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sensoria (London, UK)

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From Every Sphere
From Every Sphere
Price: £6.94

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A strange brew indeed, 17 Feb. 2003
This review is from: From Every Sphere (Audio CD)
Having been compared to the likes of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, and following on from his Mercury Prize nomination in 2001, much is expected of Harcourt's 2nd "proper" album (the excellent mini debut "Maplewood" will remain forever neglected).
No surprises then that "From Every Sphere" carries on from where "Here Be Monsters" left off; southern bar room honky tonk piano's, New Orleans funeral style brass sections, Cavesque southern gothic themes and the odd woozy harmonica.
Like its predecessor, "From Every Sphere" can be an inconsistent affair at times. For every beautiful moment such as "The Birds Will Sing For Us" with it's country guitar twangs and sunshine brass outro come plodding Harcourt-by-numbers tracks such as "Sister Renee".
More interesting is "Ghost Writer" with it's production trickery, looped beats and spooky off kilter piano keys. Looped beats and percussion also play a part on the excellent delight that is "Jetstter" with it's sepia tinted harmonica.
The dark and forbidding jazz touched "Undertaker Strut" is all southern gothic delight with a swampy brass section that resembles the fantastic "He's Building A Swamp" from the underrated "Maplewood".
The most upbeat and rockier number here is "Watching The Sun Come Up" where Harcourt really does get a sweat up whilst sounding like Bono fronting Hothouse Flowers over a potential future single!
It's a shame then that the album's closing self-titled track should be another weak and forgettable number that leaves you realising that Harcourt still has a little way to go before he attains the greatness he seems to think his songwriting deserves.
So, in conclusion, a fine album that promises much is just found wanting at times.


Comfort in Sound
Comfort in Sound
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfort in sound indeed!, 16 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Comfort in Sound (Audio CD)
Ok, so there's no need to comment further on the tragic events that ultimately led to the recording of this Feeder's masterpiece.
Sometimes it's too easy to attach labels like "majestic", "fantastic" and "awesome" to albums that are really average in all honesty. However, "Comfort In Sound" deserves all these accolades and much more!
The melodic power rock and orchestrated emotion on offer here helps propel the album towards being a timeless classic. In many ways it is to Feeder what "Everything Must Go" was to the Manics, "The Bends" to Radiohead and "The Joshua Tree" to U2. In essence an album that suddenly propels them up from the masses to a band at the height of their game.
From the emotional rock of "Just The Way I'm feeling" to the adrenaline filled fuzz of "Godzilla" this is an album of every mood. Add to the mix the beauty of Nicholas's strained vocals and you most defintely have an album that hits you right in the sola-plexes every time!
Without doubt "Comfort In Sound" was the biggest surprise of 2002!


A New Day At Midnight
A New Day At Midnight
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £2.54

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feeling bad never felt so good!, 16 Feb. 2003
This review is from: A New Day At Midnight (Audio CD)
Ok, let's get this cleared up straight away, "A New Day At Midnight" is certainly no "White Ladder" part 2. The death of Gray's father haung over the recording of this album and ultimately contributed to it's much more downbeat and moving feel.
You also have to respect Gray for making the kind of album he wanted rather than recycle his previous outing - which no doubt the record company would have pushed him for.
However, the 12 tracks on offer here reafirm Gray as a highly talented singer-songwriter. Moody, introspective and sentimental the album is a winner from start to finish.
The only criticism is that there are no obvious big singles on the album (perhaps with the exceptions of "Dead In The Water" an "Be Mine"). These are the kind of personal songs that need to be experienced as one long album listen rather than 3 minute radio extracts sandwiched between the latest reality TV wannabe and r 'n' b soundalikes. Of course, that's a shame, as the album deserves to be brought to a wider audience...but their lost is our undoubted again. That said though, Gray's name alone should see "New Day..." doing decent business at the tills.
A moody masterpiece for adults!


Mary Star Of The Sea
Mary Star Of The Sea
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smashing, pumpkin!, 16 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Mary Star Of The Sea (Audio CD)
With "Mary Star Of The Sea" Corgan has turned in his best album since the Pumpkin's epic "Mellon Collie" opus in '95. This really is a return to form for the much derided "baldie tw*t in a dress"!
Obviously having worked with New Order on their last album has had a big impact on Corgan and his new Zwan project. In fact, the Mancunians influence is all over "Mary Star Of The Sea", paticularly "Settle Down", which sounds like the long lost half-brother of New Order's "Ceremony".
Another big surprise is just how content and happy Corgan suddenly sounds. Themes of love, sunshine and endless summers abound on what are, essentially, some of his most melodic moments to date.
It can be difficult not to hear Corgan's distinctive snarly voice and immediately think of the Smashing Pumpkins, however his Zwan band are distinctly more indie than the metal inspired Pumpkins.
It's hard to find much to fault on this album. So, ok, the title track may drag on a little and the cover art may be a little too 70's art college...but with fantastic tracks such as "El Sol", "Lyric", "Honestly" and the aforementioned "Settle Down", Zwan could become the surprise package of 2003!


