Nut Suite. Mini reviews of albums old and new. Minimum words. No fuss. No spoilers [?]. Occasional smugs.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

COUNTING CROWS / Somewhere Under Wonderland (2014)

Much akin to Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Wonderland is a cornucopia of re-used (yet evolved) lyrics and allusions. The price of admission to this theme park is admittedly high, but it’s always worth it. Do your homework, kids. It’s as if we’re allowed intimate access to the Duritz’s head to watch as his experiences and emotions mush and meld together over time. This time he appears to have let Dan Vickrey and Dave Immergluck run entirely amok to mostly great effect. Their plucky shenanigans make this a pleasantly rollicking jaunt that’s alternately wistful and infectiously toe-tapping.

4 Barrows Full of Sex Toys in the Marketplace out of 5

Saturday, November 22, 2014

MICHIRU ŌSHIMA / ICO: Melody in the Mist (2002)

The ICO score is just over twenty-five minutes in length, but during that time it encapsulates almost as many different emotional states as the game itself gives rise to while playing. Some of the incidental music is so brief that it seems as if the lingering aspect you'd normally expect to have actually becomes the whole, but it's never cursory or perfunctory. Others are so perfect, so refined, that making them longer couldn't increase their beauty, it would just increase the duration.
As a whole, it's a gathering of moments ranging from serene, ethereal, forebodingly eerie and haunting to ultimately peaceful, filled with hope.
NOTE: Pentagon (Koichi Yamazaki and Mitsukuni Murayama) are also credited on tracks. Vocals on 'You Were There' are by Steven Geraghty.

Songs of Note: Caste in the Mist; ICO – You Were There

5 shadows chased out of 5

Friday, November 21, 2014

VOIVOD / Angel Rat (1991)

The classic Voivod sound continued to soften and by album number six the chaotic structures were tamed, the bass was horribly defuzzed and the guys had skipped fancifully into Dimension Prog Rock. I'm not a follower of Prog, in general, and I've no idea how fans of the genre feel about it. Does it sound as off-the-wall to them as the earlier spacey-Metal Voivod albums do to me? I genuinely hope so, because then it wouldn't be a complete waste of time and air. Personally, I can listen to about a selective third of Angel Rat before I've to fight an urge to stomp all over the disc. File under: Damn, it's even more purple than usual!

Songs of Note: Angel Rat; Golem

2 halls of glass out of 5

Thursday, November 20, 2014

METALLICA / ...And Justice for All (1988)

Settle down, children. Once upon a time, while some of you were nothing but an unfertilised egg in your momma's womb, and your daddy wasn't playing around with hookers, a band named Metallica had the respect of everyone in the metal scene. Sure, there was that mouthy guy, but the music was good, so we could overlook that part. The band recovered from tragedy to release an album that was a bit dry and on the long side, but it blew the collective asses off the critics who said that they'd never recover. That's called a 'Fuck You'.
We can only speculate as to what went on in the studio. "Turn up the bass," said one. "No," said another. "You're new, so shut up. I'm the boss." Had they listened to what the new kid might have said, the album would've been even better.

Songs of Note: To Live is to Die; Dyers Eve

4½ long straws out of 5

Saturday, November 15, 2014

YELLO / One Second (1987)

It's interesting and a little frustrating that the best point of reference for a Yello album is to previous Yello albums. In that respect, the fifth release by the Swiss duo delivers a decent mix of unique Electro-pop and Latin-style rhythms. But when compared to those previous works it's somewhat bland, being neither as adventurous nor as diverse. It's notable, however, for featuring Billy Mackenzie and Shirley Bassey, the latter on vocals of the best track, The Rhythm Divine.
If you live in the US you get 'Oh Yeah' sandwiched between tracks 8 and 9. I don't know why, because it's supposed to be on Stella (1985).

Songs of Note: Le Secret Farida; The Rhythm Divine

3 European hotel rooms out of 5

Monday, November 10, 2014

SANCTUARY / Refuge Denied (1987)

I recently pulled Sanctuary's début from the archive (i.e. dusty shelf) and fell in love with it all over again. Vocalist Warrel Dane hits the kind of uterus-shuddering high notes that would give King Diamond a boner. It'll make many people cringe, but the lover of quality, straight-up, no-frills Heavy (er... Powerish) Metal or Thrash should be able to recognise the strengths. Although, you'll probably need to do some careful tinkering with whatever equalisers you have at your command in order to overcome a weak production job that doesn't hit as hard as it should. Refuge Denied deserves a full, proper, non-Mustaine remaster.

Songs of Note: Die for My Sins; Sanctuary

4 black plagues out of 5

Sunday, November 9, 2014

MEIKO KAJI / Zenkyoku Shu (2004)

If you live far from the shores of Japan, then getting your hands on any of Meiko Kaji's albums can entail paying up to three, or even four, times what you'd normally fork out for a CD. That's wallet-pain, right there. However, if a 'Best of' compilation will suffice, then Zenkyoku Shu (or Zenkyokushu) will fit the bill nicely. It has her most famous works; i.e. the themes to the Lady Snowblood and the Sasori (Scorpion) films, both of which you'll find linked below. The remainder of the tracks float on similar musical waters, so if those two appeal to your secret sensual side, or your inner-samurai, then start saving your pennies.

Songs of Note: Urami Bushi; Shura no Hana

4 flowers of carnage out of 5

Saturday, November 8, 2014

MERCYFUL FATE / In the Shadows (1993)

Mercyful Fate's reformation produced what was in reality only their third proper studio album. It wastes no time getting to the heart of what made them great back in the day, so much so that it's like they'd never been away. King's day job had enabled him to mature in lyric writing, so everything has a more story-like structure, and there's nothing much for nuns to get in a tizzy about. Everything is more polished, even beautiful in places, but it never drops the coffin or goes for the safe and friendly option. It's another MF classic.

Songs of Note: The Bell Witch; Is That You, Melissa?

4 trips to the underworld out of 5

Monday, November 3, 2014

NOCTURNO CULTO / The Misanthrope (2007)

The soundtrack to Nocturno Culto's experimental film of the same name (see HERE) is being described as an album by some sellers, but it's really only the length of an E.P. You also shouldn't expect anything like what he does with Darkthrone or Sarke; it's more closely related to Electronic Dark Ambient. It's enjoyable enough, but without the visual aspect it feels a little weightless and unfinished.
If you own the film in its original DVD packaging, then you already have the CD. If not, for less money the CD release comes with the film on a second disc. All in all, for a fiver it's good value, but it has limited appeal.

Songs of Note: Stay Away; The Will to Deny

2½ Dalek voices out of 5

Saturday, November 1, 2014

VARIOUS ARTISTS / Natural Born Killers (1994)

As you'd expect, NBK is a collection of songs from different artists. But unlike most film soundtracks, there's been some actual thought and care put into structuring them. Custom edits and audio clips from the film itself are used often to connect tracks into a more story-style structure than is usually the case.
It was compiled by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who referred to it as a "collage of sound," which I guess is as good a description as any. It's the kind of thing many of us used to do back when all we had was a double tapedeck and a VHS collection.
Don't judge it solely on my choice of songs (below), there are a variety of styles on offer from many different musical eras.

Songs of Note: Cowboy Junkies / Sweet Jane (Edit)Nine Inch Nails / Something I Can Never Have (Edited and Extended)

4½ warm, violent places out of 5