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since 07/07/2004

22

Breaking the Cycle - Marbin 08/08/2011

Modern sounds from a profound tradition

Breaking the Cycle - Marbin If you are looking for a nice blend of dreamy yet lively jazz, pop/rock and world music, MARBIN have made just the right album for you: "Breaking The Cycle". Lovers of dreamy jazz tunes, don't let yourself be misled by this album's challenging, forceful introduction! In 'Loopy', sweeping guitar glissandos roam through a dense thicket of percussion, evoking the image of an elephant trotting through the sparse undergrowth of the savannah. The album's pensive second track 'A Serious Man', however, presents itself more lightly in an airy, nightly mood, and 'Mom's Song' even takes on a soothing tone all the while continuing the nocturnal strain of the piece before. More in this vein is yet to come, but not before the slow-burning, moody blues 'Bar Stomp' has wearily waltzed by. 'Outside Revolution', with its beautiful, clear sax line, leans back into a more open, dreamy midnight mood. The even softer 'Western Sky', a little too sweet for the resonance of my hollow tooth, is but a bridge in the course of an all-in-all better album, and while the luxurious jazz balladry of the following 'Burning Match' has its undeniable qualities in terms of both, balance and musicality, it is just not quite my cup of tea. It does lull me into a mild state of hypnosis, though, so it is only fair to say it has its merits. Hanging in there, however, is very much rewarded by 'Claire's Indigo', a pretty tune which to me seems to be all about capturing the mood of blue hours just before dawn. The ...

Houses of the Holy (Digitally Remastered) - Led Zeppelin 07/08/2011

Houses Of The Shmoly

Houses of the Holy (Digitally Remastered) - Led Zeppelin It's 1973: The heavy airship goes psychedelic. But can it pass the acid test? The album opener 'The Song Remains The Same' is a pretty straightforward rock song, indebted to the blues, and adorned with a touch of hardrock sensibility. Robert Plant's vocal lines border on the psychedelic side here with Jimmy Page's guitar at times accompanying them for a bit until the straighter rock riffs take back the lead again. It's a decent enough song, and with its laidback, slightly southern tinged undertones it sets the mood for "Houses Of The Holy" which is clearly one of LED ZEP's lighter, more easily accessible albums. Taking into account the abundance of this band's really outstanding songs, however, 'The Song Remains The Same' cannot hold a candle to any of them. Following up with 'The Rain Song', LED ZEPPELIN go straight for the catch(iness of a somewhat kitschy rock ballad): Its acoustic guitars shine, and Plant's voice sounds very sweet. With some extra-soft string arrangement thrown in with John Paul Jones's smooth bassline, this slow burning ballad seems to be hand-tailored for the romantically inclined. And yet it reeks a bit of run-of-the-mill courtmanship: The obligatory piano part, the almost endless, lulling repetition of soft chord after soft chord after soft chord, and then a bit of swelling strings in between for good measure, and then the piano returns before Plant's voice becomes more pining - oh well, it's all so foreseeable and clichéd that it might make you ...

Protoplasmic - Boris Savoldelli & Elliott Sharp 02/08/2011

two hurry-scurry critters from far out

Protoplasmic - Boris Savoldelli & Elliott Sharp Securing an outlet of BORIS SAVOLDELLI's and ELLIOTT SHARP's joint creativity for their back catalogue, Moonjune Records, the label for freak jazz and all kinds of progressive crossover projects, have exposed to light a rare gem among all the quaint musical duos that be. On their first joint venture album, SHARP's sharpest bits of guitar playing are being flushed through all sorts of effects, fragmented, defragmented and enriched with further electronics until it reaches that critical mass which makes the fusion of SHARP's instrumental sound and SAVOLDELLI's, again partly distorted, wordless vocal experiments (he's schooled in operatic singing, but goes for far more far out sounds here!) sound like a futuristic trip across a cosmos of krautrock and galaxies of gigabytes to a soundtrack of CAN and SQUAREPUSHER jamming together during an interplanetary ZAPPA festival. But there is more going on on this eerie and fittingly titled "protoplasmic" album than just sonic experimentation oscillating (sometimes wildly) around mid-tempo free-form rhythms. Just listen to the duo's more moderate, atmospherically dense chimes such as 'Nostalghia', which grows from vocal glissando not unlike the singing of whales and slow-motion jazz-guitar drones reminiscent of BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE; to the aerial electro-jazz piece 'A Meeting In A Park'; or to the congenial duo's free-form, two-part opus 'Prelude To Biocosmo' as it revels in psychedelia unheard of before. Mild and meditative at ...

