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Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence Review

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence Review

General Information:

Artist: Lana Del Rey
Album: Ultraviolence
Genre(s): Dream Pop, Indie Pop
Subgenre(s): N/A
Released: 2014
Length: 51 minutes
Language(s): English, Spanish
Label(s): Interscope, Polydor

Track List:

01. Cruel World
02. Ultraviolence
03. Shades of Grey
04. Brooklyn Baby
05. West Coast
06. Sad Girl
07. Pretty When You Cry
08. Money Power Glory
09. Fucked My Way Up to the Top
10. Old Money
11. The Other Woman

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence Cover

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence Cover

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence Review

Ultraviolence is the third album from American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. The title proves to be ironic in terms of the music with Cruel World instantly showcasing her embracement of the soft melancholic spirit. This sets the tone of the entire album and, unlike her previous album – the nihilistically named Born to Die, there isn’t much energy behind these grey-black textural pity-revelling slow burners. It keeps coming, one song after another, with her voice being the major focal point and the most compelling aspect of the album.

Lyrically, the album touches on the light-hearted topics one has come to expect on a pop album. Domestic abuse on the title track, cooking cocaine (“White palms, baking powder on the stove/Cooking up a dream, turning diamonds into snow”) on Florida Kilos, the love of drugs on Pretty When You Cry (All those special times I spent with you, my love/They don’t mean shit compared to all your drugs) and Lana Del Ray apparently whoring herself out for success on the bluntly titled “Fucked My Way Up to the Top”.

In case you think the last of those is coated in artistic license, it probably isn’t. From an interview with “Complex” she responds to the question “Is it about people not wanting to give you credit for your success? Or is it about fucking people to get to the top?” with “…You know, I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry, but none of them helped me get my record deals. Which is annoying.”*

On one hand, songs from Ultraviolence can be listened to individually and thoroughly enjoyed. On the other, the framing of them on a single album creates a scene limited by its narrow musical vision. The glamorization of decadence is to the point of drabness, if nothing else, and feels forced.

Performers:

Lana Del Rey: Vocals
Dan Auerbach: Claps, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, shaker, synthesizer
Collin Pupuis: Drum programming, synthesizer
Leon Michaels: Claps, synthesizer, piano, Mellotron, tambourine, percussion, tenor saxophone
Nick Movshon: Claps, bass guitar, upright bass, drums
Russ Pahl: Pedal steel guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Full list of performers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolence_(album)#Personnel

External Links:

Lana Del Rey Homepage
Lana Del Rey on Wikipedia
Ultraviolence on Wikipedia

* https://www.complex.com/covers/lana-del-rey-interview-against-the-grain-2014-cover-story/

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Chad Mossholder Non-Site Specific Review

Chad Mossholder Non-Site Specific Review

General Information:

Artist: Chad Mossholder
Album: Non-Site Specific
Genre(s): Ambient Industrial
Subgenres(s): N/A
Released: 2014
Length: 57 minutes
Language(s): N/A
Label(s): Artificial Music Machine

Track List:

01. Fennel
02. Slope
03. Framework
04. Nephilim
05. Azoth
06. Cobweb
07. Oracle
08. Ataxia
09. Nascent
10. Chymia
11. Illuminated
12. Illuminated (Richard Devine’s Cylindrical Modular Mix)

Chad Mossholder Non-Site Specific Cover

Chad Mossholder Non-Site Specific Cover

Chad Mossholder Non-Site Specific Review

Non-Site Specific site is the debut solo album by American ambient industrial musician Chad Mossholder. It is an unconventional combination of ambient sound-crafting, unidentified noises and electronic manipulation expertly woven together into a series of atmospheric tracks.

They immediately conjure images in the listener’s head of abandoned factories, mechanical insects scuttling around in the wilderness, desolate cityscapes and seclusion. Nephilim comes to life with sounds that are reminiscent of small rodents squeaking around inside something, somewhere not readily identifiable. By contrast Cobweb has an almost percussive quality interwoven with spontaneous noises that ebb and flow from parts unknown. Each soundscape is crafted with remarkable attention to detail that will paint the listener’s mind with vivid imagery. The layers of textures and effects that come in and out of being over the course of Non-Site Specific can be just as rewarding on the first listen as any subsequent revisits.

