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Robot Overlord (floating somewhere...)

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The Compleat Moonshadow
The Compleat Moonshadow
by Jon J. Muth
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moonshadow, 10 Feb. 2006
I like this book, a lot as it happens, and yet I am ultimately disappointed by it - in personal rather than critical terms - and not by the body of it, but, as is so often the case, by the ending.
This is "mystical" (the book makes apology for this) and would be quite beautiful if attached to another story but which here has the feeling of a cheap trick, becuase so much of the book has a surreal, dreamlike, washed-out feeling - kind of insubstatial - it seems to demand something definite. Instead it fades out depressingly, gets more and more vague until it stops just short of ending with: "and then I woke up, and it was all a dream!" The expansive worldview becomes somehow provincial, with no mention of the spaceships, high adventure or exotic locations around which the story revolved before - it seems hauntingly disappointing, because it ends long after it should, (probably a reasonable illustration of the way life itself works, but there it stands.
And besides, if the credits never rolled on "Return of the Jedi," what would we see but Han, Leia and luke becoming fat and old and beset by the ordinary tragedies of life after the struggle is done?)
You might remember the poem at the end of "Alice;" the eventual end of the fairytale kingdom in "The Princess and Curdie," or the moment when Fenchurch disappears in "Mostly Harmless" you'll have a good idea of what to expect - this book is a distillation of moments like these, that uncomfortable realization that the story is going neither as you expected nor as you would wish, and it is a testament to the brilliance of this book that I cared as much as I did, and still do, and didn't just shelve it - Moonshadow is an imaginative and brilliantly realized work which should be read and re-read, and perhaps its dreamlike melancholy is its most potent strength.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2008 5:47 PM GMT

Selected Ambient Works 1985
Selected Ambient Works 1985

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal favorite, 14 Jan. 2006
I bought this record at least a year after Selected Ambient works II, in that mood of methodically harvesting every CD an artist has released, and I think I this record is the best of them. It’s easier on the ears than Richard D James, shorter that SAW II, mellower and warmer, and containing sounds which vary from the timeless to the pleasantly retro - a list of cozy, crackly places interspersed with desolate, rainy ones, like stepping out of a warm house into a darkened carpark...
You get the pleasant feeling of having discovered something a bit special which you wern’t perhaps meant to find, as though the tapes had lain collecting dust in a box in the guy's attic - it's quite “bedroom,” but interestingly so - trippy and crackly as though taken from vinyl and recorded using analogue kit... Buy without hesitation.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Acoustic wonderland, 11 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Astrid (Audio CD)
I bought Astrid’s first record when I was about fourteen, partly because I thought she was pretty but mostly because I heard “I am the boy for you” on the Chart Show (anyone remember that?) and was struck by it to the point where I parted with twelve whole pounds – this was during that impoverished, youthful period of any music-lover’s life when records are bought with care rather than with reckless abandon – and it remains to this day one of my very favourite albums. yet, I must say that in some ways this newer, eponymously titled record is actually better.
There is far less production, for a start; it is simpler more elegant, and the lyrics ring truer than any of her contemporaries' efforts (other reviews have likened her to Dido, which is not really justifiable - in terms of songwriting and vocal ability Astrid leaves Dido coughing in the dust.) Her lyrics are clever, articulate and more truthful than those on her first record. Musically there is less movement which generates a more intimate feel, like a private gig in a pub backroom. There are a couple of missed tricks, but this only adds to the atmosphere, as though the listener is privy to something unfinished and a little bit near the knuckle, given the themes of lost love and loneliness.