Swell Season - Glen Hansard 22/07/2011

For the Last of the Romantics...

Swell Season - Glen Hansard This album, recorded by songwriters Glen Hansard (vocals, guitar) and Markéta Irglová (piano, vocals) together with Marja Tuhkanen (violin, viola) and Bertrand Galen (cello) in Praha in the year of 2005 is a most beautiful collection of very fragile yet well rounded songs, wistful, delicate and open in mood. Slowly, 'This Low' sets the tone for the album's mood, which is one of melancholic reveriy, nostalgia and some timid anticipation of beauty. With its slowed down, pensive rhythm, not unlike a musical clock, the song prepares us for the beautiful 'Sleeping?', a subdued and most melancholy song, where Glen Hansard's voice, engulfed by gentle string music, asks "how am I supposed to live without you?", asks "and where did you go?", and then the music stops, cut amid metre, like a question stuck in mid-air. This is not the kind of music guaranteed for heavy rotation in airplay lists. 'Falling Slowly', however, with its minimalist folk piano to accompany Hansard and Irglová's vocal duet in a mantra-like fashion, is a more likely candidate for radio broadcasting, especially during the blue hours. Its sublime melody is carried effortlessly by the airy arrangement which balances its floridity with a svelte folk sensibility. Just how well Irglová and Hansard's voices harmonize can be heard in 'Drown Out', where they are accompanied by gentle acoustic guitar sounds and a subtle string arrangement. The impassioned 'Lies', however, a lachrymose song collaboratively written by ...

Endtroducing... - DJ Shadow 08/03/2011

DJ SHADOW's beats? - "They all got ass."

Endtroducing... - DJ Shadow It does happen, from time to time but not quite often, that you find a perfect album. One of these rare occasions for me was when I first listened to DJ SHADOW's "Endtroducing.....". It is one of these fine recordings where everything just flows perfectly and, although they are each and everyone of them brillant pieces in their own right, tracks seem to blend into each other and vary a common theme - or angle. For "Endtroducing....." is a producer album as pure as it gets. When was the last time you listened to a truly consummate piece of music that was entirely constructed from samples but did in fact sound organic? If you enjoyed the experience, or wouldn't believe it possible until coming across this review, take a listen to DJ SHADOW's debut full length album. At only 23 years of age, he crafted "Endtroducing....." from a crate of records the stylistic spectrum of which ranges from spoken word samples and jazz through psychedelic and progressive rock, yes even heavy metal, to funk, soul and hip hop. Being a master of the cut-up-technique, DJ SHADOW crafts astonishing, versatile and ever changing rhythms from variations of simple, visceral drum beats that carry his more ephemeral melodic and experimental atmospheres consisting of layers upon layers of sampled bass lines, organs, stringed instruments and voices. Rarely have I heard anything nearly approaching the genius of "Endtroducing....." being pulled of with such panache. The tracks seamlessly float and meander ...

On Evil Days - Liquid Graveyard 24/05/2010

Brewing up some evil

On Evil Days - Liquid Graveyard GRAVEYARD suggests death metal, and some death metal you will get - although what's being LIQUIDated here is genre distinctions: The four musicians behind LIQUID GRAVEYARD have come up with pretty extreme stuff for "On Evil Days". That LIQUID GRAVEYARD have chosen death metal as their working basis comes as no surpise, as guitarist John Walker having been a member of the British band CANCER has worked the field before; also, singer Raquel Walker tends to show symptoms of what one of my colleagues has dubbed "that illness of the throat". I say: growls become her. On the other hand, clean vocals are being featured as well, and the pig iron of death is then being refined using the craftsmanship of Adrian de Buitléar (formerly of MOURNING BELOVETH) and drummer Acaymo D. who joined the band after their demo "Criministers" recorded in 2008. LIQUID GOD's sinister riffs are varnished with progressive elements, some doomy bass here, some psychedelic vocals there, and from time to time quite intricate rhythms. Despite a tendency towards meandering in melody, the album retains the sweet perfume of something rotten. If you think OPETH have gotten a little to complex lately, should stick more closely to the methodical system developed by Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, or have strayed too far from the thrash metal roots of the death genre, you can "On Evil Days" safely walk into the LIQUID GRAVEYARD, where metal progresses (not quite unlike OPETH in the title track) without ever ...