However, it should be noted that none of these recordings can be considered songs in any conventional sense and, in spite of the variety on display, they can easily blur into one another because of their formless nature. Non-Site Specific is a cerebral expedition for those that dare tread out into the realm of the unconventional. Another example of this is Oracle. Full of echoes and signal-like sounds coming from a machine repeatedly trying to connect to another one, only to become enveloped and ultimately replaced with static noise in the process.

Nascent, on the other hand, teems with small life underneath a distorted backdrop of more signals, pointing to a bigger mechanical presence in a derelict environment. It is a bizarre blend of seemingly biological on-goings and mechanical processes that has been derived entirely from the technology used to create everything present in the recording.

Non-Site Specific is an honest title, with appropriate cover artwork, for the soundscapes contained within. When listening, it is best to do so in a quiet, darkened room without any distractions and a good pair of headphones to experience the meticulous craftwork involved bringing everything to fruition. In some ways it is the audio equivalent to a time-lapse video that depicts the development of a garden over several months. It is a gradual, unfolding process that operates in a similar fashion and is rewarding to the patient listener.

A casual listener will struggle to get beyond the first couple of tracks before throwing in the towel. This is their folly and those that press on, along with existing fans of both soundscapes and unorthodox compositions, will be rewarded for their efforts and hear these recordings as something akin to auditory vignettes.

It is not often that a highly untraditional album, in terms of content and techniques used in the creation of said content, can elicit such imaginative scenes in the mind of the listener. Yet Non-Site Specific, created with computer programs and lacking any formal structure, defies convention and does exactly this in an undeniably paradoxical fashion.

Performers:

Chad Mossholder: Programming

External Links:

Chad Mossholder Homepage

Non-Site Specific on Bandcamp

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Opeth Damnation Review

General Information:

Artist: Opeth
Album: Damnation
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenres(s): Progressive Rock, Soft Rock
Released: 2003
Length: 43 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Music for Nations, Koch Records

Track List:

01. Windowpane
02. In My Time of Need
03. Death Whispered a Lullaby
04. Closure
05. Hope Leaves
06. To Rid the Disease
07. Ending Credits
08. Weakness

Opeth Damnation Cover

Opeth Damnation Cover

Opeth Damnation Review

Damnation is the seventh studio album by Swedish band Opeth. Unlike all of their previous albums, Damnation sees the band shedding themselves of their renowned death metal, progressive metal, folk and acoustic music blend for a hybrid of progressive and soft rock. The album is soft to the point that at times it can be seen as pushing the boundaries of what can be considered rock music, progressive influences or not.

Windowpane sets the tone perfectly with a sound crafted around a central clean-sounding guitar melody that interplays with an acoustic guitar and a steady rock drum beat devoid of metal tempos that give room for the prevailing melancholic mood to take hold. This is further enhanced by the keyboards and is indicative of what Damnation is about. Fans hearing this for the first time, and being familiar with their previous output, will be anticipating the sudden transition to Opeth’s metal sound but that moment will never come. On top of this, vocalist and guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt has also left his death growls in favour of a restrained singing voice that sounds fragile at times. While some fans will have undoubtedly being disappointed by these drastic changes, it would have also been impossible to fit that aggressive vocal style into Damnation and make it work.

The melancholic mood is a central theme to Damnation and in some ways this helps to paint the album as a by the numbers effort. This is due to the songs, at times, blurring together and losing their distinctive nature when listening from start to finish. Two of the biggest standouts are the minimalist Weakness, which is centred on a subtle keyboard arrangement and is entirely devoid of percussion. Closure, the only song that shakes of the passive sound thoroughly, actively engages the listener in a different way. The tempo picks up as the song progresses and Opeth pushes it even further towards the end to create a total cacophony when put next to the rest of the album. This abruptly cuts out and if you had downloaded this song through one of the illegal file sharing services around at the time Damnation was released you would have thought that the song had been corrupted or was incomplete. This leads directly into Hope Leaves and makes these songs contrast in a way that can be seen an intentional throwback to their previous albums where the acoustic and metal parts can come right after each other. This way of integrating that aspect of Opeth’s character into Damnation is not as well executed as desired, if that is the case, since it is more disjointed than fluid in its delivery.

