Thursday, 25 April 2019

Lamb ‎– Lamb (1996)

Style: Trip Hop, Downtempo, Drum n Bass, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mercury, Fontana

01.   Lusty
02.   God Bless
03.   Cotton Wool
04.   Trans Fatty Acid
05.   Zero
06.   Merge
07.   Gold
08.   Closer
09.   Górecki
10.1.   Feela
10.2.   Cotton Wool (Fila Brazillia Mix)

Cello – The Chainsaw Sisters
Double Bass – Jon Thorne, Paddy Steer
Guitar – Steve Christian
Written-By – Andrew Barlow, Louise Rhodes

Lamb is Andy Barlow and Louise Rhodes. 'Lamb' is their debut album, and it has been widely publicised that Andy and Lou are very very different people. This brings a fantastic contrast to a lot of songs here. 
The Review:
A perfect opener. Starts out with some sampled organ and then a really good trip-hoppish beat kicks in. It dies out for the verse, but only for a second. The beat carries this song, and Lou's vocals drift and flow over everything perfectly. This track gives quite the impression, and has really perfect real/sampled drums. 
02 God Bless
Starts softly again, with some building percussion in the form of those jingly things. It builds up really nicely, and feels epic, even though the build is rather fast. It's a much more subtle beat this time round, and some strings complement the vocal line beautifully. Really nice lyrics. Incredible song. Awesome breakdown which reveals itself as a chorus. 
03 Cotton Wool The first single, I believe. This song is chaotic. The beat is everywhere. The chaos creeps up on you though, and makes the song, again, perfect. It would have been really easy for the vocals to go all non-melodic to go with the beat in the second verse, but lou's vocals just carry themselves over everything. The lyrics to this song are wonderful also.
04 Trans Fatty Acid
The first sign of non-perfection on the album. The intro is a bit strange. The verse comes in though, and it is rather cool. This is the longest track on the album. The verses start to get a little drudgy, and then something happens. Well, not much really, but the drumbeat really gets stuck in you. It's quite a good song, but comparatively, nowhere near.
05 Zero
Probably my favourite track on the album, and one of my favourite songs ever. It starts with some cello picking which is accompanied by another cello and lou's voice. Beauty. A really really really nice chorus comes in. Then something almost happens. But it doesn't. Hold on. Another chorus. Then it happens. My favourite musical moment ever probably. Lou's voice is perfection.
06 Merge
A much more electronic based instrumental. The intro repeats a few times, and some trumpet comes in. Probably sampled. It has a really really good feel to it, and it is really laid back, and refreshing. 
07 Gold
Starts with some really cool double bass, and the vocals kick right in. It all comes in wonderfully after a small break, and the melody in the background is cool as hell. Lou's voice is especially cool here. The backing vocals make the song extra special, and it is really well structured. It breaks down with some rad *** electronic stuff, and is very hooky. The half way point is awesome. 
08 Closer
Another really cool beat, with some rather cool lyrics. Lou gives insight into what life is, but then brings is quickly back to earth. Some really beautifully simple lines here, and it works really well. Some more effects double on top for the second verse and give the song a great fullness. 
09 Gorecki
The song. A lot of people know this song. Or at least that's what I've heard. This song is absolutely brilliant. One of the most beautiful and perfect pieces of music I know. There are many moments in this song which give me chills down my spine, and oh, it is just. Wow. An epic love song. My favourite love song ever probably. 
10 Feela
The song starts with a simple melody. Lou comes in, and the vocal line is great yet again. It is a really good closer on the album, and it seems like Gorecki would have been a better closer, but this song is equally good as a closer. Some background noise hints at a blast, and then a really faint piano is heard playing really fast. It all gets more controlled, and then the cello comes in. Awesome. It stays quiet, and fades out wonderfully. 
Secret Track - Cotton Wool (Filia Brazilia Mix)
The secret track starts 2 minutes after Feela ends, and is a remix of Cotton Wool. I really really dig this version. It is just as good as the original version. I really love the changes, and it is hell different. 
Frankly, Lamb make me wanna buy a minidisc recorder and sample things. They make me want to play trip-hop, or dance music. They are one of my favourite bands of all time, and this is in my top 10 albums ever. A perfect album as a whole, and a must buy for anyone who is faintly into anything beautiful, scenic, or trip-hoppy. 
Tapeworm / sputnik music

Harold Budd ‎– Bandits Of Stature (2012)

Style: Contemporary
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Darla Records

01.   The Dream Of The Girl At The Lonely Desert Cafe
02.   Claude Lorrain Avoids The Cinder Block Motel
03.   Nicolas Poussin Near 29 Palms
04.   Perfume Doesn't Dance
05.   Shout (For Jane Maru)
06.   The Moss Of Imagination
07.   Puvis Startled By Joy
08.   Seven Colonnades
09.   Veil Of Orpheus (Cy Twombly's)
10.   Haru Spring (String Quartet Version)
11.   From The Sea Of Changes
12.   Bandits Of Stature
13.   Llano
14.  Babylon Balboa