The Little Endless Storybook - Jill Thompson 16/09/2007

Once upon a time, on a pistachio day...

The Little Endless Storybook - Jill Thompson . >> Once upon a time, in an ice-cream colored realm, there lived a tiny little princess named Delirium and her dog Barnabas. It was Barnabas' job to look after the princess because she was very easily distracted and often got lost if she went out walking by herself. On a pistachio day, Delirium and Barnabas went out wandering. They sniffed the music and tasted the words that were particularly crispy on the tongue, like 'twinkle' and 'citrus'. And they walked. And walked and walked and walked. And then they walked some more. << Thus begins the story of an utterly forgetful little girl whose dog gets lost (or rather, she gets lost, but doesn't notice). And then it's Barnabas' job to go find her again. Throughout the book, we follow the puppy on his quest to find his princess. He is a brave little fellow, or at least he tries to be. Be but there seems to be a >THING< following him. Very disturbing, but he cannot be bothered too much, for he has to find Delirium. But where to search her? Barnabas starts looking for her siblings, reasoning they must know where she could be. The first brother is Destruction, who lives on the edge of things. So Barnabas grazes the deepest woods, and climbs the highest cliff he can find. When he finally finds Destruction, he doesn't know where Delirium is: >>Hmmm, well, she is not in my realm so she must be in one piece. I suggest you aks our oldest brother.<< But he hands the puppy a ...

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms - Fumiyo Kouno 10/09/2007

mono no aware

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms - Fumiyo Kouno . The manga novel "Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms" ^ (jap.: 夕凪の街 桜の国, or "Yûnagi no Machi, Sakura no Kuni") by こうの史代 (or Fumiyo Kouno, as we Europeans prefer to write her name) deals with the long-term effects that the dropping of the atom bomb 'Little Boy' on the city of Hiroshima has had on the lives of a family. In dealing with this heavy matter Fumiyo Kouno took a bitter-sweet approach. Instead of focussing on the hardships in documentary fashion, this lightly paced comic tells of everyday life and invites its readers to empathise with the characters. This is no sensational tale of 'going through' things, though - but rather one of having to live with what cannot be changed. What makes it so good - apart from the story itself - is that it's not preachy: There is neither any symbolical role-play nor psychological explanation going on, so readers will have to think for themselves. Fumiyo Kuono does not pretend to speak for all the 'hibakusha' °, but relies solely on the strength of her narration and the plausibility of its characters in order to make the effects of the 'pika-don' ² aftermath understandable to an hitherto unaffected readership. Like all mangas, "Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms" is read from right to left. This was the first book I read in that manner. However, after a couple of pages I had already got used to it. An open yet ...

NOLA (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Down 22/05/2007

Southern Metal, Snake-Eye Blues & Swamp Grooves

NOLA (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Down . Anybody who listens to rock music more than on just a casual basis, has been around for the last decade or two, and while doing so has delved into the hardrock / metal subgenre, will probably at least have heard of a band called PANTERA. These Texas-based, self-proclaimed "Cowboys From Hell" (album #5) have played heavy and hair metal in their early days, went on to thrash and groove metal, or "Power Metal" (another, earlier, album title), whatever you might call it, and kicked some serious ass: pounding, grating, shredding, screaming and shouting their way into living legend status. Thinking of musical neighbours, various bands such as BLACK SABBATH, ANTHRAX, SKID ROW (with whom they once toured), TESTAMENT and MEGADETH spring to mind, but basically PANTERA did their own thing, becoming more and more aggressive during their course. The era that spawned what many fans consider their three classic albums ("Cowboys From Hell", "Vulgar Display Of Power", and "Far Beyond Driven") really began when then 18-year-old Philip Hansen Anselmo from New Orleans joined the band, slowly shifting the focus of vocal outbursts from shrieks via screams to grunts and shouts. It was not until after the release of "Far Beyond Driven" that the time was ripe for some new project. But boy, the time was just right then! Anselmo teamed up with Pepper Keenan, New Orleans resident, guitarist and singer of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY (one of the best Southern Metal bands around; check out ...

