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Erlend Oye - CD
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Perhaps Erlend thought DJ Kicks was an excuse to run riot with his subdued feral instincts, but this is not what we'd usually expect of him. Strongly reminiscent of the French touch sound, this compilation showcases talents of monsieur Oye that we would not witness through Kings Of Convenience or even Royksopp. Heavily influenced by funky house beats, its a genuinely devious surprise that should not at all feel out of place at a reputable dance floor. We've met the Hyde of Erlend's Jekyll, and we want him to stay for a while.
Synecdoche, New York (2 Discs)
Synecdoche, New York scratches under the surface of the human condition and bares the chronic conditions that binds us all - being human. Kaufman has produced cinematic poetry that demands the viewer to have an introvert retrospective of their own lives, and through the character of the fittingly named Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman), he has laid bare the dealings of inevitability of mortality and the need of relationships, sexual or otherwise.
This is certainly not a typical glossed production about the eventual triumphs of life per say - it's too intelligent to cop out in such dull manner. Synedoche, New York is brutally honest, and can be troublesome by extended stints of pure melancholic scenes, but it all contributes to the subtle, if not complex beauty of the movie.
There's little to doubt the brilliance of Kaufman's mind, but perhaps in the past we all glimpsed somewhat a tamed process. In Synecdoche, New Yok, he has been given free roam and has run riot with his thoughts, and while baffling it may appear, concentration, humility and multiple viewings reap more rewards than you can imagine.
Total Life Forever
Foals - CD
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If Foal's debut Antidotes could be accused of being 'emotively lacking', that claim is most irrelevant for their followup, which if anything is overflowing with the substance. It can be defined as a matured sequel if you will, but simply toning down Yannis' bark and pace alone can't be solely definitive of that term. The fact is Total Life Forever is the near perfect example of the definition of confident exploration of artisans stuck within a self-dug hole. And while most will be unable to escape from it, Foals have taken their former 'dance-floor orientated/mathematically formulated' label and torn it right off.
What their followup to Antidotes show is Foals' musicial abilities prioritising above to the usual image driven Indie tosh and confidently rise above it, and resulting in being actual credible songwriters, which they seem so desperate in proving but ultimately falling short before.
From the opening track, Foals have interwoven different surprises and turns that sound deceivingly fresh to the ear, while retaining the singalong approach that can entertain both to the inattentive dancers, and also to their avid listening fanbase. It's not the instantly impactful album that the previous title could muster, but in the long term outlook this is without argument the much superior.
Increasing frequency of playbacks of the album will reward the listener to a more satisfying experience, and it could be a deliberate, if not clever motive by Foals. They want to prove they're not a temporary fad like so many of their forgotten contemporaries already are, and by the evidence of their latest effort, by god they could have just have done it.
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Where Crash has its intentions in the right place, it just doesn't seem to have the subtlety nor ability to convey a credibility to be taken entirely seriously. Racial connotations are as blatant and constant and trips over its own sentimentality alarmingly often. What we have is a severe lecturing of what we already know and repeats the same phrase over throughout.
The source of the problem is not the acting nor even the story, but its execution as a whole. Crash barks out as if it has profundity of depth to say when the majority of the film regurgitates emotional cliches and very little that is unique. Yes it may pull the emotional triggers, but the moral undertones are barking loud and holds no merit in throwing a profound message with a lace of its own hypocrisy.
Oldboy (1 Disc)
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The morality alone laid bare within Oldboy most definitely cross from any notion acceptability onto taboo and mass mental deterioration. Issues dealt during the duration are overtly cold, brutal, and shocking, and yet the colourful and slight mischief manner in which they are conveyed through derails its moral discredit into the territories of good cinema. Director Park's strongest asset is his ability of producing unique visual narrative with abundance of panache and quirks only very few can achieve. Oldboy's story is near repugnant, but Park provides equilibrium through his stylistic palette and soothes the harshness with impeccable beauty. It's guilty pleasure with a kick of pure elation - manipulative and yet stunning.
We Live Here
Pat Metheny Group - CD
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Metheny's philosophy behind We Live Here is clear and defined from the opening segment - it is a fancy instrumental 'pop' record - no bad thing. While it poses a mainstream posture, closer examination details more intricate touches and understated virtuosity of the group that truly understands the inner workings of producing great composition, no matter what stylings it may require.
We Live Here is a much admirable concoction of accessibility, technicality, and subtlety that is ticklishly enjoyable, while at times it can be just pure awesome. This is Metheny venturing out from the tight confines of traditional jazz and ruling on top once again - an impressive showcase of versatility and depth from the modern master.
For Lack Of A Better Name (Digipack)
Deadmau5 - CD
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The recognisable touches of Random Album Title is blatantly present, but Deadmau5's latest collection of tracks emulates a slight distaste in his own past and progresses into more depth of scope, a notable contrast to his pre-catalogue sounds.
Zimmerman's new intentions are laid bare from the initial opening of FML - sharp drum roll with a over notched bpm, the soft house tonality he was known for demolished and replaced by more distorted proceedings. It is 'progressive' house electro in a sense, and while nothing entirely new is proposed, the sheer talent of Deadmau's ability to keep a addictive tune within each track is at times simply breathtaking. Case in point - the ten-plus-minute final track Strobe is arguably the pinnacle climax of the album, undeniably epic in its ambition and an abundance of a tense atmospheric build up before a gorgeous drop that is sheer masterclass in its ability and impeccable timing. It's a minor shame some tracks mid-album are quite forgettable and can't quite reach the standards of the aforementioned numbers, but the record is an outstanding effort once again by Deadmau5 and could well be established as a firm favourite by many in years to come.
Radiohead - CD
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In Rainbows is another unprecedented output of brilliance by Radiohead, and their longevity has no premature signs of letting loose.
It's pure innovation and heavy dosage of substance encased in a eight track listing. If your belief in contemporary music taken a steady decline recently, you'll be on the path of righteous restoration once you've experienced this record.
The Temper Trap - CD
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The most admirable asset of The Temper Trap, most evident in Conditions as a body of work, is their early ability to establish a certain style. The echo filled guitar along with falsetto vocals in their hit track Sweet Disposition is already becoming a fast favourite of listeners in search of ambience.
Conditions proves that the band are reassuringly a competent and skilled collective of musicians, and amongst the barrage of echo and delay, showcases constructive pop sensibilities suitably laced with new age/rock touches.
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The British Indie scene becoming ever so stale and overpopulated, presumptions go that a pair of skinny jeans and OTT hairstyles is more than enough to garner label attraction and subsequent fame. Such false ideals give you your weakly warranted 15 minutes of fame (if even that), and then bargain bin you promptly belong thereafter.
Foals' Antidotes, retrospectively speaking, have stood its ground ever since release, and where as initial reactions were fairly unremarkable, it's established itself as one of the more accomplished records of the latter half of the noughties.
Quirky rhythmic, clock-like percussive sounds, which contributed by not just the drums but vocals and guitars, are a real treat - dare you not to move along. Skilled musicians with a refreshing viewpoint of a passing trend.