Category: Reviews

Reviews of albums, movies, books &c.  

Review: Basilisk

Legendary Pink Dots - Basilisk
Legendary Pink Dots – Basilisk

Edward Ka-Spel‘s brilliance with The Legendary Pink Dots is to introduce us to isolated characters and then immerse us in their world-view through expansive and mysterious soundscapes. He begins with the most restricted, infinitesimal point of consciousness and then slowly expands it outward towards a state of ‘cosmic consciousness’ (to use the phrase of 1960s psychonauts). Musically, he often follows this template of expansion, with simple melody lines repeating and layering in increased complexity of texture. Much of the LPD’s music is an undertaking to help the listener (and perhaps composer) escape his/her own head. Lyrical phrases, musical motifs, album titles and themes recur across decades, but tonal shifts between albums are slow and subtle.  Hopefully, The Legendary Dots Project, like the Residents and Sparks projects before, will provide the keen reader and listener with a giddy entry-point into the Legendary Pink Dots’ musical world. Fulfil the prophecy! Continue reading

Review: The Second Throne

April Larson - The Second Throne
April Larson – The Second Throne

My best friend Peter and I have radically different tastes. I tend to listen to music that is skittish and unresolved. I like choppy melodies, disorienting time signature changes and often, when I’m feeling boisterous, a lively skank beat. Peter, contrariwise, loves slow, immersive ambient soundscapes, with deep, vibratory drones and hidden, slowly-emergent intricacies. The music I like, you have to speed up to listen to. The music Peter likes, you have to slow down. We’re both deeply anxious people and while I like my music to mirror and reflect my inner-state of anxiety, Peter likes his music to reflect the outer-state of the world, in order to better harmonise his inner-state. Continue reading

Review: Street Fighter – The Legend of Chun-Li

Cover of "Street Fighter: The Legend of C...
Cover of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

Back in the 1990s, the arcades were brought back to life thanks to a game called Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. The popularity of the game and its characters told anyone versed in the laws of business that spin-off media was inevitable. And it came in spades. There were several anime adaptations (some better than others), an American Saturday morning cartoon, action figures, comic books, customized game controllers, apparel and just about anything else you could think of. Continue reading

The Residents Project Supplemental Edition: Talking Light: Bimbo’s DVD

Talking Light: Bimbo's
Talking Light: Bimbo’s

I’m glad to report that the era of terrible Residents live videos is OVER!  I think I’ve talked about it before, but for the longest time, it seemed that we were doomed to not have a good document of a Residents’ live concert.  My go to is when I saw them on the Demons Dance Alone tour, and it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen in my life…. but when the Demons Dance Alone DVD came out, it was one of the worst DVDs I’d seen — terrible, muddy audio, grainy footage taken from backstage — so the main video of an amazingly theatrical show was of the backs of guitar necks.   Continue reading

Review: From Straight To Bizarre

From Straight To Bizarre
From Straight To Bizarre

Sometimes with documentaries, length can be a hinderance.  There’s such a thing as too much depth, and they can tip from fascinating to boring.  Other documentaries, like From Straight To Bizarre about the other acts on Frank Zappa’s labels in the late 1960s and early 1970s, keep the interest up all the way through — in this case, through almost three hours.  In fact, when I saw how long it was, I was a little worried — but I needn’t have.  The release from Sexy Intellectual is very highly recommended to any Zappa fans, loaded with original music (and not weirdly lame knockoffs like the otherwise awesome David Bowie: Rare and Unseen) and interviews with the particulars. Continue reading

Review: The Great Dictator

The Criterion Collection edition of The Great Dictator.
The Criterion Collection edition of The Great Dictator.

If you want, you can picture an image of the Pokémon Slowpoke with the words “Hey, The Great Dictator is a great movie!” around him.  After all, the movie came out in 1940, and was a critical and commercial success.  So you know, duh.  But sometimes obvious things need to be said, so… Hey, The Great Dictator is a great movie!  But more than that, it’s a surprisingly brave movie, showing the brutality of Hitler’s reign while  coming out before the United States got involved in World War II.  (It’s Chaplin, so it’s also funny.) Continue reading

Review: The Plague & Beekeeping

Cassette Fighter - The Plague & Beekeeping
Cassette Fighter – The Plague & Beekeeping

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’m friends with one-half of Cassette Fighter. (I’m a well-wisher of the other half… we just haven’t talked a whole lot or anything.  It’s not a drama thing or anything.  Sorry for being boring!)  That said, everything I say is true and what I’d say if I didn’t know any members of the band at all.  Also, a very close friend did the cover art.  So there’s that too.

I’ve been really digging The Plague & Beekeeping, the debut EP from Cassette Fighter.  I’m a sucker for synth-based music anyway, so I’m kind of predisposed to like this.  There’s a little bit of a Kumquat vibe here on the opening track, “The Big Hate” with its use of sampling to create a vocal track for a wonderfully dreamy track.   Continue reading

Review: Tolerance

Incan Abraham - Tolerance
Incan Abraham – Tolerance

Incan Abraham’s new album Tolerance comes out today on White Iris Records.  It’s a nice slice of indie pop, ranging from the kind of dreamy, drifting kind of sound, mingling of synthesizers and traditional instruments seamlessly.  Especially in the percussion, there’s a bit of the world music influence you can hear in bands like Vampire Weekend — but without the really weird production on the Vampire Weekend stuff that makes it sound like it was recorded in a warehouse.  Seriously, what’s with that? Continue reading

Review: Two Magpies

10003843_807088345987845_704564460_oQuimper has a new EP out today (free from their Bandcamp page), Two Magpies out on Soft Bodies Records, who also put out the outstanding Utility Music by Gyratory System. The two records aren’t very similar in sound, but they both are very similar in feel.  Both would be at home on Ralph Records, but where Gyratory System took the more experimental path, Quimper are a bit poppier.  Think perhaps Renaldo & The Loaf versus early Yello — both Ralph bands, but different paths in the same park. Continue reading

Review: Evil Roy Slade

cover of Evil Roy Slade
Evil Roy Slade

It’s interesting to me how sometimes if a film is too good, you can’t say much about it.  For example, this weekend, I watched two films — Fantastic Mr. Fox and Evil Roy Slade.  Of these two movies, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the superior one.  Wes Anderson is a brilliant director, and the film was exquisitely made.  But I can’t really figure out what I’d fill up a review with other than adding about 300 “really”s to “It was really really really good”. Evil Roy Slade, on the other hand, is quite good, but has some pacing issues, and has a couple of casting flaws, but — there’s more for me to say about it. Continue reading