Cello – Ashley Walters
Viola – Andrew McIntosh
Violin – Andrew Tholl, Mark Menzies
Composed By – Harold Budd

"...Harold [Budd]'s piano is always recognizable within the first three notes of any song." 
The above sentence, from Bandits of Stature's press release, is a quite the compliment. Many a musician would sacrifice their right arm if it meant having a recognizable musical personality, even if it took them two dozen notes to reach it. But like his contemporary Brian Eno, Harold Budd has long considered himself a non-musician. Rather than boast any kind of musical knowledge and skill, Budd has been happy just being a reluctant conduit between good ideas and fancy tools. This humble approach to minimalism has led to many fruitful collaborations with some very like-minded individuals such as Eno, ex-Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie, Clive Wright, Jon Hassell and ex-XTC songwriter Andy Partridge, of all people. On Bandits of Stature, Harold Budd is taking on the string quartet form with the Formalist Quartet along for the ride. The album is made up of two large works broken into smaller movements -- "Merry-Go-Round" and "String Quartet 2003". Budd plays piano on one track, "Veil of Orpheus (Cy Twombly's)", the conclusion of the "Merry-Go-Round" suite. 
I wish there was more to report on Bandits of Stature, but there isn't. If there wasn't much going on in the mechanics of Little Windows, Bordeaux and Through the Hill, there was at least an accessible sense of sound to them, allowing for the teleportation of one's imagination. If Budd could transport you to your happy place in three notes, a guy like Guthrie needed only two notes with lots of reverb to appropriately compliment Budd's piano and synthesizers. Bandits of Stature has a very dry sound, aesthetically and literally, as nonabsorbent as the wood in a violin workshop. The 34-minute "Merry-Go-Round" suite is supposed to be repetitive. After all, it's named after a ride that goes in a circular motion where only children get a true sense of payoff. But it's discouraging how Budd's three-note calling card tries in vain to translate to the art of the string quartet. What the suite does have going for it is a singular display of mood and probably a future in academic study. These are the only recommendations I can offer. 
The 11-minute "String Quartet 2003" continues the same molasses pace of swells rotated into the ground as "Merry-Go-Round", though the harmonic makeup branches out a little bit. It's more interesting than the first extended work, but only comparatively. If it were on any other Harold Budd release, it could easily be overlooked. Actually, any of the fourteen tracks of Bandits of Stature would get lost in any other Harold Budd release. For someone who can announce his entrance after just three notes on the piano, these works are frustratingly anonymous. 
John Garratt / popMATTERS

Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno ‎– Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (1983)

Style: Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Editions EG, Polydor, Virgin, Astralwerks

01.   Under Stars
02.   The Secret Place
03.   Matta
04.   Signals
05.   An Ending (Ascent)
06.   Under Stars II
07.   Drift
08.   Silver Morning
09.   Deep Blue Day
10.   Weightless
11.   Always Returning
12.   Stars

Arranged By– Brian Eno
Composed By – Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois
Performer – Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno
Producer – Brian Eno, Dan Lanois

From Brian Eno's Original Masters Soundtracks Series comes Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. Originally released in 1983 on EG Records, this Virgin incarnation betters the sound quality of the earlier Caroline CD release of this title and is a vast improvement over the vinyl. One can hear super deep tones in the music reproduced for the first time in a full-throated manner, and the perspective of distance opens into vast vistas of the emptiness of space, rather than into a haze of tracking error as did the long player. 
Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks is usually cited as an Eno album, but it is actually a three-way collaboration between Brian Eno, producer Daniel Lanois, and Roger Eno. It was created for the Al Reinert film For All Mankind, in itself not completed until 1989, but ultimately lauded as the best film documentary on the early years of the NASA space program. Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, as one would expect, is appropriately spacey and slow moving, but is divided up mostly into rather short cues. Some of the first cues, such as Matta, make use of strategies that are oblique indeed; incorporating a small measure of inarticulate sounds, such as thumping noises, to help build tension, and as such is some of the most challenging ambient music that Eno has written. 
Eno's adherents proclaim Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks as the best of his ambient productions, though it has an Achilles heel. Silver Morning, composed by Lanois alone, seems to stick out like a sore thumb in contrast to the rest of the material, its jangling and bright steel slide being sort of like Michael Hedges suddenly stepping out onto the barren surface of the moon. Deep Blue Day follows suit, but doubtless these tracks would not have been created if they didn't fit what they were intended for, and the participants were so enthusiastic about the two that at one point they were combined onto a limited-edition 45. By the concluding Stars, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks is back in its element, and this eight-minute ambient track truly is one of Eno's finest creations. Even though Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks may be more of a mixed bag compared to, say Music for Airports, as one reviewer said about its corresponding film, it is a shame that Apollo isn't longer than it is. 
Uncle Dave Lewis / AllMusic