It’s difficult for any band to break away from their established sound to explore new ideas but Opeth embrace their progressive rock influences honestly and passionately. This combined with the efforts of co-producer Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) on the keyboard and piano rounds off their sound and helped them to realise their vision. Damnation is an important milestone in Opeth’s history and is recommendable to anyone wanting to experience the softer side of rock music.

Performers:

Mikael Akerfeldt: Vocals and lead guitar
Peter Lingren: Rhythm guitar
Martin Mendez: Bass guitar
Martin Lopez: Drums

Additional Performers:

Steven Wilson: Keyboards, piano, Mellotron, backing vocals

External Links:

Opeth Homepage
Opeth on Wikipedia
Damnation on Wikipedia

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Zaz Zaz Review

General Information:

Artist: Zaz
Album: Zaz
Genre(s): Folk, Jazz
Subgenres(s): Chanson, Gypsy Jazz
Released: 2010
Length: 39 minutes
Language(s): French
Label(s): Play On, Sony

Track List:

01. Les Passants
02. Je Veux
03. Le Long de la Route
04. La Fée
05. Trop Sensible
06. Prends Garde à ta Langue
07. Ni Oui Ni Non
08. Port Coton
09. J’aime à Nouveau
10. Dans Ma Rue
11. Éblouie Par la Nuit

Zaz Zaz Cover

Zaz Zaz Cover

Zaz Zaz Review

Zaz is the debut album and stage name of French singer Isabelle Geffroy. The first thing that the listener will pick up on over the course of this album is the many different directions that are taken. Starting with a series of four acoustic-driven songs, including the jaunty single Je Veux, the sound is then stripped back to a quiet acoustic guitar and even subtler harmonium to fill in the silence on Trop Sensible, the only song written solely by Zaz.

This song does have the advantage of letting her voice stand out although it is somewhat awkwardly followed by Prends Garde à Ta Langue and then Ni Oui Ni Non. The latter retains the jaunty attitude of Je Veux and the former is much the same after being moulded into a jazzy temperament that is accompanied by a brass section consisting of a trumpet, trombone and saxophone.

Aside from writing Trop Sensible herself, Zaz shares credit for five other song (Les Passants, Le Long de a Loute, Prends Garde à Ta Langue, Ni Out Ni Non and J’aime à Nouveau) while the other six were written by other composers. None of the songs on Zaz are inherently weak but it is apparent that some of the other composers have a different flair to that of Zaz.

For example, fellow French musician Raphaël Haroche is the sole composer of the piano-focused La Fée as well as the earnest Port Coton and Éblouie Par la Nuit. The latter two are more downbeat and are in the second half of the album, where this mood is more dominant, whereas the first half is livelier so when looking at the album as a whole it can come across as a bit of a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario. The theme is broken up by the cheerful J’aime à Nouveau but Zaz ultimately finishes in a very different place to where it starts.

In spite of having some uneven moment in terms of the overall mood of the album, it is highly enjoyable and the optimistic parts of it will certainly keep your attention irrespective of being able to understand the lyrics or not, some of which are positive when translated (Je Veux) whereas others tell more sombre tales (Dans Ma Rue).

Performers:

Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy): Lead Vocals (1-11)
Bruce Cherbit: Drums (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9), Tambourine (2)
Toby Dammit: Drums (4, 8)
Manuel Marches: Double Bass (1, 3, 9)
Antoine Reininger: Double Bass (2, 6, 7)
Mathieu Verlot: Double Bass (4, 8, 11)
Germain Guyot: Piano (1, 3, 10)
Fred Lafarge: Acoustic Guitar (1, 2, 3, 7, 9), Piano (4, 8, 11), Harmonium (5, 8)
Alban Sautour: Electric Guitar (1, 3), Programming (1)
Raphaël Haroche: Acoustic Guitar (8)

External Links:

Zaz Homepage
Zaz on Wikipedia
Zaz on Wikipedia