Unrest
Unrest
Price: £39.36

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too cold and polished, 14 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Unrest (Audio CD)
Following on from the lovely Kings of Convenience debut and sublime Royksopp album, Erlend Oye finally releases his debut solo album "Unrest".
Firmly planted in the electronica genre you may be expecting more of where he left off on the Royksopp album. Sadly, if you are, you'll be disappointed: "Meldoy AM" this ain't!
"Unrest" is surprisingly poppy, upbeat, too polished and a little cold feeling. Yes, Oye's trademark melancholic voice is still as lovely as ever but seems strangely at odds with the unemotional and souless production.
There's is a definite 80's influence to a number of tracks, which makes the album musically sound like an inferior version of Les Rythmes Digitales's "Darkdancer".
It's not all negative, with tracks like the excellent opener "Ghost Trains" and current single "Sudden Rush" being worthy of Oye's previous works.
However, most of the album, whilst not being awful, just doesn't engage the listener enough. Maybe as a result of his previous excellent outputs, "Unrest" just turns out to be somewhat of a dissapointment.
Here's looking forward to a new KOC or Royksopp album!


Danse Macabre
Danse Macabre
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.97

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Electro-rock caught in no-man's land!, 10 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Danse Macabre (Audio CD)
After the club based fad of electroklash in 2002, The Faint continue the 80's elecronic revival with a sound that is more rock based than the previous tissue-lite disposbale pop of Fischerspooner.
In many ways, this is the sound of late 70s new wave mixed with the likes of Depeche Mode, 17 Seconds era The Cure and 90's industrial acts like Cubanate and Nitzer Ebb thrown in for good measure. In fact, the closest cousin to Danse Macabre would be Nine Inch Nails 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine (which, at the time, was described as Depeche Mode on steroids!).
There are some fine moments on Danse Macarbe, such as Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat, Agenda Suicide and The Conductor. However, synth pop or electronica fans may find it too rocky and rock fans will find the retro synths too dated for this to gain any widespread appeal, which is a shame as it's a decent album (despite a couple of EMF sounding moments!!!) that deserves further investigation!
Not for everyone, but if you like early Cure, Depeche Mode or early NIN then this is an album you'd certainly enjoy!


Light And Magic
Light And Magic
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £8.97

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seductive Electropop!, 10 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Light And Magic (Audio CD)
Unfortunately for Ladytron they seem to have been lumped into the style over substance club scence of elektroklash/synthcore. However, unlike musical poseurs such as Miss Kittin, Felix Da Housecat and Fischerspooner, Ladytron actually have musical ability and talent, that is more pop/rock based than dance/club influenced.
Whilst their retro synths and European ice cool vocals do come from an age when Human League were biggest band in the country and Blade Runner was the film to see, there's enough of a 21st Centrury influence to make this strangely appealing and satisfying, in a dark and trashy way.
Musically they have come on leaps and bounds since their debut '604', with the songs sounding more developed and fully realised. Of course, you do wonder where they can move on to after this, but it wouldn't surprise me if they followed the same kind of career path as former Synth Gods Depeche Mode and New Order, and add more rockier elements to their sound in the future.
But for now, "Light and Magic" is an entertaining and seductive piece of electropop in 2003. If so called credible bands can rip off grunge and punk at the moment, why shouldn't Ladytron recreate the electro era of the early eighties?


100th Window
100th Window
Price: £4.75

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Massive Attack's very own Kid A?, 10 Feb. 2003
This review is from: 100th Window (Audio CD)
Five years on from the excellent Mezzanine, trip-hop trail-blazers Massive Attack return with 100th Window. Effectively, this is 3D's debut solo album in all but name, with Mushroom having bailed out in '99 (scared they were turning into a Punk band!)and Daddy G taking time out to be a father.
From the very outset it is obvious this is going to be a very different MA album. True, every MA album has been totally different in sound and feel but beneath the surface there has always been fragments of soul, dub, reggae and hip-hop...even on the dark and brooding "rocky" Mezzanine.
This time around we are treated to a much more sterile and clinical atmosphere. Gone is the looseness and organic feel of previous albums...in it's place cold electronics and precise beats. In many ways, this is MA's own Kid A.
That's not to say it's a bad album, it's not when you compare it to what else is around. But by MA's own high standards it is found wanting. If Mezzanine was claustrophobic and gritty, then 100th Window is suffocating and scrubbed clean. Too digitalized and uptight. After a while you really do start wanting to hear one of Daddy G's low-end raps. Even long serviving guest vocalist Horace Andy seems uninspired and bored. The choice of Ms O'Connor as female vocalist this time around wouldn't have been so bad if 3D had applied some quality control to her lyrics!
However, that said, with time and patience it could grow on you...just like Kid A did!!!


Melody A.M.
Melody A.M.
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £2.97

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilled Electronica To Touch Your Soul, 10 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Melody A.M. (Audio CD)
I purchased this album on its original release in 2001 and can safely say that 16 months later it is still fantastic - one of the best albums I've bought in the last 10 years.
Chilled electronic music from Norway is nothing new, Biosphere was creating glacial ambient music as far back as the early 90s. Royksopp differ as their take on chilled electronica is born out of much warmer and organic vibes; you can almost smell the autumnal pine of a Norwegian forest in these tracks!
This is electronic music that both touches the soul and warms the heart. At times so beautiful you want to weep and at others a little funky that you smile with excited pleasure.
Unusual for an album coming from the chill-out genre, most of the tracks here avoid 10 minute self indulgence and noodly muso tinkering! Excellenty produced and mixed to perfection, Melody AM is now the benchmark for all chilled electronica albums to be measured by!


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