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eightpointagenda "Sean" RSS Feed (Chicago, IL)

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Back In Brazil
Back In Brazil
9 used & new from $10.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kudos to you Gilles Peterson, March 17, 2007
This review is from: Back In Brazil (Audio CD)
I have to admit that I have a great deal of respect for Gilles Peterson as a DJ. Which is funny because I've never been to one of his shows (I had the opportunity to see him in Tokyo for New Years which I opted out of due to expenses. Not too bad since I got to see Ken Ishii rip it up instead). However, based on the Brazil Podcasts coming off his website, I was overwelmingly impressed his knowledge of music and love of music in general. Like Mr. Scruff, he seems less worried about overtechnicallities or mixing and just about amazing track selection. Which has influenced me to take chances in my DJ sets and be more adventurous with my sets. While this this is the only Peterson collection I have, I have to say I am impressed with it exposed me to even more music, making me the most annoying person in all of Niigata, Japan to talk about music with.

I'm definitely more in love with the first disc. I absolutely love that old Brazil sound and this CD is loaded to the gills with, favorites include Jorge Ben and a beautiful cover of California Soul. It covers the wide range of Brazil's sound (funk, soul, salsa etc.). The second disc has no shortage of hits too. Exploring a more modern Brazilian sound, it contains tracks from original Brazilian and influenced artists but with the dancefloor squarely in mind.

While I wouldn't mind hearing what this album might sound mixed, the unmixed presentation is a pleasure and allows for complete digestion of all of these songs, which there is neary a miss on here (though some of the tracks may not to be your liking). I recommend this album to anyone looking to expand their tastes into some South American territory, Wax Poetic readers, and jazz/soul/funk fans.

Idol Tryouts Two
Idol Tryouts Two
Price: $9.98
32 used & new from $2.83

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent compilation from Ghostly International, May 14, 2006
This review is from: Idol Tryouts Two (Audio CD)
A little while ago, I posted a review about my love affair with Spectral Sounds, Ghostly International sister dance-floor oriented sub-label. So when I found out the main label was going to be releasing another compilation, I jumped on it immediately. I really must hand it to Sam Valenti IV creation and vision. In about 6 years, he has taken his college side project and turned into one of the most respectable, forward thinking labels in the world. If anything, Idol Tryout Two just further cements eye for great music.

This two disc affair comes packaged as two seperate but equal compilations. Disc one covers the "avant-pop" side of the label. Largely what this equates to is infectious electronic infused music. From the bubbly, techy sounds of Matthew Dear and Lawrence, the retro-techno of Solvent and Daniel Wang, to electro pop of Skeletons & Girl Boys and Mobius Band. Avant Pop actually manages to cover a lot of ground yet still feel unified.

Disc two covers the ambient territory that might have been touched on by some of the artists on disc one, but to much deeper degree. A heavy dose of reverb texture and experimental sounds and moods, disc two feels like the sound track to a movie that doesn't exsist yet but should. What really makes disc two is the uniqueness of all the artists despite all of them flying a similar flag. Loscil actually feels like a long lost B-12 track (definitely a good thing), where Greg Davis explores accoustical textures, all while still making them sound other-worldly. While it doesn't cover the same as much ground as disc one, it still has enough variety to keep it from becoming same-sounding, which can be a problem with ambient music. I think what really makes this compilation great is the fact that with all different approaches to music on here, it all feels unified. There is an unmistakable emotional depth to both of these discs which gives even more reply value. This is deep, electronic music like you've always wanted to here. Buy this album.

Scratch - All the Way Live
Scratch - All the Way Live
DVD ~ Jazzy Jay
Offered by Speedy CD
Price: $6.00
63 used & new from $0.01

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, May 12, 2006
This review is from: Scratch - All the Way Live (DVD)
I got the fortunate oportunity to see the Scratch Tour 2003 (to which this DVD is a part of) when it rolled through Chicago. At the time, I was just starting to get interested in the art of DJing and saw this as a perfect chance to see what some of the pros do in a live setting. The show was a shocker all the way around. Jazzy Jay delivered the old school jams, and X-cutioners scratched the night away (which is why I ended up leaving the show a bit early). Z-Trip caught me off guard with a wonderful mash-up set, like what he normally does. What differes from the Chicago set verses this is we got Q-bert instead of Mix Master Mike (a welcome trade if you ask me). So I thought this DVD would be a great way to remember all those great times from the show in Chicago.

What a waste...