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mmm... Ammmmmmmmber., 5 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Amber (Audio CD)
There’s some phonological coincidence at work here, I think. The word “Autechre” is a cousin to “austere,” to “technical” and “architecture,” and this might give someone an idea of what to expect… The name of the record, of course, suggests something organic which has fossilized, and has become inorganic stone: beautiful and unyeilding.
Amber is not entirely unemotional in fact – there are glimpses and quiet moments, such as the track “Yulquen,” whose restraint and quiet beauty is actually quite moving, both like and not at all like “Foil,” which is primal and mechanised and deeply impressive if it cannot be considered beautiful – every track on the album coheres and belongs, and each is a part of the same arctic wilderness even if it is differently described.
(Besides, given the prevalence of “false colour” in music, that is, the forced and eventually tiresome emotional content, it is refreshing to hear something which is as stark and austere and as colourless as that arctic landscape, and just as beautiful.)

Price: £3.52

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British music at its finest!, 2 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Six (Audio CD)
Containing references to A.A. Milne and Taoism, voiceovers by Tom Baker; structured around a brilliantly fractured, fascinating incoherence of scraps of song, repeated themes; loneliness, doubt, disaffection and painful honesty and very catchy tunes, this album is an absolute must for the discerning music lover, and all those who ought to have caught it the first time round, but who had the misfortune to have been distracted by whatever Richard Ashcroft was up to at the time.
To draw parallels between The Verve and Mansun is an unfortunate necessity – they are, after all, contemporaries, and deal (or in the case of The Verve, have tried to deal) with the same themes, but beyond that there is nothing sensible to link the two, but there it stands. It has been a source of some annoyance to many reviewers that this record was overlooked, when so many were willing to buy music instead which was – comparatively speaking – rubbish. (There! I said it!)
For this is deeper, richer and more complex, more honest and revealing, with better tunes and more creative production than any of its contemporaries – not merely a collection of songs but a single, cohesive work of staggering ambition which succeeds – despite all the possible impediments – in realizing itself.
This is a jewel of disaffection, and whilst many might not be immediately able to discern the essence of the record, the lyrics may well strike the few as incredibly incisive - so many people I know have met the first words spoken on the record with something suspiciously like familiarity; he sings:
“And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity
Did you see, the way I cowered to authority, you see
And my life, it's a series of compromises anyway
It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see…”
Which elegantly captures that nameless, indescribably stupid realization which can slowly dawn on you as you sit sleeplessly in front of the TV at three o’clock on a Sunday morning, on your own.
Of course, this excellent record was ignored in the wake of The Verve (mostly trash) and the Manic Street Preachers (purveyors of “Disaffection Lite:” sugar-free, caffeine-free, flavour-free alleged non-conformism for those who are certain to become IT or Recruitment consultants) whose deeply ordinary records regrettably exemplified British music at the time. “Six” is something altogether different, and inestimably superior. Anyone who can sympathise with the line: “I scratch my knee, I have to scratch the other” ought to buy this record.

The Tired Sounds of
The Tired Sounds of
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.67

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating..., 7 Oct. 2005
This review is from: The Tired Sounds of (Audio CD)
Stars of the Lid are often spoken of in the same sentance as Boards of Canada, and it was mainly for this reason that I bought the album, but in truth there is little similarity. Where "Music has the right to children" was nostalgic, warm, dreamlike and richly varied, highly vocal and evocative, "Tired sounds" is almost arctic by comparison - beautiful and inhuman, as though nothing organic or tangible was ever used in its making, as though it was purpose-designed by a machine for almost excessive lucidity and hypnotic emptiness. Excellent.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2015 9:01 PM BST

The Division Bell
The Division Bell
Offered by the_record_factory
Price: £7.95

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Division Bell, 25 Aug. 2005
This review is from: The Division Bell (Audio CD)
Division Bell is a sort of exit music; the same ambient, mournful oddness you heard playing over the credits of some anonymous TV movie at four in the morning when you lay on the sofa, stoned and exhausted, with the rain rattling down outside; the record you wondered about in a bar in Amsterdam, when you eventually gave up looking for your friends and just sat by the window 'til late, something to happen, and just felt... something. This is disconnection - the echo of the empty car-park, the quiet of an elevator, a reprise to that moment when "comfortably numb" really, really touched you.
This is an album for those who understand the value of texture, and that not every one of a band's albums has to be a clone of the first to attract your attention. It has little of the heady, tragic intricacy of Dark Side, or the compellingly psychedelic ruin of The Wall; it is perhaps the more coherent Pink Floyd record: it may have lost a little ostentation, but it has a measure of serenity instead, in the band's autumn days - this record (high hopes in particular) is mourning for lost youth, and it does so quietly, without any fuss and it is this fact which makes it so desperately sad.

