April purchases reviewed


5 maj 2007, 19:12

I spent a ridiculous amount on CDs last month. And yet there's still so much more left unbought and unheard. One thing I can simply never understand is people complaining that there's no decent music out there to buy. There's more than any normally-employed, normally-waged person can keep up, in time or money!

Anyway, here's what I made of my purchases...

Kryptic Minds & Leon Switch - Lost All Faith

Excellent release from these guys, showing there are still people who know how to make a real artist album in drum'n'bass. Packed with musical bedroom-listening goodness, and some tracks that would go down heavy on the floor as well. Hallelujah.

Standout tune for me is Dark Flower Remedy, a somewhat D-Bridge style deep male vocal roller. Licks of tech bass growl, the snappy beats remind me of vintage BC... plenty of reloads for this one. But the album has a nice coherency overall, which I guess is essentially that deep-but-techy Headz/Tactile/Pacific/Teebee vibe, mixed with haunting neo-classical melodic touches that reach their peak in the solely piano + strings workout Opus Dei. I get the impression if these guys were on last fm, Hans Zimmer would be in their top 50.

BT - This Binary Universe

As I somewhat facetiously remarked on a forum, both the track titles and their musical contents go some way of confirming my perception of BT as a smug, pretensious git, and as such it's somewhat annoying that it's so undeniably, eye-openingly bloody amazing that you've just got to hand it to him.

I like the ambition, the way it disregards modern conventions of genre (and even dynamic range!) to present a unique and detailed combination of composition and sound design. The mixture of deep electronic ambient, acoustic instruments/vocals, and glitchy edits, inevitably reminds me of recent Tipper and Shpongle output, but it's obviously very much BT's own thing.

Trackmarking with ten-minute-plus divisions doesn't do his last.fm rankings any favours though... ;)

Michel Petrucciani - Promenade With Duke

This is one of those albums I've had and loved since I copied it off a mate at school. (This member of the C90 generation finds the industry's panic over digital filesharing rather amusing, back when my computer couldn't even play an mp3 I had a music collection 95% consisting of copied cassettes.) Saw it on the cheap and thought it was about time I bought a proper copy.

It's solo jazz piano versions of standards by or associated with Duke Ellington. Very nice, calming, dare I say "smooth" (but not in a pejorative sense)... I really like this guy's style. Must get some more.

Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against the Machine

Another 'favourite for over a decade which I unaccountably never bought until now', as above. I don't really need to tell you anything about this album, surely?

Tinariwen - Amassakoul

Introduced to these guys by James Sax from keiretsu. Desert blues - good stuff.

Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power

Getting back in touch with stuff I listened to on tape when I was about 13, but have totally lost track with a decade or so. Metal is causing me issues at the moment: I'm so in love with the huge guitar riff thing and even more so with the metal drumming thing. But I can't enjoy blokes screaming hoarsely for very long, and so much of it seems light on bass (especially when you spend a lot of time listening to dnb and dubstep).

Anyway, this album is pretty much in line with all of that. Some sick tracks and it's good to have in the bank again, but I can't really listen to it in full album chunks.

Apocalyptica - Amplified: a Decade of Reinventing the Cello

My ex-flatmate Rux0r introduced me to these guys. Cellos through fuzzboxes shredding out metal tunes - what's not to love? They didn't have the album Rux did, so I just got this best of, which probably wasn't the greatest move. The Metallica covers range between cute and genuine class, and I love all those Metallica albums to pieces; the other covers, I don't know the originals, so I don't much get into; of the originals, I prefer the newer stuff with added drums, but don't like the guest vocal stuff on CD2 much. So I should have got the Metallica CD and a newer album. No matter. Anyway. Some gems in here so I can't complain.

Omni Trio - Rogue Satellite

I got this because I was on a forum praising Byte Size Life as a masterpiece album of detroit-influenced ambient breakbeat, and was informed this was a reliable package of 'more of the same'. Well... it's really not, in my opinion. Universal is exactly that, it's divine, and instantly one of my favourite Omni Trio tracks. High Noon is another gem, and some of the other tracks, like Red Shift, are in the same sort of ballpark, and they're ok-nice-ish, might well grow on me more. But some of the tracks are the sort of tepid "jazzy" stuff that I've always tried to mentally filter out from his back catalogue. Overall, in my book not an outstanding album to match the brilliance of Byte Size Life, but the high points make it worth picking up nonetheless.

Sasha - Involver

an intriguing prospect - a big name 'ableton mix cd' project, with unusual packaging to match. it's hard for me to judge how much he ableton'd things, because Dorset Perception is the only one where I know the original to compare. overall it's "nice" - the opening track has hooked into me a lot, the shpongle remix doesn't ruin it (high praise with shpongle, tbh), and from there on it rolls out very nicely for listening to at work or on public transport, but probably erring too much towards bland/forgettable, and occasionally cheesy, to become a big listening favourite at home.

Afro Celt Sound System - Pod

much the same as their normal albums, this remix collection is consistently
hit and miss. tracks 8, 9 and especially 10 are strongest - in fact 10, Éireann (Remix by Mass), is perhaps afro celt sound system's single most "on the mark" effort I've heard yet. plenty of reloads for that one. Sadly some of the others are a bit lame imho.

Courtney Pine - Underground

more catching up with my teenage years. Courtney Pine opened at the first real gig I went to (Incognito) so I've always kept an eye on his career, yet never got around to buying any of his CDs. I don't think this was the best to opt for, as it seemed to have quite a high level of the nineties lukewarm acid jazz naffness about it, which impedes my ability to appreciate the jazz value of the soloing. More renegade dnb experiments please. I'm probably being harsh, I haven't really given it a proper thorough listen.

Green Day - American Idiot

Green Day were big when I was at school - Dookie and all that. I really didn't like them at all. I had no time for their punk pop thing then than I did for blink 182 (ironically their top similar artist, apparently) in more recent years. So when my ex landlady/colleague, who used to give me a ride to work, put a new Green Day album on in the car, I braced myself to hate it. But I didn't. Far from: it's really rather good. So much so that when I moved away I found I missed the songs, three years later, they're still still popping into my head; I figured that buying it was overdue.

Beethoven - piano sonatas

My classical listening is so sorely lacking it's unbelievable, so here begins the mission to sort it out. I have always avoided buying classical because I'm put off by not knowing which soloist's/orchestra's/conductor's/etc version is "best". Decided to stop caring and buy any old version. Got this collection of piano sonatas 8, 14, 21 and 23 by Wilhelm Kempff, because I used to play most of the 8th and 14th (badly).

Debussy - piano works

As above - this collection is performed by Pascal Rogé, which means nothing much to me, and I got it because I used to play a few of the pieces included.

To be honest I was a bit surprised/disappointed with this, I guess I didn't really know Debussy as well as I thought! I kinda wanted some more of the "oops, you've invented jazz" calm watercolour sixths and major sevenths and whatnot that I remembered from the premier arabesque. But a lot of this was sort of.. er... swirly and intense. That must sound idiotic to any big classical buffs who read this.


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