Ultravisitor (Limited Edition) - Squarepusher 11/04/2007

²p #9 - A trip beyond techno with Tom Jenkinson.

Ultravisitor (Limited Edition) - Squarepusher . Tom Jenkinson a. k. a. SQUAREPUSHER makes the kind of music that might get stressful and annoying at times but which will never get boring or stale. Dabbling in electronic music since 1995, he has since become a master in the art, and is known for his chaffing breakbeats and dentist's drill sounds. However, he also plays the bass and has bona fide jazz influences. Quite often he samples himself to get raw material for his painstakingly constructed pieces of (sometimes downright chaotic) neo-noise. Talk about de-constructing and re-assembling rhythms and you'll have to talk about Tom Jenkinson. He is to drum 'n bass what Jimi Hendrix was to rock 'n roll: desecrator of mausoleums, resurrector of spirits, innovator of styles. SQUAREPUSHER might not be as well-known as his label-mate (Warp & Rephlex records) Richard D. James (a. k. a. APHEX TWIN), but he is at least as important in terms of musical endeavours into the hitherto unthinkable. Just about three years and two albums from his 2001 endeavour "Go Plastic", SQUAREPUSHER has changed his style remarkably without losing his trademark edge on electronic music. So, how has SQUAREPUSHER evolved, then? Has he mellowed and finally settled down from his wild and weird styles and his sometimes abrupt changes, breaks and full-on assaults on the unexpected listener's ears? Has he become tauntingly more daring and branched out into new and even stranger territory of styles? The answer to both these questions is "yes and ...

Troublegum - Therapy? 12/02/2007

blueprint for my wretched life

Troublegum - Therapy? . In 1994, THERAPY? threw a musical molotov-cocktail of bottled self-loathing and hatred on the metal market, containing nothing but drum-driven choke/shake pogo with knives gasoline nightmare suicide songs. Its programmatic title: "Troublegum". Starting out with an industrialised barrage of machine-age riffing, the first song 'Knives' sets the mood for the entire album by ostentatiously proclaiming >You can't help my life, but you can hide the knifes<. This one is quickly followed by another fast-paced, yet rhythmically more complex and rather melodic song that goes by the name of 'Sreamager' and, by being very catchy, draws the listener deeper into this kind of otherwise quite abrasive music. Let me tell you that "Troublegum" contains nothing but hits, and that 'Hellbelly' is arguably to be counted among the nastier ones, what with its constantly pounding bass threat, aggressive vocals and fierce accusations against hypocritical bigots looking for spiritual shortcuts: >Your car-salesman smile says it all ... You just want to be Jesus without the suffering ... Gimme those nails ... Bang them in! Bang them in!<. 'Stop it you're killing me' starts even more doom-laden, but quickly turns into a more dynamic song full of negativity and rebellion; good to dance the self-destruction to: >Don't know what's worse, the loss of death or the gain of birth<. At the end of it, you can feel the walls closing in, monolithic walls sweating fear, as a meagre guitar ...

Wildhoney - Tiamat 30/01/2007

wild honey

Wildhoney - Tiamat . "Wildhoney" is downright fantastic. It's one of those rare albums of contemporary music that are compositions in themselves, not just a somewhat random array of songs. Furthermore, it has it all: Both variety and unity of style, a naturally comfortable flow, interesting contrasts, musical and lyrical depth, an unflawed consistency of quality pieces, and while truly sounding best when listened to in one continuous session, they also succeed as standalone songs. You will find songs to listen to with your mother, lover, friends, and on your own, cuddled up in your bed in the morn, in a darkened room in the middle of the night, sitting on the porch in summer or driving through snow in winter, on your headphones riding the bus, or (very rarely, I'm afraid) even in small independent clubs where they actually still know about good music. Unlike other works by TIAMAT, "Wildhoney" is timeless. Before its release the band played a harsh kind of metal, afterwards an electronic kind of rock. Being one of those once-in-a-lifetime pieces of art, the songwriting on "Wildhoney" is almost classical. Sometimes dark, and sometimes light, it has an overall richness, a depth of emotion to it, which lends it a very romantic feel. However, there are also psychodelic and progressive streaks and influences on this album, while at times it is rather ambient, even folksy with parts being played on the acoustic guitar. There is a wide range of moods featured on this album; ...

