e they also belong on the excellent Kscope label), but never gotten round to listening to them. Well I was instantly amazed by what I heard and went out to buy 'Night' and the rather hard to find 'Tick Tock' album straight away. What stands out on all these releases are the gorgeous vocals (reminiscent of Muse but perhaps easier to decipher) and the warm fuzzy sonic textures. Demon is the more reserved of the three albums that I own, but it is also perhaps the most beautiful (although nothing reaches the sheer emotive power of 'Winter in Never' from Tick-Tock').

Demon may not have the pop gems of 'Tick-Tock' or the hypnotic rhythm of 'Night', but it opts for a more blissful sense of ambience (the first half of 'I've been Walking part 2 for example). It also features a much wider variety of instruments that give the album not only more texture, but also genuine originality (the latter half of 'The wizard..' sounds more like 'Gogol Bordello playing a Floyd track!). The violins and piano give the album a warm folky vibe, whereas the guitars, keyboards and drums are more akin to straightforward rock. The album does occasionally 'rock', but only when it feels it needs to (ie no guitar solos here). The long track lengths may put some people off, however the music is genuinely accessible and does not in any way resemble the prog of the 70's. This is exiting new progressive music that deserves a far wider audience than it currently has and it comes at my highest recommendation!

Recommended for fans of latter day 'No-Man' or 'Stupid Dream' era Porcupine Tree', Sufjan Stevens (Illinoise in-particular), perhaps even Spiritualized or Sigur Rós.

Transmission IV: moonloop (unedited improvisation) 40m 07s
Transmission IV: moonloop (unedited improvisation) 40m 07s

4.0 out of 5 stars Porcupine Tree's Ambient release., 22 Nov. 2014
Porcupine Tree may have finally gained worldwide attention, but at the time of this release they were still largely a cult band. Their previous two studio albums were critically acclaimed rock/pop releases that were a big step away from the psychedelia of their earliest releases under the record label 'Delerium'. Coming at a time when the band were on the verge of commercial success (In absentia came out the following year) and the band were consolidating their music into shorter more accessible tracks, 'Transmission IV' seemed somewhat of an oddity.

Transmission IV consists of a single track called 'Moonloop'. This track will be familiar to owners of the their third album 'The Sky Moves Sideways' or their limited EP also entitled 'Moonloop' however this edition is the un-edited version of the track; adding a further 20 minutes to the run time. The extra material (I assume) was cut from the previous editions due to track length rather than quality issues because the material is fantastic! This release wouldn't've seemed out of place in the bands earlier days, but at the time that 'Lightbulb Sun' was released this material was not representative of the bands new output.

Of the additional track material, my favourite is the rhythmic, almost tribal sounding sequence around the 20 minute mark featuring a distant harmonica (unusual for Steven Wilson) among percussion and bass guitar. The track picks up pace towards the end, although the vast majority of it is very slow and focuses upon texture rather than melody. In this respect this release plays more like an ambient album than a band simply jamming or improvising (like their album 'Metanoia' for example).

While Porcupine Tree released better albums, this release is an interesting obscurity in their vast catalogue. It was never intended for a full commercial release, which is why it was released in limited quantities and hence so hard to find. If you do happen to stumble upon this release and are a fan of the bands early material I would recommend picking this up. It will likely sound boring to the listeners who only appreciate the bands leanings towards progressive metal, however.

My Favourite Faded Fantasy
My Favourite Faded Fantasy
Price: £8.99

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Damien Rice broadens his musical pallete, 4 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Damien Rice surprised the world when he announced the release of his third album earlier this year. Being so long since his previous release, I was exited by the prospect of a new album, but also a little cautious.

