Category: Reviews

Reviews of albums, movies, books &c.  

Review: Faces In The Fire

LPD vocalist Edward Ka-Spel on the piano and N...
LPD vocalist Edward Ka-Spel on the piano and Niels van Hoorn at an 14 October 2007 show at the Stubnitz boat in Amsterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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, albumtitles 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: Why?

900px-WhyAs neither a parent nor a little kid, I always feel as if I’m being a little unfair passing judgment on They Might Be Giants’ children’s albums. “How should I know if this is good or not? It’s not made for me! A seven-year-old could have an entirely different perspective than I do!” But as a TMBG superfan, I can’t just let new work by them go by unnoticed, whether I’m in the target audience or not. Continue reading

Review: Curse

R-3701927-1340939144-2333.jpegEdward 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: Glean

600px-Glean_CoverGlean, the seventeenth studio album from They Might Be Giants, somehow manages to be both innovative and familiar, like pulling on your favorite denim jacket and suddenly finding a secret treasure map in the pocket. Its fifteen tracks hold a number of surprises, but the songs never lose sight of what makes TMBG TMBG.

All but three of Glean’s tracks were culled from releases on the newly-revived Dial-A-Song, a project just a couple of years younger than TMBG itself which originally consisted of demos and musical miscellany being released via a simple answering machine. This year’s incarnation of Dial-A-Song has TMBG releasing a new song every single week for the entirety of 2015. Continue reading

Dig Dan Deacon’s New Adult Swim Special, “When I Was Done Dying”

Adult Swim‘s experimental collage show Off The Air had a new episode recently — a special featuring a full-length music video for “When I Was Done Dying” from Dan Deacon‘s new album Gliss Riffer. The Off the Air episode was seamlessly edited by series creator Dave Hughes from nine animators‘ interpretation of the song. Continue reading

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks collaborating!? FFS!

April Fools Day brought the first new music from the brand new alt-rock supergroup, FFS, made up of the members of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks!  (If you’re following the new Unicorn Booty Tumblr admin’d by yours truly, you got a sneak peek yesterday morning.)

As confusing as it might sound, it sounds… exactly like what you’d expect from combining the two acts… the piano and operatic vocals from Sparks, and the angular guitars and jittery energy of Franz Ferdinand.  Sure, on paper the only thing the bands have in common is putting out some of the best records of the past 40 years (Sure, 30 of those 40 years are held up by Sparks, but if you didn’t like Franz Ferdinand’s Tonight, you’re just wacky) — but “Piss Off” works perfectly. Continue reading

Review: Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals (Standard English Dialect Version)

Caveat: A request to review KateGoes’ debut album Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals was met with an express stipulation from the band that they would sanction a review only upon the precondition that it be written in a (to quote) ‘geordie accent‘. Whether this represents a progressive female re-appropriation of the male critical voice or is a matter of ethics in indie music journalism is open to debate.

The Geordie version ran yesterday, and an standard English dialect version follows below the cut.

Continue reading

Review: Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals (Geordie Dialect Version)

Caveat: A request to review KateGoes’ debut album Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals was met with an express stipulation from the band that they would sanction a review only upon the precondition that it be written in a (to quote) ‘geordie accent‘. Whether this represents a progressive female re-appropriation of the male critical voice or is a matter of ethics in indie music journalism is open to debate. I will stress that any offence caused by the clumsiness of my aping of the Newcastle accent is wholly unintentional. It is worth noting at this juncture that in order for me to render the review in native dialect I have made recourse to a combination of translation software, academic research and personal observation. Thank you.

A standard English dialect version will run tomorrow. Continue reading

Predestination – Time travel done best

PREDESTINATION_27X40_R3MECH.inddIt is so incredibly difficult to make a good film about time travel. The successful ones live forever: Back to the Future, for example, hits everything right, while setting a standard for the genre. Many other time travel films miss the mark, by leaving gaping plot holes, or by messing with time so much so that it becomes a mess itself. I won’t name any names – but the movie that just popped into your head? That’s probably the one I’m thinking of.

And then there’s Predestination, a time travel film done so incredibly well it left my jaw hanging on the floor long after it had ended. A movie that messes with your mind so much that you wonder if you even had a mind at all.

This movie is almost impossible to review without spoilers, so this review will come in two pieces; spoiler free, and the full intense review. Continue reading

Review: Black Mirror

Black_Mirror_1My latest British sci-fi obsession on Netflix Instant is Black Mirror, a dark science-fiction anthology series that recently added its second season to Netflix Instant.

Black Mirror is like The Twilight Zone, brought forward to the age of social media and smart phones. Most of the stories are set in a very recognizable near future, with one or two tricky technologies that have evolved from current technology and subtly broken the society in “chaf”Charlie some way. The first episode, “The National Anthem,” could easily take place today, with characters inspired by Kate Middleton and British PM David Cameron. “Fifteen Million Merits” is the furthest afield. It seems to take place after an energy crisis that reshaped society into Brave New World plus The X-Factor, gamification, and porn ad pop-ups. Continue reading