As stated by everyone else, this DVD is so flawed it just destroys what little content there actually is. Short cut teaser sets. Horrible editing and directing. A generally pretty lame crowd. And a really boring set from X-Cutioners that just seems to go on and on and on and on... I don't know what the producers of this DVD were thinking but they really missed the mark with this. The good news is the little amount of footage of sets from Jay and Z-trip do show some solid plays (though Jazzy Jay using Final Scratch does have sort of a WTF quality to it). Mix Master Mike is still scary behind the decks but not as enjoyable as Q-bert was. The X-cutioners set was just too techincal to really be all that fun. Too much scratch technique, not enough actual music.

Ultimately, this DVD gives off one or two impressions: either the L.A. stop on the tour wasn't that great to begin with or next time they really need to learn how to design and produce a concert DVD. Don't get suckered into this waste of plastic and time.

Breakbeat Science Exercise 5
Breakbeat Science Exercise 5
11 used & new from $1.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underappreciated, April 15, 2006
Unlike that guy a few reviews down, I tend to get excited over anything Clever. After all, the Offshore compilation is one of my favorite Drum n' Bass mixes ever (and partially due to Clever's spectacular mixing). When I found out about this mix last year, I definitely waited with baited breath for its release. What I got out of the mix wasn't quite as strong as his Offshore mix (but then again, that source material also coming into play), but definitely a solid, left field drum n' bass mix.

Immediately noticable about this over his previous mix is that it seems to be much more dance floor aimed this time around. Not so much that you'll hear farty bass blasts or space-age rave synths (both not bad thing mind you) but its certainly more straightforward this time around. Clever starts things off on the right foot with with majestic aggressor Off the Market, another strong showing for his label. Cujo's contribution is more straightforward in its structure, but its techno derived synths and punchy bass make it a worthwhile track. Infact, the first half or so of the disc is outstanding. Graphic, Mav & Twister, and DB & Stakka (as Ror-Shak) all make stunningly original and quality tracks. Its just somewhere in the middle, the mix seems to loose some of its weight. I'm still not a huge fan of the Deep Blue/Omni Trio track (Black Rain). Amit, despite some neat vibe, also feels a bit light weight. And while normally I love Pieter K, his contribution here, well I just don't care for it really. However, Clever picks things up again with Controlled Substance and intro-ing it into the can't miss combination of Seba and Robert Manos, in one of their most emtionally profound tracks yet. From their, Clever brings the mix back down again into more ambient territory. This time with some stronger tracks (the Tundra and Coral remix are really good). But while the selection this time around isn't quite as strong, Clever still nevertheless stiches everthing together seemlessly. There are some terrifc blends that seemingly last for ages but feel so natural in their placement. Clever most definitely has the skills to pay the bills.

To basically sum everything up. Great begining. Good end. Soggy middle. But terrific mixing all the way around. And you can't go wrong with that price (or artwork for that matter).

A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
Price: $5.99
219 used & new from $0.27

5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The only band that irritates me more than Postal Service right now..., March 29, 2006
I'd like to think over the years that I have matured. Most of the alt. metal/rap-rock groups that plagued me throughout HS/early college have all but fallen by the wayside. Since those days are past me, I really haven't felt the need to write a scathing one star review for anything...

...till now.

I'll avoid the details since my fellow one star reviewers pretty much hit ever last nail, sealing the coffin. I'd just like to leave Panic!'s fans with this one thought in mind: 2 years from now, are you still gonna be listening to this spit?

Cage Early Piano Pie
Cage Early Piano Pie
33 used & new from $4.50

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A design student/electronic music enthusiast trying to review John Cage, March 7, 2006
This review is from: Cage Early Piano Pie (Audio CD)
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and try to review John Cage.

Here goes:

As one of my last Art/Design School projects, I decided that I was going to design a logo for John Cage. I had always had an interest in Cage but hardly an understanding, much less any background into his style of composition. I saw this project not only as way an excellent challenge as a designer, but also to force myself to learn more about John Cage. With a handful of text, information, I went out to find some musical works of Cage. I wasn't sure what to think, but Hebert Henck release was the one closest to my meeger price range. After listening to it while conducting my research, I can say that Henck captured the sound of Cage beautifully (or, at least in my mind based on my readings, that Cage would sound like).

Cage's compositions weren't just about music (i.e notes, signatures, etc.) but rather, how music occupies space. Cage's solo piano compositions often contain soft passages followed by sharp, held atonal accents which eventually seem to disapate into the air. It is through these techniques that Cage is capable of creating simple piano masterpieces like In A Landscape, or dramatic examples of musical frustration (Metamorphosis pieces were described by Shoenberg as Cage's musical knowledge "banging against a brick wall"). Despite its minor key sharpness and unsual melody, Cage's music is sublimely beautiful in my opinion. Its strangely evocative but yet subtle and not overbearing. And certainly is anything but boring. I would say these compositions (ranging between 1935 to 1948) certainly deserve, if not already to be classics.