Songs for the Deaf
Songs for the Deaf
Price: £4.05

8 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blah blah, 14 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Songs for the Deaf (Audio CD)
I remember very clearly the first time I heard "Welcome to Sky Valley." Until that point, it had never occurred to me that music could be both so beautiful and so potent - I just couldn't believe what I was hearing, couldn't believe anything could be so flawless. Granted, I was stoned out of my mind at the time, but I have spent years trying to chasing the same cosmic state of absolute, heart-stopping musical bliss, got heavily into stoner and devoured Kyuss, Brant Bjork, Fu Manchu, and indeed everything else I could find, from the most obscure desert crazies to festival headliners, and man, I have accidentally bought a lot of absolute rubbish in my time, but this... Well actually I didn't pay for it, but I still resent the space it takes up on my hard drive, because it seems exemplary of the distance the apple has fallen from the tree. Its nagging, lightweight, whimsical sound can on occasion be slightly annoying, nothing at all like the rhythm-driven, euphoric adrenaline rush of an album I wanted to hear. Mind you, even "Rated R" padded out the six or seven good tracks with liberal handfuls of fillers and outright crap, so Songs for the Deaf ought not to surprise, given that bands generally only ever degrade with time. Perhaps I'm either jaded or excessively optimistic, but I want to be challenged and consumed and driven by this music, and instead I find it mildly irritating. I think this is probably the tail-end of the movement (if it can be called such) which might explain its currently popularity which is usually inversely proportional to its quality. What a snob I am. This isn't Crazy Frog for the Stoner scene, but Sky Valley is most assuredly ain't.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2009 1:49 PM BST

A Drug Problem That Never Existed
A Drug Problem That Never Existed
Offered by westworld-
Price: £6.98

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull dull..., 25 July 2005
Ah, Josh Homme's stranglehold on the Desert Rock and Stoner genres continues to tighten, as even albums in which he is marginally involved begin to display the same pseudo-quirky similarity typified by his dull-as-ditchwater "desert sessions" stuff. This album never fails to disappoint a little more with each of listen, until you listen to it for the third and final time and put it away forever at the back of your shelf where it will be forgotten. It is brash, forced, shallow and tuneless, somehow lacking in weight and distinction and all the songs just blur together. Think "covered in punks blood" from DS 9&10, with over-enthusiastic vocals, and you'll have a good handle on this album's flabby and tinny sound. Those wishing to spice up their collections with some decent stoner would do better by buying "Jalamanta" by Brant Bjork, "Sky Valley" by Kyuss, or "Jam Room" by Clutch. Better yet, get some Melvins stuff before its all deleted.

Sony MDR-EX71SLW Stereo Earphones - White
Sony MDR-EX71SLW Stereo Earphones - White

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars These 'phones will self-destruct in five seconds..., 21 July 2005
Regrettably, I didn't buy these from Amazon but from the Sony shop not far from where I live, and therefore wasted £35 instead of £25... The sound quality, it must be said, is very good, and I was really happy with them at first, but the earphones' construction is really, really dicy; after two months, the strange gooey-rubber stuff surrounding the cables - which was nice and soft when new - changed from white to grey and became so soft, in fact, that it frayed, degraded, and eventually peeled away from the wires inside, being no stronger than the little bits of eraser you leave behind after erasing pencil marks. An absolute pain, and worse, the i-Pod in-ear 'phones I got to replace them are simply the worst headphones I've ever owned, so if I want nice i-pod-style earphones without buying a pair of Shure 'phones for around a hundred quid I have to resign myself to the fact that they'll destroy themselves after a few weeks. They're a rubbish design.

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