Hérésie (Live Recording) - Virgin Prunes 11/01/2007

brokenness amongst bric-a-brac

Hérésie (Live Recording) - Virgin Prunes . I found this darling little gem of blasphemy at a second hand shop near the shores of Blackpool, amongst stuff that nobody had bought and probably nobody ever would... Amongst the dusty books, cracked mugs, and bric-a-brac lay a simple black case of stiff carton with a little image printed on it which looked like a drawing but proved to be a black and white photograph, depicting in theatrical style an orgy or some other kind of mystical nude assembly. My interest aroused, I opened the box, and inside found two vinyl discs of about 10'' diameter enveloped in white paper; also encased were several sheets printed with red letters on a gray surface. The inscriptions seemed to be foreign, more distinctly: French. Between the lines I beheld strange photographs. On their themes I could only phantasize, lacking the literary context thereof. Some, apparently, seemed to be bear witness to some sort of rite. Another one showed an artefact of the grotesque: The THING actually being neither fresque nor sculpture, but rather combining qualities of both, in a dark manner. This photograph bore the title 'POOR ROOM'. There was also the faded drawing of a sickened maid, with one half leaning against a wall, as if for support, and with her other half laying on the ground, probably soon to be her deathbed, amongst helpless members of the clerical order. The old man sitting in a corner of the shop shuffled his feet. I looked up and saw him stuffing his pipe. As of yet, he had not ...

Ghost Reveries - Opeth 22/12/2006

swaths of sage

Ghost Reveries - Opeth . My first contact with progressive death masters OPETH must have been in late 2001 or early 2002, when I was recommended listening to their somewhat abrasive yet hauntingly atmospheric album "Blackwater Park". When doing so, I realized that there was something about the band which made them special and that they were really good at what they were doing. However, not being great friends with growled vocals, I could not really appreciate what they were all about. Things changed when "Damnation" came out, an album loaded with melancholic über-songs / rock-ballads featuring clear vocals only. "Ghost Reveries" finally bridges the gap. Here we find Mikael Åkerfeldt using both his growls and clear voice, assaulting instrumentals freighted with bleakness & angst as well as beautiful melodies trailing along in a subdued manner. Large parts of the album breathe melancholia mixed with languor, others are effusingly dynamic. What they all have in common is a certain atmospheric remoteness, which draws the listener further and further into their own cosmos; a cosmos which has been expanding, that is: Martin Lopez' refined carpets of percussion, Per Wiberg's supportive use of mellotrons, organs, grand & electric pianos, several guitar lines' infusion with the spirit of seventies prog-rock, the harmonious marriage of blasts with arabesques - it is hardly surprising for a band like OPETH to bring these obscure qualities to the fore, I figure they have been there ...

Nouveau Gloaming - Code 23/06/2006

LEAD id RAIN...

Nouveau Gloaming - Code ...whether it be heavy post punk speed riff barrage & croaked vocals (as in 'the cotton optic'), ghost ship shanties & sickened mantric melancholic murmurs wrapped in a stifling distorted guitar sound carpet (as in 'brass dogs'), hectic industrialized black metal monotony melted into dissolving acerbic throat-singing & fading pathetic chants for salvational oblivion (as in 'an enigma in brine'), bass-hollowed and blood-soaked bars of heavy blues-butchered doom metal and gothic incantations against a backdrop of rainy insanity (as in 'a cloud formed teardrop asylum'), the bitter sound of fast-paced stampeding war machines haunted by burning ghosts of madness and finally shredded into pieces during a frantic dervish dance of death (as in 'aeon in cinders'), morbidly picturesque and almost symphonic melodies of withered yet sublime song spread thinly over a canvas of pounding drums and harrowing guitar riffs (as in 'Tyburn'), strafing drum crossfire and moaning growls ripping through dark sheets of acid guitar rain in post-infernal nights of nuclear holocaust (as in 'radium'), or the slow motion seasickness of pendulous guitar sounds swaying through a mist of weariness on a Flying Dutchman populated by hung-over ghouls dressed in seaweed and brine (as in 'ghost formula')... ... ... ...have truly mastered the art of gothic black metal and made every dire second of their album sound just as its title promised... ...NOUVEAU GLOAMING... ..hark... >> ... ...