I can safely say that 'My Favourite Faded Fantasy' is a really good album. It may not be as great or memorable as his debut, but it is probably at least as good as '9'. Most importantly however, Damien Rice has shown that he is able to develop his style and free himself from the restrictions that being an acoustic singer-songwriter can have. This album is certainly more 'commercial' sounding (and no doubt it will also be a commercial success), but it is equally daring (nine and a half minute track lengths ahoy!). Some tracks are of a similar vein to earlier works, but some are much more lighter in tone (and dare I say poppier?). I'm sure there are people who will miss the grittier, more personal sounds of 'O', or the beautiful voice of Lisa Hannigan, but if this album says anything about Damien Rice, it's that he isn't afraid to progress. That, more than anything is the mark of a great songwriter.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2014 6:24 PM GMT

Fossils of the Chalk (Palaentology FG Fossils)
Fossils of the Chalk (Palaentology FG Fossils)
by Andrew B. Smith
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Identification Book For Chalk Fossils, 15 Oct. 2014
This book highlights the rich fossil fauna that can be found within the Lower, Middle and Upper Chalk of England. By no means is this book an absolute encyclopaedia of every fossil that can be found within the Chalk Group. It is however a very thorough guide that will likely detail 99% if not 100% the fossils that you will encounter in the field. Special attention is given to echinoids, ammonites, bivalves, brachiopods and belemnites although there is a sizeable content covering sponges, corals, bryzoa and gastropods among others. A final section covers the exceedingly rare vertebrate fossil fauna of the Chalk including fishes, sharks, marine reptiles and turtles!

This book is predominantly an identification aid. The internet is a valuable tool for the identification of fossils and there are some fantastic sites available (one in-particular that I cannot name due to Amazon rules), but there is no substitute for a good book for true reliability. The fossil photos are very detailed and each are magnified (or reduced) to a known scale. Many of the fossils are printed to a 1:1 scale, which I found particularly useful. The book is entirely black and white, but this never seems to cause any issues for identification and actually probably aids it. The fossils covered here are not restricted to those from the Chalk of Sussex and Kent, but also fossils from the East (Norfolk), North East (Yorkshire) and South-West (Dorset).

Chalk is one of the best rocks for fossil collecting. Because the matrix is relatively soft, fossils can usually be extracted with ease (and a bit of patience) simply using an etcher. Fossils are rarely preserved in pyrite (this decays over time) and the fossils are usually harder than the chalk matrix, making splitting rocks a viable way to extract fossils. My only concern with fossil collecting from the coastal sections is that Chalk is particularly susceptible to damage by the growth of salt crystals. Samples collected from the coast should be given a good soaking in fresh water to remove as much of the sea salt from the rock as possible.

Price: £7.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Tangerine Dream's perfect mid era, 28 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stratosfear (Audio CD)
In the mid-seventies, Tangerine Dream began to loose their dark, highly experimental krautrock sound in favour of a much more melodic, electronic and warmer sound (if still experimental). It took until the early 80s before Tangerine dream sadly began to loose their quality. This album comes at a perfect mid-point between melody and their darker experimentalism.

The quality of their music on this album really is some of their very best in my opinion. I still have a soft spot for 'Rubycon' and 'Phaedra', but this album is of equal quality in my opinion. It is also by far the most accessible album of theirs up to this point and serves as the best introduction into the Tangerine Dreams brilliant 70's period.

Of note is that while this is certainly an electronic album, there are so many other 'acoustic' instruments thrown into the mix for extra texture. Check out the distant harmonica in '3 AM at the Border of the Marsh From Okefenokee' or the piano and flute at the very end of the album.

This kind of music will not please everyone. The tracks are long, entirely instrumental and emphasis is upon atmosphere rather than pure melody. However, if you are a fan of 'oxygene' era Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze or any other early electronic music then this shouldn't be a problem. I would also recommend this album if you like artists such as Hawkwind, Pink Floyd or even early Porcupine Tree.

6PK Assorted Elastic Bungee Cords Heavy Duty Stretch Hook Strap Luggage Car Bike
6PK Assorted Elastic Bungee Cords Heavy Duty Stretch Hook Strap Luggage Car Bike
Offered by Online Retailers UK
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and nasty, 27 Sept. 2014
You really do pay for what you get. These Bungee cords are cheap, but there is so little elasticity in them that they do not provide the tension needed to hold objects on the back of your bike. When I stretch one of these cords with my hands it moves apart very easily until it reaches a point where the cord will not extend any further. Higher quality cords will extend the same distance but will get progressively harder to stretch and as a result the cord will remain taught at any given length. These cords however behave more like slightly elasticated rope and are only taught when nearing their maximum extension.

I only hesitate in giving this product one star because of the price and because the small sized cords were of some use to me on a cycle touring trip when I needed spares in short notice. The long and medium sized cords were left behind at a campsite. Useless.

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