TripleAre - 08/01/09
A new direction and experiment for me - I have started to review the albums that I have been listening to during a particular week, and to pick a favourite from amongst them - the record of the week (RotW).
The RotW will not always be a new release, but precedence will be given to the newer releases for reasons explained below.
These reviews are partly product of my innate interest in review and critique, but also due to my fascination-cum-obsession with good quality music of most genres. Furthermore, there are some sites, local and international, to which I will be submitting the same material, in the hope of finding favour and being given industry freebies in exchange - we can all dream! It is for this reason that preference will be given to newer releases.
I will award each album a score out of 10 too for good measure. Oh and it's called TripleAre for Rob's Record Reviews.
So the inaugral RotW goes to ... drum roll please ... Tom Waits - Real Gone. Well done, sir. Take a bow.
Record of the Week:
Tom Waits – Real Gone
“Wait No More”
This album is my first foray into the expansive catalogue of Mr Waits, and it is one that is not without success. This gravel-voiced troubadour has been with us collectively since the 70s but has escaped all but the most fervent of radars, certainly mine, but those that he has graced revere him cultishly.
After a spot of research, I discovered this album is not entirely representative of the entire catalogue, and for the first time avoids his trademark piano. Where the album does fit with the template is with the rich pedigree of blues history, which drips from every over-gravelled syllable. I also read of his jazz influences, which are less evident, but nevertheless still very much present.
What is a new direction for this chameleonic artist, is the scratching and near beat-boxing of opening track ‘Top of the Hill’, which I have seen reviewed as equal parts the best and worst thing you’ll ever hear. I think I’d favour some middle ground on this occasion, and declare it interesting, at the very least.
Where Waits succeeds, he does so strongly. ‘Hoist That Rag’ is angry, political and rather ear-catching, and for the most part ‘Sins of My Father’ is an excellent drawl through singer-songwriting, albeit unforgivably long at nearly eleven minutes.
As any salt-worthy writer knows, lyrics are important and luckily, Waits knows it better than most. His prosaic gymnastics are very easy on the ear, although are perhaps not at their best during the spoken word ‘Circus’ which may be one indulgence too far for my taste.
It is clear with this snapshot that Waits is an artist worth the attention of those with more than a passing interest in music, and particular singer-songwriting, but at to whether he’s everyone’s cup of tea the jury is officially out.
Of the little I know, comparison could be made to that other chameleon Sir. Nick Cave (surely due). Both sing wisely, laconically and at depths Cousteau feared, but more crucially, neither seem scared to experiment, and when you get more hit than miss as you do here, I for one, judge the man and album an overwhelming success.
Metallica – Ride The Lightening
Approximately 6 months ago, I identified a massive Metallica size hole in my collection. This was quickly rectified after speaking with a lifelong fan, and purchases were duly made in the shape of Ride The Lightening and Master of Puppets. And what a 6 months since!
Armchair metal fan as I am, I enjoy the odd speaker-shake of Maiden, a spin of year-zero Sabbath and slight dalliances with Tool’s heavier material as much as the next man. However, what I was not expecting was just how amazing the two Metallica numbers I picked up were going to be.
It would be a peculiar world in which a metaphor consisting of metal could blow something away, but it is in this landscape I find myself. I shall never be sold to the genre, but will forever be a happy slave to her peaks within. They do not get better. Powerful and exciting.
DFA presents Supersoul Recordings - Nobody Knows Anything
I approached this compilation as a natural progression from Mr. DFA James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem, and with a love of his previous compilations, such as the numbered, eponymous releases, particularly #2, for those that care. I was not however familiar with any of the artists here present, which is due to their belonging to Supersoul, a trendy German outfit and established house of electronic beats. As such, the sound is different from what I initially expected, noticeably more techno-y, less funky and less identifiably DFA-y. The looped beats are in places over-laid with complimentary vocals, which never dive into the cheesy realm of popular dance music, and this is a very good thing.
The seamless tracks evoke an understandable, trance-like state in the listener, who must be prepared to accept repeated listens to get the most out of this ride and state, unless of course, that listener has an already attuned German-ear for the genre (ein Ohr, if you will).
I am reliably informed this collection is reminiscent of early-to-mid 90s B12 recordings and/or similar ambient techno, though the small sections of vocals do deviate from that blueprint, but not detractingly.
This is a boundary pushing collection, but not for the music itself, rather for the every-day listener. As above, I approached the collection in the same way that some others will. Out of indie, I learned to like LCD, and from them associated DFA artists. And, this is one step further. It could yet be seen as a crossover album, like The Field achieved in 2007, with their excellent ambient techno ‘From Here We Go Sublime’ that reached over to the (relative) masses, far further than many of their contemporaries manage. I’d like to think so because this is not a challenging album, far from it, it is in fact quite rewarding and is certainly better now on its sixth spin than the first.
So, here’s to Supersoul, here’s to DFA, together, making the world a more rounded and adventurous place.
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