While its hard for me to comment on the accuracy of Henck's preformance (though I heard he captures Cage's essence perfectly), I will say the engineering captures Henck's sound perfectly. The sound quality is crystal clear, and has a certain lonely piano room quality to it. If going simply by that, I would say that they certainly hit the mark in this catagory.

Cage is(was) a highly controversial figure in the classical music world. He would later begin testing the sounds of instruments, household objects, radios, and even silence itself. All of this can be hard to swallow for those unprepared or unknowning of what they could be getting themselves into. What makes Early Piano Music wonderful is its a great stepping stone in not only getting to know John Cage and his musical methods better (with a detailed description of his work in the liner notes), but a chance to expand your horizons with music in general. On this note, I highly recommend Early Piano Music.

So, how did I do?

On the Wheels of Solid Steel
On the Wheels of Solid Steel
Price: $18.24
31 used & new from $0.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Solid Steel winner, March 6, 2006
This one sort of caught me off guard. My interest in both Ninja Tune and turntablism were on the wain before I picked this up, which makes it even more funny that this album renewed my interest in both. It created a new interest, the Solid Steel mix series. As far as I can tell, Solid Steel mixes are generally meant to be more than just the average mix CD. Amon Tobin showed off his Final Scratch blending skills in a live in enviroment. DJ Food, Herbaliser and Hexstatic proved how many genres can be shown off in a single mix. And my personal favorite, Mr. Scruff dug through crates of his old favorites and forgotten classics to prove how deep his musical knowledge runs. DJ Kentaro, 2003's highest scoring DMC champ, shows what can be done with Ninja Tune classics and some turntablist genious.

Kentaro starts things off right with scratchtastic intro piece. It certainly gives you an idea of how dexterious he is (which you can also watch on the accompanying DVD). From there he goes through almost a Coldcut 70 Minutes... style of pacing. Starting off in jungle/jazz n' bass territory, moving through hip hop and breaks before almost returning back again. Like Coldcut, the flow feels very natural despite minimal blending and more cuting. Another thing to point out is Kentaro puts a strong emphasis on tracks verses technique. Where could have easily been scratching for over 50 minutes, Kentaro lets the lush, diverse catalog of Ninja Tune greats breathe, only showing off when the time feels right. I think what's absolutely the most fascinating is how well his technique is integrated with the music he's spinning. More often than not, unless you know the tracks really well, his special touches actually feel more like they are part of the song. His cuts, scratches, blends, beat juggling all feels so natural that when you go back and listen to some of the original tracks, they may feel lacking that special something that Kentaro added in this mix. That, ultimately is what makes Kentaro better than your average (if not even some of the top tier) turntablists.

The only real complaint that I have with his mix is its just too short. At 55 minutes, shocking as it might sound, the fun is over way too soon. Thankfully, Ninja Tune also issued this with a short DVD portfolio of extra showcases and goodies. With a video of his intro cut, a small (but powerful) segment from the Tokyo Solid Steel tour, and a video of what he can do just using two of the same records, the DVD gives you a great idea of what he's capable of outside of this mix. Much like the album, this DVD is over way too fast and makes you check his website for live dates in your area.

I have to admit, this one of the most suprising releases of last year. I had minimal expectations of this but I got more out of it then I expected. I really hope that as a recording artist he work the same magic that he showed off here. If not, he still created one hell of a mix. Hopefully we'll hear more from him soon.

Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel
Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel
by Arthur Golden
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.52
1381 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal., February 12, 2006
With a smirk on my face, waiting for my flight to Narita, I saw Memoirs of a Geisha sitting in a O'hare bookshop. I thought it over a few times before I finally said, with no hype or expectations, why not? The 7 days that I was in Tokyo I hardly touched the book, nor after I returned. So I find it rather amusing that in my downtime in transit in and around England that I truly found myself emersed in this book. Something that so rarely happens with reading. But Arthur Golden's novel I found to be absolutely captivating, that I found my old reading habits disapear. Its beautifully written. Wonderfully evocative and just absolutely heartwarming. What really impressed me was his knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture, society, and behavior. All of these elements combined just made for a wonderful read. It originally began as something of impulse purchase to pass the time, Memoirs of Geisha will probably go down as one of my favorite books of all time.

Spectral Sounds 1
Spectral Sounds 1
Price: $21.14
24 used & new from $0.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midwest Techno is some of the best techno, September 12, 2005
This review is from: Spectral Sounds 1 (Audio CD)
Though I'm a drum n' bass DJ through and through, lately I've been wanting to expand my collection and begin implementing some techno into my collection/sets. When I found out that Spectral Sounds released a collection/mix CD, it quickly became one of the most sought after albums in a long time (thankfully, unlike most, this collection was obtainable). After only a few weeks of ownership, its quickly become one of the most heavily rotated albums in my car/iPod/around the house and as soon as I get some more cash, most collected records.

You could probably say that I was caught up in wirl-wind of hype for this label. After being first introduced to the ghostly/spectral sound during my first visit to Movement in 2004, I've been slowly wrapping my head more and more around this kind of sound. However, it wasn't until 2005 at Fuse-In Detroit (formerly Movement) that I truly began appreciate this kind of techno/house. To say the least, this mix/compilation almost makes me want to start spinning techno more than d n' b.

The double album set is split into two CDs. The first CD collects some of the labels finer moments, hard to find singles, and previously unreleased. While you think 70 minutes of unmixed, generally minimal, repetitive techno would grate easily. Thankfully, due to the unmixed nature of the tracks, you can truly appreciate what each producer is doing. Also, while Spectral seems to adhere to a fairly similar frame work, but its open enough that each producer here seems to be ironing out a definitive sound for themselves. To hard hitting, bass heavy tech-house, to lovely, squelchy acid tracks, to just some good, moving techno, the variety (and some good sequencing) makes the unmixed disc just as much of a pleasure as disc 2. Disc 2 is where Matthew Dear co-horte struts his stuff over 33 to tracks in 57 minutes. In that time frame, he takes the sounds previewed in disc 1 over to a journey across the label's sound and thensome. Densely layered and well mixed, he keeps the mix moving at swift pace, rarely remaining on a track for more than 2 minutes (let's see Oakenfold do that) in attempt to keep the mix right in the sweet spot. For the most part, I'd say he's about 90% sucessful as the begining of the CD seems to run through some of the most boring tracks until James T. Cotton picks up where the mix really starts moving. From there on out it, its sucessful as both a label showcase and a mix CD.

I gotta hand it to the founder of the Ghostly/Spectral enterprise. He's managed to in only 5 years make on of the most respected and forward-thinking techno labels in the industry. And with the upcoming release of Dear's more hard edged/dirty Audion sound coming into full view, I see good things happening for this Midwest based techno label. Between this and Offshore, its about time the US started showing off some capable electronic music producers. And this is probably just the start...

Offshore Presents Troubled Waters
Offshore Presents Troubled Waters
18 used & new from $0.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Offshore, May 9, 2005
I was feeling a little nostalgic the other day so I decided to dig out Goldie's Retro disc on his INCredible Sounds of Drum N' Bass collection. What I found was somewhat shocking; drum n' bass used to have it all. Crush, complex rhythms, dark menacing atmosphere but above all, it had more varierty in sound and patterns than most D'n'B today. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a simplistic two stepper from Fresh or Andy C but it excite me with the sense of invention that I found on Goldie's disc(and the album is nearly 8 years old).

Thank the stars for Clever and his Offshore records label, the much needed shot of originality and freshness that's been lacking from Drum n' Bass. What's truly wonderful about his label how his artists not only pull from the glory days of Drum n' bass, but from so many other genres as well. Offshore may not be rocking the floors in the clubs, but it certainly demands attention (and certainly more than its getting now).

The album starts off on fairly minimal note (and with longest track on the album) with Fracture and Neptunes 'Normality Complex' tracks. The openner is a textured affair with an approaching menace atmosphere and a drunken drummer sound, it already shows that this is going to be a much different ride than some of its contemperaries, From there, the album moves in a seemless shift of off key melodies(Seba, Graphic, ASC, and Paradox) and complex drums, to bizarre left-field break workouts(Tundra, Justice, and Seileni especially) that can almost barely be labeled as Drum n' bass, finally working its way through some lush atmospherics that can only be described as an updated Good Looking Records sound(the latter Deep Blue and Pieter K tracks are absolutely killer).

What's also worth mentioning other than just wonderful track collection is the wonderful mixing from the aptly named DJ, Clever. His mixing is spot on, with beautiful pacing, track selection and beatmatching, showing profiency beyond the average DJ. What makes his mixing that much more interesting is how and when he decides to do his blends. Its kind of hard to put into words but listen to the first few tracks and try to figure out where the next tracks start coming in. What this equates to is mixing that's so seemless that you'll be referencing the jewel case just to make sure that one track has ended and the next one has begun.

Wonderful, colorful, diverse subject material. Clever (pun intended) mixing. Offshore is doing a good job at help break up the monotony and stubborn rut that Drum n' Bass is often criticised for. Having also taken a look at other Offshore materials (check out Graphic's chunky collaberation with Beans for further proof), it looks like the innovative signature shows no sign of letting up. Don't sleep on this release

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